Innovation Blog

A Car That Runs on Air – Tata Pioneers Again!

By Shlomo Maital

  

 TATA Air Car

My friend and co-author Prof. D.V.R. Seshadri relayed this information to me, which has not yet resonated in major global news sources.  Tata, global Indian conglomerate, which bought Jaguar/Land Rover and then built the world’s cheapest car, has now innovated a car that runs on air.  Really!  Here are the details.

 India’s largest automaker, Tata Motors, is set to start  producing the world’s first commercial air-powered vehicle. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy N’gre  for Luxembourg-based MDI, uses compressed air, as opposed to the gas-and-oxygen  explosions of internal-combustion models, to push its engine’s pistons.  Some 6000  zero-emissions Air Cars are scheduled to hit Indian streets by August 2011.  The Air Car, called the “MiniCAT” could cost around Rs.. 347,523/- ($8,177.00) in India and would  have a range of around 300 km between refuels. The cost of a refill would be about Rs. 85 ($2.00) The MiniCAT which is a simple, light urban car, with a tubular chassis that is glued,  not welded, and a body of fiberglass powered by compressed  air. Microcontrollers are used in every device in the car, so one tiny radio transmitter sends instructions to the lights, indicators,etc.  There are no keys –   just an access card which can be read by  the car from your pocket. According  to the designers, it costs less than 50  rupees (US$ 1) per 100 Km (about a tenth that of a  petrol car). Its mileage is about  double that of the most advanced electric  car (200 to 300 km or 10 hours of  driving), a factor which makes a perfect  choice in cities where 80% of motorists drive at  less than 60 Km. The car has a top  speed of 105 Kmph.

 

Refilling the car will, once the market develops, take place  at adapted petrol stations to administer compressed air. In two or three minutes,  and at a cost of approximately 100 rupees (US$ 2), the car will be ready  to go another  200-300 kilometers. As a viable alternative, the car carries a small compressor  which can be connected to the mains (220V or 380V) and  refill the tank in 3-4 hours. Due to the absence of combustion and,  consequently, of residues, changing the oil (1 litre of vegetable oil) is  necessary only every 50,000 Km). The temperature of the clean air expelled by the exhaust pipe is between 0-15 degrees below zero, which makes it suitable for use by the  internal  air conditioning system with no need for gases or loss of power.

 

   Tata Motors has struggled with its Nano car.  But as an innovator it is not deterred.  Look for the Air Car to enjoy greater success. 

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