Reasons Why You Would Want a Compressed Air Vehicle
Vehicles that run on air might sound ridiculous, but we have already seen several compressed air cars that have been showcased to the public for the past few years. They might not be as powerful or as beautiful as your Ferrari, but in terms of practical functionality they are able to do their job just as efficiently.
But seriously, why would someone possibly want a compressed air-powered vehicle with all of these efficient hybrids nowadays? They might not really look that good as an investment before, but today’s compressed air vehicles are a lot more promising than before, and here are a few reasons why:
- It can directly use carbon dioxide as fuel. Reduction of carbon emissions is one of the direct primary goals of any alternative energy source. Electric cars for example, ultimately aim at using renewable and alternative energy sources for recharging their battery packs. Compressed air cars on the other hand, are not only capable of reducing carbon emissions, but it can even use carbon dioxide that is already in the air. CO2, with its phase flexibility is currently regarded as one of the most efficient gases to be used on compressed air vehicles.
- Like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, compressed air vehicles virtually have zero self-discharge rates. Air storage tanks simply keep the air until it is actually needed to power the vehicle. So if it is not used, it won’t spend or waste any energy. This is a definitive advantage when it comes to long term storage, especially when we compared compressed air cars to current EV’s (with their batteries that always have a normal tendency to self-discharge).
- Compressed air vehicles now have the same driving range as electric vehicles of a few years ago. Before, compressed air cars had very unimpressive driving ranges of less than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). Today, with the development of better air and energy delivery systems for air compressed cars, their driving range has increased by several orders of magnitude. For example, the MiniFlowAir, a concept car developed by MDI (Motor Development International), offers a theoretical driving range of about 95 kilometers (60 miles). While this might still make compressed air cars look inferior in terms of specs to electric cars, keep in mind that these vehicles are significantly less costly and are easier to build and manufacture.
- Compressed air cars are still potentially the cheapest cars in the world. The low costs of compressed air cars are mainly attributed to the simplicity of the entire framework of the vehicle. These vehicles do not operate on high temperatures, nor do they need complex circuitry to drive the wheels forward. There’s virtually no need for starter motors, spark plugs or cooling systems. In addition to this, the energy required to get the needed compressed air is also relatively low, thus it can be recharged cheaper than gasoline or electric powered vehicles. The aforementioned MiniFlowAir for instance, is slated to be released commercially for just around $4500 USD or 3500 Euros.
Compressed air cars would of course be still ultimately limited by some of its inherent problems and restrictions (having only a small size range for example). However the feasibility of using it as a normal vehicle is now slowly taking its technologies from its humble and unimpressive roots. In fact, given the promising developments that are supposed to take place in just a few years, compressed air cars might even be closer to being a standard economic competitor more than EV’s, at least in the small scale vehicle industry.
Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Deepak Gupta via Wikimedia Commons.
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