Automotive

Tata Motors enters second phase of air-car development

Tata Motors enters second phas...
MDI compressed-air technology is being developed in India by Tata Motors (pictured is MDI's MiniFlowAIR urban 3-seater)
MDI compressed-air technology is being developed in India by Tata Motors (pictured is MDI's MiniFlowAIR urban 3-seater)
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MDI compressed-air technology is being developed in India by Tata Motors (pictured is MDI's MiniFlowAIR urban 3-seater)
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MDI compressed-air technology is being developed in India by Tata Motors (pictured is MDI's MiniFlowAIR urban 3-seater)

Cars that run on compressed air sound like a fantastic idea on paper, but bringing this technology to the masses has proven, well, a difficult road to travel. There's some positive news on the air-car front though - auto giant Tata Motors, which holds the license to develop Motor Development International's (MDI) air engine technology in India, has announced that it has completed the proof of the technical concept and demonstration phase of its air-car program and is now moving toward a market ready product.

Created by mechanical engineer Guy Nègre back in 1991, Luxembourg-based MDI has floated a number of products in its efforts to develop and promote zero pollution engines. The roll-out of the technology has been plagued by false starts and litigation, however, including a promised U.S. launch in 2010 that never eventuated.

The most promising push to market appears to be the ongoing agreement between MDI and Tata motors. In 2007 Tata licensed MDI's technology with the aim of producing and selling compressed air cars in India. Tata has now released a statement that, although no firm time frame is given, suggests that the project is heading in the right direction.

Tata says that the first "proof of the technical concept" phase of the program is now complete with "the compressed air engine concept having been demonstrated in two Tata Motors vehicles."

Phase two, which involves, "completing detailed development of the compressed air engine into specific vehicle and stationary applications," is now underway and, "the two companies are working together to complete detailed development of the technology and required technical processes to industrialize a market ready product application over the coming years."

We'll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.

Source: Tata Motors, MDI

29 comments
robinyatesuk2003
Hhhmmmmmmmmm , sounds like a lot of hot air to me ( pardon my humour)
bravo88
I do not understand how it will work, from theoretical calculation, a tank 100 liter size, pressurized to 5000 psi ( very high), max energy content is less than 7 MJ ( < 2 kwh).
William H Lanteigne
The motor part is easy, it's not even making the tank that holds air compressed to insane levels (like 3600+ psi) AND making the tank collision-proof, it's making it idiot-proof that's near impossible.
Mike Hallett
It's a dead-end that MDI have been chasing for years. With developments in electric motors and battery technology progressing as they are, the air motor is yet another also-ran which looks attractive at first glance, but, in reality, offers no significant advances in the long term. Just my opinion, having spent time looking at the investment possibilities several years ago when the French were touting it around.
watersworm
Mr Negre is a very fascinating inventor-engineer "geotrouvetout" as we say in France (don't know the equivalent in english) ! But how do you compress air ? With elctricity ! What is the efficiency of "air motor" compared with the most recent batteries and those to come ? Hummmm let's stay charitable ! How is electricity produced, especially in India or China ? Coal fired plants? Clean air powered vehicule ??? Mr Negre is fascinating....
Daniel Shewmaker
Mr Negre is either extremely shortsighted or blinded by ideology. His quest to "develop a zero emission engine" fails the BS test. This is NOT a zero emissions vehicle - unless the air somehow compresses itself with magic fairy dust. Fail.
wirelesslayers
This is called research and development , and Tata Motors are doing this. Who knows if they will come out with a simple solution? Design improvements ? Let the Indian scientist do the job, and they are pretty good at this.
There is an old saying : if you have a hard problem, call the Chinese. If your problem is almost impossible, call the Indians. But if your problem is impossible to solve, call the Russians.
Sam Joy
I have 28 years in Testing, and 11 years in Automotive testing, For the caution in High Pressure tanks it has been resolved many years ago thanks to the Space program of which is being a dire dismantlement to no thanks to ignorant people who side on the thinking of waste!, anyway got that off my chest.... High pressure tanks have a variety of safety features against impacts each different by manufacture such as HTL, Hi-Shear Morton Thykol just to name a few... Google it if your interested... here are a few examples... blow-out panels and safety relief impact valves. If given a chance the NASA program could develop technology that could make this Automotive air-tech really sweet!, We had 60Kpsi tanks that were typical and some as high as 200Kpsi for special applications. Imagine a safe 100Kpsi tank with a Solar powered high efficiency compressor system at home and work with an easy 100 mile /160 km daily range could be engineered easily. Only your imagination is the limit!
Victor Engel
Sam Joy, I seem to recall that in 1986 Morton Thiokol was responsible for the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger. Maybe you should choose something else to demonstrate safety.
wle
compressed air isn;t efficient, or very energy dense
that is to say, it is hard to put a lot of miles in an air tank
"max energy content is less than 7 MJ ( < 2 kwh). " that is about 3 hp, for an hour that would MAYBE go for an hour at 30 mph
you may as well try a big wind up spring too , it isn;t any better or a rubber band
wle