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A new "Air Car" is being developed to work like a steam locomotive, but uses air instead of steam:

air car
 

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Interesting.

Alot of excellent ideas have come and have gone. The gone part due to big oil interference.

What a crime.
 

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RE: New "Air Car" to work like steam locomotive

4500psi? Ooooookay. First, it takes a REAL powerful compressor (multistage) to produce that kind of pressure. Second, if you think safety inspections are a PitA, you ain seen NUTHIN compared to when you'll have to have a pressure vessel like THAT recertified. Third, have you ever seen what happens when you knock the valve off an oxygen bottle? like ROCKET time... and that's at about 1/4 the pressure...so what's gonna happen when you wreck one of these things?

I'll pass.
 

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RE: New "Air Car" to work like steam locomotive

In event of an accident the carbon fiber air tank "just splits", huh?... and just where does all that stored energy go? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/shocked.gif Did they forget there is always an "equal and opposite reaction"? Oh that's right, they're the experts, don't ask questions. Hope there is good rollover protection when the car flips from the sudden air jet. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sick.gif
 

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I've been thinking about a personal vehicle (alternate energy transportation) for sixty years, all on paper save for an early attempt to attach my dog to my Radio Flyer. A number of drawbacks at once became apparent, chief being the defiance of the motive power.

With six-plus decades of age and experience, I've concluded that most folks dreaming of 'alternate energy' vehicles miss the obvious: interfacing with existing technology and social acceptance. Skip the technical issues a focus on human engineering for a moment:

1. What about sitting in traffic for hours on a hot/cold day? Where's the air conditioner/heater? With two or three children aboard.

2. These things, until the H.P. equivalent of at least a modern 4-cylinder gas engine is developed, are not practical on a daily basis. Consider the motorcycle.

3. They are inherently unsafe because of lack of size and mass. Are you going to load your family in what will have to be essentially a polymer eggshell and take off down the highway? Why are SUV's so popular?

4. There is a real, though indirect, connection between 'alt-enery' vehicles and government coercion. One example is the 'safety standards' that keep otherwise very functional and inexpensive Third World cars out of the country. Another is the herd instinct of people in a generalized way. Joggers and bicyclists report abuse. A few deserve it.

5. The best solution to the 'transportation problem' is the internal combustion engine as we now have it. Otherwise, something else would force its way into the marketplace--which itself is a fundamental, dynamic entity with real power though outside the point I'm trying to make--despite real (and imagined) 'vested interests'. A review of the problems of social acceptance of very early autos is a sufficient example. ("Hey Mister, get a horse!")

6. My own thinking consists of essentially a 'stretch riding lawnmower' with the following modifications: 10 mi max range on electric, 25mph top speed, minimal shelter from the elements, sprung suspension, sidewalk or at best sidestreet operating environment, lead acid battery power (two) with solar cells for recharge only, a ~6 hp 1 cyl engine/generator for standby power and recharging for extended range and when away from home, since the sun doesn't shine every day in my neck of the woods, fore & aft seating for two people, and a trunk large enough to carry a week's worth of groceries. It'll look like what it is: a homemade contraption, just like the first cars looked like horse-drawn buggies. But it'll fill the basic transportation needs for two retired folks.

The features I'm interested in are:

1) Simplicity of design tending toward home construction.

2) Ease of maintenance and repair.

3) Meet basic requirements defined as grocery-getting, trips to doctor, to church or idling about town with the ability to haul a 200-300# payload.

Why bother since it will be inherently inefficient?

It'll be cheap to operate, possible to maintain with basic skills, and very affordable. It's real economic value will be in lessened use of the 'real' Detroit Plastic.

Will it ever be popular? No. The early Tin Lizzies are high-end collector's items, today. Would you drive one daily as your only vehicle?

Les W.
 

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When I was a kid my best friend's grandfather had an "auto red bug" which was a totally cool little electric go cart. I remeber it looking kind of like a stutz bearcat. I want one of those for runs to the grocery store

I don't know--most of my car trips are solo, short distance trips. I run to the hardware store, I go to the grocery store or the bank. Lots of times I'm taking one child to a friends house. We have a Mini cooper for just that reason. My wife commutes to work in it, but it makes more sens than an SUV for most of the uses we have.

Depending on what it cost, I'd be very interested in the idea. For really short trips I don't need a heater, or AC.
I suspect the problem as mentioned, would be compressing the air--it will take more energy than the car saves. As to danger, driving around with a tank full of gasoline and regularly exploding it is, on paper, an unbelievably dangerous thing to do and it took a long time to make modern cars as safe as they are.
 

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RE: New "Air Car" to work like steam locomotive

I saw a similar vehicle on some future car show. "No emissions!" They never mentioned the electric needed to compress all the air.

The same applies to hydrogen vehicles: "Where you going to get the hydrogen?"
 

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RE: New "Air Car" to work like steam locomotive

Guys,

This looks practical.. Go look @ "Max" in the latest issue of Mother Earth News.. They have not talked about cost yet, but maybe in the next issue.. If you build it yourself you can get around a lot or "regs"..

BulletBob
 

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RE: New "Air Car" to work like steam locomotive

Thats the same MDI MiniCAT I've been wanting to get my hands on for over a year now, be a perfect commuter car for me
 

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Bob,

Go to http://www.rqriley.com/license.htm and take a look at requirements for licensing and insuring a homebuilt. I learned a lot I didn't know, primarily why guys bother to electrify old Geo Metros and Fords. That's a lot of iron to drag around on battery power. You have to title, license and insure a vehicle driven on the streets, at least in MO. And it must meet regulations that are pretty close to Federal, in most states. That's the gist of the article. By building a 3-wheeler, you get lots of breaks on the regs, though.

That's why I chose a narrow enough wheelbase to work on a sidewalk. The longest trip I'd have to make on a routine basis is 2.5 miles. Grocery, hardware, doctor and favorite fast food are less than that distance.

My take on compressed air is that it is wholly impractical for general public use. Compressed air for mine engines was a good solution until electricity became practical, as I understand it.

About exploding gas tanks: the infamous Pinto aside, the statistical rate of gas tank explosions from accidents seems remarkably low, compared to the number out there. Perhaps they're underreported.

Heh, I too remember a tricked-out battery sidewalk job from when I was a teenager. (And public Go Kart tracks, and races in supermarket parking lots--showing my age). No suspension.
That's great for young folks, but I've made enough beer runs on my riding lawnmower to not want to continue doing that. (One mile).

The thing that I'm looking for is a good 24V electric motor sufficient to move ~900#, gross weight, ten miles w/o a huge battery array. Might not even be possible. I'm no physicist, for sure. Don't even know anyone who can make the calculations.

Les
 

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RE: New "Air Car" to work like steam locomotive

Oh! It runs on aer. I hadn't watched the video yet
 

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RE: New "Air Car" to work like steam locomotive

Les,

Before you get bummed out, take a week & read the laws of Mo.. You will be suprised I am sure.. The same is true in Ks..

BulletBob
 

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Les,

In your post, your 4th comment:
4. There is a real, though indirect, connection between 'alt-enery' vehicles and government coercion. One example is the 'safety standards' that keep otherwise very functional and inexpensive Third World cars out of the country. Another is the herd instinct of people in a generalized way. Joggers and bicyclists report abuse. A few deserve it.

I was reading a few years ago about a guy who was trying to start importing chinese made cars. The retail price would have been something in the $3500 range for a brand new car. That would have killed all other car sales for most of the auto market. On the other hand, it allows the the current auto makers to keep making their current margins. What was interesting to me when I was in China a few years back was the number of Buicks and VW's. I guess the Chinese auto makers have ramped up production to meet the growing demand.

I am confused, however, by your last two sentences. What abuse are joggers and bicyclists reporting? I am a runner (FYI, jogging is for slow people) and a bicyclist. I've not had many real problems with motorized and wheeled vehicles, but then again, after 23 +/- years of running on roads, I am very aware of my actions and watch very closely everyone else's movements. I try and be as deliberate and predictable when 'playing in traffic', and to date have been very successful. To be clear, I am not trying to start a fight, but I am interested in what other runners and bikers are complaining about. (May be I can shed some light from my side of the curb?!) Is it emissions? I saw a car this morning that looked like it was on fire it was burning so much oil!! Glad I wasn't the guy in the convertible with the top down behind him in the construction traffic jam!

I was at my in law's place over the weekend. They've moved in to a retirement community that reminds me of college. There are folks who live in outlying building that use golf carts to get around the campus. Seems like the easiest solution there, if walking has become too difficult and painful. I also saw an ad for the new Chevy Volt electric car. Ad claims 40 miles before it uses any gas. Then, with the on board 1 cylinder engine, it can recharge the batteries. One thing I haven't gotten a clear answer on is how long the batteries will last and how spent batteries will be disposed.

I tend to agree with you, Les, regarding the folks dreaming up these vehicles. Before we had Luke, I wouldn't have given it much thought, but with a kid, and all the stuff we carry to support him, there's no way a 2 seater will work for us. Even a Mini Cooper would be too small right now. However, when you are designing your vehicle to drive on sidewalks, remember that sidewalks are not meant for motorized vehicles. In most states, there are laws against driving on sidewalks, even bikes. Also, make sure that if you do continue to design for sidewalks, a vast majority of them are not well leveled and there are many vertical transitions between one segment and another. I never noticed it before too much, but pushing a stroller will show you how bad it can get.

We're working on a solution of our own, but it has its own price: time. Last week, I made my first trip to work on my bicycle. 28 miles in 1hr 40 minutes. Nice way to start the work day, but it was a good thing I didn't have much going on. I am doing it again tomorrow. 28 miles to work and a partial ride home in the evening. This is not something I'll be able to do every day, simply due to logistics and meeting the needs of the home life. However, on the days it is practical, it offers a change of pace (faster heart rate, slower average MPH!) and a different kind of stress (watching cars and predicting their moves before 7AM!!). However, when I thought about it, I would have gotten up at the same time, gone running for an hour (8 miles) and then drove to work (40 minutes). So, in the end, all I lost was the gas. But, that's not to say I saved money because I took that $4 I would have spent on one type of fuel and bought another type: a Western Omlette, hash browns, and toast! Granted, I did enjoy the breakfast more than I enjoy the agressive drivers.

Mark
 

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Posted By Road Foreman on 08/11/2008 6:11 PM
Les,
Before you get bummed out, take a week & read the laws of Mo.. You will be suprised I am sure.. The same is true in Ks..
BulletBob




Bob,

At my age, I might not have a week. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crying.gif

Could you give me a couple of very short instances where MO is more lienient? I'm no fan of three-wheelers, for sure. And there is a large difference in regs for a 4 wheeler vs a 3.

Also, in another post, someone mentioned driving on interstates. THAT, I would never even consider in a battery-mobile, particularly a small one. 'Road Kill' leaps to mind.

Okay, thanks for the hedzup. I'll start looking into licensing/ins here in MO for homebuilts.

Les
 

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Following up on Torby's comment above:

Yes, you have to ask where the energy comes from to run the compressor of an air car, or to generate hydrogen. Not just the cost, but the polution. The cars don't polute, but if the electricity is generated using coal or oil as most of it is, you move the souce of polution from the vehicle to the area around the power plant. This might be an acceptable tradeoff, but there's usually no "free lunch".
 

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RE: New "Air Car" to work like steam locomotive

Quote - "In event of an accident the carbon fiber air tank "just splits", huh?... and just where does all that stored energy go? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/shocked.gif Did they forget there is always an "equal and opposite reaction"? Oh that's right, they're the experts, don't ask questions. Hope there is good rollover protection when the car flips from the sudden air jet." /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sick.gif

The stored energy goes back into the atmosphere, and it wouldn't be very dramatic at all. The carbon fiber would split apart. If your face was right up against the tank there would be a problem - but if that was the case the crash would probably do more damage...

Quote - "Third, have you ever seen what happens when you knock the valve off an oxygen bottle? like ROCKET time... and that's at about 1/4 the pressure...so what's gonna happen when you wreck one of these things?"

Even with the high pressure there still has to be a small orifice to direct the exhausting air. This is why they are using carbon fiber; the material will decompress and split as the air escapes.

Quote - "I saw a similar vehicle on some future car show. "No emissions!" They never mentioned the electric needed to compress all the air. "

This "long tailpipe" effect, is always quoted as a reason to not do anything new. The designer is quoting a cost of $2.00 to recharge the tanks. Manufacturing $2.00 worth of electricity is much easier on the environment than refining $15.00 worth of gasoline. It is also easier and cheaper to clean up the emissions from one power plant, rather than decreasing emissions on millions of individual automobiles.

Jeff C
 
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