compressed air car


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ABSTRACT The Air Car is a car currently being developed, and, eventually, manufactured by Moteur Developpement International (MDI), founded by French inventor Guy Nègre. The air car is powered by an air engine, specifically tailored for the car. The used air engine is being manufactured by CQFD Air solution, a company closely linked to MDI. The engine is powered by compressed air, stored in a glass or carbon-fibre tank at 4500 psi. The engine has injection similar to normal engines, but uses special crankshafts and pistons, which remain at top dead centre for about 70% of the engine's cycle; this allows more power to be developed in the engine. Though some consider the car to be pollution-free, it must be taken into account that the tanks are recharged using electric (or gasoline) compressors, resulting in some pollution, if the electricity used to operate the compressors comes from polluting power plants (such as gas-, or coal-power plants). Solar power could possibly be used to power the compressors at fuel station.


1.INTRODUCTION The air car is powered by air engine. It is an emission free piston engine using compressed air as the fuel. It was invented by Guy Nègre, a French engineer; in 1991 started Moteur Developpement International (MDI) Luxembourg. He invented a dual-energy engine running on both compressed air as on regular fuel; then managed to create a compressed air only-engine, and improved his design to make it more powerful in the 15 years. Other people that have been working on the idea are Armando Regusci and Angelo Di Pietro. They too have companies, Rugusci started up Regusci Air and Di Pietro started up Engine Air. They are selling their engines.


2.ENGINE DESIGN It uses the expansion of compressed air to drive the pistons in a modified piston engine. Efficiency of operation is gained through the use of environmental heat at normal temperature to warm the otherwise cold expanded air from the storage tank. This non-adiabatic expansion has the potential to greatly increase the efficiency of the machine. The only exhaust gas is cold air (−15 °C), which may also be used for air conditioning in a car. The source for air is a pressurized glass or carbon-fibre tank holding air at around 3,000 lbf/in² (20 MPa). Air is delivered to the engine via a rather conventional injection system.


3.USES OF AIR ENGINE Used to power an urban car with room for five passengers and a projected range of about 100 to 200 miles (160 to 320 km), depending on traffic conditions. Main advantages are: no roadside emissions, low cost technology, engine uses food oil for lubrication (just about 1 litre, changes only every 30,000 miles (50,000 km))and integrated air conditioning. The tanks may be refilled in about three minutes at a service station, or in a few hours at home plugging the car into the electric grid via an on-board compressor.


4.MDI CAT’s (COMPRESSED AIR TECHNOLOGY CARS) Compressed air technology allows for engines that are both non polluting and economical; do not have a limited driving range, are easy to get around cities in. Two technologies have been developed to meet different needs: Single energy compressed air engines & Dual energy compressed air plus fuel engines. The single energy engines will be available in both Minicats and Citycats; conceived for city use, maximum speed is 50 km/h and where MDI believes polluting will soon be prohibited. The dual energy engine, has been conceived as much for the city as the open road, available in all MDI vehicles; engines work exclusively with compressed air while running under 50 km/h in urban areas, outside urban areas at speeds over 50 km/h, the engines will switch to fuel mode.

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Both engines will be available with 2, 4 and 6 cylinders. When the air tanks are empty the driver will be able to switch to fuel mode by using the car’s on board computer. Instead of normal speed gauges they have a small computer screen that shows the speed and engine revolutions. MDI´s vehicle's have fibre glass bodies which makes them light, silent urban car; body is tubular, light weight, and is held together using aerospace technology. The seatbelt system is different; one part of the belt is anchored to the floor of the car, like traditional cars, other part of the belt, in stead of being attached to the side of the car, is also anchored to the floor of the vehicle, helps to secure the bodies of the driver and passengers in the case of a collision.

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MDI is also considering a system to replace traditional keys by an access card; it would be possible to open the car from a short distance away without having to actually insert anything in the car. The recharging of the car will be done at gas stations, once the market is developed; to fill the tanks it will take about to 2 to 3 minutes at a price of 1.5 euros. After refilling, the car will be ready to drive 200 kilometres. Also has a small compressor that can be connected to an electrical network (220V or 380V) and will recharge the tanks completely in 3 or 4 minutes.


5.BASIC PRINCIPLE OF CAT’S 34 ENGINE The CAT’s 34 Engine is a 4-cylinder engine which will be used in cars in serial production.

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It was developed between the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002, uses an innovative system to control the movement of the 2nd generation pistons and one single crankshaft. The pistons work in two stages: one motor stage and one intermediate stage of compression/expansion. The engine has 4 two-stage pistons, i.e. 8 compression and/or expansion chambers; have two functions: to compress ambient air and refill the storage tanks; and to make successive expansions (reheating air with ambient thermal energy) thereby approaching isothermic expansion. Steering-wheel is equipped with a 5kW electric moto-alternator. This motor is simultaneously: the motor to compress air, the starting motor, the alternator for recharging the battery, an electric moderator/brake, a temporary power supply (e.g. for parking) .

Detailed view of the MDI engine : 

Detailed view of the MDI engine

3D view of the engine interior : 

3D view of the engine interior

The engine which will be fitted in MDI cars in serial production : 

The engine which will be fitted in MDI cars in serial production No clutch is necessary, the engine is idle when the car is stationary and the vehicle is started by the magnetic plate which re-engages the compressed air.

Articulated con-rod : 

Articulated con-rod The MDI con-rod system allows the piston to be held at Top Dead Centre for 70% of the cycle, so enough time is given to create the pressure in the cylinder.

Gear box : 

Gear box Gear changes are automatic, powered by an electronic system developed by MDI. A computer which controls the speed of the car is effectively continuously changing gears . Moto-alternator It connects the engine to the gearbox, supports the CAT´s motor to allow the tanks to be refilled, as an alternator it produces brake power, starts the vehicle and provides extra power when necessary.

Distribution and valves : 

Distribution and valves The engines use a simple electromagnetic distribution system which controls the flow of air into the engine.


6.THE AIR CAR’S TECHNICAL DETAILS a) Compressed air tanks The compressed air tank is a glass or carbon-fibre tank, hold 90 cubic metres of air compressed to 300 bars. This system is not dangerous in case of an accident as there is no risk of operation. In the case of a major accident, where the tanks are ruptured, they would not explode since they are not metal, instead they would crack, as they are made of carbon fibre. The tanks in CATs vehicles are composed of an interior thermoplastic container which ensures it is airtight, is held in a coiled and crossed carbon fibre shell.

Special machines making the tubular shell : 

Special machines making the tubular shell

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The tanks used in the CAT´s vehicles should last for a period of fifteen years, to be tested every five years. The tanks weigh 35 - 40 kg for 100 litres of air at 300 bars. For extra security, a protective plate is fixed underneath the vehicle´s chassis, there is also an extraction system to deal with water produced by condensation. b) Brake power recovery The MDI vehicles will be equipped with a range of modern systems, ie one mechanism stops the engine when the car is stationary (at traffic lights, junctions etc). Another interesting feature is the pneumatic system which recovers about 13% of the power used.

c) The body : 

c) The body The MDI car body is built with fibre and injected foam. Two main advantages: cost and weight. Nowadays the use of sheet steel for car bodies is only because it is cheaper to serially produce sheet steel bodies than fibre ones, however, fibre is safer (it doesn´t cut like steel), is easier to repair (it is glued), doesn´t rust etc. d) The Air Filter Before compression, the air must be filtered to get rid of any impurities that could damage the engine; carbon filters are used to eliminate dirt, dust, humidity and other particles; the exhaust pipe on the MDI cars produces clean air, which is cold on exit (between -15º and 0º) and is harmless to human life.

e) The Chassis : 

e) The Chassis MDI has put together highly-resistant, yet light, chassis, aluminium rods glued together; using rods enables to build a more shock-resistant chassis than regular chassis. Additionally, the rods are glued in the same way as aircraft, allowing quick assembly and a more secure join than with welding, helps to reduce manufacture time. f) Electrical system Guy Nègre acquired the patent for an interesting invention for installing electrics in a vehicle; using a radio transmission system, each electrical component receives signals with a microcontroller. So, instead of wiring each component (headlights, dashboard lights, lights inside the car, etc), one cable connects all electrical parts in the car; advantages are the ease of installation and repair, the removal of the approximately 22 kg of wires no longer necessary, also the entire system becomes an anti-theft alarm as soon as the key is removed from the car.


7.MODELS a) Family A spacious car with seats which can face different directions, vehicle´s design is based on the needs of a typical family. Characteristics: Airbag, air conditioning, 6 seats.

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Dimensions:3.84m, 1.72m, 1.75m Weight:750 kg Maximum speed:110 km/h Mileage:200 - 300 km Max load:  500 Kg Recharge time:  4 hours (Mains connector) Recharge time:3 minutes (Air station) Detail of the on-board computer

b) Van : 

b) Van Designed for daily use in industrial, urban or rural environments, whose primary drivers would be tradesmen, farmers and delivery drivers. Specifications: Airbag, air conditioning, ABS, 2 seats

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Dimensions:3.84m, 1.72m, 1.75m Weight:750 kg Maximum speed:110 km/h Mileage:200 - 300 km Maximum load:  500 Kg Recharging time:  4 hours (Mains connector) Recharging time:3 minutes (Air station). Detail of steering wheel

c) Taxi : 

c) Taxi Inspired by the London Taxi, with numerous ergonomic and comfort advantages for the passenger as well as for the driver. Specifications: Airbag, air conditioning, 6 seats

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Dimensions:3.84m, 1.72m, 1.75m Weight:750 kg Maximum speed:110 km/h Mileage:200 - 300 km Maximum load:  500 Kg Recharging time:  4 hours (Mains connector) Recharging time:3 minutes (Air station). Detail of the driver´s seat

d) Pick-Up : 

d) Pick-Up The "pleasure" car: designed for excursions, outdoor sports or water sports. Also suitable for tradesmen and small businesses. Specifications: Airbag, air conditioning, 2 seats

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Dimensions:3.84m, 1.72m, 1.75m Weight:750 kg Maximum speed:110 km/h Mileage:200 - 300 km Maximum load:  500 Kg Recharging time:  4 hours (Mains connector) Recharging time:3 minutes (Air station).

e) Mini Cat’s : 

e) Mini Cat’s The smallest and most innovative: three seats, minimal dimensions with the boot of a saloon: a great challenge for such a small car which runs on compressed air. The Minicat is the city car of the future. Specifications: Airbag, air conditioning, ABS, 3 seats

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Dimensions:2.65m, 1.62m, 1.64mWeight:750 kg Maximum speed:110 km/h Mileage:200 - 300 km Maximum load:  270 Kg Recharging time:  4 hours (Mains connector) Recharging time:3 minutes (Air station).


8.COMMERCIALIZATION The commercial strategy is currently concentrated on the urban markets with products including taxis, delivery vans and pickup trucks. A model factory is being constructed in Brignoles, France. A taxi called "TOP" (Taxi ZerO Pollution) and pickups truck, were built. In May 1998, the first road tests of these prototypes were done in Brignoles, France. To manage the development process successfully, MDI has contracted its product research and development activities to CQFD Air Solution, a company based inBrignoles, France. Here, under the direction of Guy Negre, some 30 engineers and technicians have at their disposal the most modern equipment for engineand vehicle development, testing and production, supported by the latest in information technology.

On-road trials of the MDI taxi : 

On-road trials of the MDI taxi


9.CONCLUSION The air car is a clean, easy to drive, high performance car. MDI has achieved what the large car manufactures have promised in a hundred years time. The end product is a light weight vehicle that can reach speeds up to 220 km/h (even though the legal limit is 120), does not pollute like twentieth century vehicles and does not take a lifetime to pay off. The principle advantages for an air powered vehicle are: Fast recharge time; Long storage lifetime (electric vehicle batteries have a limited useful number of cycles, and sometimes a limited calendar lifetime, irrespective of use); Potentially lower initial cost than battery electric vehicles when mass produced.

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