Saturday, June 21, 2008

MDI Air Car: The Future is Here

All across the world jaws are dropping as gas prices are raising new heights. The price of gas has sky rocketed to extremes and nowadays it feels like it costs us more money to go to the gas station to get gas then it does to walk to the pump with a gas can. Hybrid cars are the new craze but even they have to fill up some time or another. Although 50 miles to the gallon is nice, wouldn't it be great to never worry about the price of gas? What would happen if the world no longer needed fuel? Well, wait no longer, because the future is here right now, thanks to a company called MDI (Motor Development International)

MDI has created a car that runs strictly on air. Even though it sounds amazing, this is still nothing new under the sun. The technology for compressed air sounds like a brand new concept, but the truth of the matter is this technology has been used and created since 1896 by a man names Rudolf Diesel. In fact, compressed air technology powers almost every internal combustion system known to man.

In 1994, CAT (Compressed Air Technology) changed forever. Up until that time, to get better fuel efficiency engineers used turbo chargers and various types of equipment to force air and gas into the engine. Until this year when Guy Negre, a former Formula 1 race car designer, developed a way to make a car run solely on air that can be used to refill using any air compressor anywhere in minutes. In addition, if you find yourself without a compressor around, you can just plug into the wall and the built in compressor will refill your car in about 4 hours. In its current condition the car will run for about one hundred twenty four miles and its speed is maxed at sixty eight miles per hour (one hundred nine point four hundred thirty five kilometers)

MDI has not released very much information on their air car as of yet, but what we do know is that the engine uses nothing but air with a pneumatic combustion system that is too complex for words. This car features an electronic computer controlled transmission that constantly monitors the speed of the car and helps to keep the right amount of compression. There is an alternator to this car between the gearbox and the engine. This alternator helps to run different components of the car such as breaks, tank refills, and it helps with starting the vehicle. This car also features air tanks designed to take abuse so there is no need to worry about blowing up if something happens to them, which is hard to believe, seeing as how they contain four thousand psi (pound per square inch). These tanks are made of carbon fiber, so they will not just explode if damage occurs. Carbon fiber is made up of tiny fibers that have been reinforced with carbon bonded crystals too small for the human eye to see. These fibers are not as dense as steel, but combines a special resin which will become, in some cases, just as strong but not as heavy. The body of the air car formed out of injected foam and fiber will reduce weight and prevent rust. If damage occurs the fiber is easy to repair, and most importantly, carbon fiber is inexpensive to produce.

After researching and developing for fourteen years, they are about to begin production soon in India. MDI has collaborated with Tata Motors, India's number one car manufacturer. This car called the MiniCAT will be a huge success once launched, especially with these two engineering giants teamed together. There is no doubt that the Air Car will be a phenomenon that will change everything about the way we travel, and will leave the entire world wondering where they can get one. The MiniCAT will be sold approximately for the very low price of thirty eight hundred dollars (two thousand four hundred seventy EUR)

The air car is due to be on the showroom floors of Europe, Australia, and India near the end of 2008. As for the United States and other countries, the verdict is still out on when they will arrive, however a product such as this is well worth the wait. Chances are though, that this vehicle will be entering this market very soon. The automakers know that there is change needed, and are more than happy to make those changes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hydrogen Fuel Stations: Wave of the Future

You may have heard about hydrogen fuel recently. Hydrogen is the same chemical used as fuel by the sun, and when you burn it, you get lots of energy and very little pollution; burned efficiently, the only by-product is water. Even better, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and can be processed from the same water that it creates in an endless cycle We have the technology right now to build hydrogen-powered cars. So why don't you see them all over the road?

Because we do not yet have the infrastructure. In order to make hydrogen fuel a viable alternative to fossil fuels, we need to have a strong hydrogen fuel station infrastructure - a network of fueling stations throughout the country. After all, how would you fuel your gas-based car if you didn't have a gas station to stop at?

How Hydrogen Fuel Stations Work

There are two different types of hydrogen fuel stations right now: public stations, located only in a very few areas and concentrated in Southern California, and home stations, built into garages and set up with complex systems to provide appropriate water and energy supplies.

Both types of hydrogen fuel stations create hydrogen on the spot using some form of electricity, from standard power hookups to solar power cells. The cheapest hydrogen fueling stations are based around solar power cells. Water is purified, usually through reverse osmosis, and put through electrolysis with power provided by the solar power cells. The process of electrolysis divides water into its component atoms hydrogen and oxygen, and the hydrogen is stored in a separate tank. Oxygen may be stored, or it may be released as a non-polluting by-product.

The result: if you have a home station, you fuel your car for free (provided you've used solar energy), and if you don't, you fuel it up at the public station using an air-hose style pump and pay whatever the charge is

Where Are Hydrogen Fuel Stations Located?

With the exception of Southern California, you won't find many hydrogen fuel stations yet. There are a handful in Europe, where they are used to power hydrogen buses. Iceland is the first country to implement a nationwide process of replacing traditional fuel stations with hydrogen stations. Japan, always fast to embrace new technology, is following suit, and you'll find scattered fuel stations in a few other places: New York City, Washington DC, and British Columbia (in advance of the 2010 Winter Games).

The problem right now isn't a lack of technology. Instead, it's three other very practical considerations:

* The cost of building a hydrogen fuel station is prohibitive, though it will certainly drop in the future, and currently only projects subsidized by a government are viable.

* There isn't a huge demand for hydrogen fuel stations yet, partly because there aren't enough stations to support a large number of hydrogen cars yet.

* All hydrogen stations must be built in population-dense areas right now, so the range of hydrogen cars is limited, which limits their use enough to discourage widespread adoption.,

A combination of consumer demand and government subsidy is certain to edge hydrogen fuel stations to the point where they become a viable and vital part of our transportation networks.

It is certain that when we do have adequate infrastructure to support hydrogen-based vehicles, energy prices will drop sharply and output of carbon-based pollution will follow suit. Not only is the technology clean and reliable, it's probably going to be a new starting point for a burst of human development, just as the first steam engine, the first car, and the first airplane were.

So when will this be? Current estimates put widespread adoption of hydrogen cars at about five years. The process may be accelerated by government support of fuel station building, but it's more likely that the process will be a little slower, with the dense metropolitan areas adopting long before more remote areas and private fleets adopting the technology before anyone else.