Watching Shark Tank the other day, one of the products proposed was a compressed air car. My first reaction was similar to those of the sharks on the show: What!?! Really?? How can a vehicle run using air as fuel? It turns out that, in the easiest way to describe it, the air is compressed and maintained in a tank on board. For mobility, it is similar to letting air out of a balloon. What a brilliant idea!? People have been talking of electric cars, connected cars, hybrid cars, battery powered cars and even cars that use Hydrogen as fuel. Here, we have an air powered car. For those in India, Tata Motors is reported to have signed an agreement with MDI, the parent company behind the innovation, for developing and selling it there.
While the car looks tiny and is definitely going to be refined over the years to provide more mobility, the initial specs look great. The current breed of hybrid cars store the kinetic energy or even the brake-pad energy to recharge their batteries for powering the vehicles forward. It has got me thinking – with compressed air being utilized, it should be possible to store the exhaust too. Or even better, when the vehicle is in motion, there is enough wind/ air around it. If a method of harnessing that wind energy can be created, then wouldn’t it be possible to integrate the traditional internal combustion engine with the air (which, of course, needs to be compressed) engine, to create a different kind of hybrid cars? These would be a step towards a future where we do away with our reliance on oil as a fuel. Instead, we turn towards renewable sources of energy such as the wind. I wouldn’t be surprised if the car companies are already working on technologies similar to the one proposed here!
If moving away from oil as a fuel seems fanciful, a peek at history will tell us that it is anything but. In the late 1700s and right until early 1800s, whale oil was the primary source of fuel for lighting lamps. Sailors and businesses in those days made their fortune hunting for whales, to squeeze out the oil, so that people on land could stay warm and see in the dark. Thankfully for the whales (at least the few that remained), man discovered kerosene and the whaling industry’s days were numbered. Fast forward a 100 years, New York City is said to have had a problem of dealing with horse dung on the roads because of the number of horses that were in use for transportation. And where are the horses today? You get the drift… In my mind, my great grandchildren will think of those 2000s era when people would spend hours to get from Point A to Point B, burning oil and using the principle of combustion. Onwards to a greener future then!