Saturday, April 11, 2009

Filling up my Air Engine Tank from a Hole in the Ground

First, let’s give credit where credit is due. I’d like to thank my good friend, Didier (, for coming up with this idea (and also the title of this article). This is a very insightful idea, Didier; and I’m sure that you, the readers of this blog, will agree with the points raised here.

Imagine, sometime in the very near future, that you are driving down the highway in your brand new Air Car and you suddenly need to stop to fill up your compressed air tank. Where would you go? Some would point out that you’d have to stop at a “Gas Station” along the way and park beside the slot reserved for filling air into tires and use the air hose to fill up your tank. This is probably what would happen in the near future.

But can you imagine filling up at a Compressed Air Powered Electrical Plant? This Idea may not be so farfetched at all! In one of my earlier posts, “Using Compressed Air to Store up Electricity”, Matthew Wald, the author of that article, mentioned that the Alabama Electric Cooperative, in McIntosh Alabama, utilizes a plant that powered by compressed air. A similar system is currently being employed at the Iowa Stored Energy Park. A 2007 Businessweek article entitled “Catching the Wind in a Bottle” mentions that a coalition of local utilities in Iowa is building a system that will steer surplus electricity generated by a nearby windmill farm to a big air compressor located underground, near a deep well. The compressed air is, then, stored and used when the demand for power rises. A whoosh of air flows back up the pipe (much like a balloon releasing air) into a natural-gas-fired turbine, boosting its efficiency by upwards of 60%.

Interestingly, the two plants I mentioned above produce more air than their tanks will ever need. With this in mind, it might be worthwhile to build other tanks for the purpose of filling up our Air Car Tanks. And, a cost efficient Air Refilling Station is born! The possibilities are endless when we’re finally Running on Air!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Angelo Di Pietro’s Amazing Rotary AIR Engine

For: Running on Air
By: Boom San Agustin

As I was browsing the web studying more and more about the AIR ENGINE, I stumbled upon a Rotary-type Air Engine that claims to have outstanding efficiency, constantly high torque, low parts count, is compact and light, with virtually no vibration, has smooth speed control and is virtually frictionless! In fact, it only takes 1 PSI of pressure to overcome friction! You read it right; only 1 PSI! I’m talking about ANGELO DI PIETRO’s AMAZING ROTARY AIR ENGINE!

In his website, Angelo Di Pietro says, "There is no other motor as good as ours, years of research and analyzing other motors around the world gave me the confidence and obligation to say so. (By) ‘Obligation’, (I mean,) in the sense that people have been waiting for ages in relation to efficiency in order to take care of our environmental situation.” Now, “100% more efficiency than the competitors” is a very serious claim! It almost sounds like a challenge or some kind of publicity stunt in order to market their engine! But Di Pietro is very confident in claiming that his invention has a long list of important improvements over other motors and that his concept has the capability to change the way we use transportation and furthers the benefits we get (in terms of energy savings) from the motor’s stationary applications. Are his claims valid? Let’s, first, review his engine design.

Engine Design and Fuctionality:

Di Pietro’s motor concept is based on a rotary piston. Different from existing rotary engines, the motor uses a simple cylindrical rotary piston (shaft driver) which rolls, with virtually no friction, inside the cylindrical stator. The space between stator and rotor is divided in 6 expansion chambers by pivoting dividers. These dividers follow the motion of the shaft driver as it rolls around the stator wall. The motor shown is effectively a 6 cylinder expansion motor. The cylindrical shaft driver, forced by the air pressure on its outer wall, moves eccentrically, thereby driving the motor shaft by means of two rolling elements mounted on bearings of the shaft. The rolling motion of the shaft driver inside the stator is cushioned by a thin air film. Timing and duration of the air inlet and exhaust is governed by a slotted timer which is mounted on the output shaft and rotates with the same speed as the motor.

Varying the performance of the motor can be achieved manually by varying the time during which the air is allowed to enter the chamber; meaning, a longer air inlet period allows more air to flow into the chamber and therefore results in more torque; while a shorter inlet period will limit the air supply allowing the air in the chamber to perform expansion work at a much higher efficiency. This way, compressed air consumption can be varied for higher torque and power output depending on the requirements of the application. Motor speed and torque are simply controlled by throttling the amount of air pressure into the motor. The Di Pietro Motor boasts that it gives instant torque at zero RPM and can be precisely controlled to give soft start and acceleration control.

Di Pietro’s Engine put to the Test by Melbourne Market Authority:

In August of 2004, Di Pietro, through his company, ENGINEAIR (in Brooklyn, Victoria) made good on his claims by developing “Market Burden” Carriers (vehicles used in ‘wet’ markets to carry heavy cargoes of goods from one point of the market to another), powered by his Air Engine for the Melbourne Market Authority (which operates a fleet of almost 300 Carriers hired by the market's users to collect and transport their choice of fresh fruit and vegetable produce from the wholesalers around the market) to be used in Melbourne’s Wholesale Fruit & Vegetable Market! Two (2) stroke petrol engine powered Carriers were being used by the Melbourne Market Center for the wholesale transport of fruit, vegetables and flowers over a massive 31 hectares of market. In an enclosed area, such as the market place, the emissions from the petrol engine carriers usually cause a variety of diseases to the vendors and patrons of the market! But since air drives Di Pietro's motor without any combustion or exhaust gases, his Carriers achieve zero-pollution mobility; which is an ideal concept for enclosed areas such as markets, factories or warehouses.

Di Pietro’s Carriers must have impressed the Melbourne Market Authority since it has offered ENGINEAIR a grant to develop and build prototypes for new Carriers driven by Air Engines.

This information may be verified with the Melbourne Market Authority, through David Traficante via telephone (03-9258-6161); or via E-mail (

Angelo Di Pietro (Brief History):

Angelo Di Pietro, (1950, Avellino, Italy) qualified as Congegniatore Meccanico in Avellino moved to Stuttgart, Germany to work on the Wankel rotary engine at the Mercedes Benz research laboratories 1969 and 1970. In 1971 he migrated to Australia where he established a construction engineering company there. From his early experience with Wankel Rotary Engines, Angelo became interested in developing a more efficient engine than the traditional reciprocating internal combustion engine, and he has worked on various alternative concepts intermittently over the last 30 years. In 1999 he made a major design breakthrough. Recognizing the potential of his invention Di Pietro decided to fully focus on the development of the new motor concept. The principle worked with the first prototype and, although not built to fine engineering tolerances, its performance far exceeded expectations.

Engineair Pty Ltd. (Company Profile):

Engineair Pty Ltd, established on 9 September 2000, with the objective to perform research and development on an innovative air motor design, invented and first tried by Di Pietro in 1997. In the first 2 years the company focused on developing prototype models to test the concept and understand the performance characteristics. During this period additional prototypes were tested, showing improving performance, power to weight ratio and air consumption. The current development status shows performance and efficiency to be superior over state of the art air motor technology. Based on these results the company is now entering commercialization of its technology. Engineair operates from modern dedicated facilities in Brooklyn, Victoria (close to Melbourne City). It houses facilities with an area of 1100 sqm (office and workshop area) and includes state of the art test and performance measurement systems.

Source: ENGINEAIR Pty, Ltd.


Below is a ‘YouTube’ video of a 2004 Report on Angelo Di Pietro’s Air Engine. Enjoy!

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dr. Louis Arnoux joined my Facebook Group!

For: Running on Air
By: Boom San Agustin

I really don't know how to contain my excitement! I got one of the best Christmas gifts ever today! I had recently posted a blog entry about Dr. Louis Arnoux's book, "Peak Oil, Climate Change and All That Jazz", and suddenly, I find a post on my Facebook Group, "Running on AIR - The Time for the Air Engine is Now", by... you guessed it... Dr. Arnoux himself! Wow! Can you say STARSTRUCK???

I would like to officially thank the good doctor through this blog post! Thank you Dr. Arnoux for supporting our cause!

If you'd like to view my Facebook Group, just click here... Running on Air - Facebook!

To download Dr. Arnoux's FREE e-Book, just click here... Peak Oil, Climate Change and All That Jazz!

About Dr Louis Arnoux...

Dr Louis Arnoux, is Managing Director of IT MDI – Energy Ltd and of the IndraNet Group of companies. His entire work is focused on facilitating the future proofing against the present global emergency of the corporate and individual customers of the companies he contributed to create. In doing so his aim is to enable their extremely rapid transition to sustainable ways of life and doing business that cost substantially less than contemporary business-as-usual.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Peak Oil, Climate Change and All that Jazz! (a book by Dr. Louis Arnoux)

For: Running on Air
By: Boom San Agustin

On the basis of massive and rapidly mounting evidence a fast growing international community of scientists, engineers and businesspersons, have concluded that humankind is in the midst of a global energy and ecological emergency of humankind’s own making. This emergency puts our species on a suicidal course unless it is resolutely addressed immediately. We consider that it is no longer tenable to conduct government or business affairs in ways that are largely disconnected from this reality. Humankind no longer has the leisure to take decades to decide what to do.

Forty years ago, in 1968, millions of young people had the intuition that humankind approached some kind of turning point. That turmoil soon abated and the world plunged into predatory consumerist globalization with a vengeance. In the early 1970s, however, the first substantial warnings about the probable consequences were published (e.g. The famous Limits to Growth, Club of Rome Report of 1972 “…systematically rubbished ever since by countless pundits that mostly did not have the background to do so and relentlessly corroborated to this day by new data and new analyses…”). Since then some 36 precious years have been wasted. The consequences are now upon us. We do not have the 50 years or so that are still mentioned in so many reports as the timeframe to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for example. We do not even have 20 years. The emerging consensus is that action must take place now and that there are hardly 10 years left to make significant global inroads towards a transition to sustainable ways of life and of doing business – with the ensuing decades devoted to the hard work of global consolidation. Failing this, the prospects for humankind are extremely grim.

Recently, in their book, Climate Code Red - the case for emergency action (2008), David Spratt and Philip Sutton have made it clear, in a bluntly honest fashion, that it is necessary to immediately begin (1) phasing out the use of coal, oil and gas as fuels to achieve zero greenhouse gases (GHG) emission globally within a couple of decades, (2) reducing GHG in the atmosphere to pre-industrialization levels and (3) cooling the planet by at least 0.3°C. In our view, they are unfortunately absolutely correct.

In Climate Code Red Spratt and Sutton, for example, focus on a war economy type of emergency response involving heavy-handed compulsory governmental action, based on comparatively scarce resources and entailing considerable hardship. While agreeing to the necessity and urgency of a global emergency response, Peak Oil, Climate Change and All that Jazz adopts a very different approach to show that it is feasible to set in place an effective and rapid alternative emergency response without the hardship.

Peak Oil, Climate Change and All that Jazz shows that the global emergency extends well beyond mere "climate change", to encompass all facets of what makes human life possible on this planet. Instead of the longer term threats of climate change, the most immediate danger concerns the peaking of all fossil fuels supplies and the related and extremely worrying rapid decline in net energy available from fossil fuels. One is reminded of the proverbial possum transfixed in the headlights of an oncoming car, just before it is about to be crushed by a B-train truck rushing in from behind. The car is climate change, while the B-train truck is nil net energy from fossil fuels before 2030.

Like the possum fixated on the car's headlights, over the last three years it appears that many people among the general public have embraced so-called “Climate Change” as a kind of new creed. With a kind of puritan zeal they have taken as an article of faith that there cannot be any salvation without a considerable measure of pain in the form of various heavy-handed government interventions, increased scarcity, increased frugality, increased prices for basic items like electricity, fuels, transport, food and so on – “the cold baths by candle light syndrome”. All the while, the policy focus remains firmly on a long-term time horizon, typically 2050, to achieve, maybe moderate reductions in greenhouse gases, i.e. far too late to handle the global emergency.

Instead, in Europe and North America, this emergency is also increasingly presented as an unprecedented business opportunity for growth and renewed prosperity. The contrast could not be greater. Instead of the “super-thrifty” miserly attitude of the “climate changers”, the emerging view is that the challenges present a unique opportunity for a turn to substantial cost reductions and sustainable enhanced prosperity without the need for highly unpalatable restrictive government measures. This is the view Peak Oil, Climate Change and All that Jazz expands upon to demonstrate how this is feasible by emulating what nature does best.

In response to the emergency, Peak Oil, Climate Change and All that Jazz shows that there is no energy scarcity. Each year the earth receives from the sun huge amounts of energy, many times more than humankind will ever possibly require. Humans create scarcity not nature. Peak Oil, Climate Change and All that Jazz also shows that meanwhile, each year we, in Australasia, collectively spend some $48 billion on waste heat to very little effect and that globally this wastage extends into the trillion dollars. Peak Oil, Climate Change and All that Jazz outlines a 100% Solar and Sustainable Initiative based on an innovative financial and business model and cutting edge Information, Communications, Energy and Transport technology package (ICET) that enables tapping into those wasted funds to open a rapid transition out of fossil fuel use and to fully sustainability.

Not only can the 100% Solar and Sustainable Initiative be implemented in ways that cost significantly less than what we currently pay for energy, transport, and communications, but its objectives can be achieved without massive, highly punitive and economically injurious government intervention. Instead the bulk of such an emergency response can be implemented totally commercially, competitively. It would result in enhanced prosperity, substantially increased employments and enhanced ways of life for all.

Source: IT MDI Energy

The Author

Dr Louis Arnoux, is Managing Director of IT MDI – Energy Ltd and of the IndraNet Group of companies. His entire work is focused on facilitating the future proofing against the present global emergency of the corporate and individual customers of the companies he contributed to create. In doing so his aim is to enable their extremely rapid transition to sustainable ways of life and doing business that cost substantially less than contemporary business-as-usual. This blogger shares the views of Dr. Arnoux, expressed in his book, Peak Oil, Climate Change and All that Jazz.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

MDI Releases the AIRPod!

A new compressed air vehicle has been welcomed into the MDI family. On October 9, 2008 MDI unveiled its answer to the need for clean air and urban mobility - the AIRPod. With its low price, zero pollution, high range and playful and futuristic design, the AIRPod marks a turning point in the nexus of automobile and urban transportation. And it will cost less than a Euro per 200 km to operate and will leave no one stuck in traffic jams.

The vehicle will be proposed for the city of Paris’ AutoLib contract and other municipalities and private concerns - airports in particular - are interested.

Besides the compressed air engine, the AIRPod has another unusual feature: a joystick instead of a steering wheel. All controls are “by wire”, with no mechanical connection among components.

It is surprisingly roomy. While it is only 2.07 m long, 1.60 m wide and 1.74 m tall, it has room for four people (three adults and one child). Direction is provided by different speeds in each of the rear wheels. Very light (only 220 kg for the passenger version), it can have its 175 l air tank recharged in a mere 1.5 minute (at 350 bar!) and is able to run up to 220 km, with a top speed of 70 km/h for people with a driving license.

In France, there are vehicles that can be driven by children and people with no driving licenses in regular city traffic. For these people, AIRPod’s top speed is limited to 45 km/h.

AIRPod is the result of MDI studies on pollution and urban mobility. It will be the first vehicle to come off MDI production lines in spring 2009. The AIRPod is part of the manufacturing license of MDI vehicles of less than 500kg, and will be built in the same factories as OneFlowAir, following the original production concept proposed by MDI.

It offers up to four seats (3 adults and one child) and has space for luggage. This version has a loading volume of more than one cubic meter to facilitate deliveries in town. Perfect for errands and messaging, as well as community and institutional use. Two front seats and a trunk of more than 500 liters, all for less than 1.80m long. This model was crafted for the most congested traffic. It is a versatile utility that can be used for supplies, municipal services, roads and small logistics.

See more information at

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to Make your own CAE from Home (Mike Smyth's Design)

Here’s something fun we “Air-Heads” can try at home. About 2 years ago I came across a website by engine designer, Mike Smyth, that showed how to make a very simple compressed air engine. I was actually able to make a scaled-up model at around the same time and created a CAE of my own (which I will be posting on this blog soon). The only real difference between Mike’s design and mine (aside from my engine being scaled-up) was the intake valve. Here he used a simple rotary pipe intake valve while I used a single overhead cam shaft to control the intake valves. However, my engine design will be discussed on this site some other day. For now, let’s discuss Mike Smyth’s design…

Mike Smyth’s V-Twin Air Engine:

Configuration: 70deg V-Twin
Bore: 0.563 in
Stroke: 0.750 in
Displacement: 0.373 cu in
Intake Valves: Rotary
Intake Duration: 167 deg
Exhaust Valves: 0.125 in dia. port at bottom of stroke
Exhaust Duration: 122 deg
Timing Shaft: Gear drive

In Mike’s V-Twin, the bottom end of the engine (pistons, connecting rods, and crankshaft) is very similar to engines found in everyday automobiles. However, the top end normally consisting of multiple poppet valves, springs, at least one camshaft, rocker arms and push rods (unless it's an overhead cam design like my engine) is replaced by a rotary valve that controls the timing of airflow into the cylinders. All of the above mentioned components are replaced by a single hallow shaft with cutouts in strategic locations.

The picture below shows the timing shaft, timing gear and the intake manifold.

Compressed air is injected at the left end of the intake manifold tube. When the timing shaft is turned so the ports do not line up with the cylinder ports (the two tubes on the side of the main tube) the intake valves are closed and no air flows because there is nowhere for the air to escape (the end of the timing shaft by the gear is plugged). When the timing shaft is turned so that either of the ports is lined up with the cylinder ports, the intake valves are open and compressed air flows into the respective cylinders. By changing the location of the ports in the timing shaft, the firing order and relative timing can be adjusted. Changing the mesh of the timing gear and the crankshaft gear allow intake timing adjustment relative to the crankshaft position. Fine adjustments to intake timing can be made by rotating the intake manifold in the plastic friction mounts in either end of the block. This can be done while the engine is running.

The exhaust ports are simply tubes at the bottom of the piston stroke that open to the atmosphere to relieve the pressure in the cylinder. This is very similar to a 2-stroke engine. With this design, the exhaust timing is dependent on the location of the port in the cylinder and the duration is a function of the diameter of the port (a larger diameter port will have a longer duration).

Though Mike’s engine design is sound, it is still very sensitive to the air pressure used. There is plenty of torque on the compression stroke even with very low air pressure, but because there is only an exhaust port at the bottom of the stroke much of the power is wasted as the pistons are traveling up. The high cylinder pressure from the power stroke is relieved once the exhaust port is opened, but when it closes off as the piston travels up, the remaining air in the cylinder is compressed; robbing energy. This problem is made worse by the small amount of air that leaks into the cylinders around the rotary intake valve. Not only is the air in the cylinder being compressed, the leaking air also exerts downward force on the cylinder robbing more power. The main drawback to this design is the power loss on the upward stroke of the piston caused by the exhaust valves. On a 2-stroke engine, the upward stroke is the compression stroke. In this case, it's necessary to compress the fuel/air mixture and the compression is a good thing. The energy lost compressing the fuel/air is more than compensated for by the additional energy gained by igniting the fuel under pressure rather than at atmospheric pressure. However, in a compressed air engine, no additional energy is gained if the air in the cylinder is compressed on the upward stroke of the piston. Any additional energy gain due to the higher pressure on the power stroke can't be greater than the energy required to compress the air in the first place.

This initial drawback, however, was mostly solved when Mike redesigned the valve system to relieve the pressure in the cylinders on the upstroke of the pistons. Below are revised engine specifications and pictures with the new valves.

Mike Smyth’s V-Twin Air Engine with Improved Valves:

Configuration: 70deg V-Twin
Bore: 0.563 in
Stroke: 0.750 in
Displacement: 0.373 cu in
Intake Valves: Rotary
Intake Duration: 175 deg
Exhaust Valves: Rotary
Exhaust Duration: 175 deg
Timing Shaft: Gear drive

One way to alleviate this drawback would be to increase the exhaust duration by using a bigger exhaust port. This would allow the piston to travel up farther before the port is closed thereby reducing the power loss. However, this would also reduce the effective length of the power stroke because once the exhaust valve opens; there is no longer cylinder pressure to force the cylinder down.

To reduce power loss caused by simply increasing the exhaust duration, Mike, then, added exhaust valves to the timing shaft in addition to the intake valves. The picture below shows the redesigned valve. This configuration allows the exhaust valves to be closed during the entire power stroke and also allows them to be open through the entire upstroke.

The new timing shaft is plugged in the center between the intake and exhaust valves and is open at both ends. Air flows in the left side of the timing shaft and is distributed to the cylinders as before through the two left intake ports. Air is exhausted through the two ports on the right and out the gear-end of the timing shaft. There is also now a second port in the top of each cylinder that connects to the new exhaust ports on the manifold. On the upward piston strokes, the exhaust valves are open until the piston is nearly at TDC (top dead center). This corrects the drawback described above and allows wider adjustment of the exhaust timing and duration. With the redesigned valves, the engine is not sensitive to air pressure and will easily run just by blowing into the intake manifold.

I hope this wasn’t too technical! Anyway, I’m sure you air-heads out there can have some fun with this design. Also, if you scale-up, like I did, you might even be able to power a small generator set that could even be used to light up some parts of your house. With a little ingenuity, who knows what else you can do with this?

Source: Mike Smyth's Compressed Air Engines

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

How the CAE works (Animation)

Here’s a treat for those of you closely following this blog!

Below is an animation of Guy Negre’s engine design and the four modes they operate in. For those of you who are looking to design your own homemade CAEs, this is a must! This video illustrates the various modes of the compressed-air engine.

Here are brief explanations of the various modes:

A. Operating with compressed air from Air Tank only [1]
B. Operating with compressed air from Air Tank [1] which is being heated [2] to expand volume before entering the engine
C. Operating with air from the Intake [3] which is being heated [2] to expand volume before entering the engine
D. Operating as in Mode-C but also refilling [4] Air Tank while running

Source: Zero Pollution Motors

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Short History of CAE Cars

By: Boom San Agustin

For half a century the air-powered locomotive was a serious contender for the top spot in transportation because of its obvious advantages: simplicity, safety, economy, and cleanliness. Air engines were commercially available and used routinely, first as metropolitan street transit and later for haulage in mines.

The term "air engine" disappeared from engineering textbooks after the 1930s and the second world war. Gas engines had been perfected, the oil industry was established, and gas was cheap.

Serious interest in air cars was rekindled by the energy glitches of the 1970s. Dozens of inventors have patented designs for hybrid, closed cycle, and self-fueling air cars, as well as conversions for existing engines and designs for air cars meant to stop at air stations for refueling.

The Pneumatic Railway, 1880s to today

Like modern electric subway trains, the power supply was provided continuously by a pipeline laid along the track. This concept was not practical at the time it was invented (1820s) because the materials were not available to make it work reliably. A modern version appeared in Brazil in the 1980s, invented by Oskar H. W. Coester, and developed by Aeromovel Global Corp.

The Mekarski Compressed Air Locomotive, 1886-1900

The Mekarski air engine was used for street transit. It was a single-stage engine (air expanded in one piston then exhausted) and represented an advance in air engine technology that made air cars feasible: the air was reheated after leaving the tank and before entering the engine. The reheater was a hot water tank through which the compressed air bubbled in direct contact with the water, picking up hot water vapor which improved the engine's range-between-fill-ups.

The Hardie Compressed Air Locomotive, 1892-1900

Robert Hardie's air engine was a going concern in street transit in New York City. Air car advocate General Herman Haupt, a civil engineer, wrote extensively about the advantages of air cars, using the Hardie engine as his source material and providing much of the impetus for the New York experiment to gain support and succeed. The engine was a one-stage expansion engine using a more advanced type of reheating than the Mekarski engine. One of its new features was regenerative braking. By using the engine as a compressor during deceleration, air and heat were added to the tanks, increasing the range between fill-ups. A 1500 horsepower steam-powered air compressor station was built in New York City to supply the Hardie compressed air locomotives and the Hoadley-Knight pneumatic locomotives.

The Hoadley-Knight Compressed Air Locomotive, 1896-1900

The Hoadley-Knight system was the first air powered transit locomotive that incorporated a two-stage engine. It was beginning to be recognized that the longer you keep the air in the engine, the more time it has to absorb the heat that increases its range-between-fill-ups. Hoadley and Knight were also supporters of Nikola Tesla's disc turbine, for which they formed a propulsion company that didn't get off the ground.

The H. K. Porter Compound Air Locomotives, 1896-1930

Inventor Charles B. Hodges became the first and only air car inventor in history to see his invention become a lasting commercial success. His engine was two-stage and employed an interheater between the two piston stages to warm the partially expanded compressed air with the surrounding atmosphere. A substantial gain in range-between-fill-ups was thus proven attainable with no cost for the extra fuel, which was provided by the sun. The H. K. Porter Company in Pittsburgh sold hundreds of these locomotives to coal-mining companies in the eastern U.S. With the hopeful days of air powered street transit over, the compressed air locomotive became a standard fixture in coal mines around the world because it created no heat or spark and was therefore invaluable in gassy mines where explosions were always a danger with electric or gas engines.

The European Three-Stage Air Locomotive, 1912-1930

Hodges' patents were improved upon by European engineers who increased the number of expansion stages to three and used interheaters before all three stages. The coal mines of France and Germany and other countries such as Belgium were swarming with these locomotives, which increased their range-between-fill-ups 60% by the addition of ambient heat. It might have become obvious to the powers-that-be that these upstarts were a threat to the petroleum takeover that was well under way in the transportation industry; after world war two the term "air engine" was never used in compressed air textbooks and air powered locomotives, if used at all, were usually equipped with standard, inefficient air motors.

The German Diesel-Pneumatic Hybrid Locomotive, 1930

Just before technical journals stopped reporting on compressed air locomotives, they carried stories on a 1200 horsepower full-size above-ground locomotive that had been developed in Germany. An on-board compressor was run by a diesel engine, and the air engine drove the locomotive's wheels. Waste heat from the diesel engine was transferred to the air engine where it became fuel again. By conserving heat in this way, the train's range-between-fill-ups was increased 26%. A modern train engineer tells me that all train engines these days are hybrids: diesel-electric. And we are supposed to consider the Toyota Prius a miracle of modern invention?

Terry Miller, the Father of the Modern Air Car Movement

In 1979, Terry Miller set out to design a spring-powered car and determined that compressed air, being a spring that doesn't break or wear out, was the perfect energy-storing medium. From there he developed his Air Car One, which he built for $1500 and patented. He showed his air car from coast to coast and then went on to other things. In 1993 he picked up his air car project again with the help of Toby Butterfield of Joplin, Missouri. They developed the Spirit of Joplin air car with parts mostly donated by manufacturers. Terry's air engines demonstrated the feasibility of building air engines with off-the-shelf parts on a small budget. His engines used up to four consecutive stages to expand the same air over and over. They ran at a low speed so there was plenty of time for ambient heat to enter the system and the possibility of low-tech developers to build engines cheaply at home. Terry was instrumental in educating the founder of Pneumatic Options on air car fundamentals. Terry's greatest contribution--and what makes him an air car advocate, not just another inventor--was that he published and made easily available the complete details on how to build an engine like his. No other inventor has done this. Shortly before his death in 1997, Terry Miller gave all rights to his invention to his daughter and to Toby Butterfield. Mr. Butterfield died in 2002.

Guy Negre and MDI

Currently a French inventor named Guy Negre is building an organization to market his air car designs in several countries. A web search for air cars will turn up hundreds of references to his company, Moteur Developpment International (MDI). His website is at Mr. Negre holds patents on his unique air engine in several countries. Plans are underway to build air car factories in Mexico, South Africa, Spain and other countries. We wish him success and encourage you to visit his website (or one of his licensees in Spain, Portugal, and Great Britain, and support his good work.

C. J. Marquand's Air Car Engine

Dr. Marquand has taken the highly commendable step of incorporating heat pipes into his air engine design for the recovery of compression heat. He also plans to use regenerative braking. It is not clear whether his engine has been tested in a car yet. Professor Marquand is a scientist with a number of published research articles to his credit. For further information contact: C. J. Marquand or H. R. Ditmore, Dept. of Technology & Design, Univ. of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish St., London W1M 8JS, Tel. 0170 911 5000.

Tsu-Chin Tsao's Hybrid Air Engine for Cars

Tsu-Chin Tsao is a distinguished professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCLA. He has invented a camless gasoline engine that does not idle; it uses compressed air to start the car, and when the air is gone the engine runs on gasoline. During deceleration, braking energy operates a compressor to fill the air tank for the next start. This brings to mind Buckminster Fuller's reminder in his magnum opus Critical Path, wherein he tells us how many horses (as in horsepower) could be jumping up and down going nowhere for all the gasoline being pointlessly burned by cars sitting at red lights at any given time. We have nothing but admiration and respect for Professor Tsao's serious step in a perfectly good direction, and apparently Ford Motor Company is in agreement: they are working with Tsao's team to look into the viability of putting a pneumatic hybrid on the road to compete with the Toyota Prius and other electric hybrids. The pneumatic hybrid is expected to save 64% in city driving and 12% on the highway.

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Using Compressed Air To Store Up Electricity

If you think that compressed air engines (CAE) are only about cars, think again! There are a variety of uses for compressed air. Here's a New York Times article that gives you another use for our CAE...

Technology; Using Compressed Air To Store Up Electricity

Published: September 29, 1991

Electric utilities confront a challenge unique in manufacturing: their product is consumed at the instant it is produced; customers can demand as much as they want whenever they want it, and running short of supply, even for a moment, is catastrophic. Thus, for as long as the industry has existed, engineers have been looking for ways to store electricity.

They have used batteries, which are effective but expensive, and hydroelectric plants that run in both directions, which are less costly but damage the environment.

On Friday, however, the Alabama Electric Cooperative dedicated a plant that uses a new system, one that experts say represents a relatively clean, efficient and cost-effective solution: compressed air.

The $65 million plant, in McIntosh, Ala., 40 miles north of Mobile, draws electricity from a coal-fired power station 20 miles away at night, when demand for power is low. The McIntosh plant uses an electric motor and a compressor to pressurize an underground chamber of 19 million cubic feet -- 220 feet in diameter and 1,000 feet tall -- to 1,100 pounds per square inch. The pressure may sound high, but it is only about one-fifth of what the chamber could withstand.

When the cooperative needs extra power, the air is withdrawn, releasing energy the way a balloon does. But it is not the air itself that provides the power to make electricity; the compressed air is fed into a turbine on the surface above the cavern. Turbines, essentially jet engines chained to the ground, burn natural gas or fuel oil mixed with the compressed air to spin a shaft, which then turns an electric generator to make power.

Using compressed air in a turbine is not new; in fact, virtually all utility turbines use the technique. Usually, some of the turbine's mechanical power is diverted to compress the air. In this case, however, the compression is done the night before, by a different plant.

The electric generator is the motor that is used to compress air. At night, it uses electricity to create a mechanical force, and in the daytime mechanical power is applied to generate electricity.

As a result, the plant produces one kilowatt-hour -- or 1,000 watt-hours -- of electricity for each 870 watts consumed the previous night. In contrast, the most common mode of energy storage is pumped hydro, in which water is pumped uphill at night, and during the day a valve is turned and the water runs back down, with the pumps recapturing the mechanical energy and turning it into electricity. But in that system, each kilowatt-hour put in delivers no more than 700 or 750 watts back out again. Batteries have about the same ratio.

Including the energy of the fuel burned in the turbine, the compressed-air system uses about 13,200 B.T.U.'s to produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity. This would be below par for most power plants, but good for a storage plant. In a pumped-storage system, putting in the same amount of energy would produce about 12 percent less electricity.

Hydroelectric plants often cost $1,000 per kilowatt of capacity, and batteries cost far more. The cost of building the Alabama plant was about $550 per kilowatt of capacity.

The compressed-air concept is not completely new. A similar plant opened in Huntorf, Germany, in 1978 and has run well since then, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a consortium based in Palo Alto, Calif., that contributed $8 million to build the Alabama plant. (The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association chipped in $660,000.) The American plant has one new twist, however: the exhaust gases from the turbine are used to preheat the compressed air after it is brought up from the cavern. That makes it 25 percent more efficient than its German predecessor, the institute says.

Despite that innovation, there are no new inventions at the plant. "We're integrating proven components," said Dr. Robert B. Schainker, an engineer at the institute. "We're using very low-temperature machinery, standard kinds of machines. A dozen utilities are discussing similar plants, he said, and he would like to try a more advanced turbine operating at higher temperatures, which would be more efficient.

Utilities know nearly nothing about building underground caverns, and Mr. Meyer said this was the element that most worried the co-op. But, he said, "everything went pretty well according to plan."

The technology of mining in salt, the geologic medium in Alabama, has been in wide use in the oil and gas business for decades. In fact, the method chosen -- solution mining, in which water is pumped in and brine is pumped out, leaving a void -- is the same one that was used by the Energy Department to create storage space for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The co-op's cavern begins 1,500 feet below the surface and stretches down to 2,500 feet.

The plant's output is 110 megawatts at full capacity, which is fairly typical of power plants now coming on line. It can run for 26 hours from a fully charged cavern and supply the demands of 11,000 homes, the institute says. Typically, however, it would run 10 hours a day or less, when demand is high. Another advantage, Mr. Meyer said, is that it can increase and decrease its power level quickly.

According to the institute, three-quarters of the United States has geologic formations "potentially suitable" for compressed air storage. A dozen utilities are discussing compressed-air storage plants, according to Dr. Schainker. Building caverns in solid rock would be more expensive, he said, but some areas have alternatives cheaper than salt, like abandoned mines or natural gas fields. The natural gas industry already uses depleted fields as storage grounds for its product.

At the North American Electric Reliability Council, a nationwide utility consortium that co-ordinates planning and issues forecasts, Gene Gorzelnick, a spokesman, said compressed air storage was "another technology that you can draw upon that allows you to use your existing facilities more effectively." A utility with insufficient power for peak hours might still have idle generating stations in off-hours; this puts idle plants to work and cuts the need for new plants. The cooperative has high hopes for its new plant, which entered commercial service on May 31, but was shut for modifications from early August until mid-September.

According to Robert C. Meyer, the project manager at the cooperative, 85 percent of the company's customers are residential, and their demand varies sharply by time of day; as a result, a graph of customer demand has a peak every day and a valley every night, the peak about twice as high as the valley.

That is mild, however, compared with the load profile of urban utilities, where the peak can be three times as high as the valley.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Air Car!

Here's a recent ad (below) about the coming of the "Air Car"; a vehicle powered by a compressed air engine. Though the Philippines will not be the one to manufacture this vehicle, we should, by all means, try to get this into the country! Can you imagine our savings on fuel? Hope you enjoy this ad...

Source: Zero Pollution Motors
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