Tata Motors have thought it prudent to tie up with Luxembourg based Motor Development International in the year 2007 to develop a vehicle, which could be powered by compressed air. The concept is neither new nor ground breaking as compressed air has always been in use in engineering and ballast blasts in mining.
What compressed air essentially would do in a vehicle is that it would power the piston to turn on the crankshaft, which would in turn power the car. It is not that the car itself would run on compressed air. However, incorporating this technology would reduce dependence on fossil fuels, which is used to power everything including the pistons today. Tata Motors and MDI are working on a feasibility plan to experiment the commercial use of compressed air driven pistons.
The concept of air compression dates back to more than a century, even before the advent of electric motors. It is only the ingenuity of MDI that through research and development and keeping in mind the pollutants emitted from millions of fuel driven cars, that this company came up with using air compression in automobiles. Akin to the internal combustion engine, the air is stored in a tank at a high pressure and electronic monitors and sensors release the air as and when required, which increases the rpm speed of the engine.
Research is on full swing to power cars with compressed air. However, field trials have indicated that the air compressors can only power a car to move at between 30 and 35 miles an hour. But the fuel and air compressor hybrid version can make an automobile run for nearly 300kms and the Tata cars would obtain a maximum speed of 105kms, more than enough for Indian conditions.