Monday, January 14, 2008
Compressed air powers cars, boats, warehouse trams
This video is from a television show in Australia. It shows two sets of tools which provide transportation using compressed air to provide the needed energy. The first tool is a fairly conventional engine, but made of light weight aluminum, where the piston is driven not by exploding gasoline, but by compressed air carried on board in high pressure tanks. That tool is used to power cars and very legitimate looking mini vans. The second uses something like the Wankel Rotary Engine. This tool is amazing, in that it doesn't drive a piston, but uses compressed air to move the drive shaft more directly. The compressed air also provides a cushion some how so that the internal moving parts do not come into contact with one another, making the energy transfer to the wheels much more efficient.
We always need to be looking at the possible negative but hidden dangers. Would the massive demand for the product cause more short tern air pollution because they must be built in the first place? Would the electricity used to compress the air come from nukes, coal, or what? Isn't this still a centralized solution to the problem? Does that matter?
All in all, things like this, if combined with a mind set change which makes owning "stuff" less important, may offer a glimmer of hope for the next century.