By on September 23, 2011

Not even hot air. In this environmentally responsible day and age, unheated air will suffice to propel this car. Toyota Industries Corporation (not Toyota Motor Corporation) showed a car that is powered solely by compressed air.

No CO2 will be emitted, no polar bears will be harmed. Of course, there will be a bit power needed to compress the air – minor distraction. The principle is quite simple: Tanks are filled with compressed air. The compressed air powers a motor. The motor is actually a simple car air conditioner compressor. Toyota Industries is the world’s biggest supplier of the cool gadgets, the company cranks out about 20 million compressors a year.

The rocket-like car called KU:RIN (Japanese for “air wheel”) broke the speed record for compressed air-powered vehicles (yes, that exists) by speeding up to 129.2 km/h (80.3 mph) on the Ibaraki test track. Which will earn it a place in the Guinness World Records Book.

Of course there is a minor drawback: The KU:RIN is the embodiment of range anxiety. Says The Nikkei [sub]:

“In past tests, the vehicle ran as far as 3.2 kilometers without replenishing the air in the cylinders. The company said it will work on extending the travel distance. It said the model is not intended for commercial production but is for the sake of honing its junior researchers’ skills.”


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11 Comments on “A Marketer’s Dream: A Car That Runs On Hot Air...”

  • avatar

    Has a long way to go before it is as good as kink springs.

  • avatar
    VA Terrapin

    I can’t wait for someone to ask if this can tow a boat or carry plywood sheets from Home Depot.

  • avatar

    Compressing air takes some sort of fuel. I am curious as to how much sense this makes knowing that it will take a good amount of electricity to fuel the car. I am betting that it will be quicker to refuel than a battery charged car though.

    • 0 avatar

      Compressing the air into the tank will generate a lot of heat. If that heat is just dissapated as natural radiation of heat from the tank, you might get to a point where you have to slow down the filling process for fear of overheating.

      The flip side is that a car that works this way will get air conditioning “for free” much the same was as an IC-based car gets cabin heat “for free.”

    • 0 avatar

      Very correct, compressing air actually takes a hell of a lot of energy. A huge portion of the energy put into compressing air is lost to heat and friction. High pressure compressors are likely the least efficient type.

      After compressing the air, converting back to mechanical energy comes with additional losses in friction and inefficiency.

      In short, all that conversion from various form of energy makes an air powered car the least efficient or environmentally viable transport solution of the lot! Novel idea but useless.

      Unless you have massive solar powered compressors. In which case, using the solar energy for hydrogen would be better. A much more energy dense and practical fuel.

  • avatar

    Can this tow a boat or carry plywood sheets from Home Depot?

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    Put Lutz in it and you’d have infinite range vehicle.

  • avatar

    Sorry, it’s not a station wagon with a manual transmission. Which I wouldn’t buy new if it was, anyway. Let someone else suffer the depreciation.

  • avatar

    Back in the 50s, when I was a kid living in town, it seemed like there was a “gas station” about every couple of blocks. This would have been perfect for that situation LOL. Forget about the strenuous bicycle effort to get around.

  • avatar

    A standard SCUBA tank contains about 1.2MJ of potential energy. That is the equivalent of about 1 ounce of gasoline. Even carbon fiber tanks at 4000 psi would only bring that up to a few MJ.
    Not even suitable for golf carts considering the noise and complexity.

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