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Hybrid Compressed Air Cars on the Way?

Lots of people claim to have built compressed air cars–some totally bogus and others slightly less so–but so far a tangible product has not materialized, despite repeated claims from Tata Motors and Motor Development International that air cars are on the way.

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Lots of people claim to have built compressed air cars–some totally bogus and others slightly less so–but so far a tangible product has not materialized, despite repeated claims from Tata Motors and Motor Development International that air cars are on the way.

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Now a team of researchers at Brunel University in the UK say that they have overcome a hurdle in compressed air car production by figuring out a way to adapt normal gasoline combustion engines to run on compressed air. The air gives an extra oomph to the motor, and in doing so reduces the cost of powering the car. The team’s compressed air hybrid cuts gas consumption by 30% and boasts a fuel economy of 65 MPG, which is comparable to an electric hybrid’s mileage.

So why waste time on compressed air when we already have hybrid electric cars in production? Brunel researchers claim that turning an existing combustion engine into an electric hybrid is significantly more expensive than turning the same engine into a compressed air hybrid. And just as electric hybrids have paved the way for fully electric cars, compressed air hybrids could finally make it easier for regular compressed air cars to get on the road.

The Brunel team is on the hunt for vehicle manufacturers to test its hybrid engine,but the technology will likely take years to hit your local car dealer’s lot if it gets manufactured at all.

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[Via UK Daily Mail]

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more

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