Developed by Moteur Developpement International, the Compressed Air Engine might just be best thing to have happened to the motor engine in years. And now, one of the first commercial applications for the zero-emission engine, the Air Car, will be starting production relatively soon, thanks to India’s TATA Motors. There’s fuel, there’s renewable fuel, and then there’s uber-renewable fuel- and a car that runs off of air is sure to fall into the third category. Here’s hoping we see these on streets all over the world sooner than later!

The engine works by using compressed air instead of gasoline for fuel. It has a maximum speed of about 100km/h and a range of around 200-300 km per fuel charge, making it ideal for use within the city. Two types of engines are being proposed for the models, a single energy engine which works simply by using compressed air, and a dual energy engine, which works by combining compressed air for short trips and gasoline for longer trips.

In order to recharge the car, one can plug it into the mains system so that the internal pump can refill the compressed air tank, or by going to a purpose-built air-station. The Minicat and the Citycat are two of models being proposed for manufacturing with plans to expand towards pick-up trucks and even minivans. Via Ecogeek

+ MDI Air Car
+ World’s First Air-Powered Car: Zero Emissions by Next Summer by Popular Mechanics


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  1. aria vintila October 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I say is more then one way for better
    air press and electric car

  2. ashishsuware July 27, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    but what about its cooling effect how we can get efficient power out if it if temp is bellow ambient?

  3. David Paschall July 16, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Will this system have a recyclable air source so you could just keep rolling?

  4. vilasteli March 15, 2011 at 3:23 am

    I like this car because ti is the inoviative ideas .

  5. jozer January 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    There is another way to use compressed air to power vehicles. This would be a plug in hybrid electric. Let me explain, when the vehicle is charging an electric motor is powering a multistage piston compressor with intercooling between each stage. The heat of compression would be transferred by standard auto antifreeze solution to an insulated tank filled with paraffin or a eutectic salt solution to store it. The compressor and compressed air tank would also be insulated to keep heat loss to a minimum.
    When the vehicle is running the cycle is reversed. The compressor becomes a multistage piston expansion engine which uses the stored heat to help expand the air. A piston engine of this sort does not need a transmission. It is also good for regenerative braking.
    The power and range of a compressed air engine can be boosted by using the waste heat from a small gasoline engine-say a lawn mower engine-to add extra heat to the expanding air. It would be a form of co-generation. The advantages of this would be a hybrid electric vehicle that needs fewer expensive batteries than a conventional electric or hybrid vehicle. Theoretically it could also get better mileage than a conventional hybrid.

  6. angelstelindia January 19, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Waiting for the car to be launched!
    Government sholud provide subsidies to buy air car in India.
    The price has to be below 2 lakhs thus encouraging the middle class to afford and buy. Taxes should not be applicable.

  7. ghassan June 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    what an invention… and we been using gas all this time?????
    keep it up

  8. Vintila Arie June 4, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Air press car is not a joke it is aff fact
    we need to front more ventureand it will came

  9. paintball December 31, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    still no air car? big surprise 😉

  10. charlie.. September 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    There are some prototypes running around. Mostly in the parking lot of MDI.

    That’s been the status of MDI since before 2000. Oh and they continual “goes on sale next year” that they keep announcing almost every year.

    They have downsized the compressed air car down to a golf cart sized vehicle. This may actually work. It might even have the same range as and electric golf cart.

    As you might guess, the Airpod goes on sale “next year”. Right now, MDI claims that it will be on sale in France sometime in the first three months of 2010.
    My bet is that around April 2010 that will change to “late 2010″, and then to …..

  11. 3RunHomer September 9, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Air cars are fiction. You cannot store enough compressed air energy onboard to go more than a few hundred yards. Notice that this article is two years old and there are no air cars.

  12. rakesh July 2, 2009 at 9:48 am

    in this cars we are using compressed air as fuel there is a chance of “BLASTING” how to compencate it

  13. digafrica October 17, 2008 at 7:58 am

    The car is a great idea but have you got any idea what a compressor will cost to generate this kind of pressure. 4500psi is a lot. I work for a compressor company. Besides the car \\\”recharging\\\” itself, the air compressor could cost as much as half the price of the car. Large scale compressed air is very inefficient in relation to the amount of enrgy used to create it. We need to find a cheaper solution to compressed air generation.

  14. christineMur August 29, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Hope these cars will come to Australia
    We should even go SOLAR – then it will be even better.

    here is a concept that would grow – to many different ideas.

    would they bring these cars out in a 4 wheel drive?

  15. Efren C. Monzon July 15, 2008 at 2:43 am

    How to become a distributor of this car in the Philippines? For sure this unit will be saleable in the Philippine due to being poor country or very depended on oil for use in way of transportation. More power to you!

  16. Blueskies July 14, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    the 6 seater uses a high temp air heater to increase air pressure to the engine. This model does use fuel to supply th heater. It gets 106 mpg, has a top speed of 95 mph, a range of 800 miles, and comes standard with AC, Stereo, safety cage, air bags ect like all other cars.

  17. Blueskies July 14, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Btw, the 6 seater was supposed to be sold in the USA for $18,000.

  18. Blueskies July 14, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    There is the 6 seater ZPM/MIDI aircar model, being readied for the USA I\’m told. They added a heating element to heat the air going to the engine, to increase pressure. It reachs a speed of 95 mph, has a range of 800 miles, 106 mpg (the heating element requires fuel), comes with standard ac. disc brakes, stereo\’s ect.

    The air tanks are of carbon fiber, made by Airbus. When damadged they do not blow up, they split and the air whoosh\’s out.

  19. Hazel R. July 12, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    When will you get these caes to the U.S.A.? This is the best thing that could happen to the while world!! NO POLUTION and it will replace itself, like coal and oil will run out someday.GET SOMEONE OVER HERE TO SELL THEM HERE IN MICHIGAN U.S.A.
    Hazel R.

  20. can_can May 29, 2008 at 2:36 am

    this is important for peoples life………thanks

  21. rahuldewan May 24, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I saw a programme about this car on Discovery a couple of days back, and yes it claimed that Perpetual Motion was becoming a reality through this car, as the generator which compresses the air for the air-tanks, runs on the same engine which runs the car. They are thinking of deploying this generator on the car itself. If I understand this correctly, this means that it would take a one-time fill using conventional energy, and after that the generator would feed itself, and the air-tanks thus running the car perpetually, without ever needing a replacement air-tank. Pheww…

    The cost was mentioned to be under $15,000.

    If this generator and perpetual motion thing is true (which I am so hoping it is), it could change Energy generation for homes and industries as well – atleast at some small levels. And if this is true, I hope they release their patents to the \”open source community\” to proliferate use of energy systems that could change the course of evolution of this planet.


  22. sami April 27, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    asking about prices of yhese car and specification

  23. sami April 27, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    dir sir
    asking about prices of mdi air car and what is the specification of this car

  24. irmediator April 16, 2008 at 7:30 am

    To get extended range on these vehicles for longer trips, one would need a secondary power source. Wanting to be completely independent from fossil fuels, it would be worth the extra cost to me to also make the air vehicles plug-in electric hybrids. For RVs, they make these really cool roll-up solar pannels that somehow plug-in to the RV’s power system. They aren’t very expensive, and could take the form of the windshield shades that people put in front of their mirrors, to keep their cars cool in the summer heat. Such a device could do double duty and also provide solar energy when the car is parked, to charge both the lithium-ion batteries as well as the air tanks. One could have four solar pannels for each window, to catch as much rays as possible.

  25. Charlotte April 3, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Love this car, hope I am alive to see this happen, I also read about the water car,but haven’t seen it happen yet, and that been a few years ago.

  26. Charlotte April 3, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    This would be a wonderful improvement, why was it not done 20 years ago? My husband would have been thrilled, as we had talked about having some thing done about the gas for 20 years, he talked about it all the time. to late for him as he has passed, but maybe I will get to see it.

  27. Michael February 12, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I want one! wat more can you say? this is the greatest engineering feat since the car was first invented! all the government complaining about the o-zone layer and they are stil not sure weather they will let this be sold or not because it will drastically reduce the oil barrons money flow! no-one cares about them overly rich ***** because they could wipe out world poverty and dnt do anythin for it so they should hit them were it hurts and reduce there income for the good of the earth! I WANT ONE!

  28. Sidney Smith February 4, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I think that this is a great idea and will make a great impact on the earth and the way we think about traveling. I do wish they would travel a bit longer but I’m 16 so this car is very cute and smalland not like the huge family car I have to drive. I would buy one if it went faster on the highway and could last longer! (and if I had the money)

  29. Greg Solems January 27, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    I saw this car on discovery channel, thy claim that the car runs on air and uses no energy. It takes energy to compress the air ant that energy is used to propel the car. There are people out there that thinks that this car runs on air, but its actually air pressure which takes a very strong air compressor to make that hapen, still uses energy, not air. Bio diesel is the way to go.

  30. dick north December 20, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    What is the truth, does the car go 155 kilometers on a tank or not?

  31. Paul C December 15, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Hi guys, I found lots of information about this car and other applications you can use this engine for on this New Zealand website well worth a look to find out more information about this car.

  32. Boomhauer November 15, 2007 at 2:34 am

    The reason this car will never work (and that prototypes have only gone 7 km in tests) is simple – compressed air is a horrible and wasteful energy storage mechanism. This will never change, and thus this will never work well enough to gain acceptance. Its all there in the timeless energy fundamentals document that don lancaster wrote ages ago:

    This car was on a discovery channel show this evening and was claiming that they could compress air by using other compressed air? If conservation is to catch on, it needs to quit looking stupid by embracing wasteful technology like this or claiming perpetual motion (like the discovery show did).

  33. Taylor Baldwin November 12, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Watch it get run over by an SUV…

  34. papos auto clinic / man... November 7, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    ive been looking for something like this in years.
    this is a great idea and i love it
    this surly will not deplete the ozone layer. we need these cars all over the world
    but this will bring a problem for gasoline retailers.
    i dont care.

  35. Angelia October 23, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I know what i’m asking for my 16th birthday!

  36. Angelica October 23, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    I know what i’m asking for. For my sweet 16!

  37. francisco October 19, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    la pagina de MDI dice que recorre 200mll con tanque lleno que costaria 1.5 E, y alcanza una velocidad maximo de 100K
    el problema para traerlo a US es us seguridad en choques y su velocidad.

  38. Jamari Broussard October 5, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    This air car is a great idea. I was wondering if yall were going to make the car attractive. People are materialistic and some can careless what it fuel it runs on if its ugly. To be completely suer your gonna get customers in the marketplace u guys show make a model that is cool. Like the 99 Viper of Chrysler. Then try a turbo charged air compressed engine for like sportscar. That would be a great idea also.

  39. E in MD September 17, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    it’s got a top speed of 64 mph and a range of ~155 miles. You’ll sell a few in America but not any kind of revolutionary number. Need to get the speed and range up if you want to sell them here. Americans like fast cars that go along time between ‘refueling’

    Still it’d be good for city commutes if not long trips. Mine for example is 40 miles each way on the highway. I’m not gonna be able to drive to Philly on it. But getting me back and forth to work should be fine. Add some solar panels and some regenerative breaking abilities and I’d buy one. I notice the design seems a bit less dorky too. The original pics I saw made them look ridiculous.

  40. Paolina August 28, 2007 at 12:46 am

    I don’t think there would be a sudden cessation of fossil fuel use, but in sunny areas, the air could be recompressed using solar-generated electricity. That would not only clean up the air, but ease the demand for fossil fuels. Normally cloudy areas, or winter sky areas, would continue to need alternative fuels, or buy tanks. Of course, transporting the tanks would use energy. Meanwhile, what happens with sudden impacts on tanks? Would there be an explosion? I have followed the MDI car developments since 2002, and am impatient with its non-appearance on the commercial market. I’d like to see its developers honestly, publically assess the downside as well as the upside. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. It surely appeals to me, and with quirks ironed out, I’d like it for my next town car. Indeed, with stations available, distance shouldn’t be a problem. Have we alternative car manufacturing companies in the US? If they don’t get with it, overseas will get the jump on us and seize the market (when it finally arrives).

  41. Harel July 22, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve been following the MDI aircar since 2000 and in touch on and off
    with MDI..the technology is very real.

    As you can see from the date above it has been slow..but (like with
    solar PV becoming more affordable) this has as much or more to do
    with lack of friendly government policies and investment to ramp up
    production, than with technology. It looks like with Tata this is finally
    going to change.

    More background and lots of links at:
    Send us more links if you find them.

  42. Frank Cizek July 19, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Barry: “…why has the MDI not really being talked about?”

    Amazing amount of silence on the subject, isn’t there? All they talk about is CAFE & the ethanol boondoggle! I’ve seen it in at least two magazines, I think one being the June Pop Mechanics, but the “news” media writes not a word.

    I have to wonder how much stock in the news media is owned by the oil companies?

  43. mm July 12, 2007 at 6:16 am

    where can i buy this?

  44. Barry Hurley June 24, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    I was doing some alternative fuel Ideas of my ow, and stumbled on MDI.
    Sounds like a simple idea, possible and cost effective. Why not have cities put in a MDI lane to help getting this into the USA, I believe that safety standards are good and needed in the USA, but could be reviewedm and routes set up for MDI autos only, maybe add a chip to monitor distances of MDI and automatically remind the driver and possibly slow the vehicle. The way government standards change and the unfluence of petrol companies could keep this alternative creative ideas out of the USA.
    1) Price?
    20 Has anyone contacted Air America, Glen Beck, Larry King, O’Reily, Hillary Clinton etc…why has the MDI not really being talked about? Is it real of fiction??
    We should not have to demand a non-fossil fuel vehicle!!

  45. Andrew Wynne June 21, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Thank God! This is a vehicle that is sorely needed today. I would love to run a zero emissions vehicle that used no fossil fuels. When will these be availabe for sale in California? How much will they cost? I hope they improve the technology so one can run at 70 mph and increase the range to 350 miles. I hope that Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Fresno, and Sacramento will soon have stations to repair and “REAIR” these vehicles. How safe would these vehicles be in accidents? Will their be a tax credit for purchasing these vehicles? It is too bad that our new car lots are full of Suburbans, Navigators, and other gas guzzling fossil fuel consuming vehicles instead of these vehicles. WRITE CONGRESS AND DEMAND THESE AIR VEHICLES TODAY!

  46. Michael Paulson June 18, 2007 at 11:37 am

    WE americans welcome this concept. What do we need to do to have this vehile in the USA. Please e mail all mkembers of our congress as well as those of the the state of calif. This will get the movement going

  47. mike June 17, 2007 at 6:56 am

    i have a question about the implications of this car in every day life where accidents happen all the time. forget the statistic because we all know someone is going to crash this car into a tree, or get shot at while driving through los angeles showing it off.

    my question is, what happens since there is no gas to explode? does it just POP like a balloon? Then everyone laughs and you walk it off?

  48. RJ June 16, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    OK, everyone stop and think. Compressed air has to be created somehow. In industrial applications, use of compressed air is much more inefficient than electricity. So, the car may be very efficient, but one must look at the whole system, including the means that charge the car. Ths application for this car is when zero emissions must be obtained — not for efficiency.

  49. Mary Mrugalski June 11, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    My daughter who uses a wheelchair and I drive a Mazda Protege 5. It’s perfect because it’s low enough for her to transfer to the driver’s seat, and drive with hand controls. Additionally, it has just enough space either in the back seat when she drives or the cargo area when I drive, to store her wheelchair.

    Right now there is no hybrid, electric vehicle, air car or anything else that suits our needs. Small station wagons such as mine and the subaru outback are enormously popular in my neighborhood. Whoever builds the first zero emissions car with that body wins in my book. I will buy it.
    Mary M.

  50. James W June 7, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I think this is a good start. Why not marry this with other technology? Add a Solar Cell for re-charging the Battery for the pump while parked or moving? Why not re-consume the energy lost from the wheels/brakes to re-charge the battery for the pump?

  51. Moom June 5, 2007 at 4:20 am

    I was at the airport on Sunday (yeah yeah), and as I climbed aboard the bus that would take me from the terminal to my plane, it occurred to me that this would be an excellent propulsion system for those vehicles – they basically do very small journeys in a limited area and spend a lot of time stationary, waiting for people to get on and off.

    I guess using an eco-friendly bus to get to a jet-engined gas-drinking machine might seem laughable, but hey, airports aren’t going to disappear overnight.

  52. Kim June 3, 2007 at 7:52 am

    ..and no harmful chemicals from batteries need to be disposed of at the end of it’s life, right? make this car biodegradable and/or completely recyclable “upstream” and we’re there. oh and increase the mileage just a bit.

  53. Bryce June 2, 2007 at 11:41 am

    I’ve been following this for a really long time. It makes sense. Recharging the tank could be accomplished safely and rapidly. Weight can be kept fairly low, compared to batteries or fuel cells.

  54. Jack June 2, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Neat idea! Now if we could modify them with a diesel engine running a generator to charge a bank of batteries that would run an electric motor that would run an air compressor to recharge the air tank so it could go more than three blocks……we would have something.

  55. jsbarrie June 1, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    If you check out the Mfgr’s website, the prototype model has only gone 7.22 km on one tank of air.

    I hope these guys somehow pull this off. I’ve seen a lot of demos of technologies that never really pan out.

    Reminds me of the Moller Air Car, the car of the future for the last 20 years.


  56. Nick Simpson June 1, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    That’s an incredibly good idea, no idea why it hasn’t been thought of again… I’m assuming hydrogen fuel cells are a better prospect or we’ve have heard of these before? Either way the more options out there the better

  57. Estercity June 1, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Very good idea

  58. Ramsey June 1, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    TO me this makes much more sense than a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. There are many ways to store energy, and this is a bit more efficient than the conversion from coal to electricity to hydrogen to electricity to motive force. Now, thermodynamically there are a few questions left unanswered in the blog. Is the system adiabatic, i.e. does the heat produced by compressing the air stay in the tank? This would be the most efficient. If the system reaches equilibrium with the environs (isothermal system) the tank will cool as the air is released, giving a lower tank pressure. I wonder how they addressed these properties of a compressed gas?

  59. Chris June 1, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I’ve been following these for like a year or so and desperately want to buy one. I’d love to have one of those vans for my family car. With a standard wall plug you could recompress the air and so long as you are selective about where you plug in you can be assured at true zero emessions vehicle. Also, I think compressed air is at least 10 times safer than hydrogen and is cost effective right now, which hydrogen won’t be even in ten years. From infrastructure to manufacturing costs to performance I’d rate these as the best future vehicle tech I’ve seen for the consumer level of the market.

  60. Warren Brooke June 1, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Fantastic, although technically the compressed air is an energy carrier (like a battery) rather than a fuel. If the power used to compress the air comes from a renewable source then this is a zero emissions vehicle. I imagine that this compressed air storage and engine system would be cheaper than a lithium ion battery electric motor system with equivalent power and range.

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