Experimental Car is Powered by Air

French developer works on making it practical for real-world driving

Published: 21-Mar-2004

CARROS, France -- In an industrial park a few miles from Nice on the French Riviera, Guy Negre has developed an environmentalist's dream car.

Compressed air is the fuel, cold air is the only exhaust. A prototype van called CityCAT -- the sixth made by his company, Motor Developpement International s.a. -- tools around the parked cars of his staff of about 30 just as any small van might, except that the power is coming from three long black tanks in the back, full of air compressed to 5,000 pounds per square inch.

No powertrain could be more environmentally attractive. It requires some up-front electric energy to compress the air, and that's all. Like an electric car recharging its batteries, you could plug it somewhere when the air pressure has fallen too low and have the on-board compressor refill the tanks.

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