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E.Volution – the air powered car


Within the next two years, you could see the first air-powered vehicle motoring through your town. Most likely, it will be the e.Volution car that is being built by Zero Pollution Motors, in Brignoles, France. The cars have generated a lot of interest in recent years, and the Mexican government has already signed a deal to buy 40,000 e.Volutions to replace gasoline- and diesel-powered taxis in the heavily polluted Mexico City.

Makers of the e.Volution are marketing the vehicle as a low pollution or zero pollution car. However, there is still some debate as to what the environmental impact of these air-powered cars will be. Manufacturers suggest that because the cars run on air they are environmentally friendly. Critics of the air-powered car idea say that the cars only move the air pollution from the car’s exhaust to somewhere else, like an electrical power plant. These cars do require electricity in order for the air to be compressed inside the tanks, and fossil fuel power is needed to supply electricity.

The e.Volution is powered by a two-cylinder, compressed-air engine. The basic concept behind the engine is unique (see this page for details) — it can run either on compressed air alone or act as an internal combustion engine. Compressed air is stored in carbon or glass fiber tanks at a pressure of 4,351 pounds per square inch (psi). This air is fed through an air injector to the engine and flows into a small chamber, which expands the air. The air pushing down on the pistons moves the crankshaft, which gives the vehicle power.

Zero Pollution Motors is also working on a hybrid version of their engine that can run on traditional fuel in combination with air. The change of energy source is controlled electronically. When the car is moving at speeds below 60 kph, it runs on air. At higher speeds, it runs on a fuel, such as gasoline, diesel or natural gas.

Air tanks fixed to the underside of the vehicle can hold about 79 gallons (300 liters) of air. This compressed air can fuel the e.Volution for up to 124 miles (200 km) at a top speed of 60 miles per hour (96.5 kph). When your tank nears empty, you can just pull over and fill the e.Volution up at the nearest air pump. Using a household electrical source, it takes about four hours to refill the compressed air tanks. However, a rapid three-minute recharge is possible, using a high-pressure air pump.

The car’s motor does require a small amount of oil, about .8 liters worth that the driver will have to change just every 31,000 miles (50,000 km). The vehicle will be equipped with an automatic transmission, rear wheel drive, rack and pinion steering and a 9.5 foot (2.89 m) wheel base. It will weigh about 1,543 pounds (700 kg) and will be about 12.5 feet (3.81 m) long, 5.7 feet (1.74 m) tall, and 5.6 feet (1.71 m) wide.

In October, the e.Volution made its public debut in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the Auto Africa Expo 2000. Zero Pollution said that the car will go on sale in South Africa in 2002, but didn’t say when the car would be available in other parts of the world.

(c) howstuffworks.com

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  1. What a great website you are running! I just discovered it today while surfing through Stumbleupon.com in the alternative energy category. Your site is so comprehensive and well organized. I can see that it will be a well-used resource I will use again and again. Thanks much! John

  2. It’s been 7months since I first viewed the Guy Negre unit. Where is it!?
    The rotary version of this invention is up and running in Australia. What happened
    to this piston version by Guy Nege??

  3. Some links to peruse:



    Archived test results from MDI’s old website. Notice the section at the bottom where they go from actual range of 7.22km to 200+km.:

    “The CATS air cars are at the final approval stage and advance orders are being taken with a release date towards the end of 2004/early 2005.”
    : http://www.gizmag.com/go/3523/2/

    Virtually the same claims, same specifications, same “production soon”. The only thing that changes is whether the article was published in 1999, 2000, 2003, or 2008.

  4. I don’t know whether or not it is a purposeful con, but the MDI business model is to sell franchises and licenses rather than making money by building cars. So they do well as long as they get good publicity and more investors. Whether or not they sell any cars is not that relevant.

    MDI and Zero Pollution Motors never started mass production of cars in South Africa in 2001/2002/2003. They never started production in Mexico. An MDI franchisee in Italy did go ahead and hire people and have a factory builing in Italy around 2003/2004, but the MDI Eolo car was never built. Apparently MDI never sent any complete sets of parts to the factory so they never ever built even a single car!

    Compressed air has relatively low energy density (power per kg or power per liter of storage space). That is why even ancient lead-acid battery technology makes cars with longer operating ranges.

    The only published test results by MDI showed their prototype running out of air after only 7.22km. Less than 5 miles!!! This was sometime around 2000, and they hypothesized a whole series of improvements that would change the actual tested range of less than 5 miles to something like 120 miles.

    Even though they apparently never managed to make the improvements, MDI continues to use this inflated figure as the “specification” of the range for the car that will go into production “in 18-24 months”. (Always 1 or two years in the future from whatever date they are making the prediction).

  5. So what happened to this technology? Was it for real? Was it a con?
    It’s 8 years later and where is it? Not in South Africa as far as I know. Not anywhere else I have seen.
    It might be useful to add to the article you have copied (correct me if I am wrong) that it was originally written in 2000.

  6. This was published in 2000 yes the year. 8 years later and still no Air-Car.

    “In October, the e.Volution made its public debut in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the Auto Africa Expo 2000. Zero Pollution said that the car will go on sale in South Africa in 2002, but didn’t say when the car would be available in other parts of the world.”


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