If there is an invention that can make such a dramatic impact through its life cycle, through the need we have for it around the world, and create opportunities beyond imagination, then there is a good chance it is related to transportation. In fact, many inventions come as engines for this very reason. With the negative impact of oil and emissions economically, politically, socially, and environmentally; anything that affects transportation can have dramatic effects.
Ironically, for this reason also, it is the industry that seems most resistant to change. There are some really innovative inventions that truly demonstrate that sustainable thinking out there, if we can just get the innovation to the people. Two of these are replacing fuel in automobiles with air.
By using the same principle mechanics as combustible engines, two inventors have solved major resource and emission problems by replacing fuel with compressed air. Motor Development International, or MDI, uses compressed air to move the pistons up and down just like piston engines do with combustion; and Engine Air uses compressed air to operate a rotary design, similar to the Wankel rotary engines widely used by Mazda.
This replacement of fuel with air is a huge step towards sustainable transportation with an unlimited resource and zero emissions. And they are not reinventing the garage door, which is essential to bring to market quickly with support infrastructures. Let’s take a closer look at each.
First, MDI. The CEO of MDI, Guy Negre, is no stranger to engines or performance. From automotive, to aircraft, to Formula 1 engines; Guy has always been a model for creating efficiency in engines. This “FlowAir” technology is designed for various applications and needs as well, such as transporters, cars, tractors, fork-lifts, boats, aircraft, and generators.
There are two, four, and six cylinder options, possible 110 km/hr (68mph) speeds, 200 km (124 miles) on a tank of air, 3 minutes to fill with an air compressor using approximately $2 worth of electricity. Hybrids, combined with fuel combustion, will have range and flexibility. Another type of hybrid is possible as well, which uses a small amount of petrol to compress air as you go. All sounds very promising.
Next, Engine Air. Inventor Angelo DiPietro worked with Wankel engines for Mercedes from 1969-70, started a construction engineer company in Australia, and explored alternative concepts for 30 years. Since 1999, he is devoted full time to his own air engine concept. What is most interesting is Angelo’s approach to producing less friction, less moving parts, and a large power to weight ratio. Some of the applications include automotive, small utility vehicles, forklifts, mopeds, lawnmowers, and boating.
I hope that one day we find an air powered vehicle behind every garage door. But what is most interesting are the potential uses where any type of motor is needed. These are both companies creating products that use a sustainable resource in operation. As we begin to work together to create new businesses by incorporating sustainable resources, manufacturing, transportation, people, ideas, and intentions; we create sustainable value chains. Imagine combining air and wind with solar power and batteries in one application. How awesome could that be? Now imagine an environment where we can all work together on great ideas and be supported economically, politically, socially, and environmentally without fear, doubt, and criticism.