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Compressed Air

Toyota Industries Corporation recently set a speed record for compressed air cars, by send...

Although battery-powered cars may no longer be considered quirky and weird, automobiles propelled by compressed air are still perhaps thoughts of as a little ... fringy. The MDI Air Car looked promising, although development of the vehicle seems to have been at least temporarily suspended. Toyota Industries Corporation, however, recently brought some attention to the technology. On September 9th, its one-off KU:RIN set a new speed record for compressed air cars, at 129.2 km/h (80.3 mph).  Read More

Michal Prywata and Thiago Caires with their AMO Arm(All photos courtesy Ryerson University...

Two undergraduate students from Toronto’s Ryerson University have created a prosthetic arm that is controlled by its wearer’s brain signals, and powered by compressed air. Not only is the Artificial Muscle-Operated (AMO) Arm said to offer a greater range of movement than traditional prostheses, but it also doesn’t require the amputee to undergo invasive surgery, is easy to learn to use, and it is relatively inexpensive to make.  Read More

The air hybrid engine used in the Lund University study

The most commonly used form of regenerative braking is where a vehicle’s electric motor is used as an electric generator to capture the vehicle’s kinetic energy, which is otherwise lost as heat when braking. The generator converts the kinetic energy into electricity that is then fed back into the vehicle’s battery pack where it is stored for later use. New research suggests that pneumatic or air hybrids that instead store the energy as compressed air would be much cheaper to produce than the current crop of EVs and battery-electric hybrids and could halve the fuel consumption of ICE powered vehicles.  Read More

The new heliostats being installed to create a solar thermal field at CSIRO's Solar Energy...

Although electrical devices have evolved rapidly over the last few decades, the plants used to generate the electricity that power these devices are still dominated by the use of steam turbines that convert thermal energy, usually from the burning of fossil fuels, into mechanical energy. Even newer solar thermal power plants concentrate the sun’s rays to heat water into high-pressure steam to drive a turbine. But with water not always readily available in locations suited to harnessing solar energy, such as deserts, a new type of solar thermal field, tower and research facility is being built in Australia that requires only air and the sun, making it ideal for parts of the world that receive minimal rainfall.  Read More

The Blind Driver Challenge aims to put vision impaired people in the drivers seat

Recent technological developments are presenting increasing opportunities for blind and vision impaired people to interact with the world in ways not previously possible. However, many everyday acts we take for granted such as driving a car remain out of reach. That’s well on the way to changing thanks to a development by a team of students at the Virginia Tech University, who have designed a car that allows blind and visually impaired people to take the wheel and drive unassisted.  Read More

The Scuderi prototype

For more than 100 years people have been trying to come up with an engine design to supercede Nicolaus Otto's four-stroke internal combustion motor. Scuderi is the latest to take a stab, recently unveiling a prototype of a split-cycle engine that relegates the "suck" and "squeeze" strokes to one cylinder, and the "bang" and "blow" strokes to another - for a claimed efficiency improvement of up to 50%, emission reductions of up to 80% and a power density improvement of up to 70%. Meanwhile, it's also able to store large amounts of compressed air, allowing it to run as an air/petrol hybrid when cruising. President Obama's new national efficiency standards represent an opportunity for groups like Scuderi to pitch clever clean engine technology to major manufacturers - but has the split cycle engine got what it takes?  Read More

MDI's compressed air powered AIRpod

Compressed air cars are well and truly on their way to mass production in India and America, among other places - although they seem to be taking their time. But the cheap, environmentally-neutral compressed air engine also lends itself to other interesting urban and industrial transport concepts like the AIRPod. Intended both as a personal 3-4 seater city commuter and as a getabout for airport, train station and municipal workers, the AIRPod is cute and easy to drive with a joystick instead of a steering wheel and pedals. The three-wheel transport weighs around the same as a touring motorcycle at 220kg, so it only needs 5 1/2 horsepower from its lightweight air engine to reach top speeds a little over 40mph. Best of all, cheap compressed air refilling will take as little as 90 seconds and cost about EU1.10 for the AIRPod's expected 220km range.  Read More

RoMeLa's climbing HyDRAS robot

Researchers at the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech have designed a series of autonomous serpentine robots that are able to climb poles and inspect structures too dangerous or inaccessible for humans. The robots coil themselves around a beam and roll upward using an oscillating joint motion, gathering important structural data with cameras and sensors.  Read More

The winning entry - the Model T for the year 2015

A century after the Model T put the world on wheels, Ford Motor Company has announced the winners of a global competition that challenged five universities to create a similarly revolutionary vehicle concept. The winner of the competition was Germany’s Aachen University's Institute of Automotive Engineering (ika), which took home the USD$25,000 in scholarship funds by developing a concept that met the requirements set by Ford: the vehicle had to be simple, lightweight, practical, and durable, offer a range of at least 125 miles, accommodate at least two passengers and be priced no more than $7,000.  Read More

URWERKS's UR-202

April 16, 2008 URWERK has released the world’s first watch that uses compressed air to regulate the winding system. The UR-202 features a 3-position selector switch that controls the level of air compression generated by its miniature twin turbines, which in turn control the rate of automatic winding.  Read More

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