It’s old news apparently, but since we don’t (as society) have a category of nightly entertainment called “olds,” old news is still “news–” at least to them as haven’t heard it before.
No, we’re not talking about Michael Jackson [who? –ed.] ‘s acquittal earlier this year, although sadly the ALLDERBLOB missed comment on that one.
We’re not talking about Dean Kamen’s Segway, that upright wheelchair with the self-righting mode (at least until its batteries run low or some doofus gets aboard) that was announced with such fanfare back in 2001. It’s true, the ALLDERBLOB has yet to write about the Segway either.
And no, we’re not even talking about TAPT, that sugar substitute folks all over England are cooking up in their bathtubs, the “Ruckus in a Rucksack” available to anyone for the price of a decent meal for two (not including vino or gratuity)–although that’s another bit of old news that those funny Britons are making new again.
It’s something else that surfaced in 2001 or so, at least as shown by our relentless research [shurely you mean your Google on the topic? –ed].
We mean that most elusive of inventions, the car that would lead us to question our stand that all cars are evil; that no car be advertised, anywhere, ever. The car that would make us think twice about our rage against the machine. The car, in short, that would shut the ALLDERBLOB’s yap for good: the car we could see ourselves buying.
Back in 2001, you see, some European car-head named Guy Negre invented a method of using compressed air to fire a piston, and developed it, filing a few patents along the way, to the end of building a “zero-pollution car.”
Negre’s CAT (compressed air technology)-car, or “Aircar,” seems this year to be close to production. Weighing some 720 kg, it’s just six inches longer than a Daimler-Chrysler “Smart Car,” but able to seat three and providing greater trunk space. Its power-source is a tank of compressed air.
Air, like any gas, cools when compressed. The release of the compressed gas, at -15 Celsius, moves a piston by a heat transfer process akin, in this reader’s imagination, to the power created by the mysterious Stirling engine. As a side benefit, this cold air emission may be circulated within the cabin, if needed, to provide “air conditioning” for the driver and occupants. It’s just air after all. You can breathe it.
The Aircar as designed would have a range of 120 miles per tank of air, and a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour. Or is that 120 km at 60 km per hour. Seems no one is in agreement on that [get it together you people! –ed].
In any case, if it worked, and if the inventor’s proposed filling stations were available, a three-minute fill-up (costing 1.5 euros, or approximately $CDN 3.00, according to the fantasy) would suffice for the needs of most citydwellers for an average day’s driving.
So is the ALLDERBLOB ready to sign up?
Not so fast.
Consider the airtank, for starters. This tank would need to be filled at a specialized station, not yet in existence, according to the inventor. Well that’s fine–it’s just compressed air after all, not like you have to split the atom to get that…or do you? The alternative to the special station, as described by the inventor, is a home air compressor run on standard electricity–a process that would take four hours continuous electricity use, we’re told. Okay, that’s glitch number one: electricity requires coal, or nukes, or enviro-destructing hydro power, at least in Canada. Hmm. Can we look beyond that, to a future world, where wind and solar power provides all our electrical needs? [you’ve lost me –ed].
But then there is the Stirling engine-like performance the cooled compressed air theoretically provides, this so-called “heat transfer:” would it work when ambient air temperature is -20 C? That is to say, during a typical January night in Toronto? This is not a question addressed on the developer’s website, but nevermind [please. –ed].
The critical question, however, is that of urban design. The problem with the “aircar,” as with any car, is the space it takes up. The space it takes up ferrying its (typically) lone occupant to Starbucks. The space it takes up downtown in a parking lot, The space it takes up home in the driveway. The spake it takes up enroute. It wouldn’t be so bad if it could just use that space when needed. That is, if the space the car takes up could somehow roll up on itself and return to nature, to flowers or forest when the car isn’t present. But actually, that doesn’t happen. The space a car takes up is three-fold: the empty place it leaves behind, the empty place it’s going to, and the place it fills at each point along the way. It’s even worse than that, because our society’s functioning is predicated on their being an empty parking space available wherever you go. If not, someone’s wasting your tax dollars.
Compressed air power or no, the point is still this: what a stupid waste of space.
Now, if that magical tank of air could power a bicycle, we might have something to talk about [wait a minute–isn’t that what lungs are for? –ed].