Reading: Fuel for thought

While digging around the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) web site I discovered Fuel for thought, a publication by the Future Fuels Forum 2007. This June 2008 publication informs us how the Future Fuels Forum thinks transport fuels will pan out in our future with modelling from now to 2050.  It is an interesting document and I suggest you read it if you are at all interested in the future of transport fuels in Australia. Click the cover page below to download the PDF (1.5Mb).

challenges and opportunities (PDF)

CSIRO 2008: Fuel for thought - The future of transport fuels: challenges and opportunities (PDF)

Apart from being relatively easy to read and informative for those of us without a scientific or economic background it provides great insight into the conservative information upon which our governments are making decisions that impact your future and mine. It isn’t all conservative mind you. The modelling for a continuing rise in demand for oil and a sharp decline in supply shows we could pay as much as $8 per litre for petrol in the not too distant future and the authors do stress the urgency with which alternatives for oil must be found.

While the document was written before the global financial crisis really started to bite the bulk of it remains relevant. If you do read it I’d like to know what you think so please leave a comment.


SkySails to get bigger and better

Now that the MV Beluga SkySails has completed her maiden voyage of 11,952 nautical miles (I was a little bit premature with my previous post) SkySails are talking of fitting kite double the size of the existing 160 square metre item. They are also planning on fitting kites with a sail surface of up to 600 square metres will be used on two larger Beluga P-Series carriers. Currently under construction, these vessels will each have 20,000 tons deadweight.

MV Beluga SkySails maiden voyage

On numerous days during the maiden voyage the system was put in action for periods of between a few minutes and eight hours. During that time the SkySail provided the ship with about 20% of the engine propulsion when it was flown in force 5 winds. When the kite can be flown 24 hours a day in those conditions it will save the MV Beluga SkySails about 2.5 tons of fuel, or more than $1,000, a day.

Captain Lutz Heldt returned from the two month maiden voyage to say:

We can once again actually ‘sail’ with cargo ships, thus opening a new chapter in the history of commercial shipping.

With the maiden voyage MV Beluga SkySails has commenced a 12 month pilot testing phase. The first six months will be spent calibrating and stabilising the kite system. The second half of the pilot phase will focus on extending the flight times and improving performance.

Source: SkySails

Air Car confusion

After doing a little online research last night on the Air Car so I could respond to a reader’s query I became quite confused. A week ago there was only one Air Car, the one designed by MDI Enterprises S.A. and manufactured by Tata in India. Now if you search for Air Car you’ll find The Air Car Factories S.A. at the top of your search results.

Now here is where things get interesting.

On the MDI site there is a Warning that says MDI Enterprises S.A. has officially stopped commercial relationships with Miguel Celades following serious commercial misconduct. So what you say?

As it turns out Miguel Celades is the man behind The Air Car Factories. On The Air Car Factories web site there is an Important Notice saying that The Air Car Factories S.A. does not have any relation with MDI nor with Guy Nègre, the man behind MDI.

So there has obviously been a big falling out between two of the people behind the original Air Car. While I have no real information on the cause of the split it seems that the division can only hurt the development of the Air Car.

At this time The Air Car Factories do not have a working prototype car. However, their aim is to develop a car powered by compressed air for production. In the meantime they appear to be selling electric scooters and electric bicycles.

Source: MDI, The Air Car Factories

MDI Air Car to go on sale in the US in 2010

Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) in the United States are saying they will be taking orders for the Air Car in early 2008 for delivery in 2010.

City Cat drawing

The ZPM web site says that at speeds over 60kph the Air Car uses small amounts of fuel to heat air inside a heating chamber as it enters the engine. With this “dual-energy compressed air engine” the car will have an estimated maximum speed of 150kph and consumption of 2.2L/100km. This will give the car a range of 1364km from a 30L fuel tank. ZPM are estimating that the a six-seater will cost approximately USD17,800.

I’ve not seen any more news on the Air Car being sold in Australia.

Update (08 Mar 08): See Air Car confusion

Source: Zero Pollution Motors

Aeromovel air powered train

Here is something a bit different that I just couldn’t resist. Yes, it is an air powered train, in turn powered by electricity, and it is in service in Jakata, Indonesia and Porto Allegre, Brazil.

Aeromovel air powered train

Describing how this works in words is a bit difficult so I suggest that if you are interested you go to the Technology page of the Aeromovel web site and have a look. It is quite ingenious and you can easily imagine the soft acceleration and deceleration as the train literally gets blown along its hollow track.

Source: AutoblogGreen

MDI air powered car to be produced in Melbourne!?

Great news to start off the week. According to The Age the MDI air powered car is destined to be manufactured in Melbourne. While details are limited at this stage the press release certainly indicates a major investment in Australia by IT MDI – Energy. You certainly can’t criticise them for thinking too small.

At a week long series of presentations in Melbourne the Australian IT MDI – Energy Team successfully showcased the revolutionary MDI air engine and the IT MDI technology portfolio, products, and manufacturing process.

MDI air engine

The highlight of these events was a preview of the 100% Solar & Sustainable IT MDI – Energy Initiative. This is a 5-year, AU$1.5 billion implementation programme that aims to usher a smooth transition to 100% solar based and fully sustainable infrastructures for power generation, transport and communications for the whole of Australia.

Dr Arnoux, Managing Director of IT MDI – Energy, had the following to say:

This Initiative is entirely demand driven and based on competitively priced consumer products and services. We are used to think of ‘green’ being more expensive and cumbersome. With the IT MDI Technology, ‘green’ cost less, is easy and fun. This makes a rapid transition to 100% sustainable and enhanced lifestyles possible.

Over 10 years we aim to reduce car emissions in Australia by 20% and emissions from power generation by 80%.

With the technology portfolio IT MDI – Energy is obviously planning to introduce a holistic solution that goes far beyond the manufacture and sale of their air powered cars. The press release doesn’t expand on the introduction of the cars. The following from the IT MDI – Energy web site provides further insight:

The first demonstration MDI car is scheduled to arrive in Australia in early 2008. Models running on about 2 litres of fuel per 100/km and compliant with stringent Australasian and European safety and performance standards are being prepared for release. In later models, consumption is planned to decline to 1 litre of petrol equivalent per 100 km, or less, through direct and indirect solar energy harvesting.

Update (08 Mar 08): See Air Car confusion

Source: IT MDI – Energy via The Age

MDI air powered car going into production

Hybrid Car News has a great write-up on the air powered car going into production in India. The article includes three videos explaining how it works.