New Compressed Air Car Breaks Speed Record

TOYODA, Japan, September 23, 2011 (ENS) – A Japanese automaker has developed a car powered solely by compressed air – no petrol, hydrogen or electricity is used to run the vehicle.

Toyota Industries Corporation invited media to a viewing of the new car at a factory in Aichi Prefecture on Thursday.

The car is called the KU:RIN, a word derived from the Japanese kanji for “air” (ku) and “wheel” (rin).

This sleek rocket of a car – 3.5 meters long, 0.8 meter wide – broke the speed record for compressed air-powered vehicles at the Japan Automobile Research Institute test facility.

The car clocked a 129.2 km/h (80.3 mph) run on the Ibaraki test track on September 9, a result Toyota Industries is submitting to the Guiness World Book of Records.

The KU:RIN on the test track (Photo courtesy Toyota Industries Corporation)

The KU:RIN was designed and built by a group of young engineers – the 40 members of the Dream Car Atelier at Toyota Industries Corporation.

The largest supplier of car air conditioner compressors in the world, Toyota Industries makes about 20 million compressors a year in addition to making automobiles, engines and electronics components.

To power the KU:RIN, the developers reversed an air conditioning compressor. Rather than using mechanical power to compress air, the compressor generates mechanical energy to run the car from the expansion of compressed air.

The compressed air acts as a medium of energy storage as does a battery in an electric car.

Toyota Industries said in a statement announcing the new car, “The air engine, being small size and lightweight, is superior in its high output and instantaneous power.”

“KU: It is the new echo car where RIN, the fossil fuel or electricity, does not make power,” said the company.

One of the development engineers, Kenta Nakauchi, told NHK TV that they are not thinking about putting the car into production, but simply want to use their expertise to design unique cars.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.