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As I wrote on Thursday, one of the more interesting vehicles here at the Alt Car Expo is a one-off home conversion of a 1999 Porsche Boxster called the MIIN-AER car. We wanted to get some more information about this thing, so we talked to Glenn Bell, CEO of Air Fuel Auto. Bell talked about why he's in favor of compressed air - wait, actually
the Minimally Intrusive Intensely Pneumatic - Air Energy Recovery (the N in pneumatic contributes its sound to MIIN, not the P) system - and how the powerplant in the air Porsche is quite different than what is used in MDI's AirCar. For the public details on the MIIN-AER system, click here or follow us past the jump, but the basic idea is that compressed air (or nitrogen) is sent through the system based on temperature differences. I'll admit I don't fully get the technology, but Bell said he takes the air Porsche for a lot of test drives, so it apparently works.

What's in the Porsche at the show is phase 1 of the MIIN-AER technology. Bell said that the current specs are 40-45 miles per hour with a range of 50 miles (this differs from the press release's claim of 50 miles at 65 mph).
in phase 2, which is designed but not yet installed, the system will recompress the air and will capture the thermal energy from braking to give better performance. Will have a top speed of 80, phase three will have a speed of 100-120 mph. In each of the phases, the range will increase by "a little bit" until the car can go 100 miles at 50 mph in phase three.

As for why compressed air instead of li-ion, Bell said that the rarity and geographic location of the precious metals required for next-generation batteries have the potential to trade one set of issues (the problems with oil) with another set (the recent increase in lithium and cobalt prices, for example). He didn't give a numerical answer when I asked how much a MIIN-AER conversion would cost. Bell didn't express a lot of confidence in the path that Tesla or GM is on, but I suppose that are plenty of people who don't have a lot of confidence in Bell's strategy, either. Bell said he'd be willing to license his technology, so the proof will be in the pudding. Any thoughts?

Have a listen:

Description from AirFuelAuto.com:

GIMM Incorporated developed the MIIN–AER System (Patents Pending). The MIIN–AER System is a unique multi-stage process that optimizes energy through the use of natural gases in the air. We begin with the AER Supply which can be any gas (Nitrogen, or simply air). The air flows into the Volume Controls and is held by the Control Valves until signaled to flow out. The amount of air that flows from the Volume Control is determined by the Control Computer based on temperature monitors TM1, TM2 and TM3. If there is a temperature differential between the output TM3 and the input TM1 air will flow through the Energy Recovery Unit or via the Bypass Volume Control.The AER temperature and volume at the output (TM3) of the Energy Recovery Unit is higher than the input TM1.

The output from the Energy Recovery Unit and Bypass Volume Control flows to the Mixer. The AER from the Energy Recovery Unit is combined with the flow from the Bypass Volume Control. The AER is combined to optimize the efficiency of the MIIN–AER System. The AER is ionized and the temperature is measured at TM4 (*). The ionization process prevents boundary layers and maximizes air flow and efficiency throughout the system.

The Control Computer monitors the temperature, airflow, and pressure of the system and fine tunes the various components to ensure maximum efficiency and energy recovery.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Check out the videos it sounds like a 50CC 2 stroke engine.

      The RPMS increase dramatically with no increase in speed
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sad to see a Porsche reduced to NEV class speed and range.

      The claims that improvements will double the range and speed reminds me of an early test by MDI on their "air car", they made a 17 Km run, then claimed the production model would have a bigger tank, higher pressure, more efficiency, more aerodynamic, etc. They added a fudge factor for each planned improvement, stretching that 17 Km up to 240 Km! Of course, they have yet to get anywhere near their planned performance, and I suspect the MIIN air will suffer the same fate.

      This could make a decent golf cart, NEV, or shop cart, but it just doesn't perform well enough for regular automotive use.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Oy! First off, to the driver: good luck with doubling your range and speed ;) Some fairy dust might help. Secondly, *lithium is not a precious metal*. Gold is a precious metal. Platinum is a precious metal. Tellurium is a precious metal. Lithium is as common as standard steel alloying agents such as chromium, vanadium, and nickel. Lithium carbonate can be recovered from salt flats for dollars on the kilogram (1kg is enough for almost a kWh) or from virtually unlimited quantities in seawater at $22-$32/kg. Lithium is *not* a limiting price factor li-ion batteries, and never will be. The current raw ingredient limiting factor is cobalt in the cathodes, which is something that is being largely ditched by many next-gen battery chemistries.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Finest engineering zip ties can bring
      • 2 Months Ago

      As in, "wow, that video was hilarious!"

      That thing sounds like an outboard motor, with a lawnmower strapped to its back, and yet it takes off like a GEM car with an expired battery.

      He should not have shown this car this year. It's not ready.
      • 2 Months Ago
      Using compressed air sounds great at first, but the thermodynamics are all wrong. When you compress a gas it gets hot. You would think the pressure represents the stored energy, and it does, but much of the energy gets lost as heat.

      Then, when you release the pressure, it gets cold, losing more energy in the process. It's an easy way to store small amounts of energy, but doesn't work well when you try to store larger amounts. You wind up needing a large air tank, and high pressure, which makes the tank heavy. Also, to charge it up without dedicated "air stations" you need an on board compressor, and to do fast charges you need a very large, heavy compressor. Unlike batteries, which produce nearly constant voltage as they run down, the air pressure changes dramatically as the tank is discharged, making speed control difficult.

      So, there are lots of problems with making this work. It is interesting to see people try to solve those problems. The concept is deceptively simple, but the implementation is much more difficult than it first seems.