MDI Enterprises Presents CityCat Air-Powered Car

March 10, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

MDI Enterprises SA (Nice, France) announced the invention of a pollution-free car that runs on air, has a range of some 200km (120m) per tank and costs almost nothing to refuel. The CityCat is comprised of a polyurethane body shell, fitted onto a simple rustless chassis made of aluminum tubes. Underneath the chassis are three long carbon-fiber tubes that contain 300l (75gal) of air pressurized at 300bar, or about 150 times the pressure of the average car tire.

The 800cc, 25HP piston engine works by taking in outside air and compressing it to 20bar, which heats it to 400°C (752°F). A squirt of pressurized air is then injected, forcing the piston down and the crankshaft around. When the car brakes, the kinetic energy from braking is used to drive a pump that helps to restore some of the lost pressure. The tanks can be refuelled quickly from a special pump, a process that takes three minutes, or from a compressor at home, which takes four hours. MDI claims a range in typical urban traffic of 200km (120m) for the CityCat, 150km (95m) for the MiniCat and a top speed for both of 110kph (65mph).

The first CityCat should roll off the production line at the company's headquarters in the first half of next year. The price will be in the range of 12,000 to 14,000 dollars (euros). The car will then be tested for safety by the French authorities.