Researchers at the University of Washington are continuing to develop the concept of an air-powered car, using liquid nitrogen as the propellant for their LN2000 prototype vehicle.
The latest version operates on a steam engine, with no combustion involved, and as nitrogen forms a major part of the atmosphere the car is thought to give off little pollution. Researchers at the university chose to use liquid nitrogen due to its easy availability and sheer abundance, as nitrogen makes up approximately 78 percent of the Earths atmosphere.
The prototype car has been developed using a converted 1984 mail truck and currently produces 15 horsepower with the liquid nitrogen fuel, with a top speed of 22 mph. Featuring a five speed manual transmission the vehicle utilises a 24-gallon stainless steel tank, which at present is able to go only around 2 miles (3.2km) on a full tank. As a liquid nitrogen-propelled car will be lighter however, the researchers believe that a 60-gallon (227 litres) tank will provide the LN2000 with a potential range of around 200 miles.
This development would appear to signal another step forward in the employment of alternative fuel sources for transport and with their environmentally friendly approach and rising fuel prices, such methods may provide an attractive future prospect for motorists.