10 Alternative Fuel Ideas That Never Made It Out of the Lab


Compressed Air

This is a technology that has kinda, sorta, almost made it out of the laboratory. But when you read more about it, you'll wish it stayed there.

Indian car company Tata Motors (who now own Jaguar and Land Rover, in a nice reversal on British colonialism) has been working for years to develop and market a car that runs on compressed air. Here's how it works: a tank full of compressed CO2 sprays out air, driving a tiny piston engine that turns a crankshaft and drives the wheels of a small, lightweight car.

Tata Motors has the license to technology crafted by a French company called MDI, which has been developing compressed air as an alternative fuel since the early 1990s. They've been plagued with numerous setbacks, however, including lawsuits and a failed almost-launch in 2010.

The company said recently that they're closer than ever to getting a compressed air car on India's roads. The good news? No emissions, and obviously, no dependence on fossil fuels. The bad news? It's going to be slow. Like, really, really slow. Expect power and torque to be in the single digits, and for top speeds to be around 30 miles per hour. Its range is extremely limited as well. Maybe Tata's next project will be a car that a human being can't outrun during a brisk jog.