WPI Professor Quoted in Associated Press Story on Compressed Air Cars

James Ven de Ven, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, was quoted in a recent Associated Press (AP) story on a new company that hopes to market cars that use compressed air as a source of energy. An authority on efficient energy conversion, storage, and generation, Van de Ven obtained experience with compressed air-powered vehicles while serving as a postdoctoral research associate at the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power at the University of Minnesota.

In the AP story, he told automotive writer Dan Strumpf that air power is relatively inefficient, noting that air compressors are able to recover only 25 to 30 percent of the energy used to compress the air. While exceeding the efficiency of gasoline engines, compressed air-powered cars can’t hold a candle to gas-electric hybrids, which are nearly 80 percent efficient, Van de Ven said. Even more efficient are hydraulic hybrids, a technology that is one focus of Van de Ven’s own research.

The AP article has been published by nearly 600 print and online media outlets to date, including some of the nation’s top daily newspapers, the Detroit Free Press, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Washington Times among them.

June 1, 2009

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