An air engine is a type of device that converts energy, in the form of air, into motion. Air engines come in many different shapes and sizes, ranging from hand-held engines to large engines. Many of these engines operate via cylinders and pistons, while others rely solely upon turbines. Currently, there are no air-powered automobiles available to the public, though this may change with time.
Various firearms, dental drills, impact wrenches, and other tools rely upon an air engine to function. In addition, air engines were frequently used to power mining trains, though the electric train eventually took the place of the air engine train. Further, commercial airplanes rely upon air engines to power main engines.
In 1950, Angelo Di Pietro created the first air engine that could, theoretically, be placed inside of an automobile. The Di Pietro Motor air engine gained such a following that the Mercedes Benz company hired Di Pietro to work on the Wankel engine. The Wankel engine was the first of its kind, since the engine used pressure to create motion in lieu of pistons.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Di Pietro developed and perfected the Wankel engine. In 1971, Di Pietro immigrated to Australia, where he set up his own engineering company. Many years later, Di Pietro's company, Engine Air, developed the Di Pietro Motor. While small, the Di Pietro rotary engine runs entirely upon compressed air. The Di Pietro motor can efficiently power cars, boats, and various other automobiles.
Energine Corportation, based in South Korea; Engine Air, based in Australia; and K'Airmobiles, based in France, are three companies that are presently experimenting with automobile air engines. While companies such as Engine Air claim that they have developed an air engine that is capable of powering any automobile, no automobile manufacturer presently uses this technology.
The possibility of a line of automobiles that is entirely powered by air engines is promising. Since these engines do not rely upon gasoline to function, the amount of environmental damage caused by automobiles would be greatly reduced. Presently, the companies listed above are perfecting the air engine, and many hope that future automobiles will not require gasoline at all.
Even though the air engine-powered automobile has not hit consumer markets yet, many people believe that this type of engine will soon become quite popular. At the moment, only smaller tools and some vehicles are powered by air, though this may change once air engines have been perfected.