Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No gas this; air to fuel autorickshaws

No gas this; air to fuel autorickshaws

Six engineering students from MS Ramaiah's have devised a kit to help engines run on compressed air

Jayalakshmi Venugopal. Bangalore



Fuel out of thin air! This might be a dream-come-true for autorickshaw drivers hit by the fuel hike.
Six mechanical engineering students of MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology have designed a kit which can be fitted into a regular auto engine to make it run on air.
The kit will help the engine switch from regular fuel to compressed air after the auto has gained a certain speed, thus increasing mileage, saving fuel and reducing harmful emissions.
"The students have used the pneumatic gear technology students and have designed a prototype which will used compressed air to make the auto run up to 50 km. The engine will switch from regular fuel like CNG or LPG to compressed air once the auto reaches a speed of around 40 km/hr," said Dr SV Prakash, assistant professor, department of mechanical engineering, MSRIT.
The MSRIT team is headed for Chennai to compete against six teams, two from India and four from Holland, in a Hybrid Autorickshaw Competition that will conclude on July 25.
"We spent Rs45,000 but ran out of funds after preparing and testing the prototype. We hope to see this hybrid engine fitted into autos on the roads, and thus help drivers better their livelihood," he added.
The competition is being jointly organised by two non-governmental organisations that work towards promoting sustainable innovation-city-based Context India and Netherlands-based Enviu.
The Hybrid Autorickshaw project has been in operation for about a year.
"We have given the seven teams access to help from technical experts online and offline. We will have a race to see how the autos work with their respective technologies. The entries will be judged on their business plans and whether the kits are commercially viable," said Stef Van Dongen, director, Enviu.
Enviu supports entrepreneurial ventures that provide sustainable solutions for social and environmental issues across the world.
The seven selected teams were given autos to work on and they had to modify the engine to enable it to run on an alternative fuel, increase its mileage and reduce harmful emissions, without incurring heavy costs. The rule was that the new engine should also be easily manageable by local mechanics.
"We got the idea after Stef came to India. We wanted to help auto drivers make a profit, reduce fuel costs and harmful emissions. The hybrid engine should hit the streets by 2010," said Pradeep Esteves, director, Context India. v_jayalakshmi@dnaindia.net

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