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Compressed Air Tractor

 
Posts: 28
Location: NJ
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I know that some work has been done on Electric Tractors, but I haven't seen much work done on pneumatic tractors. I have to work out the numbers, but I would expect a 1000 gallon propane tank pressurized to just 300psi should be able to power a tractor nicely. If you added a trailer with an Aux tank, then you extend your range and could be refilling one as you empty another. If you then add some reheating of the output, like running the output of the tank thru a rocket stove, you could create a hybrid that is both sustainable and completely Permacultural. Electric Tractors are interesting, but how long do the batteries last?

This same technology could replace electricity in many places as there are Pneumatic chain saws or as the Amish are using pneumatic kitchen appliances.
 
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Have you seen the Bill Mollison video about trompes? He talks approvingly about pneumatic vehicles in there a little bit.
 
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Tractors are an interesting case. They benefit from weight. So a pneumatic storage system wouldn't be the best solution but a lead-acid battery powered electric system works well. In normal ground transport, light weight is needed for stops and starts and pneumatics are a good for that.

 
pollinator
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Location: Anjou ,France
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I looked into air powered cars a while back and basically the numbers don't scale up due to heat losses . Try using a bike pump a lot and see how hot you can get the gas by pumping and blocking the exit.

David
 
K Nelfson
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Interesting observation, David. I wonder how much of the heating you've seen is due to cheap seals and other sources of friction.

My understanding is that pneumatic cars are possible. But, as with so many of the non-hydrocarbon based vehicles, compressed air has a relatively low energy density.

The only real solution to hydrocarbon fuels is to slightly lower your expectations and deal

Further reading:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/auto-blog/the-air-car-rides-again-14543822
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compressed_air_car
 
pollinator
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Location: Southwest U.S.
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How about a wood fired steam engine?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwxWEUxc1g4

 
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