As I wrote on Thursday, one of the more interesting vehicles here at the Alt Car Expo is a one-off home conversion of a 1999 Porsche Boxster called the MIIN-AER car. We wanted to get some more information about this thing, so we talked to Glenn Bell, CEO of Air Fuel Auto. Bell talked about why he's in favor of compressed air - wait, actually
the Minimally Intrusive Intensely Pneumatic - Air Energy Recovery (the N in pneumatic contributes its sound to MIIN, not the P) system - and how the powerplant in the air Porsche is quite different than what is used in MDI's AirCar. For the public details on the MIIN-AER system, click here or follow us past the jump, but the basic idea is that compressed air (or nitrogen) is sent through the system based on temperature differences. I'll admit I don't fully get the technology, but Bell said he takes the air Porsche for a lot of test drives, so it apparently works.

What's in the Porsche at the show is phase 1 of the MIIN-AER technology. Bell said that the current specs are 40-45 miles per hour with a range of 50 miles (this differs from the press release's claim of 50 miles at 65 mph).
in phase 2, which is designed but not yet installed, the system will recompress the air and will capture the thermal energy from braking to give better performance. Will have a top speed of 80, phase three will have a speed of 100-120 mph. In each of the phases, the range will increase by "a little bit" until the car can go 100 miles at 50 mph in phase three.

As for why compressed air instead of li-ion, Bell said that the rarity and geographic location of the precious metals required for next-generation batteries have the potential to trade one set of issues (the problems with oil) with another set (the recent increase in lithium and cobalt prices, for example). He didn't give a numerical answer when I asked how much a MIIN-AER conversion would cost. Bell didn't express a lot of confidence in the path that Tesla or GM is on, but I suppose that are plenty of people who don't have a lot of confidence in Bell's strategy, either. Bell said he'd be willing to license his technology, so the proof will be in the pudding. Any thoughts?

Have a listen:




Related GalleryAltCar 2008: MIIN-AER, the air-powered Porsche Boxter


Description from AirFuelAuto.com:

GIMM Incorporated developed the MIIN–AER System (Patents Pending). The MIIN–AER System is a unique multi-stage process that optimizes energy through the use of natural gases in the air. We begin with the AER Supply which can be any gas (Nitrogen, or simply air). The air flows into the Volume Controls and is held by the Control Valves until signaled to flow out. The amount of air that flows from the Volume Control is determined by the Control Computer based on temperature monitors TM1, TM2 and TM3. If there is a temperature differential between the output TM3 and the input TM1 air will flow through the Energy Recovery Unit or via the Bypass Volume Control.The AER temperature and volume at the output (TM3) of the Energy Recovery Unit is higher than the input TM1.

The output from the Energy Recovery Unit and Bypass Volume Control flows to the Mixer. The AER from the Energy Recovery Unit is combined with the flow from the Bypass Volume Control. The AER is combined to optimize the efficiency of the MIIN–AER System. The AER is ionized and the temperature is measured at TM4 (*). The ionization process prevents boundary layers and maximizes air flow and efficiency throughout the system.

The Control Computer monitors the temperature, airflow, and pressure of the system and fine tunes the various components to ensure maximum efficiency and energy recovery.