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Angelo Di Pietro Melbourne, Victoria

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Zero emissions engine is a perfect 10

This engine, invented in Australia, could be the future of engine power.

Photo: ANGELO DI PIETRO

Imagine an engine powered by compressed air with up to 94% efficiency and zero polluting emissions.

That is what Melbourne engineer Angelo Di Pietro has invented using a unique rotary piston concept that virtually eliminates vibration, internal wear and friction. Wind, solar and hydro power can be used to compress the air for the Di Pietro engine helping to unlock the enormous potential of renewable energy. Multi-national engineering company Hyder Consulting believes the engine could one day help power carbon neutral skyscrapers in the world’s cities. This year GE named Angelo as one of the five winners of its ecomagination Challenge.

Angelo, who moved to Australia in 1971, says if his invention takes off everyone’s a winner.

I come from a farm in Italy and when I was very young I was amazed by engines. I pulled things apart because I wanted to know how they worked. It was my passion.

I went to school were I obtained a Diploma as Congegnatore Mechanic and from there I finished up going to Germany to work at an experimental department at Mercedes Benz. When I came to Australia I wanted to build an engine that was much more efficient than current engines. Originally the intent was to use fuel - diesel or petrol. But I didn’t have the perfect machinery to build the perfect engine.

I said to myself I better stop where I am because I won’t be successful with fuel. So I connected to compressed air just to see if it was performing ok and to my surprise I could not believe the performance. But at that stage I didn’t have any data and I didn’t even know if the idea could be patented because I didn’t know if somebody else had designed something similar.So I started Engineair.

Engineair is a small company, at best there are two or three people working here. Most of the time I’ve been here by myself working on the technology, working on the drawing, chasing funds, talking to people, cleaning the office and whatever else needs to be done.

When I first started Engineair we had to work on the technology to bring it to the stage that we are today. We now power a forklift with a little motor. Well at first we couldn’t even power a go-kart from one roller door to another. My engine can be used almost everywhere - wherever there is an engine today. Nothing is closer to us than air.

We are surrounded by air which can be compressed using renewable energy.

In situations requiring a lot of power we can store renewable energy in the form of heat and then we can convert that heat to mechanical work by using refrigerant phase change material. We can power cars, ships, trains, buildings anything you can think of except an aeroplane. All I wanted to do was good and I hope that one day I really get there. And if I get there everybody’s going to be a winner – everyone!

Can this technology help solve the environment problem we’re facing today? Of course it can! We can do anything we want. We have been to the moon. We have been into space. We have done the damage to the environment. If we have damaged something we should be able to fix it up too.