I recently went to the New York International Auto Show, and I was surprised to see how many manufacturers had electric cars on display. A major reason these cars haven't quickly replaced gasoline vehicles is that potential buyers are worried about getting stranded if the battery runs out of power. But a project under way at IBM may greatly reduce, if not eliminate, that problem.

IBM's Battery 500 project is aiming to use air -- yes air -- to greatly increase the range of electric cars. IBM scientists involved with the project are working to develop a lithium-powered air battery that would dramatically increase the amount of electric power that could be generated and stored.

You can learn more about the project by clicking here.

Meanwhile, you might have heard over the last few years about India's biggest automaker, Tata Motors, developing a car that runs on compressed air. Reports abounded several years ago that Tata planned by the end of 2009 to introduce a U.S. version of a vehicle that would have run on compressed air at low speeds but then switch over to a small gasoline engine for more power at speeds over 35 mph. But problems with the car's range and cooling system reportedly sidelined the project. Now the word on some Web sites is Tata will be introducing an air-powered car, the MiniCAT, in India this August. It doesn't appear that Tata has made an official announcement of that plan, however.

I won't hold my breath waiting for an air-powered vehicle, but there's no doubt in my mind that big breakthroughs are coming that will greatly decrease our dependence on oil. Just think what a game-changer these developments will be.