Friday, August 15, 2008

Air-powered bikes inching towards production reality?


Jem Stansfield with his Puch moped, which has been converted to run on compressed air!
Pic: MCN

In June last year, we first wrote about the possibility of air-powered engines – which are already being used on cars – also being used on bikes. Now, merely a year later, people have already started working on air-powered bikes and scooters!

In April this year, MCN carried a report on one Jem Stansfield, an inventor who claims he’s developed the world’s first air-powered bike. Stansfield, an aeronautics graduate from the University of Bristol, converted his Puch moped to run on air. He fitted two high-pressure carbonfibre air cylinders on his bike, which power two rotary air engines, which deliver power to the rear wheel.

It must all be incredibly complex, we’re sure, and on top of that, Stansfield’s bike will do only 10km between air top-ups and has a top speed of about 28km/h. Still, it was a start. Now, two researchers – Yu-Ta Shen and Yean-Ren Hwang – from the National Central University in Taiwan have developed their version of the air-powered bike. Like Stansfield’s machine, the Taiwanese bike also uses energy from compressed air to drive the rear wheel.

There are limitations, of course. The way the prototype is right now, Shen’s and Hwang’s bike will do barely more than 1km before needing an air refill. But with bigger air tanks that can hold air at higher pressure, the researchers are confident of being able to increase range to around 35km in the near future. And when you need to refuel, just ride up to the nearest air compressor and tank up!

Right now, various companies are working on air engines which may be fitted on cars and three-wheelers. And while some experts feel that air power may not be viable for two-wheelers (because of the size of air tanks that would be needed to provide an adequate riding range before requiring a refill), you never really do know. Tomorrow, if some new technology comes along that allows smaller tanks to carry air at a much higher pressure, air-powered bikes may find their way to production reality after all…

For more details on air-powered engines, go here

Also see:
An Alfa-Romeo motorcycle...?!
Hubless wheels on motorcycles...
Pendolauto: Franco Sbarro’s four-wheeled motorcycle concept...
The absolutely amazing Peraves MonoTracer...
Lumeneo Smera: A car-motorcycle hybrid…!
Riding the Travertson V-Rex...
Apple juice-powered Triumph 675 Daytona does 254km/h!
Suzuki Crosscage: Riding the future...

External links:
Dream Cruise: The human-powered 'Dogsled' cycle
The coolest pedal-powered cargo carrier ever...!!
Deco Rides: A unique car-bike hybrid...
The Peugeot Bikester trike concept...


Which of these terrific twins would you choose? The KTM RC8 takes on the Ducati 1098 here, and the Buell 1125R joins the fray here!
Hmmm....

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course, here in Central Pennsylvania, the Amish will outsmart everyone and carry a gas-powered compressor, with a large fuel tank, to keep the air tank full!

Panamint Joe said...

It may not be as simple as "just riding up to the nearest air compressor and tanking up". Most service station compressors top out at 80-100 psi (550-690 kPa), but to be useful, an air storage cylinder would need to be charged to about 2000 psi (13800 kPa). One would have to be willing to install a compressor powered by shop air to boost the pressure to the storage cylinder pressure and live with the attendant weight and space penalties. You may be out of luck if the service station has installed a coin-operated compressor, as the cost of filling up with air may then easily exceed an equivalent fill-up with gasoline!

Anonymous said...

Hey,I saw that air bike and the man on "Planet mechanics" which comes on discovery channel.Thay showed how they had built that bike over there.

harley motorcycle parts said...

incredible :)

hardboiled said...

At last fuel we can't be taxed on. I really hope this catches on for larger machinery.

The oil companies need to keep an eye on this, I've heard they don't like new inventions and have a habit of buying them and shelving them deliberately.

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