Forget gas, now a scooter exists that is designed to run on nothing but air.

Like an electric scooter, the Ecomoto is quiet, doesn’t pump pollution into the atmosphere, and if the air compressor used to fill its tank runs on renewable electricity, doesn’t have much of a carbon footprint.

Darby Bicheno, an Australian design student who created the conceptual scooter for a class, says that an air engine runs directly on the air inside, rather than converting energy from a battery.

The whole thing is extremely efficient and lightweight.

Though the scooter is just a concept at this point, the air-powered engine is already in use. EngineAir, an Australian company, invented the engine, and has placed it in small pieces of equipment like forklifts.

Most of the body of the scooter is made from bamboo. Bicheno says she used bamboo because it grows quickly, is more sustainable than other plantation timbers, and could reduce carbon emissions by replacing plastic. She also wanted the scooter to be immediately recognizable as a sustainability project.

2013-11-25

Co.Exist

This Bamboo Scooter Runs On Nothing But Air

Instead of a city filled with scooter emissions, what if we imagined a cleaner alternative?

Forget gas, now a scooter exists that is designed to run on nothing but air. Specifically, compressed air, the same stuff that’s used to clean computer keyboards, fill scuba tanks, fire paintball guns, and more recently, to power cars.

Like an electric scooter, the Ecomoto is quiet, doesn’t pump pollution into the atmosphere, and if the air compressor used to fill its tank runs on renewable electricity, doesn’t have much of a carbon footprint.

Darby Bicheno, an Australian design student who created the conceptual scooter for a class, says that an air engine runs directly on the air inside, rather than converting energy from a battery. The whole thing is extremely efficient and lightweight.

Though the scooter is just a concept at this point, the air-powered engine is already in use. EngineAir, an Australian company, invented the engine, and has placed it in small pieces of equipment like forklifts.

Bicheno’s goal was to imagine how the engine might work in a scooter, and to design something good-looking enough that people would get curious about the technology--something with “the potential to turn heads with its eco-friendly appearance, and to get people more interested in the potential of alternative future technologies.”

Most of the body of the scooter is made from bamboo. Bicheno says he used bamboo because it grows quickly, is more sustainable than other plantation timbers, and could reduce carbon emissions by replacing plastic. He also wanted the scooter to be immediately recognizable as a sustainability project.

The other parts on the bike are sustainable as well. “The overall form, assembly and design of the bike was focused on minimalism, with every element being carefully though out to ensure that there were no extraneous details or features,” says Bicheno. A good example of this is the frame, made from a single tube of steel, which allows for simple assembly and disassembly, recycling, and a reduction of extra screws and joints. The bike is also lit up with LEDs.

The prototype design uses a regular scuba tank for the compressed air. Bicheno says someone would ideally fill it up on a machine at a scuba store or a hospital, but any air compressor would work--the others are just likely to be noisier and less efficient. Eventually, Bicheno says, regular gas stations could easily be used to provide compressed air instead of fossil fuels. Without testing, it’s not clear how far it could go on a tank of air, though it would likely work well for short errands in the city.

Bicheno imagines the bike used for commuting as well, helping save time in traffic and reducing pollution. Even in cities that already have a lot of two-wheeled transportation, something like this could make a big difference--what would it mean for cities in Vietnam, where 37 million motorbikes currently run on low-grade gas, making it one of the most polluted places in the world?

Add New Comment

26 Comments

  • DamOTclese2

    No it does not "run on air," it runs on electricity which is created
    by either burning fossil fuels or by nuclear/wing power generation.
    What utter bullshit advertising fraud claiming it "runs on air." Fucking crooks!

  • uzza

    Try reading the article. It uses a Di Pietro Rotary engine, which doesn't use electricity, it runs on compressed air.

  • William Daniel Moran

    I guess the air gets compressed by magic....oh no...I'm and idiot....what was I thinking... it will get compressed by another motor that runs on either gas or electricity. The compressed gas canister is just acting a s a battery and a crap one at that.

    Due to energy lost in conversion it would most likely be greener to run the bike off of the gas directly. It's a concept that tends to blow this bikes target audience which is best described as "eco morons"

  • eeenok

    compressed air tech for commuting seems to currently fall between terrible and non-existent, and the ongoing favorable press imo is not based on technology but rather on the gap between intuition and reality. when you describe an air vehicle to most people, the little folk-physics animation that runs in their head is thirty seconds of charging with familiar tyre-filling equipment and then running for miles and miles on this sizeable store of energy - accompanied by a thought bubble along the lines of "oh, what a good idea". without what, ironically, philosophers might call an "intuition pump", air vehicles would compete with the usual alternative fuel descriptions of dollars, efficiency and kilowatt-hours and as far as i can tell disappear from the public discussion

  • jcfool

    It is important to remember that in engineering as in life, nothing is free. Compressed air takes considerable energy to compress. Like all gases, it heats up when compressed (as does the compressor and everything associated with it). The energy it takes to produce this heat (and it is a significant portion of the total energy of the system) is wasted. A modern battery is actually a much more efficient way of storing energy as the internal resistance (aka energy wasted to produce heat) is quite low. Also the energy density is higher than can be achieved by compressing air into a bottle, even at several thousand psi. On that note, I would certainly want a very robust piece of shielding between the part of me in contact with the seat and the bottle; the explosive force released should it fail would be castrati.., umm, catastrophic. Batteries are no panacea of course; they contain toxic goo, are difficult to manufacture and recycle, and are energy intensive to construct. Not trying to rain on anyone's parade here, just trying to point out that what seems to good to be true almost always is. There are great solutions to sustainability issues but they are often just simpler methods like walking and bicycling. Go Green! Your friendly neighbourhood organic farmer, JC.

  • mariposaman

    I hate to rain on your parade, but like most cyclists you are under the illusion that walking and cycling is energy free. It always takes energy to move an object, in this case a human, or a human and bicycle, from point A to B. Humans get this required energy from food calories. Food is incredibly energy intensive to produce, all the plowing, harvesting, fertilizer, transportation, processing and storing requires a large petroleum input, as well as some electricity. It is much more efficient to use the energy directly. In fact if one uses renewably solar or wind energy in a small vehicle, like an ebike, or even use a compressed air bike with renewables, it is not only more efficient, but greener as well than walking or cycling.

    Humans are incredibly inneficient in other ways. They too are full of toxic goo, and require huge sewage plants to render the worst aspects of this toxic goo relatively harmless, although what to do with the sheer quantity is always a problem. Plus they are always idling, you cannot shut them off unlike machines, so they consume incredible amounts of energy just sitting there waiting to do some useful work.

  • wordfixer

    Mari...

    Human body / animals = most efficient mechs.

    Your assumptions on everything are false. Turns out when you use energy it transfers, it doesn't get destroyed. So truly energy is never really wasted. It switches forms. See, you can't destroy or create energy or matter. Thus it is always the same amount. Just a different form. So you have been fooled by tele and info streams. if you only allow yourself to believe fact and not what sounds good. then you are doing the world a favor. like i am in fixing your view on how this universe which works perfectly is able to provide for us (you and me). We just need to be humble and seek understanding.

  • Peter Jaques

    Ok, in case you're not just a troll:

    The (fairly obvious) fallacy in your argument is that *people eat anyway,* and moreover, that exercise is necessary anyway for health. I'm a pretty serious biker-around-town, in the hilly East Bay (San Francisco area) with no car. On days when I'm running around all day, I eat basically the same as on days when I'm home all day. And biking means I'm never encouraging a gym to keep its machines & lights on; I use my need to travel as my exercise.

  • deacon_2112

    Seeing as how you appear to be quite anti-human, and are no doubt into population reduction as well, lead by example and start with yourself.

  • deacon_2112

    You're the one who slammed humanity in exactly the same ways that the anti-humanists do. I have nothing to be ashamed of. All I did was call you on your BS.

    And if you are into forced population reduction, then you are the one who needs to be ashamed, not me.

    Anyone who would deny their fellow humans the right to exist deserves, at the very least, the same fate they would inflict on others. If you didn't like me suggesting that you take point in that, that isn't my problem. You could always choose to live, as I'm not holding a gun to your head,

    Now you get to prove me wrong in my assertions, assuming you can.

  • murthy

    I appreciate the idea, struggle to bring the idea to convert into product (prototype). I wish the product to be on road sooner or later, with necessary improvements to make it Production oriented.