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A Long-Range Motorcycle, Powered By Nothing But Air

Why bother dealing with gas, or even electricity? This bike zooms along at over 80 miles an hour using nothing but a scuba tank.

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Electric motorbikes are slowly gaining acceptance, even among some diehard gear-heads. But electricity isn’t the only means of powering alternative two-wheelers; good old, plain air is also a viable, and sustainable, possibility.

Propelled by compressed air, the O2 Pursuit can go 100 kilometers on a single tank, and up to 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph), according to Dean Benstead, the graduate of RMIT University, in Melbourne, who designed it.

The prototype essentially brings together three pieces of a kit: a Yamaha WR250R frame, a compressed-air engine built by an Australian company called Engineair, and a standard scuba diving tank (that’s right). Demonstrating in this clip, Benstead opens the tank, rings the throttle letting air into a heat exchange unit, and from there to the Di Pietro engine.

Banstead points out that unlike electric bikes, compressed air has no end of life impacts (you don’t have to dispose of any batteries), and recharging is considerably quicker (minutes versus hours).

The drawback with air power is that you need a network of refilling stations, and you still need to find power to compress the air in the first place. On the other hand, you don’t have to transport any fuel, and the resulting machines are relatively light and streamlined.

There are several compressed-air cars in development as well, though critics point to their energy-intensity and inefficiency compared to straight-ahead electric vehicles.

The O2 is one of 15 inventions shortlisted for the James Dyson Award, which announces its winner shortly.