Global Observer

Air-powered motorcycle has arrived

Air-powered motorcycle has arrived

Posting in Design

MELBOURNE -- Fueled by compressed air, the 02 Pursuit motorcycle could be the answer to a cleaner and greener future.

MELBOURNE -- Last month industrial designer Dean Benstead unveiled the 02 Pursuit -- a prototype for a motorcycle fueled not by gas or electricity, but by compressed air.

Based on the geometry of a 250cc motocrosser, the O2 Pursuit prototype uses the breakthrough engine technology developed by Angelo Di Pietro of Engineair.

Benstead, a recent graduate of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), has harnessed the power that exists in the air tanks to mechanically drive the vehicle.

According to Benstead, testing of the motorcycle showed close to a quarter of an hour running time with stops at around 25-45 km/h. During stationary testing, Benstead's team timed the speed off the back wheel, registering over 100 km/h. Preliminary testing of the prototype was limited to an indoors factory environment on a circular track.

The bike is running a standard scuba tank which runs air compressed up to 200 bar, with further developments, we would be looking at running a tank at 400 bar with increased capacity to also increase the range,” he said.

The innovation was the result of Benstead’s final-year design research into the future of motorcycles, looking at air as a genuine alternative to petrol and electricity.

Air was the starting point back in 2010, but I continued to explore this for the prototype because of its low-tech nature,” Benstead said. “A solar panel and a compressor now becomes your refinery and without huge battery packs to dispose of, we now have a low-cost to free powered bike with minimum impact on the environment.”

The project began mid last year at the RMIT Ecomoto, the only motorcycle-specific design studio in Australia. Led by RMIT Lecturer and Acting Program Director Simon Curtis, Benstead's super motard bike project won him the Product Design – Automotive and Transport award at the 2010 Melbourne Design Awards.

The air engine developed by Engineair is still yet to be commercialized. The motor used in the 02 Pursuit was one of five prototypes in the world.

Benstead, recently named in Melbourne’s Top 100 most influential people, is currently working with Australia's Engineair on a new design that can bring the technology to the market.

02 Pursuit specs:

  • Top Speed: >100 km/h
  • Weight: <100kg
  • Engine: ‘Di Pietro’ 9 chamber air engine
  • Engine Weight: 10kg
  • Material: Aluminium
  • Development: Melbourne

Photo: Alec Simpson.

Post updated by author at 10:35 (EST) Friday, 23 December 2011.

Photo: GSG/Creative Juice

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Lieu Thi Pham

Correspondent (Melbourne)

Lieu Thi Pham is a freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She has contributed to The Age, Associated Newspapers, Melbourne University Magazine, the Big Issue, Dazed and Confused, Indesign Group, Time Out, SOMA and Niche Media. She holds degrees from the University of Melbourne and RMIT University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure