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The "Airhead' Motorbike

At the National Center University of Taiwan, some interesting research has built a prototype motorbike that runs entirely on compressed air as the power source, creating zero pollution. However, this early prototype can only hold enough compressed to travel about 3/4 of a mile currently. The project needs far more research, however is the first baby steps towards building a possible future generation of motorbikes that produce zero pollution, powered by alternative sources.air-motorcycle.jpg

The compressed air notion for alternative power is closely similar to that Midi air powered automobiles built in Europe. And Zero Pollution Motors hopes to be able to market a $18,000 hybrid compressed air/ gasoline car in the U.S. within about a year in the U.S. , that is able to travel up to 35mph on compressed air alone.

Since automobiles or trucks are able to hold much larger air tanks than motorbikes, the experiments in automobiles have proven far more successful so far. However, the Taiwan experiment is a novel use of the technology in motorbikes.

Hey, suddenly being an "Airhead" is a good thing.

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Comments (7)


Not to be too nitpicky, but umm, what power do you use to compress the air? Coal? Natural Gas? Nuclear?

Paul Hooson:

Hello MunDane. There is no on-board compressor, so using a service station tire compressor or a shop compressor with a tire type filler becomes necessary. So this technology has real limitations. A functioning on-board compressor is important in future versions of such vehicles, otherwise this technology has a very limited future.


Even an on-board compressor's got to get energy from somewhere...

Any time you convert energy from one form to another, there's a penalty to be paid. An electric stove, for example, is less efficient than a gas stove, which burns the same gas as the power plant, but locally.
There are less efficient ways of storing energy than compressed air, but none come immediately to mind. Maybe wind-up springs?
Next item: Have you ever seen a compressed air explosion? Imagine the classic 2-liter pop bottle filled with dry ice. That goes bang at about 175 psi. Now imagine those two 8-liter tanks on that bike at 3000 psi. It's the sort of thing that can give a whole new meaning to the phrase "thrown clear of the vehicle".

Lee Ward:

Some see things the way the are and ask - "Why?"

Others see thing that aren't and ask - "Why not?"

Conservatives see anything new and ask - "Huh?"

Mac Lorry:
Conservatives see anything new and ask - "Huh?" .

Back in my college days I noticed that most of the kids with engineering majors also had politically conservative points of view on many issues. What you see as a clueless "Huh" is actually an informed "Huh" as in why would anyone waist their time on that. Compressed air is not an energy source, but just a means of storing energy just as a battery is. A detailed analysis would be needed to determine which storage means is more efficient, but I suspect a similar size and weight scooter powered by a lithium ion battery would win out for several reasons, and thus, the "Huh" why would anyone waist their time on that?

Doubting Thomas:

"Conservatives see anything new and ask - "Huh?"

And 'progressives' look at it and say "How can we tax the fuck out of it, or ban it outright if we decide we don't like it?"

Lee - your hatred is really taking an odd, almost bizzare turn any more.

Billl - 3000 psi... it's possible to do very lightweight composite 3000 psi (or more) tanks, but as you point out they'd be a trifle risky. Then again - a dual-shell setup with crushable foam between the internal tank and the external shell might be a reasonable way to have both the capacity and the safety. Alternatively, standard scuba tanks handle 3000 PSI, and they're pretty durable. (I remember a Mythbuster's episode where they were doing the JAWS explosion by shooting one with a 30.06 - couldn't get it to explode, but knocking the valve off got real interesting...)

But you're still faced with compressing the air in the first place, and that's going to take energy. Can't get around it - that air's not going to compress itself as Mac points out.


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