Monday, September 15, 2008

Is There an Air Powered Motorcycle In Your Future?

Researchers at the National Center University in Taiwan have come up with a motorcycle that runs on compressed air instead of gas to run the motor. With nothing but air coming out of the exhaust pipe and huge energy savings potential, the idea may have some traction.

Problem is the prototype motorcycle can only hold about 2 1/2 gallons of compressed air which limits the range before refueling to about 3/4 of a mile.

However, in the future the tank size will increase and they expect to come up with ways to improve the range up to 20 miles. Compressed air refueling could be implemented at current gas stations.

It's high time for the world to give up on costly and polluting fossil fuels but it's not going to happen overnight. I'm looking forward to following the progress of the development and implementation of the compressed air motorcycle in Taiwan.

Cars may be the more viable vehicle for compressed air technology. Their larger size enables them to carry larger air tanks. In fact a company called Zero Pollution Motors is well along in development of a hybrid air/gas powered car. It runs on air only when going under 35 miles per hour. At higher speeds the motor burns fuel to expand the air and recharge the tank.

The "ZPM" car is expected to hit the U.S. markets in about a year and a half and the company is already taking reservations for delivery. The company plans on selling the modernistic looking car directly to the consumer, skipping the middleman, so there won't be a dealer network. This is one way ZPM plans on keeping the cost of the car affordable and appealing to the masses. It's expected to sell for around $18,000.

Man what a great idea! The compressed air vehicle idea sounds much simpler and less costly than other new technologies I've heard of. I'm looking forward to being the first (grey haired) kid on the block with an air powered motorcycle! I've got to get me one of those bad boys! I might even start up a gang called the "Airheads"

So, what do you think?

Article: "The Air Powered Motorcycle By Jem Stansfield"
Article: "Motorcycles Designed to Run On Air": Discovery News

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Conchscooter said...

My wife already is holding out for the convertible version. I hope the Volt comes as a convertible eventually as it seems a more pracitcal vehicle in the real world. I can't get my head around compressed air as power.

Steve said...

So how much fossil fuels need to be burned to compress the air into those tanks?

Kano said...

conchscooter -I know what you mean. The concept just sound too simple, like, why didn't anyone think of that before!

Steve -Depends on the local source of the power. Coal fired plants, hydroelectric, nuclear, they all have variable impacts on the environment. But having said that, my hunch is that in the balance, whatever power it takes to compress air, it would still be much less of an environmental impact than a conventional engine.

Baron's Life said...

Wishful thinking if you ask me....It won't happen from a practical point of view. There is no infrastructure in place to support this technology on an on-going, reliable way for the masses to use.
A nuclear powered engine would make more sense.

Kano said...

baron's life -I don't know, it seems like it's going to happen to me. Check the ZPM website, looks like a car is on the way! Motorcycles, now that may be a bit of stretch.

kia of riverside said...

We never know, technology is so fast and no one knows on what might happen tomorrow. There's nothing impossible now even the invention of Powered Motorcycle is near to reality.

Anonymous said...

Air motors and compressed air technology are nothing new - one of the first air motors was invented in 1828. The working principles are not much different from gas engines (although of course there are many variations).
Compressed air is also known as one of the most expensive and inefficient technologies. There are some reasons that air motors still are widely used today - just think of the air tools used in garages and factories. But energy efficiency is certainly not one of those reasons - nor is pollution.
Air has to be compressed (and dried/filtered) by using electricity or fossil fuels - with massive losses in the process. Then, an air motor only has an efficiency of about 15%; the other 85% is lost as heat.
The photo of Jem Stansfield with the motorcycle just shows a simple DIY project. Who can use a vehicle with a 7 mile range?
Compressed air is not an energy source, it is an energy vector.

Kano said...

Kia of Riverside -Yep, you never know. Sometimes old ideas, dusted-off and re-thought can be the "next big thing".

Anonymous -You're right, there isn't much use for a vehicle with a range of 7 miles but one has to start somewhere. The Wright Brothers airplane wasn't exactly the most advanced energy effecient thing to start out with either. You've been doing your homework though. Are you an engineer? What do you think about the ZPM car? It seems to be a hybrid of a conventional internal combustion engine along with compressed air technology.

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