Developed by Dean Benstead, a graduate RMIT University in Melbourne, the O2 Pursuit is a pretty extraordinary bike. With a range of about 62 miles per ‘tank’ and top speeds of 87 mph, the modified Yamaha WR250R is powered entirely by compressed air. A canister with a compression of 3000 PSI, the same as those used by scuba divers, appears to power the bike as effectively as many electric motors—and Benstead’s technology has been nominated for a James Dyson Award.
As to exactly how Benstead’s motorcycle works, Fast Co.Exist explains that the frame is rigged with a “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.”
The RMIT graduate isn’t the only one experimenting with this technology; multiple companies have been working on air-powered car tech for years. The most prominent recent case—the AirPod by Tata—chugs along at a maximum speed of 47 mph, but the manufacturers believe that the cleaner-tech car could revolutionize India’s streets.
There is, as Fast Co.Exist and Grist point out, a fairly major pitfall to the idea of air-powered bikes as a sustainable future for transport: It takes a certain amount of power to compress air as densely as is necessary for scuba diving or, say, bike-propelling—and there’s no current functional infrastructure for charging a compressed air.
Images © Dean Benstead