College students build bike that runs on air

June 29, 2011 7:43:29 PM PDT
When we talk about low-emission vehicles, and clean energy, what could be cleaner than fresh air? That's exactly what some South Bay college students thought, but unlike the rest of us, they figured out a way to actually use air to power a bicycle.

People familiar with Santa Clara University may recognize the old blue house across from the campus. In it live a group of students who might not know much about housekeeping, but do know a thing or two about compressed air.

They took an ordinary bike and using gauges, gears, and other assorted gadgetry, have made it run on compressed air.

Kevin Azepetia explains the air tanks can hold 4,500 pounds per square inch. They attach to a small, three piston engine through a couple of hoses.

The bike began as an engineering project. It took six months, cost $2,700 and these guys actually think they might change the world with it.

"As long as the power from the compressor comes from a clean source, there are zero emissions from this," Azepetia said.

When Kevin and his classmates dreamed up this project, they wanted to take advantage of air as a natural resource.

The air tank costs about $3 to fill and it gets the rider about five miles going about 20 miles per hour. So, in terms of dollar efficiency, they still have work to do. But, it's progress. Other teams have attempted compressed air bike projects and none of them had results even half as good.

And all from a bunch of fun loving engineering geeks who live together in an old blue house. Most kids leave college with diplomas and nothing else. These guys actually have something to show for it -- bike bike that runs on air.


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