The Loh Down On Science

Air-O-Cycles

Easy riding, on air.

And now for a trick Evil Knievel couldn’t do!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet Bharat Singh, from the SMS Institute of Technology in India. Singh tweaked the design of the typical motorcycle combustion engine to replace the gas tank with, yes . . . an air tank.

Gas motors work like this: Spray aerated fuel into the cylinder. Add spark. Boom! The explosion - a rapidly expanding volume of hot gas - pushes the motor parts that turn the wheels. The toxic leftovers are tooted out the tailpipe.

Compressed air does exactly the same thing--minus the fireworks and pollution. Cranking the throttle injects extremely dense air into the chamber. It violently expands and you're off to the motocross!

But . . . road trippin' Harley Heads beware: The tank would last about 20 miles before running out of steam. Fixing that's the next step.

Singh estimates that, in areas where Motorcycles Rule - like in most less-developed countries - his air-o-cycle could cut total vehicle emissions by up to sixty percent.

In short, Houston, we have a wheelie! Or, at least, New Delhi, we have a wheelie. Rock on.

The Loh Down on Science, online, at lohdown.org. Produced by 89.3 KPCC and the California Institute of Technology, and made possible by TIAA-CREF.

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