A vehicle that runs on air. It sounds like a fantastic idea, but energy is still needed to compress the air and the losses that go hand-in-hand with converting energy still have to be taken into account, just as in fossil fuel-based propulsion systems. Pros and cons aside, we still haven't seen air powered transport make an impact in the race to find economic, environmentally-friendly ways to get from A to B. Industrial Design student Dean Benstead thinks that compressed air does have a role to play in the future transport mix, and he's designed a working air-powered motorcycle prototype with a view to exploring the viability of the platform.

Benstead's "02 Pursuit" motorcycle is based on the geometry of a current-spec 250 cc motocross bike and uses running gear from a WR250F and Engineair's DiPietro air engine as its power plant. In its current form it can hit speeds in excess of 62 mph (100 km/h) and, given that the first prototype was developed with a focus on design rather than engineering, Benstead believes that performance can be improved with further development.

"The concept evolved from research to sketches to computer modeling before the chassis and bodywork was built and fabrication at local manufacturer, Rinlatech Engineering, began," says Benstead.

"I wanted to explore the viability of compressed air as an alternative fuel, and my childhood experiences riding dirt bikes led me to design the motocross bike based around the Engineair engine."

Benstead also sees the possibility of a marketable model based on the prototype emerging down the track.

"The next prototype would involve a total re-style, different material choices over the current steel tube chassis, such as aluminum or even a futuristic printed titanium, reducing the weight comparable to a heavy-duty mountain bike."

The 02 Pursuit will be revealed in a working demo at the Sydney Motorcycle & Scooter Show in Australia on Friday November 25.