BREATHING BIKE: The O2 Pursuit is a prototype dirt bike from RMIT University in Melbourne that runs on compressed air. It uses a standard scuba tank that can be refilled in 2 minutes to drive a Di Pietro air engine. Preliminary testing showed the O2 Pursuit can exceed 100 Kph. Air in; air out. Sounds like a great idea. RMIT University. Video here.
BREATHLESS BIKING: Would you like to ride your bike with no air in the tires? You would if you were using Energy Return Wheels. The wheels use rubber stretched over a series of rods to provide cushioning. The rods can be adjusted to provide different amounts of tension on the rubber, and the rim itself is made from carbon fibre for reduced weight.
DIY SOLAR: The UK's Westmill Solar Cooperative may be the largest community owned solar project in the world. The solar farm consists of 12 hectares of over 20,000 polycrystalline Solar Photovoltaic panels and includes 5 wind turbines. The site is expected to generate 4.8 GWhr per year — enough to power around 1400 homes. Great idea: why wait for a power company; create a cooperative. Westmill Solar Cooperative. Video here.
ONE SMALL LEAP: A flea can jump up to 100 times its body length. It does this by locking an elastic protein in a squashed position and then releasing. Scientists at Seoul National University in South Korea are using a shape memory alloy called nitinol to create a robot that can jump in the same way. They created springs that fold and lock in the same way. When attached to a power supply the prototype can jump up to 30 times its own length. Sounds good, but it's only a small leap. Now the robot needs its own on-board power supply and to remain upright while leaping. High-jumping sounds like it's a go for the next robot Olympics. New Scientist. Video here.
RUNNING TO GROUND: Researchers at the University of British Columbia have developed a way to charge up an electric car without plugging it in. A rotating base magnet on the ground is driven by electricity from the grid, while a corresponding gear is in the car. The magnet in the ground causes the gear in the car to rotate, generating power to charge the battery. Tests show the system is more than 90 per cent efficient compared to a cable charge. Four hours of charging provides 8 hours of battery power. Now to get the ground battery off the grid and onto renewables. University of British Columbia. Video here.
Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz