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Japan high schoolers develop world's fastest air powered bicycle that runs at 64 kph

This photo shows the compressed air powered bicycle in the city of Fukuoka on Feb. 24, 2021. (Mainichi/Sayo Kato)

FUKUOKA -- A team of high school students in this west Japan city has developed a bicycle that runs on a compressed air engine which has been officially certified by Guinness World Records as the "fastest compressed air powered bicycle" on the planet.

    The group that came up with the bike consists of eight third-year students majoring in automotive engineering at Fukuoka Municipal Hakata Technical High School. Using the specially adapted engine, the bike reached a speed of 63.966 kilometers per hour in November 2020.

    The team made the achievement after taking over former students' research. The bicycle is an environment-friendly machine that emits no carbon dioxide because it does not consume gasoline.

    According to the team, they initially used a motorcycle as a base, but its maximum speed was only 4.5 kilometers per hour. In the 2020 academic year, they switched from a motorcycle to a bicycle to reduce the base weight, and doubled the air tank size. They also used an engine for a small motorcycle, and improved the shapes of components, leading to higher efficiency and greater displacement.

    Despite reaching an instantaneous speed of 63.966 kilometers per hour, they said the current bicycle can only run for about three minutes at a speed of around 20 kilometers per hour, meaning there are high hurdles to overcome before the bike can be put to practical use.

    During a debriefing session at the school for Mayor Soichiro Takashima in February, the team showed him the actual bicycle running. Although its high-pitched engine sound surprised him, Takashima praised the team, saying, "It's a remarkable accomplishment that encourages the community, who are so proud of your efforts."

    Team member Shogo Inoue, 18, recalled the feat, saying, "We gained a huge sense of accomplishment after it was finally certified by Guinness World Records. We felt a sense of joy that cannot easily be experienced." As Inoue will join the Ground Self-Defense Force after graduation, he said, "I'd like to make use of these fostered skills in car maintenance."

    (Japanese original by Sayo Kato, Fukuoka News Department)

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