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Mechanical engineering students from Helwan University check the air-powered vehicle that they have designed to promote clean energy and battle increasing gas prices, in Cairo, Egypt August 7, 2018. Picture taken August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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CAIRO (Reuters) - A group of Egyptian students has designed a vehicle they say will battle rising energy prices and promote clean energy by running on nothing but air.

The undergraduate students, who built the vehicle as part of their graduation project from Helwan University just outside Cairo, are rolling out a prototype one-person vehicle that runs on compressed oxygen.

The go-kart-like vehicle comes as Egypt pushes ahead with painful economic reforms that include deep cuts to energy subsidies, measures tied to a three-year $12 billion IMF loan programme it began in late 2016.

The students say their vehicle can hit 40 kilometres an hour and last 30 kilometres before needing to be refuelled, and it only costs about 18,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,008.40) to build.

"The operational cost of the vehicle... will be almost nothing. You are basically using compressed air. You are not paying for fuel and also you do not need cooling," said Mahmoud Yasser, a student who helped design it.

The team is now looking to raise funding to expand the project and mass produce the vehicles. They believe they can eventually get the vehicles to top 100 kilometres an hour and run for 100 kilometres before needing to come up for air.

($1 = 17.8500 Egyptian pounds)

(Reporting by Mostafa Salem, Amr Abdallah and Mohamed Zaki; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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Reuters