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06/16/2009 12:25 PM     print story email story  

Hydrogen-Powered Two-Seater Unveiled in UK News

Britain-based Riversimple today unveiled a prototype, two-seat hydrogen powered car that the company says achieves the equivalent of 360 miles per gallon.

The company intends to lease, not sell, the vehicles for around $315 per month, including refueling.

Riversimple said the vehicle will be commercialized internationally using an "open-source" production model inspired by the software industry.The company gave no timeline for commercialization.

The vehicles employs a 6kW fuel cell made by China's Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies that converts hydrogen into electricity, which is used to power motors on each of the vehicles four wheels. These motors also function as the vehicles brakes, and can store regenerative braking energy in ultracapacitors for later use.

Combine with lightweight composite materials, Riverside said the vehicle maximizes efficiency, cutting the need for a large hydrogen storage tank. Riverside said the vehicle can travel 240 miles on one small tank of hydrogen weighing only 2.2 lbs.

The vehicle's top speed is 50 miles per hour.

Horizon said its networked fuel cell power-train design led to a reduction in fuel cell power requirements by a factor of 6 compared to other urban vehicles of similar performance and by a factor of 15 compared to other fuel cell prototype vehicles.

"Many people lost track of the fact that fuel cell cars are electric cars, since fuel cells store and deliver electrical energy, just like batteries--only with significantly more storable energy per unit of weight. Batteries and ultra capacitors on the other hand, offer more power per unit of weight, but less storable energy," said Taras Wankewycz, one of Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies' founders. "Technologies have evolved, but more importantly, Riversimple brought them together as one system, in a way that greatly exceeds the sum of their individual benefits. This next generation hydrogen-electric car brings electric vehicles into a new stage where range, charge-time and cost are no longer commercial barriers."

The car was developed by Riversimple in collaboration with Oxford University, Cranfield University in Bedfordshire and Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies.



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