Fuel-cell motorbike

UK-based Intelligent Energy has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first fuel-cell motorbike.

Intelligent Energy has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first fuel-cell motorbike.

Its so-called ENV (Emissions Neutral Vehicle) bike was designed to the company’s brief by a British team led by UK designers Seymourpowell.

In an urban or off-road environment, the new bike can reach speeds of 50 mph. It is also virtually silent with noise emissions equivalent to an everyday home computer. On a full tank, the ENV bike could be used continually for up to four hours without any need for re-fuelling.

At the bike’s heart is the CORE – a 1kW fuel cell generator providing power on demand directly to the drive-train. To enhance performance during peak power demand (i.e. when accelerating), the fuel cell is hybridised with a battery pack to provide a 6kW peak load to the motor.

The CORE is a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) type fuel cell – one of five different fuel cell types, all of which have different attributes in terms of size, robustness and ability to work at high temperatures. Each fuel cell is a multi-layered sandwich of plates and MEAs (Membrane Electrode Assemblies), in which the MEA acts as a catalyst during an electro-chemical reaction, producing water and electricity from hydrogen and oxygen.

The CORE fuel cell uses metal rather than the more common graphite plates, which the company says makes it easier to manufacture, more robust and, crucially, smaller, as metal plates can be made more thinly than graphite plates.

Two- and four-wheeled vehicles using 5kW and 10kW power cells are next potential developments.

Key Components of the Bike Power System

Motor: 6kW, 48 VDC Brush motor (model LEM-170, supplied by LMC Ltd).

Motor Controller: Brusa Direct Current (model MD 206).

Fuel Cell: 1kW Intelligent Energy air-cooled (2 x AC32-48).

Hydrogen Storage: High pressure carbon composite cylinder (Luxfer L65).

Storage: Battery 4 x 12V Lead Acid (15Ahr) connected in series.

Performance Data

Acceleration: 0 – 20 mph in 4.3sec (32kph).

0 – 30 mph in 7.3sec (48 kph).

0 – 50 mph in 12.1sec (80kph).

Top speed 50 mph (80kph).

Range: At least 100 miles (160km).

Bike mass: 80 kg (Total mass including CORE).