Fuel cell sports car

A wholly British partnership is to develop the world’s first environmentally clean sports car, powered by a fuel cell which converts hydrogen into electricity.

QinetiQ, the Morgan Motor Company, Cranfield and Oxford Universities, BOC and OSCar Automotive will develop the new LIFECar, which will be built over a two and a half year period at a cost of £1.9 million, partially with DTI money.

OSCar Automotive are responsible for the overall system design and architecture of the so-called LIFECar, which will be based on the Morgan Aero Eight. It will be powered by a QinetiQ-made Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) that will drive four separate electric motors, one at each drive wheel.

Because regenerative braking and surplus energy will be used to charge ultra-capacitors on-board the car, which will then release their energy when the car is accelerating, the car will only need a small 24KW fuel cell to provide power, as opposed to the 85kW proposed by most competitor systems.

But before the design gets underway, Cranfield University will develop computer simulation models for the main vehicle components, such as the fuel cell, the hydrogen storage system and the electrics,  to allow its engineers to predict the performance of the vehicle and its environmental impact.

These models will then be used to develop the sophisticated control software and electronics, which are necessary to integrate and manage the vehicle’s on-board hydrogen and electrical power systems.

For its part, BOC will develop a hydrogen refuelling plant for the vehicle, while Oxford University researchers will design its highly-efficient electric motors.