The BOC Foundation has awarded OSCar Automotive a grant to develop a powertrain for a two-seat urban vehicle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.
The grant will help fund the two year Hyrban project which aims to prove that practical hydrogen fuel cell urban vehicles are readily engineered using existing fuel cell technology.
The Hyrban concept car will have an electric motor in each wheel powered primarily by a fuel cell. The motors will become generators under braking and will charge ultra-capacitors, which will provide most of the power for acceleration. This allows the vehicle to have the acceleration of a Smart Car, despite the fuel cell only having an output of around 6kW, or less power than that required to run four electric kettles, and the energy consumption of a moped. The car could cruise at around 50mph.
Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science is developing the electric motors while Cranfield University is developing the computer simulations used in optimising the design, plus the vehicle control and energy management strategy.
Both universities are already working with OSCar, BOC, the Morgan Motor Company and Qinetiq on the LIFECar project, a fuel cell powered sportscar, part-funded by the DTI’s technology programme.
Hugo Spowers, managing director of OSCar commented: “We are very pleased that the BOC Foundation is supporting this work which promises to overcome the main barriers to the commercialisation of fuel cell powered cars. The two generally accepted barriers are fuel cell cost and the problem of hydrogen storage, but by developing the vehicle architecture to suit a fuel cell, solutions to these barriers are within our grasp.”
“A sophisticated hybrid powertrain will require a fuel cell of less than one quarter of the power required conventionally – and thus one quarter the cost,” added Spowers. “With energy consumption also similarly reduced, there is no problem in storing enough hydrogen on board the vehicle.”