New Hydrogen Powered Urban Car by Riversimple
A new hydrogen car was unveiled in London, UK by Riversimple. This Riversimple Urban Car (RUC) is powered by fuel cells. These fuels cells combine hydrogen with oxygen from the air to release energy. What comes out from the exhaust pipe is not toxic fumes but water. Even using hydrogen fuel from source to car’s fuel tank, its carbon emissions for urban driving are only 30 grams/km. The weight of this hydrogen car is 772 pounds. You can travel 186 miles on just 2.2 pounds of liquid hydrogen. The Riversimple Urban Car is powered by a cheap, 6-kilowatt fuel. The car’s top speed is 50 miles per hour (80.4672 kilometres per hour). It can be accelerated from 0 to 30 mph (48 km/h) in 5.5 seconds.
Every year, millions and millions of cars release toxic exhaust fumes into our atmosphere. With the help of clean and green technology hydrogen cars may be a solution to this problem. Although these cars are advantageous in various ways, the manufacturers will have to clear many hurdles. One of the problems is lack of infrastructure. We know that when the need arises; hydrogen fueling stations could be put into existing gas stations. But it will take time, perhaps years. Channels of distribution that can transport hydrogen all over the country will be needed too. We shouldn’t forget that setting up infrastructure would cost millions of dollars.
There are other main problems related to using hydrogen cars. Their fuel cells are prepared using platinum and we all know that platinum is more expensive than diamond. If we want to see widespread use of hydrogen cars we have to find an alternative to platinum required in the fuel cells. Fuel cells are difficult to make powerful enough to power a conventional vehicle. We also know that the hydrogen they use is hard to store in large quantities.
How Riversimple Urban Car (RUC) is going to tackle the above mentioned problems? Riversimple founder and automotive engineer, Hugo Spowers elaborates, “If your car is light and efficient enough, the hurdles are lowered.” He also laid emphasis on the company’s original, light design that will help overcome some of the drawbacks that have held back the development of hydrogen cars. The RUC is powered by four electric motors. One motor will be attached to each of the four wheels. Attaching the motors directly to the wheels makes it possible to regain as much as 50 per cent of the energy, the energy that we lose to friction using conventional brakes. That is considerably more than most hybrid and electric cars manage, which are limited by the fact that their electric motors are connected to only one pair of wheels. Another advantage is the RUC doesn’t have a battery. Instead of batteries they are using a bank of ultracapacitors. These ultracapacitors will take on and release energy much more rapidly. They are supposed to provide most of the power to get the car moving. If we compare Riversimple’s ultracapacitors with Honda’s prototype FCX Clarity hydrogen car we will find that former fuel cell is 1/16th the size of the fuel cell of the later.
The manufactures of RUC asserts that they have built up the prototype from scratch and according to them it will be commercially possible to mass produce them quickly than the major auto manufacturers experimenting with adapting more conventional cars to hydrogen. Honda forecasts that its FCX Clarity hydrogen car will be available in market around 2018, but Riversimple is certain that they can lease its first fleet in 2011 and mass produce in 2013. It is true you can’t own a RUC but get it on lease. Spowers confirms, “That means we are driven to encourage people to keep them for as long as possible rather than replacing their vehicle quickly, as is usual in the car business.”