The United Kingdom’s Birmingham City University in a partnership with UK motorsport entrepreneur and manufacturer Spencer Ashley and the DYPDC center for automotive research in Pune is set to showcase the concept and design behind what could prove to be the world’s first affordable hydrogen fuel-cell powered mass transport vehicle.
The University’s technology leading project will be out for public view in India later this week at the Auto Expo Motor Show. It’s time for some progress as the hydrogen fuel cell sector has been very quiet of late.
Birmingham City University Vehicle Concept. Image Credit Birmingham City University
The Walsall-based manufacturer Spencer Ashley Ltd began development last summer with an eye toward collaborating in meeting the Indian government’s Hydrogen Highway initiative. The Indian government seeks to ensure that at least 1 million hydrogen-fuelled vehicles hit the roads by 2020.
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The UK team’s model, along with plans of a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (otherwise known as the ‘Millennium Tuk-Tuk’ hydrogen car), will be showcased at the Auto Expo Motor Show and could provide a primary mode of public transport for India in the future.
The joint collaborative project between the University, DYPDC and Spencer Ashley has been set up to produce a four-wheeled replacement for the famous and abundant Southeast Asia style auto-rickshaw vehicle, affectionately known as the Tuk Tuk utility vehicle.
The power train for the new and innovative car produces zero exhaust emissions. It is made up with a hydrogen fuel cell, an electric motor and a complex control system. Hydrogen for the vehicle is stored in a cluster of low-pressure metal hydride cylinders, providing a safe means of fuelling the system.
Using solar energy a thermal compressor retrieves the produced hydrogen by splitting water into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen storage cylinders can then be used to power equipment including mobile phones, computers and lighting in remote and developing areas or in humanitarian disaster situations, as well as powering an electric vehicle.
Parmjit Chima, Head of the School of Engineering, Design and Manufacturing Systems at Birmingham City University, said: “With the current climate agenda of a low-carbon economy and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, the way vehicles are reliant on fossil fuels needs to change.” We can read the global warming tea leaves are at work promoting what is on its face a fine idea all alone.
Chima adds, “With an abundance of sunshine in India, we have also been developing a ‘Hydrogen Tree’™ concept with a simple and aesthetically elegant design which would be capable of charging multiple hydride stores to power not only vehicles but other appliances and devices too. This research into extracting and storing hydrogen is a real game-changer.”
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Well, the Brits and Indians are hard at it, albeit without much technological information available. Admittedly they are showing a model rather than a functioning unit. The details in the press release are decidedly quite vague.
Presumably the fuel cells won’t be built with the dreadfully expensive platinum catalyst. The idea of millions of platinum based fuel cells running across Southeast Asia is literally too ‘rich’ to imagine for now.
Something is up, and a lot of viewers here are coming from India. So if anyone has hard technology data offered at the show or even a good photo we’d all like to know and see.
By. Brian Westanhaus