The aim of the Hyrban project is to develop a highly energy-efficient vehicle that is built to last and cheap to maintain.
Our approach is based on whole system design. This means optimizing not just the parts, but the whole system.
We aim to use current state-of-the-art technology, which does not depend on great leaps forward in the laboratory.
The starting point is the vehicle designed and built by Riversimple, a two seater network electric hydrogen fuel cell powered urban vehicle - see the Riversimple website for more information about and images of this vehicle. Riversimple has licensed its designs for the urban car to 40 Fires for no charge.
Detailed designs available Hyrban rear suspension Hyrban front suspension
Next steps The designs are being made available on this site over the course of the next few months. These are in various formats (including .step and .iges) allowing them to be viewed and manipulated by virtually any CAD application.
This will lead to development of a prototype vehicle in 2010. Riversimple has said it will build 10 prototypes based on these designs for testing purposes.
The eventual goal is a full production vehicle.
Specification Here is the draft specification of the vehicle:
Installed range:220+ miles (352 km) Top speed:50 mph (80 kmh) Number of passengers:2 Carbon emissions, well to wheel < 31g CO2/km Energy Consumption equivalent::300 mpg
How the car works The car is powered by a fuel cell, a hydrogen-driven electricity supply. The fuel cell converts hydrogen to electricity without any moving parts, and the only byproduct is pure water. Thus, a ”reversed electrolysis process” has been performed in the fuel cell, which can therefore be treated like a battery; it will never have to be recharged but will deliver electricity as long as there are added hydrogen and oxygen (or simply air will be sufficient). Click here if you are interested in Hydrogen Safety..
Fuel cells have been around for years, and the auto industry have invested a lot of money in exploring how to use them in vehicles. Most advanced is probably Honda, who have produced 200 vehicles (the FCX Clarity) which are currently being trialled in California.
The two principles that really are new in the Hyrban (originally conceived by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute) are:
- decoupling acceleration and cruise demands and
- mass decompounding
Decoupling acceleration and cruise means that the fuel cell needs only to be large enough to meet the maximum steady demand when cruising for which the vehicle is designed, which is usually only about 20% of the maximum power required when accelerating.
In a conventional car, acceleration also has to be provided by the engine; but as a car is only accelerating for about 5% of the time, and the power needed then is five times what it is when cruising, it means that for 95% of the time the car is carrying around an engine and transmission that is five times larger than necessary.
In the Riversimple network electric vehicle, almost all braking is done by the electric motors, capturing the energy of the car in motion, rather than using conventional brakes that just waste the energy as heat. This energy is stored in a bank of ultracapacitors which thus provide 75% of the power required for acceleration. This allows us to have a fuel cell a fifth the power than would be required in a conventional car.
Mass decompounding is an emergent property of whole system design – designing the car as a whole system rather than attempting to squeeze a fuel cell into a car architecture that is designed for a combustion engine. The reduced size of the fuel cell and elimination of a gearbox and driveshafts, results in a weight reduction. This leads directly to a lighter chassis, as this is designed to hold on to the heavy bits (engine and gearbox) in accidents. This in turn means less power, which means lighter components, means lighter chassis, means less power and so on, and this effect is magnified by using lighter materials, composites, for the chassis as well. All these weight reductions make power assisted systems for brakes and steering redundant, which again leads to further mass decompounding and improvements in efficiency.
Although the Hybran develoment team (40fires) hasn't yet decided on the exact licensing scheme they will follow they are considering a number of licenses in order to provide the ability to apply changes on their design.