Zero emission vehicle from MorganLIFECar project promises to demonstrate an efficient high performance fuel cell sports car within three yearsThe green car will deliver on performance and looks as well as emission reduction
A wholly British partnership has unveiled plans to develop the world's first environmentally clean sports car, powered by a fuel cell which converts hydrogen into electricity.
The partnership is made up of legendary British sports car manufacturer, the Morgan Motor Company, QinetiQ, Cranfield and Oxford Úniversities, BOC and OSCar.
The new vehicle, known as LIFECar, will be ultra quiet and its exhaust systems will produce only water vapour. It promises a clean vehicle combined with sound motoring performance and stylish good looks.
Part-funded by the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), LIFECar is a two and half-year long project which marks a step change in vehicle power technology, producing a combination of performance, range and fuel economy that will be essential to the motoring world of the future.
LIFECar will be based on the Morgan Aero Eight, and is powered by a QinetiQ-made fuel cell, which converts hydrogen – and oxygen taken from the air around it – into electrical energy. It will be clean, quiet and economic, and the only waste product from the car will be water. The car's power system will be incredibly efficient, producing significant improvements over current fuel cell prototype vehicles, with the fuel cell powering four separate electric motors, one at each drive wheel.
The key to delivering this step change in energy efficiency lies in a combination of factors, including weight reduction and a different design approach. This approach exploits opportunities across the vehicle to reduce energy losses and requirements.
Regenerative braking and surplus energy will be used to charge ultra-capacitors, which will release their energy when the car is accelerating. This architecture will allow the car to have a much smaller fuel cell than is conventionally regarded as necessary: it will only be as large as is required to provide cruising speed, approximately 24 kW, as opposed to around 85kW proposed by most competitor systems.
Speaking at this year's Society of Motor Manufacturers International Business Group, where the plans were unveiled, Charles Morgan, corporate strategy director of the Morgan Motor Company and LIFECar project director, said: 'This is a project which captures the imagination. LIFECar promises to combine advanced technology while retaining the best in traditional ways of designing and building cars. A sports car that is beautiful, brilliant to drive but pollution free must be a goal worth striving for.'
Costing a total of £1.9m, with a mix of industry and DTI funding, the two and half year project will be broken down into the following areas of responsibility:
• BOC Developing the hydrogen refuelling plant
• Cranfield Úniversity Systems simulation, on-board computing and control of the fuel-cell hybrid powertrain. Also responsible for analysis of the integrated design process used.Vehicle controller and control algorithm, together with modelling software.
• Morgan Motor Company Providing the car platform and assembling the final concept car
• Oxford Úniversity Úndertaking the design and control (note C) of the electric motors
• OSCar Responsible for overall system design and architecture
• QinetiQ Developing Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC)Technical Background
LIFECar Consortium - QuotationsStephen Evans, Professor of Life Cycle Engineering, Cranfield Úniversity
The car's fuel cell system operates by electrochemically combining on-board hydrogen with oxygen taken from the air outside. Although in most respects fuel cells are more like engines than batteries, to the extent that they generate energy from fuel in a tank rather than store energy, like batteries, they use electrodes (solid electrical conductors) with an electrolyte (an electrically conductive medium). When the hydrogen molecules come into contact with the negative electrodes, the molecules split into protons and electrons. The protons are then carried across the proton exchange membrane to the positive electrode of the fuel cell whilst the electrons travel around the external circuit as electricity. The molecules of the hydrogen and oxygen are combined chemically, with water as the only waste product. The only emission from the QinetiQ fuel cell will be water vapour. The electric power generated by the fuel cells powers the electric motors and turns the wheels of the vehicle.
'Cranfield Úniversity is developing computer simulation models for the main vehicle components; such as the fuel cell, the hydrogen storage system and the electrical machine. These models will allow Úniversity engineers to predict the performance of the vehicle and its environmental impact long before any physical components have been manufactured and tested. 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. Cranfield Úniversity will also be acting as 'project observer' to ensure that the design techniques used are made known to others.'Dave Wardle, European Manager of Hydrogen Energy for BOC
'The future of the hydrogen economy, and hydrogen-powered motoring in particular, is central to both our society and our company. This project has our total support, since if offers a real chance of bringing forward a time in which hydrogen fuel is a realistic option for motorists.'Dr Malcolm McCulloch of Oxford Úniversity
'It is obvious that in our transition to a sustainable society we will have to adopt electric power for cars, and they will have to be very efficient ones at that. To do this we will need to push the envelope in the design of electric motors and their control gear, which will be Oxford's contribution to LIFECar.'Hugo Spowers of OSCar Automotive
'This project is the first fruit of a great deal of work on the whole system design of fuel cell powered vehicles. We hope to be able to demonstrate that the perceived barriers to the adoption of hydrogen-fuelled motoring, the high costs of fuel cells and hydrogen storage are, if not bogus, much less of a problem than is conventionally thought.'Ian Whiting of QinetiQ
'LIFECar is about catching the first big wave in the energy revolution, which is set to transform the motoring industry in the same way that the computer industry was transformed by the personal computer decades ago.'Source - Morgan
The Morgan LIFECar takes a fresh look at transport, offering as revolutionary an approach to personal freedom as did the brilliant Morgan Threewheeler introduced by HFS Morgan nearly 100 years ago.
The LIFECar is powered by a fuel cell that is sized to meet the constant load requirement of cruising (about 20% of peakpower) and as a result significant weight and cost reductions have been made over other designs. By recapturing energy during braking, maximum performance is available to LIFECar for acceleration from this unique mix of technologies.
The initial concept was the brainchild of Hugo Spowers of RiverSimple, a specialist company investigating new ideas in environmentally sound transport solutions. In order to realise LIFECar however, several partners were needed to make the concept a reality.
The project is based around hydrogen as the fuel source because when it burns the only emission is pure water. Hydrogen is potentially abundant and Spowers brought in Linde to the project for their expertise across the whole hydrogen supply chain from production and distribution through to their high pressure refuelling systems.
The hydrogen is converted to electricity using a 4 stack hydrogen PEM fuel cell. Apart from 22Kw of electricity, the fuel cell produces only heat and water as by-products. The fuel cell made by QinetiQ operates at 45% efficiency, a significant advance over the conventional internal combustion engine.
Electricity is directed to 4 electric motor/generators, each connected directly to a driving wheel. Not only are these motors super-efficient – 92-94% across their operating range - but they have inbuilt re-generative braking, recapturing the kinetic energy for when vivid acceleration is required (and reducing energy consumption still further). Whilst regenerative braking is not a new concept, current applications offer around 10% energy reuse, whereas in LIFECar, up to 50% of this stored kinetic energy can be re-employed.
This regained energy needs to be efficiently stored and delivered. Historically this has been the job of batteries, which are rich in heavy metals, heavy in weight and limited in their ability to deliver or receive high power bursts of energy. LIFECar has shunned these in favour of a bank of ultra capacitors. These have the ability to shuffle up to 1000 amps back and forth, maximising energy storage during braking and delivering powerful acceleration.
This technology would not be practical without sophisticated controls. Cranfield Úniversity have developed management systems for the vehicle, hydrogen, fuel cell, ultracapacitors and the motors allowing them to become the drive and braking system (powerful enough to give 0.7g retardation as well as generating energy). They have also developed a solution to seamlessly switch the electronic brakes to a conventional hydraulic system at very low speeds.
LIFECar has been engineered to deliver energy consumption equivalent to 150 mpg (1.8 l/100km) on petrol with a top speed potential of 80-85 mph, a 0-62 time of under 7 seconds and a 250 mile range. This unique mix of technology has been packaged by Morgan to add yet another unique twist to the project. Úsing only the best and lightest materials that are also attractive from an environmental and an aesthetic point of view, aluminium, wood and leather, the Morgan DNA is clearly visible and gives a new dimension to an environmentally sensitive concept.
One thing is for certain, the world of motoring will change out of all recognition over the next 10 years...Could this be its future?Source - Morgan