At the time, motorsport was in the pocket of big tobacco. It was ludicrous. But nobody was going against it. But Spowers was unmoved: he knew he was right.
Hydrogen & Fuel Cells
Disillusioned and low on funds, he quit racing soon after. So Spowers is used to being doubted, mocked and shouted down.
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But he has also learned to be patient. Sometimes, the only way to tell the difference between a crackpot and a visionary is to wait a while. Now 57, Spowers has the grey hair of an ageing rock star, a ruddy complexion and a dishevelled charm. When we meet, a checked shirt is poking through large holes in his red cable-knit jumper; his trousers are being held up by a belt made from an upcycled fire hose.
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For the last 16 years, Spowers has been founder and chief engineer of Riversimple , a small hydrogen-fuelled car company based in Llandrindod Wells, in mid-Wales. In , it unveiled its first production-ready car: the Rasa , a radical, ultra-light two-seater powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. This year, the company will roll out a beta test of 20 cars in Monmouthshire and if all goes well, Spowers hopes to have the car on the market in Inside, engineers work at desks upcycled from pallets. This has just arrived from the supplier in Melton Mowbray Riverside tries to use UK-based suppliers where possible and is undergoing testing before the other 19 are ordered.
The Rasa short for tabula rasa, or clean slate is baby blue and has a sleek, friendly design. Its unusual, aerodynamic shape was designed by Chris Reitz, who also designed the modern Fiat The entire car weighs just kg, or less than half a Volkswagen Golf and a quarter of a Tesla Model S. Its chassis is carbon fibre, and it uses low-rolling resistance wheels.
Every part has been painstakingly engineered for lightness; the lower the weight, the less energy required. The car can do mph in 10 seconds — the equivalent of a Ford Fiesta — and has a range of around miles. But it does that on just 1. The fuel cell is supplemented by a bank of supercapacitors — extremely fast-charging batteries — that supply four wheel-mounted electric motors with additional power for acceleration. An innovative regenerative braking system captures most of the energy wasted during braking, putting it back into the supercapacitors.
When combined with the fuel cell, Spowers says, that lets the Rasa achieve the equivalent of more than miles per gallon.
Running on hydrogen from renewable sources, that would make it a contender for the most sustainable car in the world. The engineers roll the Rasa out into the car park, and Spowers offers to take me for a drive. Its gull-wing doors swing open to reveal a sparse if surprisingly spacious cabin. It feels like sitting in a DeLorean. For years, Riversimple was just Spowers and an idea. But the company deemed it too expensive to continue.
Plans were floated for a consumer trial in Leicester, but the project failed to secure funding and political approval. I ask why they never gave up on the idea. Spowers is nervous about what Brexit means for the company. But that is expected to change rapidly: in , the UK and France announced their intention to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by Germany and China are expected to follow suit.
Hydrogen: still the fuel of the future? | Feature | Chemistry World
All Volvos will be electric or hybrid from Every major manufacturer is investing heavily in the development of electric cars such as the Tesla Model 3 and Nissan Leaf , which run on lithium-ion batteries. For a long time, the industry has explored another alternative to the combustion engine: hydrogen fuel cells. To put it simply, fuel cells work by electrochemically combining hydrogen, stored in a pressurised tank, with air to generate an electric current; the only emission is water vapour. However, development of fuel cell technology has been slow. They are expensive to produce platinum is a key component , as is hydrogen.
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This Reference is not available in your current subscription. Notify your administrator of your interest. Hydrogen and Fuel Cells - Advances in Transportation and Power Details The hydrogen car has been proposed as the solution to our oil problems, but how would it work, and what potential problems are associated with it?
This book attempts to address these questions, and to provide specifics about current developments toward a hydrogen-based energy infrastructure. In a major push to establish and commercialize fuel cell technologies, most major auto manufacturers are investing billions in development programs. A less public, but perhaps more important development is occurring in stationary power sources that use fuel cell technology.
What would a hydrogen infrastructure look like?
What is a hydrogen fuel cell?
Fueling stations could be small electrolysis plants that produce hydrogen from water. Photovoltaic cells could also be used at fueling stations to power for electrolysis. The technology is being pushed by economics as oil prices continue to rise with dwindling supplies. This book offers the reader an informed look at the current state of fuel cell power and transportation technology, and where it's headed.
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