Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Lifecar

In my February 5th post I mentioned a prototype electric car shown at the Detroit Auto Show and based on the Saturn Vue. Its claim to fame was the use of ultracapacitors to store energy recovered from regenerative braking. (Ultracapacitors take advantage of the high surface area to volume ratio of nanomaterials to store energy more compactly than could be done with a conventional capacitor or battery. Capacitors in general have the advantage over batteries of being able to store and release their energy very quickly, making them ideal for regenerative braking.)

The BBC is now reporting that the same idea appears on a hydrogen fuel-cell powered car which will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show which opens tomorrow. Called the Lifecar, and developed by Oxford and Cranfield Universities together with private industry, it is based upon the Morgan Aero 8 sports car. The Morgan’s already light weight is reduced further by removing luxuries and even air bags. Even then, the performance is not sports-car-like. Indeed it is barely adequate for a family sedan, with a top speed of 90 mph and 0-60 time of 7 seconds. (It is not clear whether this is with the aid of the ultracapacitors or not.) A range of 250 miles is claimed, at which point one would have to find a hydrogen station.

See for full story.

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