In an existing Technology Strategy Board funded project called Breakthrough in Energy Storage Technology Cella, MIRA, Unipart Eberspacher Exhaust Systems and Productiv are developing a 1kW hydrogen generator using Cella Energy’s lightweight hydrogen storage material. The aim of this new project is to take this technology and adapt it to power a small electric vehicle produced by Microcab Ltd, a spinout company from Coventry University.
A significant problem with full electric vehicles is their limited range. Range anxiety can be addressed by using hydrogen in conjunction with a fuel cell to produce enough electrical energy to drive a car as far and as fast as a diesel or petrol powered vehicle. Existing hydrogen vehicles use gaseous hydrogen, compressed to very high pressures, which does little to alleviate the public’s perception of hydrogen, which is expensive to distribute and pressurize. This project aims to alleviate many of these concerns.
The team will use Cella Energy’s lightweight hydrogen storage material; a plastic-like substance that releases hydrogen quickly and safely when heated. In the previous project; MIRA, Cella and Unipart Eberspacher Exhaust Systems packaged the material in cylindrical cartridges, about the size of a large marker pen that can be handled safely and distributed cheaply. We then developed a system that seamlessly moves these cartridges from a magazine to a hot-cell where the hydrogen was released in a continuous process.
“The low carbon vehicle group at Coventry University have many years of experience in the development of fuel cells vehicles.” Says Bernard Porter from Coventry University and Microcab. “Using this technology we should be able to add at least 120 miles to the range of our existing battery electric cars.”
“The projects build upon an existing Technology Strategy Board project where we are developing a 1kW hydrogen generator.” said Chris Reeves, Commercial Manager for Future Transport Technologies at MIRA. “Our focus will be to scale this technology to a 5kW unit giving rise to a clean range extender for electric vehicles, and developing a new market for medium scale hydrogen storage where an inexpensive supply chain is vital.”
Notes for Editor
Cella Energy Ltd: Cella Energy Limited is a research and intellectual property company with expertise in materials and hydrogen storage. It owns unique patented technology in safe, low-cost hydrogen storage materials. Cella is a spin-out from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), which is owned by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Work began on the technology in 2007, financed predominantly by the STFC and led by Professor Stephen Bennington with collaboration from the London Centre for Nanotechnology at University College London UCL and the Oxford Department of Chemistry. The company was formed through initial investment by Thomas Swann, a chemical company based in the north-east of England. In October 2011 Cella signed a new round of investment led by Space Florida, which is the State of Florida’s aerospace economic development agency and is currently setting up a second research facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Cella Energy won the 2011 Shell Spring Board Award and an Energy Innovation Award.
For more information contact:
Stephen Bennington, CEO Tel: +44 (0)1235 567505
MIRA Ltd – is a leading independent provider of research, product engineering and test services, primarily in support of the automotive industry, which is underpinned by continuous investment in the most advanced technologies. MIRA is focused on the short, medium and long term goals of the strategy for a Smarter, Safer and Greener attitude towards transportation and the need to be transported. MIRA has extensive knowledge and experience in the field of low CO2 vehicles and has been at the forefront of low carbon vehicle design and implementation for more than a decade. MIRA works extensively with governments and the automotive supply chain to accelerate advanced low carbon vehicle technologies.
Productiv Ltd: Productiv bridges the gap between small enterprises developing leading edge low carbon technology and large vehicle manufacturers. We provide technology developers with all the support they need to get their technologies into production, offering a clear path through the challenges of vehicle manufacturer new product introduction. Using automotive industry standards and processes, Productiv enables vehicle manufacturers to work with technology developers from outside the established supply chain. We support the technology developers in three areas:
- Commercial Development: We establish OEM interest and requirements for the technology, agreeing the development path through prototype to production orders.
- Technology Industrialisation: We prepare the technology for production, by providing engineering expertise and automotive standard industrialisation processes.
- Proving Production: Working with The Proving Factory®, we transform technologies into products, offering pre-production to proving volume production of up to 20,000 vehicle units per year each for a number of different low-Carbon technologies.
Through its core business supporting technology developers and initiatives such as The Proving Factory® as well as its support of the UK Automotive Council and the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Productiv is leading the transformation of the UK into the global centre for low carbon automotive technology industrialisation.
Coventry University: Research in transport and environment is one of the strategic areas prioritised at Coventry University. In terms of the changing nature of universities, Coventry University is leading the way in developing research and educational and training courses that match the demands of business. Most recently this has been demonstrated by the creation of a number of institutes that are hosted by CUE, these bring together expertise from different parts of the University to undertake applied research and deliver innovative courses in emerging markets that match the needs of business. Coventry University has a particular applied research focus on Low Carbon Vehicles and is specifically working to test, evaluate and design the vehicles and associated systems needed to establish low carbon vehicles as a viable alternative to traditional modes of transport. This includes in-vehicle intelligent technologies, vehicle design, aerodynamics and telematics, low carbon city projects, demonstrator projects, hydrogen fuel cells, social impacts and barriers to adoption of low carbon technologies and lightweight and composite materials. Recently, Coventry University has been heavily involved in a €30M nationwide low carbon vehicle trial. The West Midlands trial – known as CABLED (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emissions Demonstrators) – was the largest, trialling a range of 110 electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuelled (HFC) cars, and the University is currently a partner in an EU FP7 Joint Undertaking project SWARM which will demonstrate HFC cars across Europe.
Microcab Industries Ltd. is a UK Small Medium Enterprise (SME), based in Coventry, founded by John Jostins in 2004. The company has built on a number of foundation designs and prototypes of electric, solar and fuel cell superlight ‘eco’ vehicles dating from 1998 under a previous company called Greenheart Millennium Transport Ltd. It is a spin-out from Coventry University which continues to provide technical support and resources for a range of low carbon automotive projects.
The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.
For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org.