University to unveil hydrogen fuel-cell design

Birmingham City University to showcase design for what it says could be world’s first affordable hydrogen fuel-cell powered mass transport vehicle

The design concept behind what is hoped will be the world’s first affordable, zero emission hydrogen fuel-cell mass transport vehicle is set to be unveiled by Birmingham City University in India this week.

The joint collaborative project between the University, the DYP-DC centre for automotive research in India and UK motorsport manufacturer Spencer Ashley has been set up to produce a four-wheeled replacement for the abundant auto-rickshaw vehicle, commonly known as the ‘Tuk-Tuk’.

An early design concept for Birmingham City University's hydrogen fuel cell 'Tuk Tuk'

An early design concept for Birmingham City University’s hydrogen fuel cell ‘Tuk Tuk’

In development since summer 2013 at Spencer Ashley in Walsall, the design is now set to be launched at the Auto Expo Moto Show in New Delhi this week, with hopes that it could provide a priory mode of public transport in the country in future.

The project stemmed from the Indian government’s Hydrogen Highway initiative, which aims to ensure that at least one million hydrogen-fuelled vehicles are on the roads by 2020.


According to the University, the proposed car — which produces zero exhaust emissions — consists of a hydrogen fuel cell, an electric motor and a complex control system.

Hydrogen for the vehicle is stored in a cluster of low pressure metal hydride cylinders, providing a safe means of fuelling the system.

A thermal compressor retrieves the hydrogen produced by splitting water into its component elements — hydrogen and oxygen — via solar energy. Hydrogen storage cylinders can then be used to power equipment including mobile phones, computers and lighting in remote and developing areas or in a humanitarian disaster situation, as well as powering an electric vehicle, the University claims.

Parmjit Chima, head of the School of Engineering, Design and Manufacturing Systems at Birmingham City University, said: “With the current climate agenda of a low-carbon economy and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, the way vehicles are reliant on fossil fuels needs to change.

“With an abundance of sunshine in India, we have also been developing a ‘Hydrogen Tree’ concept with a simple and aesthetically elegant design which would be capable of charging multiple hydride stores to power not only vehicles but other appliances and devices too. This research into extracting and storing hydrogen is a real game-changer.”

The Auto Expo Motor Show, which organisers say attracts more than one million visitors, takes place in New Delhi from February 7-11 2014.


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