A highly innovative approach to hydrogen transport - the Riversimple Urban Car - was launched today (16 June), thanks in part to industrial gases supplier BOC who gave original funding for the project and who are providing continuing support and advice.
The initial assistance from BOC together with substantial support from the family of Ernst Piech (grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of the Porsche motor company) have enabled Hugo Spowers, the founder of the Riversimple project, to bring this new car to the market.
Developed over the last three years in a cooperative research programme with Oxford University, Cranfield University and Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, the lightweight, two-seater Riversimple car can achieve a top speed of 50mph, has a range of more than 200 miles between refuelling stops and is highly fuel efficient - much more so than previous hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. This represents a step change in the performance available to road vehicles from fuel cell technology.
For Hugo Spowers, the event is the fulfilment of a long term quest. "This is a big step on the road to sustainable transport," he commented. "Not only does this vehicle use fuel cell technology, which is the most promising of road transport technologies for tomorrow's long range vehicles, but it uses the hydrogen fuel far more efficiently than any previously developed. Questions have been raised about the sustainability of hydrogen vehicles but clearly a fourfold improvement in energy efficiency transforms the potential for supporting the transport sector with renewable hydrogen."
The resource efficiency of the Riversimple concept promises to make the introduction of hydrogen fuelling systems much easier to achieve. Ensuring sufficient infrastructure and refuelling facilities has been a major challenge for those planning the transport systems of the future. But the more efficiently vehicles can use fuel, the lower the threshold at which the infrastructure can support widespread introduction of a new transport technology.
For Mike Dennis, Head of Marketing at BOC, this is a crucial step forward. "As part of the global Linde Group, we are a leading producer of hydrogen and refuelling stations. We can see, though, that innovative transport solutions often face a chicken-and-egg situation - the infrastructure has to be in place before there is widespread uptake of the technology. Yet without a guaranteed market, investors will not put in the infrastructure. By making such impressive improvements in fuel efficiency, the outlay on infrastructure does not have to be so great before we reach critical mass in technology uptake. So we warmly welcome the realisation of the vision that inspired the Riversimple project."
BOC is a member of The Linde Group. An industrial and speciality gases provider, the company supplies compressed and bulk gases, chemicals and equipment.
For more than a century the company's gases and expertise have contributed to advances in many areas of everyday life, and industries including steelmaking, refining, chemical processing, environmental protection, wastewater treatment, welding and cutting, food processing and distribution, glass production, electronics and health care.
The Linde Group is a world leading gases and engineering company with almost 52,000 employees working in around 100 countries worldwide. In the 2008 financial year it achieved sales of EUR 12.7 billion. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards sustainable earnings-based growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment - in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. Linde is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development. For more information, see The Linde Group online at www.linde.com
1. The Riversimple Urban Car was launched at a ceremony taking place at Somerset House in central London on Tuesday 16 June.
2. For more information on the Riversimple concept, visit: www.riversimple.com
3. Riversimple is releasing the design of the vehicles under an Open Source license and leasing the vehicle as a fully bundled service (with ongoing maintenance, support and fuel) rather than conventional purchasing.