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Additional Detail on the Michelin/PSI HY-LIGHT Prototype

15 December 2004

Hylight2

Michelin is providing a bit more information on the HY-LIGHT hydrogen fuel cell concept car, including a simplified schematic (at right). Developed in partnership with the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), the HY-LIGHT made its debut at the Challenge Bibendum in Shanghai this year. (Earlier post.)

The lightweight car (850 kg) uses Michelin’s Active Wheel units—electric traction motors combined with an active electric suspension—mounted in the front wheels. Supercapacitors store the electricity generated by braking.

Michelin designed the HY-LIGHT with the expectation of using H2 and O2 generated via electrolysis and stored in separate on-board tanks at up to 350 bar (5,000 psi).

With pressurized oxygen stored on-board, the HY-LIGHT fuel cell does not require an on-board compressor to pump air through it to provide the source of oxygen through the fuel cell. Compressors add weight and power consumption, and ambient air contains components the fuel cell doesn’t require, such as nitrogen and CO2.

December 15, 2004 in Fuel Cells, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

H2 and O2 storage suggests that they might be using a closed-cycle fuel cell system as a substitute for a battery. In other words is this really a plug-electric car? It's scary to contemplate Joe and Jane Twelvepack pumping their own high-pressure oxygen along with hydrogen at a filling station.

I don’t think it’s a closed system. Supercapacitors provide the energy storage. And the scenario of pumping the two gases—H2 and O2—is exactly what they envision in their use case and prototype photovoltaic electrolysis station.

The gases generated by electrolysis are at 30 to 200 bar pressure and following compression they are stored onboard the Michelin Hy-Light.  Michelin website

I am skeptical of 'in-wheel' electric motors.

Motors incorporated into wheels are likely to encounter maintenance problems. These motors have no shock absorption. They are exposed to water, mud and other particulates. Their bearings must sustain torque pressures related to steering. The 'in-wheel' electric motor cannot be as practical and reliable as the basic on-board electric motor. General Motors may promote the idea is 'wiz-bang' terrific, but then again, GM thinks computer-controlled steering, accelleration and braking isn't insanity.

ZAP early on, introduced the fastest production electric car in the country, a three- wheeler called the Xebra that can hit 40 miles per hour. By the end of next year, ZAP will introduce the Obvio , a pint- size Brazilian import that will be the nation’ s first commercial car to run on 100 percent ethanol, followed by a Lotus Engineering electric SUV[ the ZAP- X] that will top 155mph. We spoke with Schneider about his thriving eco- dealership and his ambitious vision of a green automobile for every driver in America.

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