Viritech, an engineering company developing hydrogen powertrain solutions, is partnering with Pininfarina on Apricale hydrogen hypercar. Pininfarina HAS re-interpreted the Apricale’s initial reference design to create a vision of the future of zero-emissions performance motoring.
Viritech’s ambition is to be the leading developer of hydrogen powertrain solutions for the automotive, aerospace, marine, and distributed power industries. The Apricale is the first manifestation of this ambition; the exceptional demands of hypercar performance have required Viritech to re-imagine existing FCEV drivetrain technology by using its proprietary Tri-Volt intelligent energy management systems (EMS) to operate a multi-hundred kW fuel cell system and high-density, small battery pack.
Among the highlights of the Apricale is the Graph-Pro Structural Pressure Vessel. To date, hydrogen fuel tanks have been attached to the vehicle chassis, rather than incorporated as an integral part of the chassis. As the tanks have to withstand extremely high pressure (up to 700 bar or 700 times atmospheric pressure), they are very heavy, even when constructed with carbon fiber. As a result, they have a highly unattractive weight efficiency of around 5%—i.e. 5 kg of hydrogen (sufficient to cover around 300 miles in a family car) requires a tank weighing approximately 100 kg.
Viritech has developed a lightweight, structural, graphene composite pressure vessel, capable of being used as a structural component of the monocoque chassis of the Apricale, or any other vehicle or machine. The company is now working on bringing this design to production readiness, initially for Type-4 vessels, looking to JV or license the design to store hydrogen and other volatile gases, such as oxygen and nitrogen.
This powertrain architecture not only delivers hypercar performance by virtue of an EMS that can switch between fuel cell and battery in less than 100 milliseconds, but it also allows highly efficient packaging to deliver a sub-1,000 kg curb weight.
While this architecture perfectly suits the performance requirements of a hypercar, the patent-pending technology easily scales to applications as diverse as hydrogen-powered heavy goods vehicles, aircraft and marine vessels. In each case, the unique architecture creates a hydrogen powertrain with no weight penalty compared to an internal combustion engine powertrain, enabling the use of zero emissions propulsion in sectors where battery packs are simply too heavy.
With its core focus on hydrogen powertrain technologies and its Graph-Pro structural hydrogen storage vessels, Viritech sought an expert partner to build the Apricale which shared its ambition to re-imagine future transportation. In Pininfarina, Viritech has secured the capabilities of one of the world’s most fêted design studios that counts among its lineage over 1.200 vehicle designs from prestigious brands such as Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Lancia.
Alongside the styling of the Apricale, Pininfarina is also discussing with Viritech the production of the car in its atelier in Cambiano, Torino, to produce the limited series of the ultimate hydrogen road-going hypercar leveraging the coachbuilder's unique expertise in hand-building exclusive cars developed over the past 92 years.
The results of Viritech’s engineering innovation and Pininfarina’s styling and craftsmanship will break cover at the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this week with an Apricale showcar being debuted ahead of the first production versions being released in late 2023.