The British hydrogen energy technology company Intelligent Energy has recently unveiled the world’s first fuel cell / hybrid motorbike. The ENV (Emissions Neutral Vehicle) motorbike is powered by compressed hydrogen gas which is utilized by a 1000 watt fuel cell to power the electric drive motor and battery pack. The motorbike can reach its maximum speed of 50 mph in about 12 seconds and travel up to 100 miles or up to four hours on a fill of hydrogen.
The compressed hydrogen powered fuel cell module, which Intelligent Energy Co. calls the CORE, is detachable and can be used to power a wide range of other equipment. Refueling is accomplished by removing the integrated fuel cell/fuel tank unit (The Core) from the bike and refilling it using a standard hydrogen refueling appliance. The high pressure cylinder within the Core holds about 175 grams of hydrogen gas, at an operating pressure of approximately 4500PSI. Once the hydrogen fuel is exhausted, the bike can continue to operate on its 48 volt lead acid battery pack. The batteries are also used to provide additional power when demanded by the 6000 watt electric drive motor.
The ENV, (which is pronounced envy,) was designed to be lightweight and aerodynamic. The motorbike weighs approximately 170 lbs, and is nearly silent when operating. No transmission or gearing is needed by the electric drive system, making it simple and easy to operate. The idea of creating a fuel cell powered motorbike was conceived by Intelligent Energy engineers “to demonstrate that new technologies don’t have to be wrapped up in a dull product.” “Engaging public imagination and enthusiasm is key”.
Company officials contacted by the NAFTC indicated that the ENV will be available for purchase in California by late 2006. Following it’s debut in California, where the emerging network of Hydrogen Highway fueling stations will provide ready access to hydrogen fuel, the motorcycles are also expected to be marketed to consumers elsewhere in the US, Europe, Japan, and China. The California Hydrogen Highway includes 40 existing or planned hydrogen fueling sites located between San Diego and Sacramento which is projected to increase up to 100 sites by 2010.
A company spokesperson indicated that the ENV motorbikes will be initially priced between $6000 to $8000. Prices are expected to fall as production increases, lowering unit costs. Company officials state the bikes initially will be offered in either black super gloss finish or an iridescent white finish.