Mygreenwheels Journal Michelin’s zeropollution electriccar

11 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Mygreenwheels Journal Michelin’s zeropollution electriccar отключены
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Michelin’s zero-pollution electric car

The Michelin Hy-Light electric car really seems to tick a lot of boxes for the sustainable mobility posse, but on closer inspection maybe some of those ticks don’t make as much sense as you’d imagine. I’ll explain.

The Hy-Light is being developed in Switzerland (whose only link with the auto-world is that Schumi lives there, innit?) The car’s daddy, Pierre Varenne of Michelin, claims that the location frees him from the pressures of domestic car and oil conglomerates and so creates an ideal environment for his project. Good point I’d say. He runs a small group of researchers who are genuinely trying to think differently about the future of the car and of mobility.


So this car is not just a concept — it complies with all existing Swiss auto regs, carries a normal licence plate and has been silently tooling around the Swiss road system for a couple of years now. It’s built around a hydrogen fuel cell, so it generates electricity from hydrogen and oxygen which are stored in two specially developed tanks. (The hydrogen one is pressurised and can withstand the direct shot of a Swiss army rifle — good to know when EVs are getting such bad safety PR these days.)

No surprise really that an EV from Michelin has in-wheel electric motors and the car is packed with sensors that relay data to a central processor controlling the motors and suspension. Someone has asked the sensible question ‘Doesn’t this design expose the motors to water, snow, mud and shocks?’ and Varenne acknowledges that it’s something they haven’t thoroughly tested yet. It must be an issue that comes up in all in-wheel motors scenarios — funny that I haven’t heard it raised before.

So what about performance? The current incarnation of the Hy-Light can reach 80mph, go from zero to 60mph in under 12 seconds and travel over 200 miles on its two tanks of gas with steam the only by-product.

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Now comes the tricky bit. At present hydrogen accounts for only about 1% of world energy consumption and comes mostly from natural gas, oil or coal with less than 5% extracted through electrolysis — splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by an electric current. With current technology the amount of electricity required to extract the hydrogen makes it an inefficient process. So Michelin decide to stick solar panels on their facility roof in Fribourg to power the electrolyser that splits enough water to to run the car for 12,500 miles a year.

This electrolyser is reportedly the size of a small garage, although Varenne has plans to get it down to ‘the size of a washing machine’.

In this vision every Swiss will be able to produce the energy for their home and car through a combination of solar panels, home electrolyser and a fuel cell. Not quite the most marketable solution just yet methinks. All this technology is a bit beyond my ken, so here’s a couple of comments on the original article that make me wonder if it’s really got any legs as an idea.

‘A very inefficient way to use expensive solar power. Overall efficiency is less than 24% but batteries and charger are over 85%.’

‘Using the same solar panels a battery-powered vehicle could travel 60 thousand miles a year. The vehicle would cost less and the equipment would take up much less space.’

OK, guys. Maybe you haven’t quite nailed it with this one, but definitely points for trying and great to see someone thinking so outside the box. In best EuroVision spirit — ‘Funf-comma-funf for Switzerland!’

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Tazzari Zero Electric Cars
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