ENV Fuel Cell Motorbike

To balance out our last post where we were a bit pessimistic about fuel cells, here is an update on the ENV fuel cell motorbike (ENV stands for Energy Neutral Vehicle, pronounced "envy") by Intelligent Energy from the UK. We wrote about it a few months ago, but now some new information is available and it is soon getting out of the prototype category and into the commercial world. The ENV has a range of 100 miles and can accelerate from 0 to 30 in 5 seconds. It takes 5 ounces of hydrogen to fill it up, at a cost of $3-4 for now, but that should drop to about 25 cents once hydrogen fueling stations are in place (who knows when that might be?) according to Andy Eggleston, vice president and ENV project director for Intelligent Energy. Durability seem very good: "Figure a motorbike is ridden two hours a day, five days a week. That's about 500 hours a year, 5,000 hours in 10 years. We've had a fuel cell of the type in the bike in continuous use for more than 16,000 hours."Sounds good. So what's the downside?

For now, refueling and price.

''Hydrogen is readily available. One phone call in any major city and a truck can drop off a canister," said Eggleston. ''It's just not readily available along the highway."

A subsidiary of Intelligent Energy is working on several sizes of ''reformers" -- devices that would produce hydrogen from natural gas, such as ethanol or bio-mass. ''We're projecting a home-sized unit might retail for $1,500," Eggleston said. ''You'd pour ethanol or a bio-mass (sugar cane, corn, sugar beets) in one end and hydrogen gas comes out the other end for the bike."

Convenient, yes. But you'd have to convert a lot of hydrogen to make it cost-effective.

The targeted price for the ENV fuel cell bike is $6000, which is probably too optimistic, but so far the company has had very positive feedback from the public and they hope to commercialize the ENV in 2006.

Thanks to AGCrouton for the tip!

::A motorbike 167 years in the making, ::Intelligent Energy

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