Hydrogen-Powered E-Bike Cranked Up to 93 Mile Range

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©. Pragma Industries

E-bikes will eat cars, and H2-bikes will eat Toyotas.

My attention was piqued by a post in New Atlas describing the Alter Bike; it had my name written all over it. Alas, that was an earlier version with a shorter range; it's now called the Alpha bike. It's an e-bike powered by a hydrogen fuel cell rather than a battery, can be refilled in two minutes, and has a range of 150 km (93 miles).

Alpha bike in use

© Pragma IndustriesOther than the unfortunate name change, it's an interesting concept. It is built to EU pedelec standards so people in North America will complain about its 250 watt (1/3 hp) motor and its top speed of 25km/hr (15.53 MPH), but the range!

Fuel cell company Pragma doesn't see this as a consumer bike, but rather for commercial use, bike shares and tourist rentals where the long range and quick recharge is a real benefit. "Captive fleet operators, your battery management nightmares are over! Alpha offers a complete electric solution while eliminating batteries logistics which can be highly time-consuming and costly." The bikes would get filled at the H2 Spring filling stations, which produce hydrogen from water through electrolysis, then compress and store it. Each station can refill 35 bikes per day. New Atlas quotes the CEO:

"Alpha fuel cell bikes offer significant advantages over electric battery bikes in terms of both range and refuelling," says Pragma CEO Pierre Forte. "Whereas batteries typically take several hours to recharge, hydrogen cylinders can be refilled in under two minutes. For fleet applications, this is invaluable."
Pragma Fuel cell

© Pragma Industries

The Alpha bike has a 4,350 PSI carbon fiber tank which holds 2 liters of gas, then feeds H2 to the 150 watt Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell, which then charges the 150 watt/hour lithium ion batteries, which then drive the motor. The bridging battery is probably necessary to get the peak loads needed for the motor.

All of which begs the question of why one would go through the trouble of using electricity to make hydrogen, only to turn it back into electricity to charge a battery to run the e-bike. Or why one would pick a fuel that needs an expensive filling station that can only handle 35 bikes a day, when you can charge a battery powered bike anywhere. Or if you were a captive fleet operator, why you wouldn't just swap out batteries to get the range and the fast turnover?

Pragma Alpha

© Pragma Industries

But it is a great demonstration of Pragma Industries' fuel cells, and and also of the amazing efficiency of the bicycle, where only two liters of gas can push the thing 150 kilometers.

I keep saying that e-bikes will eat cars, and perhaps H2-bikes will eat Toyotas, because whatever they are powered by, e-bikes move so much with so little.