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CFRP Car Shows the Way Forward in Clean Automotive Technology

  • Friday, 20th August 2004
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

A car that runs entirely on hydrogen and emits nothing but water has been hailed as a breakthrough in automotive technology this week by experts.

Shaped like a dolphin, the BOC Gh2ost car is completely clean running, virtually silent and could travel around the world on less than the equivalent of two gallons of petrol. Using just 25 watts, it runs on just a fraction of the power a light bulb uses.

The car’s body shape has been crafted by racing car designer Hugo Spowers using carbon fibre and lightweight aluminium. Shetland Composites built the body using Formula 1 composite carbon fibre technology.

Dave McGrath, managing director of siGEN, said: “”To stand a chance of taking the record the car has been built to be as light as possible and have minimum aerodynamic drag, yet be strong enough to bear the driver. The total weight of this car will be under 40kg – lighter that the front seats of an average family car.””

“”It sounds unbelievable how little power is used to keep the BOC Gh2ost moving,”” said John Carolin, BOC’s global director for hydrogen energy, “”but it demonstrates the impact of careful design and is a valuable lesson for car makers in the future.””

The car still needs developing before it could come into common or practical use – it travels at just 11 miles per hour, and to accelerate to its top speed of 15 miles per hour can take up to five minutes. But enhancing hydrogen fuel-cell technology would only bring huge benefits to people around the world, according to Mr Carolin:

“”Hydrogen power could create a pollution and noise free environment and bring vital transport solutions to people in poorer parts of the world,”” he said in a statement. “”Petrol vehicle emissions are a major contributor to rising levels of greenhouse gases and the depletion of fossil fuels. But hydrogen is odourless, tasteless and is the most abundant element in the universe.””

Expert racing car designer Hugo Spowers fashioned the car’s bodywork out of carbon fibre and aluminium. Other than its clean fuel system, the key to the vehicle’s energy saving properties is in its lightweight frame, weighing in at just 40kg, which is less than the front seats of the average family car.

Britain’s BOC Gh2ost car will attempt to break the mile per gallon world fuel efficiency record of 10,705 next week at the Shell Eco Marathon at the Grampian Transport Museum in Scotland.

The project is being managed by siGEN, the company that supplied the fuel cell technology that enables the car to run on hydrogen. Managing director of siGEN, Dave McGrath told edie that the aim of the project was to increase public awareness of this clean, sustainable technology, which he said surely heralded the future of transport development.

“”Fuel cell vehicles are being developed by just about every car manufacturer in the world,”” Mr McGrath said. “”From an energy security perspective, we need to find an alternative to fossil fuels, and it will definitely be within our lifetime. Fuel cell vehicles will be hitting the road in the next five to ten years.””

Last year the BOC Ghost, the new car’s predecessor, missed the record which is currently held by a team from France. But the BOC Gh2ost has been completely redesigned to meet the challenge.

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