Business Week: The Hy-Light, the reinvention of the auto industry?

Before the comments get out of control, I do not think that the Hy-Lite from Michelin and a few other companies based in Switzerland will reinvent the auto industry, as is suggested in the source article. It would be a pretty easy argument that saying such is a gross over-statement of the technology in this vehicle. However, while many of the concepts have been done before, I can't really think of another example where they have all been combined in one vehicle. Speaking of those technologies, what we have here is a hydrogen fuel cell providing electricity to ultracapacitors which in turn power small electric motors in each wheel. Each of those motors can also recapture energy lost in braking, commonly referred to as regenerative braking. Again, established stuff, but still pretty innovative. I gather from the article that there is some high-tech electronic wizardry which might supply traction control or stability control. I still have a few questions regarding the vehicle, though. Does the fuel cell provide enough power to drive the vehicle without any energy storage, ie, batteries? The article mentioned capacitors, but are they critical to the operation of the vehicle? How much unsprung weight do the in-wheel systems add, and at what detriment to drivability?

In any case, the idea of having a sustainable power station in each home could certainly have merit. Whether the best solution for that power is using solar cells to provide the electricity needed to break hydrogen loose from water is up in the air. The question is always asked, and deservedly so, why not use the electricity that is required to crack the hydrogen from its source to charge an electric vehicle? I guess the market is being developed now in hopes of a breakthrough in hydrogen production and storage. I am not suggesting that this won't happen, mind you. I am sure some of our more vocal commenter's will suggest that very thing, though!

Hat tip to Linton!

[Source: Business Week via Hugg]

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