back to article Brits rattle tin for 'revolutionary' hydrogen-powered car

UK hydrogen-powered car outfit Riversimple is inviting investors to open their wallets and buy into what it considers to be the future of four-wheeled transport: the "revolutionary" gas-driven Rasa. A side view of the Rasa The Wales-based company unveiled its prototype Rasa (as in "tabula rasa") back in February. It claims …

Re: Super capacitors are a good touch

I know what I *mean*. Just not what I actually said, obviously.

Just when I thought I'd mastered lose\loose I find a whole new area to fuck up....

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Joke

Re: Super capacitors are a good touch

"these super-capacitors can take a huge charge very quickly, but they don’t store a lot of energy."

So, no good down all those Welsh hills then!

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Megaphone

Re: Super capacitors are a good touch

"as much use to me as an umbrella on a submarine,"

Every film or TV show involving a submarine that I've ever seen, the first signs of trouble and there's pipes spraying water everywhere until someone gets the big spanner out and tightens the valve. An umbrella would be very useful in those situations.

The car is fugly thought!

A-woo-gah! A-woo-gah...DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!------>

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Re: Super capacitors are a good touch

"You missed the whole section about the fuel cell being for cruising only and the capacitors providing the thump."

You are the first person to confuse breaks/brakes I have ever known to react graciously to having it pointed out, so please have an upvote. I regret I only have one to give you.

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Re: Super capacitors are a good touch

"batteries simply can't take the charge as fast as a vehicle under braking generates it, so horrendous proportions of the energy are lost."

Supercaps are a logical choice, but they have low energy density, which is why they're not used in most hybrids/EVs.

Having enough supercap Joule capacity to handle converting the kinetic energy of a 1 tonne vehicle at 60km/h back to electrical potential when halting the thing translates to something around the 100-120kg mark (and supercaps are NOT high current devices, so other issues come into play too)

I'm aware of one hybrid design (a passenger bus) which dumped energy from the regenerative brakes into the cooling system, only storing about 1% of the regenerated energy. It saved on brake wear but caused overheating issues in summer. (FWIW, trains tend to do this too - regeneration energy is usually dumped into resistor packs on the roof instead of putting it back into the grid as doing so results in unpredictable loads which are nearly impossible to regulate without extremely complex and expensive control systems - but it saves mechanical wear on the brakes.)

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Invited to name the car?

Do these people never learn. Prepare for 1000's of Car-y McCarface's to be in a tailback near your soon

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Re: Invited to name the car?

I'm thinking Hindenburg might be pretty common too.

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Coat

Re: Invited to name the car?

Pram-y McPramface.

At least the first bit sounds Welsh.

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Re: Invited to name the car?

Considering its rather anemic power (Yes, even with the super capacitor boost), lack of luggage space, or even room for more than driver plus one passenger, and then throwing its looks into the mix, >breath< and the obvious headache of being limited in travel to the proximity of the (for probably quite some time into the future) rare hydrogen refueling points >breath<, just name it after what its owners will be calling it; The Wapos! (What a piece of Shit!)

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Mushroom

Re: Invited to name the car?

Given the car's potential for front page headline news, may I suggest "The Hydrogen Bomb".

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For some reason, I am reminded of Hesketh...

Not for good reasons, either.

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I like the idea of fuelcel powered vehicles

Quick refuel, fewer batteries to lug about and recycle. No urban pollution, and if the hydrogen comes from zero carbon sources like nuclear and is transported via fuelcell powered vehicles to the pumps then you could argue the whole thing was carbon free.

However, why is there the need to make electric cars or those with an alternative drivetrain look so daft.

Just give me a Mondeo or BMW looking car and whack in a fuelcell. Someone on the Internet recently converted a Corvette to all electric and it still would do north of 150MPH as before.

But regardless, make a practical product that is of benefit to your average person and they'll buy one over the normal petrol or diesel vehicles. Doesn't need any gimmicks or daft styling.

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Re: I like the idea of fuelcel powered vehicles

Call me when they manage to design a fuel cell that'll work reliably on petrol.

That'd give superb range, easy refueling, and vastly improved efficiency over an internal combustion engine. And far lower transmission losses.

And it would not need to be such high octane - no need for the added carcinogens since the greenies deprecated lead.

TVO anyone?

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Re: I like the idea of fuelcel powered vehicles

"However, why is there the need to make electric cars or those with an alternative drivetrain look so daft."

It's almost as if their inspiration is from the entrants to the Solar Car Challenge which El Reg helpfully covers for us each year.

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Re: I like the idea of fuelcel powered vehicles

"need to make electric cars or those with an alternative drivetrain look so daft."

This one needs to look daft to be tiny, light weight, and aerodynamic so they can claim some hair vested green types might actually find it practical while powered from an 8.5kW fuel cell.

It needs to use an 8.5kW fuel cell because that and the hydrogen storage tank is already in volume production for use in fork lift trucks which makes it cheap.

As best I can tell the company has been entirely funded by idiot politicians and bureaucrats pissing away taxpayers money. I doubt they will find many (any?) investors prepared to piss away their own money.

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FAIL

Like to see the first time that car meets a speed bump

That rear wheel looks especially badly designed for any practical purpose.

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Meh

With a nod to Nissan...

that is one FUGLY car....

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Deja Vu

Can you tell me what the difference is between this article, and this one.

Apart from some slight changes to the wording, it doesn't really offer anything new?

Click bait?

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Re: what the difference is between this article, and this one

I didn't read this one.

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" 0-60 mph in 10 seconds, a top speed of 60 mph (96kmph) "

"top speed" of 60mph is giong to equate to a cruising speed of 45-50mph - maybe less uphill

take that on a motorway and you may as well be signing your own suicide note.

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Trollface

"top speed" of 60mph is giong to equate to a cruising speed of 45-50mph - maybe less uphill

Hmmm. Went to visit my daughter in Huddersfield at the weekend.

Assuming a nice diesel powered tanker and a long hose behind it could have been ok on the A1 / A1M. It might just have struggled as far as Barnsley. From Barnsley to Huddersfield via the Penistone road??

Would these capacitor thingies work in reverse?

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"take that on a motorway and you may as well be signing your own suicide note."

It'd probably handle a steady 56mph quite nicely, same as all the lorries on the motorway, so not really a huge problem. In fact, sitting behind a lorry at a normal distance will even help on the fuel economy.

What a lot of people seem to forget is that the various alternative propulsion and fuels tech is still in it's relative infancy and the early adopters are most likely to be those most wanting to "save the planet", not the petrol heads with lead feet. Those people will already be driving the most economic IC engined cars they can find and doing so in eco mode to get the best mpg they are capable of.

Tesla are beginning to break that early adopter stage and aiming for a more mass market but that comes at a relatively high start-up cost for the consumer.

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"It'd probably handle a steady 56mph quite nicely, same as all the lorries on the motorway, so not really a huge problem"

I doubt that it would, but the problem is the speed limit on a motorway for goods vehicles over 7.5T is 60, while for those under 7.5T its 70. Most trucks are easily capable of those speeds, so that little car, struggling to top out at 60 is nothing more than a moving target for the trucks.

Think of it as the modern equivalent of a Reliant Robin - only a mad bastard or a suicide would drive one of those on a motorway. This car is the same.

And before anyone starts arguing over speed limits, here they are in black and white

https://www.gov.uk/speed-limits

Contrary to common belief there is NO "56 mph" limit for trucks on UK roads

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Contrary to common belief there is NO "56 mph" limit for trucks on UK roads

Correct, however most - are fitted with governors to restrict them to 56mph, or in some case 52mph. I think this is done for mostly economic reasons. You can read the placards on the back of many of these lorries stating that they have governors.

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Trying too hard

What is going on here is that the consequences of trying to be too Green.

Hydrogen is apparently the ultimate Green fuel, but apart from being ultra low emission it has a very long list of major disadvantages. For a start, it is not energy dense, so you need to carry a lot of it and refuel frequently. It is difficult to store, so there are few hydrogen fuel stations out there, reducing the vehicle's utility still further. Hydrogen also explodes very readily, burns with a flame invisible to human eyes and isn't all that easy to make.

If the car makers had only tried a little less hard on the environmental front, then all manner of exciting things are possible. Ammonia is another, better candidate for a zero-carbon fuel. It can be made fairly easily, especially if you have access to electricity from a nuclear reactor, and can be contained in the same sort of technology as LPG is stored in. It can be burned in fairly conventional engines, in gas turbines and (with recently-developed catalytic systems) in conventional fuel cells.

Similarly LPG or methane are also good candidates for Green energy, as is pure ethanol. Once again, these sorts of fuels can be easily made, stored and used with conventional technology and systems, and don't require an absurd new car design to use them in.

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Re: Trying too hard

"For a start, it is not energy dense, so you need to carry a lot of it and refuel frequently."

Rather like the huge and heavy 1950's/60's US gas guzzlers that were lucky to get 25mpg then?

I can't disagree with the rest of your post though :-)

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Where's the boot?

Where do you put your stuff? Even two people need to carry things. Briefcases. Laptop bags.

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First gen Insight

Looks a little like the first generation Honda Insight.

Now if you replace the fuel cell and related equipment with a 250 cc motorcycle engine you could get similar fuel economy and a much lower price. And actual places to refuel.

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FAIL

That's actually an old Citroen DS

And I claim my five pounds.

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Fancy a piece of the Riversimple Rasa?

No thanks.

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Apart from being completely impractical for the vast majority of journeys (you can't even use it to go to the local supermarket because there's nowhere to put the shopping), where do you go to refuel?

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Distribution network problems

Right. Problems with hydrogen storage in a vehicle have already been pointed out above. Then there's the fuel production and distribution network required for the stuff throughout the country. It's low-energy compared to hydrocarbons, but high-energy-cost to produce. With range comparable to existing hydrocarbon fuels you will need hydrogen fueling stations to be almost as common as current service stations. Who is going to pay for all this?

With electric vehicles the distribution network comes for free because all towns and cities are already wired. With hydrogen vehicles, someone has to pay the billions and billions in infrastructure and capital investment in all these stations and pipelines along with whatever the cost is to keep liquid hydrogen secure in tanks indefinitely. I don't know what that cost is, but I'm pretty sure it's a lot pricier than keeping hydrocarbon fuel liquid at STP.

IMO there is zero chance of these vehicles ever being deployed except as curiosities.

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Re: Distribution network problems

With electric vehicles the distribution network comes for free because all towns and cities are already wired.

This depends on how you look at it. If you consider hydrogen as an energy store like a battery then the distribution for the hydrogen is also already in place, because it is electricity + water. You produce the hydrogen at the filling station using the electricity and water supply. You are effectively converting the electricity to hydrogen, or converting the electricity to a battery store.

Then it comes down to whether the hydrogen or the battery is the best at storing and extracting the energy for a vehicle.

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Re: Distribution network problems

It only comes "for free" because of the very low use of these things. If battery cars ever get to a real market share that distribution network (and generating capacity) is going to need some serious money being spent on it. Ditto for hydrogen production which would have to be localised - again requiring serious reinforcement of the network.

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Re: Distribution network problems

This is a good point re increased EV utilization of local power. If your home garage only supplies 50 amps and you need 400 for a charger you can't realistically own an EV until you or your development invests in expensive new wiring and breakers, and similar concerns apply to other possible charging locations.

But at least the big regional power lines are all in place, and so local charging stations require only a relatively little work to put in place new feeders. Hydrogen storage and local service-station generation from H20 (surely this will be very expensive and inefficient?) is IMO much more fraught with economic problems and safety considerations.

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Why do they always "design" those to look like they are from a low budget science fiction film? And nearly always with gullwing doors, too.

It's a car! They have been around for quite a while now, and there are certain design features that have proved themselves to be useful. 4 wheels. Doors and seats fit for an average sized human being. A boot. And so on. The key word is usabilty here.

And on this one the steering wheel is still on the wrong side.

Although, in this particular case, if I had that kind of money, I'd offer them 150k and a very unusual name...

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Facepalm

"And nearly always with gullwing doors, too."

And there you hit the nail directly on the head. Here in the UK, in most car parks, once you get parked you will be stuck in the car. The parking bays are simply not wide enough to open those doors. You can't open a normal car door fully in those bays and with a gullwing door you can't open it a "bit" and slide out. You *have* to open it fully and if those pics are anything to go by, it ain't gonna happen.

And another thought just struck me. Those doors seem to go awfully high up when opened. I've been in some multi-story car parks where those doors may well hit the ceiling.

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That's just not in the UK either. It applies here in the States as well. Even the "normal" garage at a home would be hard-pressed to manage gull-wing doors.

OTOH, gull wings are cool. Especially if you remember the Mercedes-Benz racing cars from the mid-50's. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_300_SL

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You need to look at the video of the Tesla gull wing doors operating again.

They are double-jointed so they can move up vertically without increasing the width as much as a conventional door does, and they have sensors so they are designed to stop before they touch anything. They just fold out of the way like an electric roof on a convertible.

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Gullwings

"The parking bays are simply not wide enough to open those doors."

Properly designed gullwing doors can fully open with only 4 or 5 inches available beside the car. I'd like to see you get a conventional door open enough to get out in such a case.

On the other hand, as Tesla and deLorean both discovered, gullwings are _heavy_ - which is not something you want on an ecowarrior-mobile.

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Joke

Re: Gullwings

On the other hand, as Tesla and deLorean both discovered, gullwings are _heavy_ - which is not something you want on an ecowarrior-mobile.

That's why you want an old Bricklin SV-1 with powered doors.

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"You need to look at the video of the Tesla gull wing doors operating again."

Yes, but Tesla doesn't see cost as so much of an obstacle because that car is aimed at the higher end of the market so extra engineering complexity just adds a bit to the end-user price. In the UK, end-user price is *everything* and this car is aimed at the mass market. We just *know* that they won't be over engineering the doors with clever two stage hinges or proximity sensors. They'll just add a rubber "bumper" strip to mitigate scratches and say "you parked it wrong".

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Give it up, I'm not buying fuel any more

Since I got an EV (Nissan LEAF) and solar, I have totally got used to making my own fuel. I'm not about to go back to buying fuel just for increased range when I so rarely go near the limits of my current car and if I was to want to go further than that, there are plenty of charging stations around at regular intervals or the nice people down at Avis or wherever who will lend me a petrol car in return for some money.

Hydrogen is just another scheme by the fuel companies to keep us paying them to run our cars. Don't be taken in. Get a pure EV and either charge from the mains (you'll barely notice the increased power bill) or go the whole hog, get solar and charge for free.

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Re: Give it up, I'm not buying fuel any more

So you take taxpayer's money for the subsidised electric car and then charge it with solar panels subsidised by the taxpayer. And you think hydrogen is an evil scam by big business to fleece the little guy.

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Re: Give it up, I'm not buying fuel any more

What a very odd argument.

Fossil fuel needs to go. Like, go. It's as old as the industrial age, and we're way past that. Oil companies don't like alternative power. It's a direct challenge to their obscene profits.

Hydrogen fuel is 100% the future of power. It's been proven to work. Drones are now using hydrogen fuel cells to get around for longer. They produce no pollutants as emissions.

It doesn't matter how difficult it is to produce or store, oil isn't exactly always easy to get at, but oil companies have no problem grinding up more bits of the crust to get to it. Solar power / mains power is still created by fossil fuel at it's source, apart from nuclear, which has problems of it's own.

Why people think that faster is better I'll never understand. The combustion engine is really past it's day and needs to go the same way as the waterwheel and steam engine.

Petrol heads are as arrogant and stubborn about their V8's as the NRA are about... well you know.

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Re: Give it up, I'm not buying fuel any more

"Hydrogen fuel is 100% the future of power."

so just how do you propose to generate the hydrogen without using energy?

You can't use fossil fuel

You can't use nuclear fuel

Wind power doesn't have the capacity, and never will have - nor the constancy of supply

Nor does tidal power

Solar energy is totally inefficient in the sense of resources used to manufacture the panels

Biofuels are unsustainable as they increase deforestation, remove farmland from food production, and create extreme food price increases

what does that leave? Mining interstellar gaseous hydrogen?

or maybe we should just lop a few billion off the worlds population? Thats the only survivable option on a global basis

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Re: Give it up, I'm not buying fuel any more

I don't know what the future of automotive power might be. But hydrogen as a portable energy source is in the running - it's no more daft in principle than carting huge battery packs around in your car.

Of course you need to use energy to produce your hydrogen. The important thing is that whatever method you use needs to be - in the long run - something that doesn't result in net carbon emissions. Currently, that's not practical since building anything currently results in net carbon emissions unless you stick to wood (or suchlike) as your building material and make sure you re-plant trees (etc) to offset the carbon used to make your tools (etc).

But let the engineers loose on the problem and give them enough time and money: they'll come up with something.

However, why not wind power? I don't know about capacity, but if you're generating hydrogen for use in road vehicles, you don't need constancy of supply: if the wind turbines are producing electricity, you produce hydrogen. If they're not, you wait until they are. If you've got plenty of wind farms spread out over the planet, you'll always be producing hydrogen somewhere.

Using biological processes to generate hydrogen from sunlight might yet turn out to be sensible, with a bit of genetic and other sorts of engineering. Imagine, if you will, a hydrogen plant in sun-blasted wilderness areas of (say) the Middle East or North Africa, a wide area of (say) glass tubes filled with water, nutrients, and efficient hydrogen-producing GM organisms of some sort. In a carefully controlled closed system, it should be possible to recycle almost all the nutrients and water.

No farmland's removed from production, no forests are destroyed, no food prices go up, and hydrogen gets produced efficiently and with negligible pollution in this SF future utopia of my imagination - how about it?

I've read that Carl Sagan suggested that in the long run, here on Earth, we need to get all our energy supply from the sun's rays currently hitting the planet - because any other solution would (in the long run in his view) inevitably result in us overheating the planet (I think his thinking was based around the observation that we humans have this tendency to just use more and more and more unless something stops us - in which case, Sagan's right). Thing is, there really is plenty of sun power available to supply all the energy we're using now and then some by some orders of magnitude. We just need to be more intelligent about how we gather and use energy - no need to reduce population or standards of living, definite need to be less stupid.

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Re: Give it up, I'm not buying fuel any more

Try hydro, geothermal...

Also solar is no longer inefficient, with wind, solar and tidal you actually don't need constancy of supply, you need consistency of generation as you basically make hay while the sun shines (or wind blows) and store the hydrogen.

As long as you are able to generate X MW and use it to produce n tons of hydrogen a week then no problem.

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Re: Give it up, I'm not buying fuel any more

"is", "are", "doesn't" etc.

All present tense words.

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Re: Give it up, I'm not buying fuel any more

"you don't need constancy of supply: "

Yes, you do.

when you're running industrial-scale production systems to make hydrogen (haber process can be done without using methane) then the last thing you want is an unstable energy source.

The correct source for this kind of manufacturing is nuclear MSR - extremely hot and very stable - which is why I made the comment about nuke plants producing methane for the gas reticulation system (the irony being that you're using heat to make chemicals to make heat with less overall efficiency than using heat to make electricity to make heat)

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