We gave the first details of the project on last March 2007. Now, given the upcoming debut of the LifeCar running prototype at the Geneva Motor Show, we take the chance to report additional information and images from the design and construction process.
LifeCar is a project started in 2005 that invoves Oscar Automotive, Cranfield University, QinetiQ, Oxford University, Linde AG and Morgan Motor Company.
The goals of the projetct are to demonstrate "that a zero emission vehicle can also be fun to drive" and to lower the entry barriers for hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles.
The approach is one of whole system design in which the architecture is generated from the characteristics of the fuel cell, in a light-weight vehicle coupled with a high hybridization level.
This combination will minimise the fuel cell cost and provide the fuel economy for a 200 mile range.
LIFECar will be based on the Morgan Aero Eight, and is powered by a QinetiQ-made fuel cell, which converts hydrogen – and oxygen taken from the air around it – into electrical energy.
“The use of ultra capacitors to store the surplus energy and then use this for acceleration and braking does promise a dynamic ride, especially when combined with our ultra light chassis. The pairing of weight to a minimum is our strength, and allows a much smaller fuel cell than conventionally thought necessary. This gives energy and yet more weight savings”
Part funded by the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), LIFECar has been a 2 ½ year project. The consortium hopes that the LIFECar will produce a combination of performance, range and fuel economy that should alter our view of motoring for the future.
The key to delivering this step change in energy efficiency lies in a combination of factors, including weight reduction and a different design approach.
Costing a total of £1.9m, with a mix of industry and DTI funding, the two and a half year project has been broken down into the following areas of responsibility.
- BOC – Developing the hydrogen refuelling plant
- Cranfield University – Systems simulation , on-board computing and control networks
- Oxford University – Design and control of re-generative electric motors
- QinetiQ – Developing the proton exchange membrane fuel cell
- Morgan Motor Company – Building the finalised design using light weight technology
- OSCar – Overall system design and architecture
|Design exploratory sketches|
|To minimize weight, the interior seats are based on a thin laminated sprung ply structure with leather pads|
|Interior: Alias screenshots and full-scale mock-up|
|Aluminum body and frame construction|