This page supplies some background information on the partners involved in the hydrogen vehicle project.
The University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham is the main participant in Birmingham Science City, and for many years has performed research work on hydrogen production, hydrogen storage and hydrogen Fuel Cells. More recently a hydrogen/fuel cell applications laboratory has been set up, and the University now plans to run high-profile projects to demonstrate fuel cell applications in building CHP and transport, with future hydrogen generation from renewable sources. The long-term vision is of a Zero Emission Campus. Furthermore, the University of Birmingham is currently implementing a Hydrogen Refuelling Station on the campus (operational March 2008).
The University of Birmingham (Chemical Engineering Department) will utilise and promote this project within a greater vision of a Zero Emission Campus. The project will thus be incorporated into plans to assist in the development of the regional supply chain for practical fuel cell systems, and to undertake a high-profile demonstration including fuel cell vehicles operating in routine duties on the University Campus. Specifically within this project, the University will be in charge of the day-to-day operations management and assessment of the Microcab vehicles on campus and will lead the dissemination and conference activities to promote the project, its results and future follow-on activities.
Microcab Industries Limited
Microcab Industries Limited focuses on R&D, developing innovative concepts for environmentally-friendly transport, and demonstrating these at prototype level. The company has access to design facilities in Coventry University, and works in an SME consortium with RDM and DMS who provide the necessary additional inputs of professional vehicle engineering and an industrial manufacturing base.
Microcab industries Limited will co-ordinate the delivery and administration of this project from the beginning to ensure that the project time scales are adhered to and targets are met. Microcab will put in place the management structure to enable partners to effectively share information and report on progress, threats and issues. In addition to these responsibilities Microcab has overall Design Authority for the vehicle, and will liaise closely with the University of Birmingham throughout the trials and demonstration.
RDM has supplied electrical/electronic products and services to the Automotive Industry since 1993. During that time they have developed an excellent reputation for high quality, innovative products and strong customer service. They are experienced in the cost-effective manufacture of low-volume vehicles and have extensive knowledge of the tiers in the supply chain, to identify and source all types of parts.
Within this project RDM, in close collaboration with Microcab Industries Limited, will:
- Analyse the new fuel cells (Ballard Nexa) and integrate them into each vehicle with necessary power electronics/electrical wiring and lock outs, 12V integration to vehicle systems, battery management, DC/DC converter specification, diagnostics and instrumentation. Initial bench trials will be conducted to prove and develop the system before vehicle installation.
- Conduct an Initial trial on vehicle 1 to prove the fuel cell system integration architecture is acceptable followed by implementation of the system into remaining vehicles. Initial vehicle trials will involve checks for vehicle speed, range, overall vehicle roadworthiness and hydrogen integrity. Initial fuel cell performance data and vehicle diagnostic feedback and analysis.
- Support, maintain and service the vehicles throughout the project. All the vehicles will undergo further development and refinement so as to improve speed, range and efficiency. Alternative parts and materials will be studied for improvements in vehicle performance, weight and cost savings. The supply base and partners will be challenged to develop parts and systems which deliver improvements in vehicle performance.
- Develop further the vehicle electrical and electronic systems, which are of primary importance. The work package will involve further integration of the power electrical and electronic systems with conventional 12V vehicle systems. An important part of the vehicle development and trials will be the ability to remotely collect data from the vehicle and this will be achieved through the use of on board telematics, with data input from the fuel cell system. The electrical systems will also be essential for hydrogen safety and for user information through an on board display which will be developed as part of the project.
- Complete the optimum design for the integration of the fuel cell and hydrogen system for the Microcab vehicle. This will initiate the next generation Microcab design with the target to produce a road going fully homologated fuel cell system and vehicle. This level vehicle would be a saleable product.
- Decommission the vehicles at the end of the project.
Background info on RDM Automotive.
Delta Motorsport Ltd
Delta (established 2005 following company restructuring) specialises in racing vehicle engineering and the application of lightweight composite materials. Delta designed, built, and supports the 18 racing cars used in the world-wide Grand Prix Masters series, also has non-racing interests in various special-purpose vehicles, and was responsible for chassis design and manufacture for the Microcab H4 prototype.
Within this project Delta Motorsport will be responsible for designing and building the Microcab chassis and powertrain, and for further developing these to the performance and cost levels necessary for initial production.
Coventry University includes one of the UK’s leading academic institutes for automotive design, undertakes research in design and ergonomics, and has extensive facilities for design and modelling of full-size vehicle prototypes. The university is a minority shareholder in MIL, and has supported development of the prototype vehicle within its facilities.
Within the project, Coventry University will conduct an investigation and evaluation of the vehicle interior from a real-world perspective, further analysing and developing practical ergonomic aspects such as the restraint systems, driver controls, and body structures. The University will also compare parallel and independent developments to assess frontal and side impact situations.
Westfield Sportscars Ltd
Westfield Sportscars manufactures low-volume, specialist road vehicles with annual turnover ca. £3m, and is owned by Potenza Sportscars, which has recently purchased GTM Cars from RDM Group. Westfield is already collaborating with Delta Motorsport to develop high-performance electric vehicles.
Within the project Westfield will apply its expertise in Vehicle Approvals & Homologation, including safety studies, to identify and implement the necessary developments to bring the Microcab vehicle up to road-legal status in limited volume production. Westfield will also undertake substantial work to support development of the vehicle towards production and marketing in the UK and abroad, focusing on cost/supply-chain issues and evaluating possible routes to market through various distribution channels and support arrangements.
Potenza Technology is the technology arm of Potenza Group, specialising in hybrid/electric powertrains, simulation and control, and vehicle safety. As a small organisation with excellent industry contacts, it is experienced in resourcing and managing advanced technology projects.
Potenza will apply an existing simulation model to the hybrid powertrain operating in various duty cycle modes, and will advise other participants on possible developments in architecture and control to optimise performance and energy use.
Tempus comprises 3 companies (Tempus Computers, Tempus Software, and Tempus Developments), is based in Birmingham, and has operated successfully in specialised IT markets for 25 years. The participating company, Tempus Developments, is particularly focused on vehicle-mounted IT systems, telematics and mobile data. Tempus is well known to Birmingham University, and has worked with them on several projects.
Within the project Tempus will provide Data Acquisition & Testing Equipment, and computerised data processing.