The world today consumes a large amount of energy. Most of the energy requirements are fulfilled using conventional sources of energy. Of this energy consumed, a large part is utilized by the automotive sector. If the people continue using the conventional sources of energy at this rate, the earth will be facing an energy crisis very soon. The introduction of an efficient electric vehicle can greatly improve the conditions of today by helping curb the use of traditional fuels.
The Hy-Wire, discussed in this paper, runs on the electricity generated by a hydrogen fuel cell, more accurately called the 'Proton Exchange Membrane' fuel cell. This fuel cell uses hydrogen as a source of fuel. The fuel cell produces dc voltage, which is converted to ac voltage and used to run an ac motor.
The by-wire concept removes the mechanical linkages and replaces all of them by wires and electromechanical actuators. This makes the whole vehicle lighter and more spacious. In the Hy-Wire vehicle, the whole system has been modeled into an 11-inch thick chassis. This chassis houses all the electrical components and mechanical components of the vehicle. This lets us make the body in a customized version and also lets us change the chassis architecture with radical new designs.
The by-wire system is made practical by the higher voltages inherent in a fuel cell system. The 42-V technology is made use of in this vehicle. It is said to be a luxury car in the sense that it provides the space and visibility that a luxury car does.
Hydrogen Fuel Cells
A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device. A fuel cell converts the hydrogen and oxygen into water and in the process produces electricity. Such fuel cells, which use hydrogen as a source of fuel, are called hydrogen fuel cells. The other electrochemical device that we are all familiar with is the battery. A battery has all of its chemicals stored inside, and it converts those chemicals into electricity too. This means that a battery eventually goes dead and you either throw it away or recharge it. With a fuel cell, chemicals constantly flow into the cell so it never goes dead - as long as there is a flow of chemicals into the cell, the electricity flows out of the cell.
Sir William Grove invented the first fuel cell in 1839. He used dilute sulphuric acid as electrolyte, oxygen as the oxidizing agent and hydrogen as fuel. In 1959, Francis T Bacon came up with an alkaline fuel cell, but it could produce only 5-kilowatt power.
A fuel cell produces dc voltage that can be used for various needs. The fuel cells are classified into various types depending upon the electrolyte they use. They are classified as follows: -
a) Direct method fuel cells
b) Solid oxide fuel cells
c) Phosphoric acid fuel cells
d) Alkaline fuel cells
e) Molten carbonate fuel cells