Okay, so I’ll admit that at first glance this one seems to be a little wacky. Who wants to power a rickshaw or velotaxi with fuel cells anyway? Apparently the, uh, Germans, do. In fact, those in the tourist trade who are tired of pedaling overweight tourists around town say they need a break.
German engineering to the rescue! According to Germany.info, “Rather than gasoline, the futuristic four-wheeler has a tank filled with hydrogen – and since its chemical element is referred to as “Hydrogenium,” the vehicle’s inventor has baptized his creation the “Hydrogenia.” But what distinguishes the Hydrogenia rickshaw from the usual electric bicycle is not visible from the outside: behind the seat cover lies a fuel cell alongside the hydrogen tank. The hydrogen reacts with oxygen in the air, generating an electric current in the fuel cell that can power an electric motor while giving off nothing more than steam.
“The 250-watt unit makes it easy to work a lot. However, the air in the slipstream is not polluted, although more than a little damp. Fuel cells could be a good alternative compared to electric-drive bicycles and could be widely used today, says Lars Röntzsch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials Research in Dresden, the capital city of the eastern state of Saxony. Röntzsch noted that the batteries currently used in e-bikes have a limited range, and charging them takes a long time.
“The Hydrogenia, in contrast, can be refueled in just a few minutes, and the approximately 1.2 cubic meters of hydrogen can power the vehicle for up to 200 kilometers. This means that a rickshaw taxi could conceivably be on the road and operational for an entire day before requiring a fill-up, Röntzsch explained.”
So, there you have it, a brief explanation on why it is practical and necessary to put a hydrogen fuel cell in a modern day rickshaw. Last week I had talked about the merits of hydrogen fuel cell scooters and so rickshaw, bicycles, motorcycles and other kinds of vehicles also fall into this category. Hope on an enjoy the ride.