In “Reckless” Pursuit of Fuel Cells
With the help of a military grant, Nikola Powersports is working to power the “Reckless” military-grade with hydrogen fuel cell propulsion.
“Reckless” has 590 horsepower and 775 pound feet of torque. It’s capable of 0 to 60 in four seconds. Still interested? Nikola Powersports (nikolamotor.com), which makes it, hopes the U.S. military is, too. But first, the firm is attempting to show the electric utility vehicle can power up through hydrogen fuel cell technology.
The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (ncms.org) awarded Nikola Powersports and partner Pratt & Miller Engineering (prattmiller.com) a grant to integrate a hydrogen fuel cell system into the Reckless. They’ll be validating performance and efficiency as part of the $4.3-million project, under which Nikola will receive $1 million. The research is expected to last about eight months.
The parent company of Nikola Powersports, Nikola Motor Company, is developing a range of hydrogen-powered semi trucks. It hasn’t begun mass producing them, but last year Anheuser-Busch placed an order for up to 800 Nikola semis.
With the same suspension system that is used on a Ford Raptor, the tactical vehicle has four electric motors at the wheels and 125 kilowatt battery pack that can power other things, such as reconnaissance drones. The current model can be fully charged in about 2.5 hours, swapping out a battery that’s been charged via solar panel or potentially from one that was charged using a conventional generator, according to Nikola.
The Reckless is slated launch in early 2021. A non-military version of the vehicle, the NZT UTV, will be ready for sale in the same year – coinciding with production of the Nikola semis, according to a spokeswoman.
A More Communicative VW Golf
When you come to a four-way stop at roughly the same time as two opposing vehicles, you probably should communicate with a hand wave or at least eye contact. Future vehicle-to-vehicle communications should work in much the same way, helping cars to communicate with one another to avoid collisions. Unfortunately, the lack of cellular infrastructure and common protocols have largely kept such innovations at bay.
NXP Semiconductors (nxp.com) aims to circumvent what’s largely been a cellular stalemate by rolling out its RoadLINK V2X communication solution in the new Volkswagen Golf in Europe. The technology can connect vehicles regardless of brand and without cellular infrastructure, NXP says.
Volkswagen sold more than 800,000 Golfs in 2018, so adding the technology to the eighth-generation vehicle is making a statement, said Johannes Neft, Head of Vehicle Body Development for the VW brand.
“Volkswagen includes this technology, which doesn’t involve any user fees, as a standard feature to accelerate V2X penetration in Europe,” Neft said.
Developed in cooperation with Cohda Wireless (cohdawireless.com), RoadLINK’s single chip setup is able to receive and verify up to 2,000 messages per second. The technology can complement other advanced driver assistance systems such as radar, lidar and cameras, warning drivers of hazards around corners (such as other vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists) or up to a mile away (such as road closures), according to NXP.
Wi-Fi based V2V tech is available on 1,000 km of European roads and 5,000 km are planned through the end of 2019, according to NXP. While other cellular technologies could be added as layers down the line, Wi-Fi undergirds the European standard for both V2V and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.
What’s Really Cool? Cryogenic Hydrogen
Both the skeptics and the boosters of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle industry agree on one thing: Without economical storage and management of hydrogen to fuel vehicles and other devices, there’s no real future for it.
Plug Power Inc. (plugpower.com), which makes fuel cell and hydrogen fueling systems, is collaborating with Washington State University’s (WSU; wsu.edu) Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Labs to develop cryogenic hydrogen cooling systems deliver hydrogen at scale.
The technology under consideration would essentially keep compressed hydrogen swirling in a vortex, thereby maintaining it at cryogenic temperatures. If such a sub-cooling solution went into operation, it would mean Plug Power could charge customers less for back-end storage, including material handling lift truck fleets.
“In the near future, demand from the fast-growing fuel-cell vehicle market will outpace the current hydrogen fuel supply because of issues related to transportation, infrastructure and storage. That’s why Plug Power is taking the necessary action to develop the technology that will address these future issues now,” says Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh.
With its HYPER lab, WSU is the only university research laboratory in the U.S. with a focus on cryogenic hydrogen, and a large share of the science for the project is taking place there.
Plug Power and WSU say future phases will develop analytical modeling to simulate Plug Power applications and field tests on full-scale hydrogen storage systems.
Stratasys in Space
Diran is a new nylon-based material created by Stratasys for tooling applications.
3D printers and accompanying materials maker Stratasys (stratasys.com) has released several new thermoplastics it says are ready for the heat of the factory floor and potentially the rigors of space travel.
The new materials include Antero 840CN03 for the Stratasys Fortus F900 3D printer, and Diran 410MF07 and ABS-ESD7 for the Stratasys F370 3D printer. The thermoplastics were created with automotive and aerospace engineering in mind and can be used to create 3D printed jigs and fixtures, tooling, prototypes and production parts. The Antero material is intended for aerospace parts development, such as creating lightweight parts used in frames, panels and components. It also was designed to create customized tooling and parts with consistent electrostatic discharge (ESD) performance.
“Manufacturing spacecraft poses intense material challenges in the development of parts that exhibit the right attributes,” said Brian Kaplun, senior manager for Advanced Manufacturing, Lockheed Martin Space. “One of those challenges is getting the right ESD or electrostatic dissipative properties, among other physical and mechanical characteristics.”
Diran is a nylon-based material formulated by Stratasys and offered for the Stratasys F370 printer, and was created for tooling applications. The new FDM (fused deposition modeling) thermoplastic is resistant to hydrocarbon-based chemicals and possesses a smooth surface for low sliding resistance.
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