THE BLOG

13
Sep

PIONEERING: COOPER, LOTUS, RIVERSIMPLE

Cooper and Lotus put the UK at the forefront of Formula 1 in the late 50s.  As they showed, when it comes to step changes small teams have an unfair advantage.  For them there was one simple goal – speed.  Many Riversimple engineers come from the racing world but their goal is different – not speed but lightness, in every sense of the word.

In 1948, the Royal Automobile Club employed ex-farmer, James Wilson Brown to turn a wartime airfield and farm into a race track for the first RAC International Grand Prix.  On 2 October 1948, a crowd of 100,000 gathered to see Luigi Villoresi beat a field of 22 in his Maserati.  A piggery in the middle of the race circuit was protected by hay bales and ropes, with canvas barriers around the outside to keep everyone on the course.  The track was Silverstone and the history of Formula 1 racing was in the making.  Always edgy and inventive, these early racing cars were technical miracles in their day – built for ‘the purpose of earthbound flight’ – made up of chassis, cockpit, panels, engine, tank, wheels – and nothing else.

COOPER AND LOTUS

Cooper and Lotus put the UK on the Formula One map and rose to the top in the racing world – without ever building an engine.  The 1950s was a time when lots of engineering took place at the back of someone’s garage or workshop, often during some spare time after work.  Engineer and racing enthusiast Charlie Cooper built the first chassis for a rear engine Cooper – which was to transform Grand Prix racing – in such a workshop.  Colin Chapman built the first Lotus around an Austin Seven engine in a lock-up garage behind his girl friend’s house.

Chapman’s Lotus 15 1959 –engine is still at the front

Chapman’s Lotus 15 1959 –  the engine is still at the front


Cooper Mk Vlll with rear engine 1950s

Cooper Mk Vlll with rear engine 1950s

These pioneers bought engines off the shelf and then built a very different car around them.  They were inventive and talented, and they spent many hours tinkering and trying out new ideas.  For them there was one simple goal – speed.  Their impressive success can be traced back to their ingenuity; they actually started with less powerful engines than some of their competitors but were able to step up the game by designing a better overall system.

NEW PURPOSE

Hugo Spowers, like many Riversimple engineers, comes from the racing world.  He left motorsport in order to “pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport”.  The Rasa is Riversimple’s first production prototype.  The story of its development has much in common with the story of those early F1 pioneers.  But the goal is different – not speed but lightness.  And we mean lightness in the broadest sense of the word – a car that treads lightly, that leaves the air clean, the future more secure.  To meet the goal there are choices to be made.  Once you decide to build around a hydrogen fuel cell, a whole new set of options become possible.  A lighter car.  A new technology.  A new system for managing energy use … this is system change.  The paradox is that, while you need a large company with a large budget to make incremental improvements to conventional cars, a small, agile team with a small budget may be better placed to make a quantum leap.

Riversimple Rasa H2 fuel cell powertrain 2015

Riversimple Rasa H2 fuel cell powertrain 2015

The breakthrough at Riversimple is wholly innovative.  If you want to help us succeed, join our crowd of investors. We may have started in a small workshop, but we mean to show the world what is possible.

 

15
Aug

RASA ON THE ROAD OF TIME: CAR FEST NORTH

If Riversimple Rasa were a rock star, then Andre Bird would be the tour manager. Andre is actually head of the R&D workshop at Riversimple. He spent nearly 20 years flying the Royal Family around the country and the world, first as a crewman on helicopters and then as crew chief leader looking after the fleet. Leaving the Royal Air Force in 1997, he joined Williams F1 and spent the next 17 years in motor racing before his most exciting project yet – with Riversimple.  This summer Andre has also been accompanScreenshot 2016-08-03 14.12.07ying Rasa on tour!

Two weeks ago, for example, the tour team left at the crack of dawn for Car Fest North.  To try to paint a picture of the departure, you need to imagine the scene in Wales, as Rasa is loaded up by Andre and fellow engineer Bill – in his camping shorts!!  Well, you know, not all of us get such real-time excitement. So here are some of the most memorable moments, captured by Andre and the team at Bolesworth Castle with the car that is a bit of a super star:

13880335_1075125585901217_3559480707080928966_n

Memorable Moment no 1: “The tent is up”

13872934_1076441525769623_6075954161707300339_n

Memorable Moment no 2: “Just completed our first run in the time tunnel section and even had time to meet up with old F1 colleagues”

Screenshot 2016-08-03 13.52.22

Memorable Moment no 3: “The oldest car and the newest car share the track. Can’t wait for Car Fest South”

Car Fest South is on 26-28 AUGUST 2016 LAVERSTOKE PARK FARM, HAMPSHIRE. See you there!

PS. We would especially like to thank Oliver for his email on our return to base from Bolesworth. Here it is.

Hello my name is Oliver aged 13,

I took a particular interest in your Hydrogen car at Car Fest North at the weekend. Every day over the weekend I visited your car and chatted with Andre who told me lots of interesting facts. For example, the batteries in the Tesla model X weigh about the same as the whole of your car!! I am very interested in engineering and would like to come and visit some time, and maybe even get an engineering job at River simple!

Great to meet you and thanks again for making my weekend so memorable 🙂

 Andre replies:

It is always a breath of fresh air to have one so young with such an interest and to be so knowledgeable in motor cars and engineering in general. I am delighted that you found the information I passed on to you of interest and impressed that you recall some of the details i.e. Tesla battery weight etc.

 The only words of encouragement I can give you is that you attain the highest levels of education, if possible resulting in an Engineering Degree. This will open so may additional avenues for you. I have been so lucky in my career, starting as an Aircraft Engineer and then being able to transfer into Automotive (F1).

 There is an extreme shortage of Engineers in general in all industries so you have the opportunity to aspire to great things … and maybe one day join Riversimple as an Engineer.

28
Jul

One of our favourite words: USERSHIP

An Energy Services Company or ESCo, is a particular kind of company, especially popular in Scandinavia, that sells energy and heating services to customers.  For example, an ESCo can arrange to install a lovely, warm, state-of-the-art biomass boiler for your home or business.  They will cover the upfront capital costs of the project, as well as the management, delivery and storage of the fuel supply.  And they will carry out regular maintenance of the boiler.

Simply put, this means that ESCo customers don’t have to find large amounts of capital to buy a new boiler or heating system.  It also means that the hassle of installation, maintenance, ordering fuel etc. is shouldered by the service provider and the whole lot is wrapped in one package.  It’s a good example of what we mean by the word Usership.

At Riversimple, we apply the same basic principle to cars.  Our business model replaces car ownership with a sale of service package.  There are a number of logical reasons for this.  First of all, it’s more sustainable.  Secondly, it makes the technology affordable. And thirdly, sale of service takes away the hassle of ownership without the limitations of a car share scheme (though we love those too).

We firmly believe that the world is more than ready for the concept of Usership.  For a start, Usership is simpler. Riversimple customers won’t have to remember to get the car serviced, renew the tax, find the best insurance deal etc. And they won’t have to shoulder the considerable burden of depreciation. These things add nothing to the pleasure of driving a good car.

We’ve said it before. The Riversimple Rasa will not be for sale. We offer people an option to say goodbye to hidden costs and unwanted hassle – Usership – because, as Brecht would say “To live means to finesse the processes to which one is subjugated.”

13
Jul

RASA ON THE ROAD in 2016

The appearance of fresh new technology can make an ordinary day feel suddenly interesting. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a fantastic new car in the neighbour’s drive? Who wouldn’t pop across the road to take a closer look and have a chat?

Certainly we were delighted when our local MP Chris Davies arranged for us to park the Riversimple Rasa in New Palace Yard in the Houses of Parliament on June 15th 2016, just a week before the referendum was set to take place. There followed a steady stream of politicians, popping across to find out about the Riversimple Rasa. We encountered genuine interest and enthusiasm from representatives of all parties. Thank you.

It turns out this was the calm before something of a storm. Just eight days later and Westminster was transformed by a series of events. An MP was murdered, Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23, the Prime Minister resigned, in fact there was a wave of resignations and new leadership challenges. Suddenly everything we all thought we knew about Britain was up in the air.

And so these photographs have a special significance. They capture – not just famous faces; not just Westminster in the June sunshine; not just a remarkable new car, made in Britain and designed for a changing world – but a moment in time.

This summer, team Riversimple have been out and about across Britain with the Rasa.  We went to Manchester for Business Rocks, we found ourselves in a prime spot at the London Motor Show and we even took part in the famous hill climb at Goodwood.

We are based in Wales, and so we are especially delighted to have the support of Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure in the Welsh Government, who also went for a spin recently:

Ken Skates, Welsh Cabinet Seceretary for Economy Ken Skates

But we will never forget that moment at Westminster. We want to thank every single person who has come to see the Rasa, purchased shares (the share offer is still open) and added their names to the growing list of supporters. The times are indeed a-changing and the future is now in our hands.

22
Jun

GETTING REAL ABOUT AIR POLLUTION

We loved a recent tweet about Riversimple Rasa “I’d rather be cycling behind one of these.”

Cyclists on British roads sit on the frontline of traffic pollution.  It’s pretty unfair really, since they are not the ones responsible for that pollution.

Being able to travel from A to B is a fundamental part of modern life.  But then again breathing good quality air is pretty fundamental too!  The evolution of the car is a marvelous story, but our love affair with the combustion engine is slowly coming to an end.  Cleaner cars are on their way.  Just take a look around a busy parking lot and you will see how rapidly we are shifting to alternative fuels – cleaner, greener, better.

At Riversimple we are 100% with that cyclist.  None of us want to breathe in a cocktail of pollutants that include nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide; carbon monoxide, and the heavy particulates associated with smog.

RASA TECHNOLOGY

As with all battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles, the Rasa emits zero nasty emissions at the tail pipe, but a recent report published by Peter Achten and Victor Timmers of Edinburgh University highlights the problem of particulate emissions.  These emissions can come from the tyres and brakes as well as engines.  In fact, now that filters are so good, even diesel cars emit more particulates from tyres and brakes than from the engine.  According to the Achten/Timmers report, because many electric vehicles are heavier than combustion-engined cars, they emit higher levels of particulates.
The Riversimple answer is to go deeper into the design.REAR QUARTER SMOOTHED

The Rasa is strong but light – less than a third of the weight of the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car.  This minimises any particulate emission from the tyres, because emissions are proportional to weight.  But even more significantly, the braking system for the Rasa is primarily electrical, rather than dependent on friction.

There are only two instances when the Rasa production model will rely upon friction brakes:

–           emergency stops, anything over 0.3g

–           below 5mph, when there is not enough braking torque

So the only regular release of brake particulates would be when braking at speeds below 5 mph.  However, as our engineers will tell you, the quantity of particulate release from friction braking is proportional to the kinetic energy of the car when you start braking.  At 5mph, the kinetic energy of the car is less than 0.7% that at 60mph.  In other words, particulates not a problem.

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

In the wild, animals have a deep- seated ability to react to stimulus.  And in the longer term whole species can adapt to change through the process of natural selection.  It’s a simple, obvious thing – organisms that do not react, do not survive for long.

A similar ability to react is needed in industry.  Air pollution levels are unacceptable and some levels recorded are breaking regulations.  Changing the regulations, put there to protect our health, is no solution.

The businesses that are fittest for the times will survive and thrive.  Great news for people who breathe air.  Bad news for dirty, polluting industries with their heads still stuck in the sand.

18
May

RIVERSIMPLE UNVEILS NEW HYDROGEN VEHICLE CONCEPTS

 

Prince Michael of Kent is gripped

Prince Michael of Kent is gripped

This May we have been at the London Motor Show, with the Rasa.  As people flocked to see the car, Hugo (Spowers) made a special announcement to the press, revealing that we have further hydrogen vehicle concepts in the pipeline.  London was sunny, the MotorShow was busy, and the Rasa prototype was a star attraction.

Will Priestner with Richard Noble at the London MotorShow

Will Priestner with Richard Noble at the London MotorShow

It’s an idea that sparks the collective imagination – a hydrogen fuel cell car, built in Wales, taking on industry giants with a smart new proposal for personal transport in the 21st Century.  This year we have shown the world that Riversimple’s slick new technology is more than just an aspiration.  The Rasa prototype is on the road and doing what we said it would do – and the world is taking notice.

A few years ago Riversimple Rasa didn’t have a name, or a design and the powertrain was very much under development.  But if we hadn’t had a vision back then, we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today.  Here is an insight into the breadth and depth of the Riversimple vision today.

THE VAN

Hydrogen powered van concept

Riversimple hydrogen van concept

The van is one of the previously undisclosed designs by Chris (Reitz) for Riversimple.  It’s based on the same groundbreaking technology as the Rasa and positioned as a local delivery and local service vehicle – but it’s also a smart looker, just right for carrying the surf boards to the coast at the weekend.

Looking even further ahead, Riversimple is exploring the possibility of a flexi-contract.  With this option people with a Rasa car contract could possibly have an extra option to ‘book a Riversimple van’ for occasional use.  Or indeed people with a Riversimple van contract could have the option to book a nippy Rasa car for a few days.

THE SEDAN

Riversimple four door hydrogen car concept

Development of a four-door Riversimple sedan is also very much a part of future plans.  The sedan will be more powerful than Rasa, but dramatically lighter and more efficient than the five-seater hydrogen fuel cell cars currently being produced.

AERODYNAMIC STYLE

Riversimple designs are highly aerodynamic in their styling.  To understand aerodynamics, think of a wall of air that pushes against a vehicle in motion.

The Rasa in Piccadilly

The Rasa in Piccadilly

The Rasa crossing Albert Bridge

The Rasa crossing Albert Bridge

From the 50s and 60s engineers in the racing world have experimented with different streamlined shapes to slip through that wall of air, making their cars go faster and handle better.  In the racing world, it doesn’t matter if there is no space in the car for anyone or anything other than the driver.  That isn’t the issue. Winning the race is the issue.

For Riversimple good aerodynamics mean improved acceleration plus far better fuel economy, because the engine doesn’t have to work so hard to push the car.  But other design elements such as passenger comfort, space, elegance and safety cannot be compromised either.  For example, a car shape that is very low and rounded, tapered so that air flows around it smoothly in motion – like a teardrop – is excellent in terms of aerodynamics.  But it was a realization that the length of the car won’t affect aerodynamics which gave Chris and the design team something more elegant, more spacious and with much more potential to work from.  This design idea is reflected in all Riversimple vehicles, from Rasa to our latest concept vehicles.  Welcome to the Riversimple journey.

05
May

THE BARCELONA CONNECTION – MEET CHRIS REITZ

Barcelona is a city of visions – of football stars and fashion – of ancient sculpture and modern art – of streets winding down to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a good place to talk aspiration and design with Chris Reitz, a key figure in the story of Riversimple.

Chris is a member of the Porsche family. He studied at the Art Center College of Design in Vevey, Switzerland – a college that has a reputation for producing top quality car designers. Chris has headed up design teams at Alfa Romeo and Fiat. He now lives and works out of Barcelona and is design artist for the Riversimple Rasa.

Q: What brought you to Riversimple?

I love cars.  I grew up with people who live and work everyday in this world.  I am inspired by creating something courageous – ahead of the curve.

Q: How do you even begin to design a car?

Design is many disciplines – it’s not just about shape and surfaces – it is about what is needed and who is it for.  Let’s talk about our car, the Riversimple Rasa.  We start with a very radical business idea to design a hydrogen fuel cell car that is super light and super strong – and so we have to ask, how will we express this in the design – and who will it be for – who is the customer?

This is exciting for the artist.  For a startup business there is no existing brand – no Nissan, no Lotus, no story to define how we write the first marks on the page. We are designing something completely fresh.

A group of us at Riversimple worked together to shape the idea – this included Hugo (Spowers), Fiona (Clancy) and Richard (Coltart).  We asked ‘What will people expect of a hydrogen fuel cell car?’ And ‘What will motivate them to choose this new technology?’

If an actor plays a boxer in a movie – the actor has to understand how this person boxes in order to play the part well.  So we began by imagining the different kind of people who might be Riversimple customers – what are their lifestyles and their everyday needs – what will make this car a good decision for them?

Q: What do you think early adopters most wish this car to be?

Early adopters are very open in their mind – they like to have their finger on the pulse, they look for a car with style. Not so long ago, the Prius became a statement for famous sports personalities and actors – this is not superficial: enthusiasts for clever, sustainable, technical, environmental and economical solutions are an important influence.

CAD image of the Rasa

CAD image of the Rasa

In appearance this car must reflect elegance without compromising safety. For example, the shoulder of the car is wider than the cabin and this gives us stability and also fluidity.

Another fundamental element is sustainability. A good aerodynamic design will allow the wind to slip past the car in motion, refining the vehicle performance and efficiency.RIVERSIMPLE_3_4_REAR_VIEW_WAREHOUSE So we have low overall height, with space for the wind to flow underneath as well.  The spats over the rear wheels of the Rasa reduce turbulence to a minimum. Each design element minimises resistance and becomes a fluid part of the whole.

Finally, safety. Safety will be synonymous with all vehicles in the Riversimple family. The carbon fibre framework takes the form of a single carbon fibre monocoque originating from racing car design. Racing cars must be super strong and super light and very protective to the driver. Likewise, Riversimple cars.

Q: The butterfly doors are very eye catching – are they more about style than substance?

It has been our intention to design an honest car every step pf the way – to inspire people, reassure them, take them with us on the Riversimple journey.  The butterfly wings are eye-catching but the design element has purpose.  We have a car that is low in height and this is very aerodynamic, but if we use standard doors for the Rasa, we will have a problem with the ability to get in and out of the car easily.  The butterfly doors open out of the roof and so they create space for people to get in and out easily and elegantly.

The Rasa style says ‘this is the future’ but without trying to be flamboyant. We don’t want a style that will simply create a stir and then go out of fashion. We have long term plans and other vehicles in the pipeline, so the look and feel must encompass an element of timelessness.

Over the course of the public trials, we will be adding further refinements to the car. We have some special and amazing design features to add. The production version of the Rasa is going to be very exciting.

Help fund the public trials by investing in Riversimple here.

 

20
Apr

RIVERSIMPLE, FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

Riversimple’s new share offer is not just about investing in new, clean technology, nor even in a ground breaking, inclusive business model.  It is also about investing in the wellbeing of future generations.  We have simple needs for good health and wellbeing.  One is being able to breath fresh, clean air.

Out with the old

Out with the old

Air pollution is linked to heart attacks, strokes, asthma and other respiratory diseases.  It is also linked to underdeveloped lungs in children.  Studies show that long-term exposure to pollution from traffic may reduce children’s lung capacity by as much as 20%.  Research in Europe suggests that up to 30% of new asthma cases in children are caused by exposure to air pollution.

A PRIMARY SOURCE OF AIR POLLUTION ACROSS THE WORLD TODAY IS TRANSPORT.

Children are especially vulnerable to the long term impacts of breathing polluted air caused by the combustion engine.  This can’t be OK.  At Riversimple, we have been working hard to develop a hydrogen fuel cell car with zero harmful emissions.  We launched Riversimple Rasa, built at our workshop in Wales, this March. News about the Rasa has travelled around the world.

Journalists have been excited about the Riversimple Rasa because:

  • There is zero air pollution at the tail-pipe
  • Riversimple are taking fuel efficiency to a new level
  • There has never before been a supercar that is not super expensive.

Our sale of service model means the Rasa ‘supercar’ will be affordable.  It’s not just for superstars.

THIS APRIL A NEW LAW CALLED ‘THE WELLBEING OF FUTURE GENERATIONS ACT’ WAS PASSED IN WALES.

The act is based upon an important study in which people across Wales were asked to talk about what matters most to them.  These conversations were distilled into seven basic Welsh values that include: giving children the best start in life; living within global environmental limits; and prioritising the well-being of all.

In with the new

In with the new

At Riversimple we support the Welsh Government’s ambition to help shape a better future for children and generations yet to come.  The world now has, at its fingertips, the technology to clean up transport systems and cut air pollution.  Help us take an important clean technology, the FIRST EVER BRITISH FUEL CELL CAR, to market.  Purchase shares in Riversimple

 

  • References for this blog:
  • www.wales.gov.uk
  • www.thewaleswewant.co.uk
  • The Lancet http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(13)70192-9/abstract
  • The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/15/study-air-pollution-traffic-low-birthweight
  • Campaign for Heathy Air http://www.healthyair.org.uk
  • Environment and Human Health Inc. (US) http://www.ehhi.org/reports/exhaust/summary.shtml

 

04
Apr

INVEST IN A COMPANY THAT IS DRIVEN DIFFERENTLY

YOU WILL NEVER OWN A RIVERSIMPLE RASA.  BUT YOU CAN OWN SHARES IN THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY.

Riversimple Movement Ltd is bent on bringing a new kind of zero emissions car to market.  We are a rapidly evolving enterprise in which all kinds of people are getting involved.  Our aspiration is sustainable mobility.  The success of the recently launched Rasa, a radically new and innovative hydrogen fuel cell car, is testament to our enduring commitment, combined skills and total determination as a team – we are driven differently.

The next step is to build a series of Rasa cars for the public to test and refine in a 12 month trial (we are calling it a Beta test) and for this we need your help.

In every sense we have built a car that is a pleasure to drive

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus. Photo: Anthony Dawton 2016

There is no trade-off between fun and sustainability – the Rasa is both: very responsive to the touch and fun to drive because it’s lightweight; lightweight, so more efficient in energy terms.

We will never sell a car

You wouldn’t believe how much money Hugo was offered for a Rasa car – but it is not part of the business plan.  The Riversimple Rasa fuel cell car will be available on subscription as a complete and cost-transparent service.  It’s a lighter, simpler transport option for customers and it leads to a longer term business relationship with a number of significant advantages.  Above all it is disruptive, turning the traditional business incentive to design cars for obsolescence on its head.  In fact, when you sell “mobility” as a service the business incentive is to design cars for longevity, low running costs and sustainability.

We won’t build giant factories but will be part of the local economy

Our manufacturing model = profitable, regional operations each making a maximum of 5,000 cars a year; creating new high skilled jobs, employing local people and promoting local sourcing where possible.

We believe in the health-giving properties of clean air

Don’t we all?  But we want more than monitoring and more than talk.  We are proactively pursuing answers to pollution and the implementation of clean, technologically advanced, infrastructure.  Our car is zero emissions, aero dynamic and highly efficient.

We are opening our doors…to you

CAD rendering of production design

We are opening our doors to new investors.  We will organise open days, when you can come and meet our super talented engineering team, find out what Will does at the weekend, about Andre’s previous life in Formula 1, how Hugo came to ski down a mountain with a piano, meet our brilliant board of directors and get the whole story behind the designing of the Rasa.

But more importantly we would like to hear your feedback and talk ideas with you. Because that is how Riversimple Movement will grow, and stay relevant, and overcome obstacles, and get 1000’s of Rasas on the road – and pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport without losing the very thing we love – the freedom to travel this wonderful world.  Lightly.

If you share Riversimple values, you will value our shares.

INVEST HERE >

DRIVEN DIFFERENTLY

06
Mar

BREAKING NEW GROUND – THE RASA POWERTRAIN

The powertrain describes the mechanism that generates power and propels a vehicle.  Over the years, standard linear powertrains – engine, gearbox, driveshafts to wheels – have been improved to make cars more reliable, more fuel efficient, less polluting, and so on. But fine tuning one particular system can only go so far, before each adjustment puts something else out of kilter.

The real step change happens when somebody decides to work up a completely fresh system. Thanks to modern technology, the scene has been set.  Enter somebody like Hugo Spowers.  Hugo is founder and Company Architect at Riversimple.  He is an Oxford University trained engineer who previously worked in the world of racing cars. We could also mention the bungee jumping or the piano on skis, but the focus of this blog post is the Rasa powertrain. Inspired by the Hypercar work of Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute,  the Rasa powertrain has been designed to provide everything you need and nothing you don’t in terms of power – resulting in a car that can cruise along very efficiently on a tiny fuel requirement, but can also pack a big punch when asked to accelerate or climb a hill.

 Meet the Capacitors

At the heart of this car, is the hydrogen fuel cell. We describe how a fuel cell generates electrical energy from hydrogen here. But you can take the fuel cell to a whole new level with a bank of super-capacitors.

Super-capacitors in the Rasa

Super-capacitors in the Rasa

A capacitor is basically something that can store electrical energy. Capacitors also used to be known as condensers, used in a traditional ignition distributor. They consist of conductive plates separated by a non-conductive layer called the di-electric. When an electric current enters the capacitor, the di-electric stops the flow and a static charge builds up and is stored in an electric field between the plates. Batteries, in contrast, store electrical energy in a chemical form. This means that capacitors have some advantages over batteries: they can be charged and discharged very quickly and many times without wearing out.

But ordinary capacitors don’t hold very much charge; super-capacitors are an evolutionary leap. The prototype super-capacitors in the Rasa have a coating of charcoal and lithium ion to give them much greater capacity to hold energy – the supercap bank has a capacitance many times the capacitance of two concentric spheres the size of the planet.

Everything you need and nothing that you don’t

The unintended consequence of conventional powertrain architecture is that the engine is sized for peak acceleration, which is available all the time but is only needed for less than 10% of the time – so the car has to carry a heavy engine, and gearbox, that is 80% redundant for 90% of the time. In contrast, the Rasa powertrain will be able to recover energy that is traditionally wasted during braking, whilst allowing recaptured energy to flow precisely where it is needed, when it is needed, and for as long as is needed – but no more. There is no redundant capability, which otherwise translates into extra cost, weight and fuel consumption.

The Rasa's Network electric powertrain

The Rasa’s Network electric powertrain

This is pretty revolutionary, and is managed by purpose-designed Riversimple software – that’s the integrated brain of the car – ensuring that:

  • A small, light fuel cell maintains cruise
  • When braking, the motors in each wheel hub recover the kinetic energy and feed it into the bank of super-capacitors
  • This energy stored in the super-capacitors provides most of the power (approx. 80%) required for acceleration and hill climbing
  • The consequence is that cruise and acceleration are ‘de-coupled’ – no longer does better acceleration unavoidably increase the top speed

As a result, the Rasa is incredibly nippy with great acceleration (and that means fun to drive), whilst the size of fuel cell and fuel tank can be kept small and light. We call it a Network Electric system.

The powertrain needs further rigorous testing and adjusting – continuing with the Beta trials – but ultimately this, coupled with the overall lightness of the design, is where groundbreaking efficiencies are being made. We anticipate that the commercial Rasa will be more than 3 times as efficient as other fuel cell cars currently on the market.

 

 

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