UK Engineering Firm Developing Hybrid & Fuel Fell Test Technology

Richardo model simulates carbon monoxide poisoning of PEM fuel cell stacks.

Published: 02-Jan-2001

BELLEVILLE, Mich., Jan. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- While the auto industry watches the slowly evolving market for hybrid and alternative powertrain vehicles, those behind the scenes are working at an ever-increasing pace to engineer and develop the new technologies that make such systems possible.

Ricardo, Inc., the North American arm of Ricardo plc, an octogenarian, U.K. engineering services firm, has gone so far as to establish an internal business unit dedicated to the increasing book of business in the alternative and hybrid powertrain field.

Jeremy Holt, President of Ricardo, Inc., attributes his company's success in attracting new business in these fields to Ricardo's long history of engineering excellence and experimental research, along with its work in software that models these new systems.

"We have a depth in these particular areas that our customers find attractive," Holt said.

Ricardo has recently developed a model for the simulation of a carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning of a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM), a critical element of a fuel cell. This follows the development of advanced models for a methanol steam reformer, a PEM fuel cell itself, and an air compressor and exhaust gas expander also used in fuel cells.

Ricardo is also working with some of world's largest automotive and energy companies at further refining what many consider to be the vehicle powertrain of the 21st century.

Ricardo has worked with Ford Motor Company in the development of Ford's contribution to the Partnership for a New Generation Vehicle (PNGV), a U.S. government sponsored effort to develop lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles using hybrid technology.

Ricardo is also a member of the Fuel Cell Vehicle Modeling Consortium, which operates through the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. The consortium is made up of British Petroleum (BP), Chevron, Daewoo, Exxon, Eaton Corp., Fiat Research Center, General Motors Global Alternative Propulsion Center, Honda R&D Americas, Inc., Hyundai Motor Company, Isuzu, International Fuel Cells, Nissan, Subaru Research Center, Toyota Motor Company, Volkswagen AG and DaimlerChrysler. So far, the consortium has developed models for a Direct Hydrogen PEMFC, an indirect methanol PEMFC and an indirect hydrocarbon PEMFC. A direct methanol PEMFC is scheduled for development by the end of 2001, and a direct hydrocarbon solid oxide fuel cell could be developed by the end of 2002.

And these are just the efforts Ricardo, Inc. can talk about. Additionally, the company is working on proprietary or new vehicle hybrid- alternative projects for a number of OEMs, while watching as other drivetrain engineering projects either enter or continue to succeed in the U.S. market.

The drivetrain engineering performed by Ricardo is already on the American road in the form of the DaimlerChrysler Prowler and Viper. BMW's new Mini, which will be available soon in Europe, will re-enter the U.S. market in 2002, the first time it has been seen here since the 1960s. Ricardo provided BMW with both engine and transmission engineering for the Mini.

Ricardo, Inc., is the U.S. subsidiary of Ricardo plc, founded in the early 1900s, with its world headquarters in the United Kingdom. Ricardo is one of the world's foremost independent automotive and powertrain engineering consultancies. Ricardo is a leading engineering technology provider, supplying research, design and development services to the world's automotive manufacturers and their suppliers.

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