ENV: the future of fuel cell motorcycles?

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The ENV began its life as a fuel cell technology demonstrator and was launched to the world in March 2005. The subsequent global reaction to seeing a purpose-designed fuel cell application has been overwhelming.

Fifteen months on from the launch of the two prototypes the estimated audience reach from media coverage is well over a quarter of a billion people - and still growing daily.

The ENV (Emissions Neutral Vehicle) bike was designed to Intelligent Energy’s brief by a British team, led by multi-award-winning designers Seymourpowell (last year cited as Britain’s 6th most important cultural movers and shakers in a BBC poll).

The ENV bike is fully-functioning and has been engineered and purpose-built (based around Intelligent Energy’s world-beating Core fuel cell) from the ground up, demonstrating the real, everyday applicability of fuel cell technology. The Core, which is completely detachable from the bike, is a radically compact and efficient fuel cell, capable of powering anything from a motorboat to a small domestic property.

ENV: the future of fuel cell motorcycles?

ENV is lightweight, streamlined and aerodynamic. It boasts a performance that outreaches any existing electrical bike. In an urban or off-road environment, it can reach speeds of 50 mph.

It is also virtually silent (with noise equivalent to an everyday home computer) and its emissions are almost completely clean.

On a full tank, the ENV bike could be used continually for up to four hours without any need for re-fuelling. The bike can also be used by riders of any skill level with simple controls, via a throttle directly linked to the applied power. The bike has no gears and is strictly defined as a motorbike, although it feels to riders more like a very quick and responsive mountain bike. ‘ENV is light, fast and fun’, commented Seymourpowell director Nick Talbot. ‘It has good ground clearance, great off-road suspension travel and a very carefully considered power to weight ratio. I have ridden motorbikes for years’, he added, ‘ and, in the process of designing the bike, I have become a convert to fuel cell technology. The bike is usable, useful and great-looking. It was important on this project to demonstrate that new technologies don’t have to be wrapped up in a dull product – engaging public imagination and enthusiasm is key.’

ENV: the future of fuel cell motorcycles?

ENV has been produced in two monochromatic colourways: black supergloss and iridescent white. ‘This was to express the bike’s parallel natures’, explained Nick Talbot. ‘On the one hand, it expresses a utopian future vision of ’clean power, anywhere’ - and on the other, it’s an exciting, hard-edged bike and fun to ride.’

The bike’s primary frame and swinging arm are made from hollow-cast aircraft grade aluminium.

At its heart is a fully-integrated 1kW fuel cell generator providing power on demand directly to the drive-train.

To enhance performance during peak power demand (ie when accelerating), the fuel cell is hybridised with a battery pack to provide a 6kW peak load to the motor.

The result is a balanced hybrid concept which combines the main advantages of Intelligent Energy’s Core fuel cell, hydrogen storage and battery technology.

ENV: the future of fuel cell motorcycles?

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