Technical Details

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Motorcycle Structural

The motorcycle is built around the chassis of a Buell cyclone which was purchased at a salvage yard. In the original internal combustion form the engine served as a structural member. Therefore when the motor was removed a piece was designed to provide the structural support needed for the swingarm, frame, motor, and rear shock connection.


Structural Welded Steel Support

Electrical Generation

We are using a Ballard fuel cell stack for electrical generation. The unit is a Polymer Exchange Membrane (PEM) device which reacts oxygen from the air and pure hydrogen across a membrane to create electricity with a maximum of 1.2 kw (1.6HP) and water vapor as its only bi-product. The unit has an integrated blower for cooling as well as to compress the air needed to complete the reaction. The stack consists of 47 graphite cells which provide the mechanical support and requisite chanels around the membrane. The unit has a digital control system which regulates inputs as well as outputting data on system health and performance.


Fuel Cell in Frame with Attached Heat Exchanger Ducts

Hydrogen Storage

The pure hydrogen is stored in two Ergenics metal hydride cylinders. The metal hydride cylinders each hold 900 std. liters of hydrogen. Unlike compressed hydrogen storage the metal hydride cylinders store hydrogen by taking advantage of a chemical reaction involving the loose hydrogen bonding of gas and certain materials. The inside of the cylinders are filled with a metal powder consisting of Lathnium, Nickel, and Aluminum. The metal reacts with hydrogen to form a hydride thereby storing large amounts of hydrogen at low pressure in a small volume. However to release the hydrogen requires energy in the form of heat.

Heat transfer

Without heating the cylinders the hydrogen pressure would fall below an operable level within twenty minutes in the best case. By optimizing the geometry of ducting and constriction of the waste heat from the fuel cell and transferring it to the cylinders we were able to extend the runtime so that at the worst case the system runs for one hour.

Power Electronics

The voltage from the fuel cell is a large range from 22 volts at full power to 52 volts at idle. The large range is a challenge to motor control. The motor controller on the motorcycle is a Curtis Instruments AC motor controller. By changing the software of the controller we were able to accommodate the full range of the voltage without the need for external voltage conditioning. The motor controller uses variable frequency to control the speed and torque of the motor, this specific method of control yields greater torque for a larger range of rpm than a constant voltage control.

Data Storage and Display

For the data subsystem we designed a microcontroller setup which reads serial values in RS-232 and RS-485 from the fuel cell and motor controller while displaying the values on a led display and saving values to a USB drive. For signal conversion we used two Maxim chips and for USB saving we used a Vindicum VDIP1 in UART mode.


First Test Configuration (NOT FINAL)

Electric Motor

The bike is powered through a 1.2kw AC 6-pole induction motor built by CFR Italy. The motor powers the rear wheel through a number 35 roller chain drive. The gear ratio is a constant 1:5.3. A chain idler and tensioner is used to keep a constant tension throughout the entire arc of the rear swingarm.


Motor and Drive Train During Battery Testing