The HydroCargo is an electric cargo bike with a range extender, which uses a fuel cell and is fueled by hydrogen. This cargo bike is the very first of its kind. Earlier this month, the ‘Everything about Hydrogen’ foundation presented the prototype of the HydroCargo.
The cargo bike will be used, among other things, for sustainable city distribution in Arnhem and the surrounding area. Thanks to the range extender, the HydroCargo has a range that is twice as large than normal electric cargo bikes, without making too great a compromise in terms of payload.
The development of the HydroCargo was made possible in part by a contribution from the Province of Gelderland, to which the partners Urban Arrow, HAN, IPKW, Groene Rijders and Lindegas contributed the necessary knowledge. Frank Mietes of Alles over Hydrogen: “We would never have succeeded without everyone’s input,” says Frank Mietes. “All stakeholders were deeply involved in the project and can’t wait to see the first packages delivered.”
The project started more than a year ago. Then the Arnhem city distributor ‘De Groene Rijders’ was faced with a challenge. This company has a parcel service in and around Arnhem, located in a hilly area. They want to be able to deliver the packages there without having to recharge or exchange the batteries halfway through the working day. Research has shown that a hydrogen-powered range extender could double the range in a sustainable way. Topping up the hydrogen can be done much faster than charging a battery and only takes a few minutes.
Together with Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen
At the beginning of this year, they started building the HydroCargo cargo bike. This was done in collaboration with several researchers and graduates of the Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen (HAN). Frank Mietes explains: “It is wonderful to see that two students from different disciplines work together so well and make optimal use of each other’s qualities. The hybrid learning environment in the triangle of business, students and researchers went very well. The students could always count on the expert experience of the project partners.” The graduates mentioned were Mika Damen and Roy Bos. Mike is a specialist in Embedded Systems engineering and Ronny knows all about mechanical engineering.
The final construction of the HydroCargo cargo bike was realized in the special Hydrogen lab of the HAN. An existing electric cargo bike from Urban Arrow was expanded here with a 500W fuel cell, which functions as a range extender. This fuel cell converts hydrogen into oxygen and water vapor in a sustainable manner and at the same time produces electricity.
The hydrogen, which serves as fuel for the range extender, is stored under a pressure of 300 bar in a tank with a capacity of three liters. The hydrogen tank, together with the battery, fuel cell and control electronics, are housed in a secured modular housing. The whole is located in the cargo area and only takes up about ten percent of the space there. The tank connection is located at the rear of the body. Filling the hydrogen tank only takes a few minutes. Thanks to the hybrid concept of range extender and battery, it is possible to power the cargo bike with only the battery, or only with hydrogen, or with both energy sources.
The residents of Arnhem will soon be able to get acquainted with the HydroCargo when city distributor De Groene Rijders will test the prototype in practice. But first they want to carry out a few endurance tests. Based on the experiences from the endurance tests and the practical test, the final design of the HydroCargo is made.