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New bicycle gets big push from fuel cells
Despite its name, the Hydrocycle doesn't run on tap water. But it's quiet, odorless and creates no pollution. All this, and it's motorized, a shining application of fuel-cell technology.
The Hydrocycle is a prototype fuel cell-powered bicycle developed by Manhattan Scientifics Inc. of New York City. Riders have the option of using their own power to get around or switching to a small motor powered by Manhattan Scientifics' proprietary mid-range fuel-cell technology.
Jack Harrod, chief operating officer at Manhattan Scientifics, had the opportunity recently to take a spin on the Hydrocycle, an adaptation of a standard mountain bike.
"It is really a wonderful experience," said Harrod. "You can actually get on the thing and ride through the forest in silence, with no pollution and no odor. It's an exciting thing."
Fuel cells use only hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity. Water vapor is the only byproduct of the process, making it pollution-free.
This zero-emission technology places the Hydrocycle above even standard electric bikes now on the market. "Electric bikes are battery powered," said Harrod, "and so are still using an electric power generation station."
Although alternative energy technologies are on the rise, the majority of electricity is still generated from polluting processes such as coal combustion or problematic methods such as hydroelectric dams. The Hydrocycle technology precludes the need to be plugged in.
Furthermore, with a top speed of 20 miles per hour and a range of up to 70 miles along a flat surface, the bicycle offers better performance level than electric bikes. Plug-in two-wheelers only go about 15 miles per hour with a maximum distance of 15 miles, according to Ebicycles.com.
Manhattan Scientifics is not planning to develop a product line. "We are in the fuel-cell business, not the bike business," said Harrod. "What we are trying to do come up with is a way to show fuel performance — an application for fuels cells."
The hope is that the Hydrocycle concept will get the attention of another company that will partner with Manhattan Scientifics to manufacture a fuel cell-powered bike using the New York firm's technology.
"The Hydrocycle is not a product but a demonstration vehicle to excite people to people to build a product," Harrod said.
Copyright 2000, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved
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