Hydrogen – Viritech Introduces New Hydrogen Drive Technology in Apricale Hypercar

According to Viritech, the Apricale is the first car in the world to achieve the performance of zero-emission hypercars weighing only 1,000 kg. This transforms the driving experience of the Apricale, combining the agility of the best petrol-powered hypercars with the instantaneous reaction of an electric motor. Viritech says that the electric drive means that the Apricale is actually more responsive than the traditional hypercar.

Many vehicles cannot operate with a drive that weighs more than an equivalent internal combustion engine. Until now, such categories of vehicles have been excluded from the transition to zero-emission propulsion units, as batteries are always heavier than internal combustion engines – and the higher the power requirement, the greater the difference.

Apricale’s powertrain shows that the zero-emission drive can offer the same power, the same weight and the same range as an internal combustion engine.

The ambition to overcome all trade-offs in zero-emission vehicles required Viritech engineers to completely rethink how fuel cells and batteries work together.

“Hydrogen fuel cells have so far been used as range extenders for battery-powered powertrains,” said Matt Folks, Viritech’s technical director. “We have essentially turned this approach upside down by developing a drive around a system of several hundred kW of fuel cells, supported by a light but highly efficient battery. This ensures the performance of the Apricale hypercars, but with less than half the weight of typical BEV hypercars. This weight loss not only changes the dynamics of Apricale’s movement, but also our reduced dependence on batteries means less demand for rare earth minerals.

The several hundred kW fuel cells are combined with unique Ultra High Power lithium-ion cells developed by technical partners, AMTE Power and Viritech’s patented intelligent Tri-Volt energy management system. While the fuel cells provide the main driving force for the Apricale, the battery provides extra power for acceleration and ultra-high performance driving, as well as highly efficient energy storage for regenerative braking.

The Tri-Volt energy management system and Viritech’s patented power electronics allow for a continuously variable mix of energy from both fuel cells and batteries. In addition, very fast charging and discharging of rechargeable batteries allows the regenerative braking system to recover many times more kinetic energy than a traditional electric vehicle with batteries.

So far, hydrogen has been another key weight problem. To withstand a pressure of 700 bar, most hydrogen storage tanks have a weight efficiency of only about 5 percent (5 kg of hydrogen requires a storage tank of 100 kg). Viritech engineers have developed a radical solution – the patented Graph-Pro technology uses lightweight composites and a graphene resin system, which allows the tanks to form part of the structural element of Apricale monocoque. This solution minimizes weight, improves packaging and provides a predicted mileage of over 350 miles / 560 km before refueling.

The fact that Apricale weighs only 1000 kg means that it can escape the limitations of driving a BEV hypercar. The suspension features a versatile torsion bar suspension with a limited degree of active ride control.

With a low pole moment of inertia, the car will have the dynamic characteristics of a classic mid-engined supercar with minimal weight transfer in steering, deflection and tilt.

There are two drive motors (one on the front axle, one on the rear). Weighing less than 1000 kg, there are limited torque vectoring requirements, so the drive line uses a pair of mechanical differentials.

The unique combination of light weight and instant response of electric motors means that the Apricale will be even more inspiring to drive than a traditional supercar.

Apricale, unveiled at Goodwood last week, was originally conceived as a reference design by Viritech and optimized by Pininfarina.

Silvio Angori, CEO of Pininfarina, described the design as “a synthesis of technology, sustainability, beauty and, above all, productivity”. Along with developing Apricale’s style, Viritech is in discussions with Pininfarina to build a limited production of just 25 copies at its Cambiano studio in Turin.

With a stunning appearance, Apricale will not only be seen but also heard. The car will have its own distinct and futuristic sound emitted by fuel cells and electric propulsion.

Apricale’s key technologies, including propulsion, Tri-Volt EMS and Graph-Pro structural storage vessels, have already been validated in two mule vehicles that have been successfully tested. Experimental prototype 1 (XP1) will provide the final signing process for the drive unit. While the XP1 will test at 100,000 km, it will overlap with a production prototype designed to validate all aspects of Apricale in 2023, so that Viritech can begin delivering to customers in early 2024.

The technologies developed by Viritech are highly scalable. Viritech is focusing on Apricale for its first application, as the hypercar platform places the most significant demands on power, weight and packaging. Proven at Apricale, the drive technology is developed by Viritech for a diverse range of sustainable transport applications.

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