B.TECH 3RD YEAR(ME)
Cars are immensely complicated
machines, but when you get
down to it, they do an incredibly
simple job. Most of the complex
stuff in a car is dedicated to
turning wheels, which grip the
road to pull the car body and
In this article, we'll look at one interesting vision of the
future, General Motor's remarkable concept car, the Hy-wire.
Thedefining characteristic of the Hy-wire (and its
conceptual predecessor, the AUTOnomy) is that it
doesn't have either of these two things.
Instead of an engine, it has a fuel cell stack,
which powers an electric motor connected to
Instead of mechanical and hydraulic linkages, it
has a drive by wire system -- a computer
actually operates the components that move the
wheels, activate the brakes and so on, based on
input from an electronic controller. This is the
same control system employed in modern
fighter jets as well as many commercial planes.
There is no steering wheel, there
are no pedals and there is no
In fact, every piece of equipment
that actually moves the car along
the road is housed in an 11-inch-
thick (28 cm) aluminum chassis --
also known as the skateboard --
at the base of the car.
Everything above the chassis is
dedicated solely to driver control
and passenger comfort.
The floor of the fiberglass-and-
steel passenger compartment can
be totally flat, and it’s easy to
give every seat lots of leg room.
The "Hy" in Hy-wire stands for hydrogen, the
standard fuel for a fuel cell system.
Like batteries, fuel cells have a negatively charged
terminal and a positively charged terminal that
propel electrical charge through a circuit connected
to each end. They are also similar to batteries in that
they generate electricity from a chemical reaction.
But unlike a battery, you can continually recharge a
fuel cell by adding chemical fuel -- in this case,
hydrogen from an onboard storage tank and oxygen
from the atmosphere.
Hydrogen tanks and fuel-cell stack in
The basic idea is to use a catalyst to split a hydrogen
molecule (H2) into two H protons (H+, positively
charged single hydrogen atoms) and two electrons (e-).
Oxygen on the cathode (positively charged) side of the
fuel cell draws H+ ions from the anode side through a
proton exchange membrane, but blocks the flow of
The electrons (which have a negative charge) are
attracted to the protons (which have a positive charge)
on the other side of the membrane, but they have to
move through the electrical circuit to get there.
The fuel-cell stack in the Hy-wire is made up of 200
individual cells connected in series, which collectively
provide 94 kilowatts of continuous power and 129
kilowatts at peak power. re. rage tank and oxygen
from the atmosphere.
This system delivers DC voltage ranging from 125 to
200 volts, depending on the load in the circuit.
The motor controller boosts this up to 250 to 380 volts
and converts it to AC current to drive the three-phase
electric motor that rotates the wheels (this is similar
to the system used in conventional electric cars).
The Hy-wire's "brain" is a central computer housed in
the middle of the chassis. It sends electronic signals to
the motor control unit to vary the speed, the steering
mechanism to maneuver the car, and the braking
system to slow the car down.
The computer connects to the body's electronics
through a single universal docking port.
The driver's control unit, dubbed the X-drive, is a lot
closer to a video game controller than a conventional
steering wheel and pedal arrangement. The controller has
two ergonomic grips, positioned to the left and right of a
small LCD monitor
Components of the HY-WIRE car
The 5.8-inch (14.7-cm) color monitor in the center
of the controller displays all the stuff you'd normally
find on the dashboard (speed, mileage, fuel level).
One of the coolest things about the drive-by-wire
system is that you can fine-tune vehicle handling
without changing anything in the car's mechanical
components -- all it takes to adjust the steering,
accelerator or brake sensitivity is some new
X-drive of Hy-WIRE
The X-drive can slide to either side
of the vehicle.
Top speed: 100 miles per hour (161 kph)
Weight: 4,185 pounds (1,898 kg)
Chassis length: 14 feet, 3 inches (4.3 meters)
Chassis width: 5 feet, 5.7 inches (1.67 meters)
Chassis thickness: 11 inches (28 cm)
Wheels: eight-spoke, light alloy wheels.
Tires: 20-inch (51-cm) in front and 22-inch (56-cm) in back
Fuel-cell power: 94 kilowatts continuous, 129 kilowatts peak
Fuel-cell-stack voltage: 125 to 200 volts
Motor: 250- to 380-volt three-phase asynchronous electric
Crash protection: front and rear "crush zones" (or "crash boxes")
to absorb impact energy
Related GM patents in progress: 30
GM team members involved in design: 500+
The Hy-wire has wheels, seats and windows like a
conventional car, but the similarity pretty much ends there.
There is no engine under the hood and no steering wheel or
In Hy- wire car the central computer will
be able to monitor driver input which will
make it much safer.
This car can resolve the major fuel
problems and safety issues.
This is eco-friendly car.
This car does not have any physical
connection between the driver and the car’s
mechanical component, so the electrical
failure would mean total loss of control.
The production of the hydrogen which is
used as fuel in the Hy-wire car can generate
about as much pollution as using gasoline
engines and storage and distribution
systems still have a long way to go.
It fully intends to release a production version
of the car in 2012, assuming it can resolve the
major fuel and safety issues. But even if the
Hy-wire team doesn't meet this goal.
Automakers are definitely planning to move
beyond the conventional car sometime soon,
toward a computerized, environmentally
friendly alternative. In all likelihood, life on the
highway will see some major changes within
the next few decades.
And At lAst…..