Viritech Debuts the Apricale Hydrogen Powered Hypercar
Viritech, a UK-based developer of hydrogen powertrains, showcased its Pininfarina-designed Apricale supercar at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last month.
The Apricale features several innovations related to hydrogen fuel cell technology. For example, rather than have the hydrogen fuel tanks as chassis attachments, Viritech has designed and built lightweight graphene composite tanks that are capable of being used as a structural component of the monocoque chassis. That chassis is constructed of carbon fibre composite, while the body is made of recycled carbon/natural fibre. Together with other weight saving features – including Dymag carbon fibre rim with magnesium centre wheels – the Apricale comes in at a trim 1000kg.
The fuels cells are combined with Ultra High Power lithium-ion cells in a 6kWh battery pack, and Viritech’s Tri-Volt Energy Management System that enables a variable mix of energy to be used from both the fuel cells and the batteries. While the 700bar hydrogen system fuel cells provide the main motive power for the Apricale, the battery provides additional power for acceleration and high-performance driving. Viritech claims the very fast charge and discharge batteries enable the Apricale’s regenerative braking system to recover many times more kinetic energy than a traditional battery electric vehicle.
There are two 400kW drive motors – one on the front axle and one on the rear – and Viritech says that because of the car’s light weight there is limited requirement for torque vectoring, so the driveline uses a pair of mechanical differentials. The suspension features all-round pull-rod torsion bar.
Those Dymag wheels are shod in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, and carbon composite brakes, with AP Racing 6-piston front and 4 piston rear calipers, provide the stopping power.
While hydrogen fuel cell technology is often viewed as one that can power heavy vehicles – and quite a few manufacturers are developing such trucks – it is also being developed for passenger cars, and the Apricale would suggest that it can be developed for performance cars too.
Its technology, combined with its light weight, means its performance numbers are quite spectacular. It punches out some 800kW and 1000Nm, can top 320km, reach 100km/h in 2.5 seconds, and a claimed range of more than 560kms before refuelling is needed.
25 examples of the Apricale are scheduled for production, with deliveries expected in 2024.
“Hydrogen fuel cells have, until now, been used as range extenders for powertrains with batteries at their heart,” said Matt Faulks, Viritech’s CTO. “We’ve essentially turned that approach on its head, developing a powertrain around multi-hundred kW fuel cell system supported by a lightweight but highly efficient battery. This delivers hypercar performance for Apricale, but at less than half the weight of typical BEV hypercars.
“Not only does this reduction in weight transform Apricale’s driving dynamics, but our reduced reliance on batteries means less demand on rare earth minerals.”
Viritech is developing its hydrogen fuel tech for other vehicle uses, with the company also developing a heavy truck called the Jovian, and an SUV.
12 July 2022