Manhattan Scientifics Inc., a US envelope-pusher specializing in alternative energy, and Aprilia, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer, unveiled a new fuel cell powered scooter yesterday at the International Paris Fair. It joins the Aprilia fuel cell bicycle, one of Time Magazine's 'Inventions of the Year' in 2001

Fuel cell technology inches forward

The scooter is an electric concept vehicle called MOJITO FC. Powered by Manhattan Scientifics’ new 3000 watt fuel cell, the scooter is silent, pollution-free and ideal for urban use, said Aprilia.

Fuelled by hydrogen, it’s claimed production models should be capable of covering 120 miles with a single fueling at a top speed of at least 35 miles an hour.

The MOJITO FC is the second Aprilia fuel cell powered concept vehicle developed with Manhattan Scientifics. The two companies previously developed the Aprilia ENJOY FC, a concept fuel cell powered bicycle, seen above being ridden by five times Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain.

Manhattan Scientifics developed the vehicles with Aprilia to interest manufacturers and other parties in the advantages of fuel cell powered personal transportation.

The new scooter uses Manhattan Scientifics’ proprietary fuel cell technology developed by its German unit, NovArs GmbH. The fuel cell is a hydrogen/air system using advanced materials and unique technologies to minimize size and weight.

Manhattan CEO Marvin Maslow said: "We believe our NovArs technology sets the benchmark as the smallest size and lightest weight engine in the budding fuel cell industry. This means our patented engine has particular application with portables — everything from laptop computers to power tools to bicycles, scooters, golf carts, wheelchairs, and small boats. Imagine driving the new MOJITO scooter in total silence for 120 miles on a single fueling of inexpensive hydrogen.

"Industry experts believe it might be a decade before we see true mass production and mass purchased fuel cell cars on our roads. But this need not be true for other smaller forms of fuel-cell-driven personal transportation."

And this includes, electrically assisted bicycles.

In late 2001, Time Magazine said: "Fuel-cell technology, which uses pollution free hydrogen gas to generate an electric current, could ignite electric bike sales. The first prototype, from Italian bike maker Aprilia, stores compressed hydrogen in a 2-liter canister housed in the frame. With a top speed of 20 mph, the bike won’t win the Tour de France. But it weighs 20 percent less than regular electrics and travels twice as far, about 43 miles before it needs more gas. Now that’s cool."

The article estimates the bike will be available in 2003 for approximately $2300.

Dr. Arthur Koschany, Manhattan Scientific’s chief fuel cell scientist and head of the NovArs unit, said: "The Aprilia fuel cell bicycle has a range slightly over 50 miles. The fuel cell itself weighs less than two pounds, operates silently and produces only pure water as a byproduct. The refueling of the hydrogen container can be done in a minute and in large quantities the fuel cell system can be produced inexpensively, meaning that an entry into the Asia market is a very viable possibility."

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