The Hydrocycle, developed by Manhattan Scientifics Inc of New York City uses fuel cell technology, which produces only water vapour as its waste product.

“In Asian countries such as India, massive amounts of goods are transported every day by scooters driven by heavily polluting two-cycle engines,” said Marvin Maslow, Manhattan Scientifics’ CEO. “These societies are literally choking on gas and diesel fumes. Electric powered bikes and scooters could provide significant improvements for their environments and consequently their economies.”

The company points out that even electric bicycles require energy from power stations, and so still contribute to pollution.

The power cell consists of a cylindrical shaped fuel cell stack, weighing 780 grams, and a two-litre carbon fibre reinforced pressure containing hydrogen. According to Manhattan Scientifics, the hydrocycle fuel cell system has about seven times more energy density than lead acid batteries, and three times that of NiMeH batteries.

A fuel cell operates like a battery, but without running down or requiring recharging. Oxygen from the air passes over one electrode and hydrogen over the other, generating electricity, water and heat.

Manhattan Scientifics say that the technology has potential applications for laptop computers and other portable electronics, such as golf carts, wheel chairs, cordless power tools and alarm systems. Even cars powered by fuel cells are being developed by companies such as DaimlerChrysler and Ford (see related story).

Manufacturers claim that fuel cell technology is safe. According to Fuel Cells 2000, hydrogen from any leaks in a fuel tank disperses rapidly, decreasing the risk of post collision fires.

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