The Fuel Cell Wheelchair
November 3, 2006 We’re growing more convinced by the day that the future of mobility does not look like the automobile – we suspect the old concept of lugging a few tons of steel around to carry one or two people will be seen as excessively wasteful very soon, and accordingly expect the market for short-distance, one and two person transport to offer a plethora of interesting alternatives. Like this one! Suzuki is showing an interesting fuel-cell-powered wheelchair prototype named the MIO to assess customer interest. The MIO features a fuel cell that uses methanol as a fuel source to generate hydrogen and therefore electricity. The tank holds 4 litres and that’s sufficient to provide MIO with a range of approximately 25 miles. There’s also an LCD display showing fuel level and power sources. Therefore, unlike wheelchairs that rely solely on mains charging of the battery, it addresses users’ fears of being stranded at some distance from their home.
A large capacity Li-ion secondary battery acts as a store for the electricity generated and a back up source of power.
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The modern design features armrests that double up as safety barriers, ergonomic handlebars that require minimal effort even on full lock, and a seat that features a mesh-type fabric for good aeration and improved springing.
Compact dimensions – 1200 mm long, 650 mm wide and 1000 mm tall – also mean it’s nimble in the crowded urban environment.