Emerging Technologies

This hydrogen-powered e-bike is the first of its kind

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“The LAVO bike is designed as a toolbox for emission-free mobility,” the designers say.

Dutch design office Studio MOM helped design the cargo bike. Image: Studio MOM

Amy Frearson
Editor, Dezeen
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  • Studio MOM and LAVO have come together to create a hydrogen-powered bike, designed to take advantage of the higher energy-to-weight ratio offered by hydrogen fuel cells.
  • LAVO's hybrid hydrogen battery uses solar energy to extract hydrogen from water. This system was developed by researchers at the University of New South Wales.
  • One of the biggest issues cited is its inefficiency. The process of producing green hydrogen has been found to be inefficient, due to the energy requirements of electrolysis.
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Dutch design office Studio MOM has teamed up with hydrogen battery pioneer LAVO to develop an electric bike that can carry heavy cargo over long distances.

The LAVO Bike is designed to take advantage of the higher energy-to-weight ratio offered by hydrogen fuel cells, compared with the lithium batteries typically used for e-bikes.

"This first hydrogen bike in the world makes transport over very long distances possible without heavy batteries, particulates or CO2 emissions," said Studio MOM.

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The cargo bike takes advantage of hydrogen's higher energy-to-weight ratio.
Image shows the cargo bike and its shape. Image: Studio MOM

The design integrates LAVO's hybrid hydrogen battery, which uses solar energy to extract hydrogen from water.

The Australian company believes this system, which was developed by researchers at the University of New South Wales, is the first commercial use of this technology in the world.

Using energy germinated from photovoltaics, it employs a process of electrolysis to separate the oxygen and hydrogen found in the chemical-makeup of water. The hydrogen is then absorbed into a patented metal hydride, which converts it into battery power.

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The bike works with Lavo's hybrid hydrogen battery.
Image shows the battery of the cargo battery. Image: Studio MOM

Studio MOM's design integrates this battery as part of a modular frame that slots together, "like Lego blocks".

"It's designed as a toolkit for a new emission-free mode of transport," said the studio. "Therefore, the concept is easily adapted from city bike to transport bike for small business use."

The bike is made of parts that slot together
Image shows the seat of the cargo bike and how it connects to other parts. Image: Studio MOM

LAVO launched in 2020, with the ambition to provide cleaner and more reliable energy to homes and businesses.

Its system is based on the production of green hydrogen, a more sustainable alternative to blue or grey hydrogen as it doesn't use any fossil fuels in its production.

The brand claims that one LAVO unit can store up to 40kWh of hydrogen, which could power the average Australian home off-grid for up to two days.

The bike is designed to carry heavy cargo over long distances.
Image shows the wheel and chain of the cargo bike. Image: Studio MOM

The company approached Studio MOM to collaborate on a bicycle, as the Arnhem-based office has previously worked on designs for Dutch brands Gazelle and Cortina.

While LAVO had imagined a super lightweight design, the Studio MOM design team felt a cargo bike would be the best way to optimise the advantages offered by hydrogen power.

"Because long-range cargo solutions in particular require a lot of energy," said the studio. "Then an extra hydrogen tank of 1.2 kilograms is surely preferable to an extra battery that weighs six kilograms."

The technology was developed by researchers at the University of New South Wales.
Graphic shows step-by-step thought process behind LAVO. Image: LAVO

The design was developed in partnership with Elian Cycles, a manufacturer that specialises in cargo bikes.

The LAVO bike is not currently on the market, but could be available in the future. LAVO hopes to launch a range of lifestyle products that use its hybrid hydrogen battery, including a barbecue.

LAVO's system produces green hydrogen using solar energy and water.
Graphic shows LAVO's system. Image: LAVO

Not everyone is convinced by the viability of hydrogen batteries as a power source. Elon Musk described it as "mind-bogglingly stupid" in an interview in 2019.

One of the biggest issues cited is its inefficiency. The process of producing green hydrogen has been found to be inefficient, due to the energy requirements of electrolysis.

However investment in hydrogen is continuing to grow. The European Union has said it expects to spend €470 billion (£402 billion) on green hydrogen by 2050.

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Related topics:
Emerging TechnologiesFourth Industrial RevolutionEnergy Transition
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