Hardware Open Source Works As Hydrogen Car Makes Debut

Riversimple, car that is manufactured in UK and runs on liquid hydrogen, could be the first successful mainstream product to have been manufactured using open source principles.

The urban car is a tiny two seater that uses a single 6kW hydrogen fuel cell and runs ona staggering 240 miles on a single tank of hydrogen. Actually only 1Kg of hydrogen is needed to cover 386km at a maximum speed of 50mph.

The current prototype comes with a regenerative braking system which stores energy dissipated when slowing down in capacitors, essentially recycling energy which would have been lost otherwise.

As expected the car is made up of recycled composite materials and emits only 30g/km CO2 which is a fraction of what other cars such as the Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight emits.

The team behind the design is made up of scientists from the University of Oxford and Cranfield and is headed by motorsport engineer Hugo Spowers. The first cars are expected to roll out as early as 2012.

Speaking about the decision to open source the design, Spowers said that "We want competitors, even if they're in the UK. We believe that open source is commercially the best thing for us to do, as it will help grow the market for hydrogen technology, from parts to repairs and the refuelling infrastructure."

This means that manufacturers in countries like China or India could potentially download the plans, designs and notes for free to manufacturer the two-seat car locally. it is also highly likely that developing countries could be the most to benefit since hydrogen-powered cars generate a tiny amount of pollution.

The car is expected to cost £2400 per annum to lease, a price which will include the cost of any reparations and the cost of the hydrogen fuel. The only problem now is to make Hydrogen fuel more widely available.

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Before it was acquired earlier this year by Oracle, Sun Microsystems open sourced UltraSPARC T1 chip multithreaded (CMT) processor in December 2005 as well as its successor, the T2. In principle, it aimed at "significantly increase participation in processor architecture development and application design by making cutting-edge hardware intellectual property freely available". The first mainstream processor based on the open source design have yet to be released through.

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