THE BLOG

15
Aug

RASA ON THE ROAD OF TIME: CAR FEST NORTH

If Riversimple Rasa were a rock star, then Andre Bird would be the tour manager. Andre is actually head of the R&D workshop at Riversimple. He spent nearly 20 years flying the Royal Family around the country and the world, first as a crewman on helicopters and then as crew chief leader looking after the fleet. Leaving the Royal Air Force in 1997, he joined Williams F1 and spent the next 17 years in motor racing before his most exciting project yet – with Riversimple.  This summer Andre has also been accompanScreenshot 2016-08-03 14.12.07ying Rasa on tour!

Two weeks ago, for example, the tour team left at the crack of dawn for Car Fest North.  To try to paint a picture of the departure, you need to imagine the scene in Wales, as Rasa is loaded up by Andre and fellow engineer Bill – in his camping shorts!!  Well, you know, not all of us get such real-time excitement. So here are some of the most memorable moments, captured by Andre and the team at Bolesworth Castle with the car that is a bit of a super star:

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Memorable Moment no 1: “The tent is up”

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Memorable Moment no 2: “Just completed our first run in the time tunnel section and even had time to meet up with old F1 colleagues”

Screenshot 2016-08-03 13.52.22

Memorable Moment no 3: “The oldest car and the newest car share the track. Can’t wait for Car Fest South”

Car Fest South is on 26-28 AUGUST 2016 LAVERSTOKE PARK FARM, HAMPSHIRE. See you there!

PS. We would especially like to thank Oliver for his email on our return to base from Bolesworth. Here it is.

Hello my name is Oliver aged 13,

I took a particular interest in your Hydrogen car at Car Fest North at the weekend. Every day over the weekend I visited your car and chatted with Andre who told me lots of interesting facts. For example, the batteries in the Tesla model X weigh about the same as the whole of your car!! I am very interested in engineering and would like to come and visit some time, and maybe even get an engineering job at River simple!

Great to meet you and thanks again for making my weekend so memorable 🙂

 Andre replies:

It is always a breath of fresh air to have one so young with such an interest and to be so knowledgeable in motor cars and engineering in general. I am delighted that you found the information I passed on to you of interest and impressed that you recall some of the details i.e. Tesla battery weight etc.

 The only words of encouragement I can give you is that you attain the highest levels of education, if possible resulting in an Engineering Degree. This will open so may additional avenues for you. I have been so lucky in my career, starting as an Aircraft Engineer and then being able to transfer into Automotive (F1).

 There is an extreme shortage of Engineers in general in all industries so you have the opportunity to aspire to great things … and maybe one day join Riversimple as an Engineer.

28
Jul

One of our favourite words: USERSHIP

An Energy Services Company or ESCo, is a particular kind of company, especially popular in Scandinavia, that sells energy and heating services to customers.  For example, an ESCo can arrange to install a lovely, warm, state-of-the-art biomass boiler for your home or business.  They will cover the upfront capital costs of the project, as well as the management, delivery and storage of the fuel supply.  And they will carry out regular maintenance of the boiler.

Simply put, this means that ESCo customers don’t have to find large amounts of capital to buy a new boiler or heating system.  It also means that the hassle of installation, maintenance, ordering fuel etc. is shouldered by the service provider and the whole lot is wrapped in one package.  It’s a good example of what we mean by the word Usership.

At Riversimple, we apply the same basic principle to cars.  Our business model replaces car ownership with a sale of service package.  There are a number of logical reasons for this.  First of all, it’s more sustainable.  Secondly, it makes the technology affordable. And thirdly, sale of service takes away the hassle of ownership without the limitations of a car share scheme (though we love those too).

We firmly believe that the world is more than ready for the concept of Usership.  For a start, Usership is simpler. Riversimple customers won’t have to remember to get the car serviced, renew the tax, find the best insurance deal etc. And they won’t have to shoulder the considerable burden of depreciation. These things add nothing to the pleasure of driving a good car.

We’ve said it before. The Riversimple Rasa will not be for sale. We offer people an option to say goodbye to hidden costs and unwanted hassle – Usership – because, as Brecht would say “To live means to finesse the processes to which one is subjugated.”

13
Jul

RASA ON THE ROAD in 2016

The appearance of fresh new technology can make an ordinary day feel suddenly interesting. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a fantastic new car in the neighbour’s drive? Who wouldn’t pop across the road to take a closer look and have a chat?

Certainly we were delighted when our local MP Chris Davies arranged for us to park the Riversimple Rasa in New Palace Yard in the Houses of Parliament on June 15th 2016, just a week before the referendum was set to take place. There followed a steady stream of politicians, popping across to find out about the Riversimple Rasa. We encountered genuine interest and enthusiasm from representatives of all parties. Thank you.

It turns out this was the calm before something of a storm. Just eight days later and Westminster was transformed by a series of events. An MP was murdered, Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23, the Prime Minister resigned, in fact there was a wave of resignations and new leadership challenges. Suddenly everything we all thought we knew about Britain was up in the air.

And so these photographs have a special significance. They capture – not just famous faces; not just Westminster in the June sunshine; not just a remarkable new car, made in Britain and designed for a changing world – but a moment in time.

This summer, team Riversimple have been out and about across Britain with the Rasa.  We went to Manchester for Business Rocks, we found ourselves in a prime spot at the London Motor Show and we even took part in the famous hill climb at Goodwood.

We are based in Wales, and so we are especially delighted to have the support of Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure in the Welsh Government, who also went for a spin recently:

Ken Skates, Welsh Cabinet Seceretary for Economy Ken Skates

But we will never forget that moment at Westminster. We want to thank every single person who has come to see the Rasa, purchased shares (the share offer is still open) and added their names to the growing list of supporters. The times are indeed a-changing and the future is now in our hands.

22
Jun

GETTING REAL ABOUT AIR POLLUTION

We loved a recent tweet about Riversimple Rasa “I’d rather be cycling behind one of these.”

Cyclists on British roads sit on the frontline of traffic pollution.  It’s pretty unfair really, since they are not the ones responsible for that pollution.

Being able to travel from A to B is a fundamental part of modern life.  But then again breathing good quality air is pretty fundamental too!  The evolution of the car is a marvelous story, but our love affair with the combustion engine is slowly coming to an end.  Cleaner cars are on their way.  Just take a look around a busy parking lot and you will see how rapidly we are shifting to alternative fuels – cleaner, greener, better.

At Riversimple we are 100% with that cyclist.  None of us want to breathe in a cocktail of pollutants that include nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide; carbon monoxide, and the heavy particulates associated with smog.

RASA TECHNOLOGY

As with all battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles, the Rasa emits zero nasty emissions at the tail pipe, but a recent report published by Peter Achten and Victor Timmers of Edinburgh University highlights the problem of particulate emissions.  These emissions can come from the tyres and brakes as well as engines.  In fact, now that filters are so good, even diesel cars emit more particulates from tyres and brakes than from the engine.  According to the Achten/Timmers report, because many electric vehicles are heavier than combustion-engined cars, they emit higher levels of particulates.
The Riversimple answer is to go deeper into the design.REAR QUARTER SMOOTHED

The Rasa is strong but light – less than a third of the weight of the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car.  This minimises any particulate emission from the tyres, because emissions are proportional to weight.  But even more significantly, the braking system for the Rasa is primarily electrical, rather than dependent on friction.

There are only two instances when the Rasa production model will rely upon friction brakes:

–           emergency stops, anything over 0.3g

–           below 5mph, when there is not enough braking torque

So the only regular release of brake particulates would be when braking at speeds below 5 mph.  However, as our engineers will tell you, the quantity of particulate release from friction braking is proportional to the kinetic energy of the car when you start braking.  At 5mph, the kinetic energy of the car is less than 0.7% that at 60mph.  In other words, particulates not a problem.

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

In the wild, animals have a deep- seated ability to react to stimulus.  And in the longer term whole species can adapt to change through the process of natural selection.  It’s a simple, obvious thing – organisms that do not react, do not survive for long.

A similar ability to react is needed in industry.  Air pollution levels are unacceptable and some levels recorded are breaking regulations.  Changing the regulations, put there to protect our health, is no solution.

The businesses that are fittest for the times will survive and thrive.  Great news for people who breathe air.  Bad news for dirty, polluting industries with their heads still stuck in the sand.

06
Mar

BREAKING NEW GROUND – THE RASA POWERTRAIN

The powertrain describes the mechanism that generates power and propels a vehicle.  Over the years, standard linear powertrains – engine, gearbox, driveshafts to wheels – have been improved to make cars more reliable, more fuel efficient, less polluting, and so on. But fine tuning one particular system can only go so far, before each adjustment puts something else out of kilter.

The real step change happens when somebody decides to work up a completely fresh system. Thanks to modern technology, the scene has been set.  Enter somebody like Hugo Spowers.  Hugo is founder and Company Architect at Riversimple.  He is an Oxford University trained engineer who previously worked in the world of racing cars. We could also mention the bungee jumping or the piano on skis, but the focus of this blog post is the Rasa powertrain. Inspired by the Hypercar work of Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute,  the Rasa powertrain has been designed to provide everything you need and nothing you don’t in terms of power – resulting in a car that can cruise along very efficiently on a tiny fuel requirement, but can also pack a big punch when asked to accelerate or climb a hill.

 Meet the Capacitors

At the heart of this car, is the hydrogen fuel cell. We describe how a fuel cell generates electrical energy from hydrogen here. But you can take the fuel cell to a whole new level with a bank of super-capacitors.

Super-capacitors in the Rasa

Super-capacitors in the Rasa

A capacitor is basically something that can store electrical energy. Capacitors also used to be known as condensers, used in a traditional ignition distributor. They consist of conductive plates separated by a non-conductive layer called the di-electric. When an electric current enters the capacitor, the di-electric stops the flow and a static charge builds up and is stored in an electric field between the plates. Batteries, in contrast, store electrical energy in a chemical form. This means that capacitors have some advantages over batteries: they can be charged and discharged very quickly and many times without wearing out.

But ordinary capacitors don’t hold very much charge; super-capacitors are an evolutionary leap. The prototype super-capacitors in the Rasa have a coating of charcoal and lithium ion to give them much greater capacity to hold energy – the supercap bank has a capacitance many times the capacitance of two concentric spheres the size of the planet.

Everything you need and nothing that you don’t

The unintended consequence of conventional powertrain architecture is that the engine is sized for peak acceleration, which is available all the time but is only needed for less than 10% of the time – so the car has to carry a heavy engine, and gearbox, that is 80% redundant for 90% of the time. In contrast, the Rasa powertrain will be able to recover energy that is traditionally wasted during braking, whilst allowing recaptured energy to flow precisely where it is needed, when it is needed, and for as long as is needed – but no more. There is no redundant capability, which otherwise translates into extra cost, weight and fuel consumption.

The Rasa's Network electric powertrain

The Rasa’s Network electric powertrain

This is pretty revolutionary, and is managed by purpose-designed Riversimple software – that’s the integrated brain of the car – ensuring that:

  • A small, light fuel cell maintains cruise
  • When braking, the motors in each wheel hub recover the kinetic energy and feed it into the bank of super-capacitors
  • This energy stored in the super-capacitors provides most of the power (approx. 80%) required for acceleration and hill climbing
  • The consequence is that cruise and acceleration are ‘de-coupled’ – no longer does better acceleration unavoidably increase the top speed

As a result, the Rasa is incredibly nippy with great acceleration (and that means fun to drive), whilst the size of fuel cell and fuel tank can be kept small and light. We call it a Network Electric system.

The powertrain needs further rigorous testing and adjusting – continuing with the Beta trials – but ultimately this, coupled with the overall lightness of the design, is where groundbreaking efficiencies are being made. We anticipate that the commercial Rasa will be more than 3 times as efficient as other fuel cell cars currently on the market.

 

 

25
Feb

RASA FOR THE 21st CENTURY

The car seats of Riversimple Rasa are a bit special. They’re covered in a durable and luxurious PET fabric that looks like suede …The Riversimple Rasa

… this high quality material has been manufactured from recycled plastic bottles. It’s just the kind of product choice that reflects our commitment to a supply chain fit for the 21st Century. But this isn’t just about recycling …

The Circular Economy

Ellen Macarthur first hit the headlines in 2001 when she sailed a racing yacht single-handedly around the world at just 24 years of age.  Ellen says that sailing has given her a very real understanding of what it means to rely on a finite supply of resources, as on the boat food, water and fuel are inescapably linked to success or failure. Since then, Ellen has become an ambassador for the Circular Economy, focused upon the big solutions that will conserve resources for the future.

One major step is to design products that last.  It’s perfectly possible, but the problem is that durable products are less compatible with business models based upon selling and selling and selling.

Dr. Stafford Lloyd joined Riversimple from Rolls Royce plc.  He tells a story about his previous workplace which required the installation of high quality showers to wash off corrosive substances in case of accident. With high safety standards, such accidents were most unlikely and the showers were not expected to need replacing regularly.  The manufacturers decided to lease the showers. They installed and carried out regular maintenance for a contractual fee … and business thrived.

In choosing to sell a service, the lasting quality of a product is translated into profit.

As Systems and Sustainability Engineer at Riversimple, Stafford is on a quest to ensure that every component part of the Riversimple supply chain is of long lasting quality.  A grant from Innovate UK supports his work in association with existing suppliers and specialists

Eco Design Centre WalesQSA , KS CompositesSwagelok,  Mark Water Pumps 

and together they are developing a new business tool.  This tool will be able to calculate the financial and environmental implications of sale-of-service for each supplier.  Participating companies will be involved in a pilot scheme, that will be run in conjunction with the customer trial of the Riversimple Rasa.  It could be a bit of a breakthrough for suppliers considering sale of service and we’ll keep you posted.

Stafford Lloyd on our Hydrogen test rig

Stafford Lloyd on our Hydrogen test rig

Can I buy a RASA?

No but Rasa will be available to you one day soon we hope – through a subscription package, typically of 1 – 3 years.  This will mean that

– All kinds of people will be able to choose a fuel cell car and drive away without leaving an invisible trail of pollution

– RASA subscribers won’t need to worry about the big issue of depreciation

– And RASA subscribers won’t have to worry about fuel bills, maintenance, servicing or insurance.

Which we think could be an attractive new proposition for the 21st century. Of course sustainable is possible.

17
Feb

RIVERSIMPLE RASA IS UNVEILED

We are team Riversimple. This February we are proud to present the first production prototype of a revolutionary hydrogen fuel cell car from Wales – Riversimple Rasa.

Not so long ago, Rasa looked like this.

LCVPrep1

This is the ground breaking powertrain, built in Wales.

The new car reflects a simple idea that was first mooted in the 4th century BC by the great philosopher and scientist, Aristotle. It is the idea that something new begins, not with predetermined structure and characteristics, but with a blank slate – tabula rasa – moment of potential.

We set out with a blank slate, to design a car for the world in which we now live, shaped by the best technology available to us and answerable to our most pressing concerns. We set out to build a local car that will take people on their local journeys, in the way that they wish to travel, at a cost that is affordable – and without leaving a heavy footprint of air pollution and environmental degradation. To do this we selected a still evolving, but incredibly promising and safe technology. This is hydrogen fuel cell technology.

We are a small, multi-talented, hard-working team of engineers and designers. Riversimple is headed up by company architect Hugo Spowers and supported by some big thinking business experts, without whom we would not be in this position today. As independents, we can tell you it has been no mean feat.

Riversimple Rasa is a wonder … Great to drive, safe to drive, fun to drive, light in every respect of the word, quick to refuel, and with a super strong framework of carbon fibre.

On the day that a lively crew arrived to film Rasa in action on the roads for the first time, the sun came out across the Welsh mountains – creating the perfect backdrop. At no extra cost.

Now that you have seen the car, we hope that you will join the Riversimple movement

 

 

26
Jan

FROM COMPLEX TO RIVERSIMPLE

Behind the excitement surrounding the forthcoming launch of the Riversimple Fuel Cell Car, are a specialised team of engineers, designers and business professionals. We are real people, working through a pivotal time for Riversimple, each with different skills and experience to bring to the table.

At the moment, everything is focused upon bringing new (disruptive) fuel cell technology to market, but the Riversimple Mk2 is part of a bigger picture – the changing requirements of day to day transport and the nature of the business model that underpins it. Riversimple’s purpose is “to pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport”. Everything we do – the design of the car, the structure of the business, the people we work with – is in pursuit of this goal.

We have attracted some top talent

Estelle Clark

For example, Estelle Clark joined us recently to take a new business leadership role as the Steward. Continue Reading..

09
Jan

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM RIVERSIMPLE

2016 is a significant year for Riversimple. Back in October we ran our first test of the Mk2 at the Royal Welsh showground in Builth Wells.

MK2 Powertrain

MK2 Powertrain

Everything went smoothly, with vital test data collected. The new powertrain, driven by a hydrogen fuel cell, is running like a dream.Continue Reading..

08
Jan

RIVERSIMPLE MOVEMENT

RiverSimple_logologo_riversimple_animation

We have changed our name from Riversimple Engineering Ltd to Riversimple Movement Ltd. This change reflects a growing organisation Continue Reading..

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