Scots battery cell specialist to power up hydrogen hypercars and HGVs

A battery cell specialist with a major manufacturing facility in Thurso is to collaborate on the development of advanced hydrogen hypercars and heavy goods vehicles.

AMTE Power said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with advanced powertrain developer Viritech to support the development of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

The deal paves the way for the parties to establish an agreement to supply AMTE Power’s ultra high power cells for use in Viritech’s battery packs for FCEV projects, including heavy goods vehicles, light commercial vehicles, marine, aerospace, and Viritech’s hypercar project - christened Apricale.

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The development of hydrogen fuel cell technology is seen as critical to the development of zero emission vehicles. An alternative to fully electric vehicles, fuel cells mitigate challenges around weight and cell charge times in high power and performance vehicles compared to battery power alone.

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The Advanced Propulsion Centre UK forecasts that global FCEV markets will experience rapid expansion as economies transition from fossil fuels, with sales of such vehicles anticipated to exceed one million by 2030 and ten million by 2040.

Viritech’s novel powertrain combines hydrogen fuel cells with high-performance lithium-ion cells. The technology is intended to provide an additional power boost on ignition, acceleration and when driving on a gradient, as well as enabling smaller, more lightweight battery systems.

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AMTE’s memorandum of understanding with Viritech is the latest in a series of commercial opportunities announced by the business within the automotive market as it continues its pathway to commercialisation.

The company confirmed earlier this year that it anticipates making an announcement within 2022 on new production facilities for its cell types that will enable the business to produce UK-based cells on an industrial scale.

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Viritech is using the Apricale hypercar as its primary development platform.

AMTE Power was co-founded in 2013 by chief executive Kevin Brundish, together with several others, including former colleagues from defence technology heavyweight QinetiQ.

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The company, whose Caithness plant has the second largest cell manufacturing capacity in the UK, raised millions of pounds last year as its shares were admitted to the Alternative Investment Market (Aim).

Brundish said: “Batteries are essential to the transition to hydrogen electric vehicles and our ultra high power cells are the perfect fit for this collaboration, with our carefully refined cell chemistry able to fulfil the specific power, weight and safety requirements for Viritech’s power trains.

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“This partnership will help the EV [electric vehicle] industry move to net zero emissions while ensuring the UK remains a competitive player in automotive manufacturing.”

Matt Faulks, chief technology officer at Viritech, added: “We are really excited about working with AMTE Power. We look forward to seeing what the businesses can achieve together and how AMTE Power’s battery technology can assist with lightweighting zero emission vehicles that are critical to the decarbonisation of global transport systems.”

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Based at the MIRA Technology Park in Warwickshire, Viritech has recruited a team of engineers from Formula 1 and motorsport to focus on the “rapid development and rigorous optimisation of mass, packaging, performance, economy and sustainability”. Using the Apricale hypercar as its primary development platform, the firm is creating a family of hydrogen powertrain systems.

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