My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How the Pragma Industries Alpha Electric Bicycle works - Jamaica would love this if it ran on Water

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Monday, October 5, 2015

How the Pragma Industries Alpha Electric Bicycle works - Jamaica would love this if it ran on Water

“The bike’s battery provides electricity from hydrogen and emits only pure water. This is a world first”

Pragma Industries CEO Pierre Forte commenting on the Alpha, the world's first Hydrogen Powered Bicycle

Electric Bicycle and motorcycle enthusiast will greet this latest developement of the first hydrogen powered Bicycle call the Alpha as reported in the article “French unveil 'world first' hydrogen-powered electric bike emitting only pure water”, published 01 Oct 2015 By Henry Samuel, The UK Telegraph


Developed and designed by Pragma Industries in Bidart, near Biarritz, southwestern France, Pragma Industries CEO Pierre Forte bill it as the world first Hydrogen Powered Bicycle.

The Alpha is a prototype along with other Hydrogen powered models that are still in developement. His creation will be officially unveiled during the Intelligent Transport Systems congress in Bordeaux, France. By 2016, they'll start producing Alpha's and other models with the following projected output:

1.      100 bikes in 2015
2.      1000 bikes by 2017

Their main clients appear to be the French Post Office, who apparently like the idea of a bicycle that can climb uphill on a trot. But they'll be very expensive at €2,300, which is £1,700 or US$2,591.73 or JA$308,023.90, basically a 1999 Toyota Starlet Hatchback in Jamaica!

So for 1999 Toyota Starlet Hatchback money, what exactly is so special about the Alpha Hydrogen Powered Electric Motorcycle?

How the Pragma Industries Alpha Electric Bicycle works - A Very Expensive Range Extender Bicycle

It uses a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) Battery similar to those being developed by Toyota and other Japanese Automaker intent on also introducing Hydrogen powered vehicles to the US market as noted in my blog article entitled “PEM Fuel Cell Technology gets Japanese Government support - Hydrogen Gas Stations Coming in First World and Developing World Countries”.


Pragma Industries has basically figured out how to make the PEM small enough and cheaply enough to fit into a bicycle’s bars as well as developed an efficient Hydrogen Storage system. This Hydrogen is fed into the PEM which emits only water Vapour as waste.

Excess Electricity is most likely stored in a Li-Ion Battery that takes only five (5) minutes to charge which is then used to power the Electric motor on the Alpha Bicycle. The result is an impressive 100 kilometres (62 miles) for this bicycle in what's typically a Ranger Extender configuration of a PEM fuel Cell as the Electricity generator and a Li-Ion Battery pack as Battery storage.

Most likely, it has regenerative braking as well as a system to generate electricity during downhill trots, further extending its range. To add further to its green cred, this carbon-neutral bicycle is made of recyclable materials to quote Pragma Industries's CEO Pierre Forte quote: “All this with a minimal environmental footprint as these bikes are made of up ever more recyclable products”.

Alpha will be a hit once the price comes down – Need to run on Water to be Emission Neutral

So albeit the Alpha is a First world product, would the Alpha be a hit in Jamaica?

Jamaica as a country is slowly developing an obsession with motorcycles and bicycles as I’d predicted back in 2014 in my blog article entitled “How to convert your Bicycle to an Electric Bicycle – Pedal Power is an amazing resource”.


Not a day in Kingston doesn't pass and I do not hear a motorcycles whizz by my apartment or an electric bicycle stealthily glides pass me, startling me out of my wits.

I thus though it necessary that these Electric bicycles be regulated as they can easily cause an accident as argued in my blog article entitled “Electric Bicycles and Motorcycles next Big Jamaican trend by Christmas 2014 - How Backtracker and Rear View Cameras in the Road Traffic Act can help”. 

But they all have to use Gasoline, as they have Motors, not Li-ion Batteries.

 If it ran on water, yes, as Gasoline to run out motorcycles and motorized bicycles is still expensive! Also, his business model appears to focus on making money continuously from the replacement of the Hydrogen PEM Batteries. Changing the tires would also be difficult and it appears as if it might easily be damaged in a spill.

Still, this is a bicycle for mail and deliveries. Would be nice to see a version by 2017 that can extract hydrogen from the water as fuel as well as the vapour emitted, making it emission neutral.
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