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FAQ

FAQ#

What is The 40 Fires Foundation?#

40 Fires is a not-for-profit foundation registered in England and Wales and incorporated in February 2009. The foundation grew out of Riversimple LLPthat has been developing a revolutionary type of car designed to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of cars.

The running of 40 Fires is overseen by a Board of Trustees who report to the members in accordance with the articles of association. Each project hosted by the Foundation is managed by a team within guidelines set out by the Board.


What is the purpose of the Foundation? #

The Foundation exists to provide a platform for the development of energy efficient vehicles to benefit society and the planet.

The intention is that the Foundation will serve as an independent legal entity to which companies and individuals can donate resources and be assured that those resources will be used for the public benefit.


What is the inspiration for 40 Fires? #

The founders of 40 Fires were inspired by the open source software movement which took off in the 1990s. Organisations such as Apache and Linux proved that world-beating products can be made available at no or low cost for the benefit of all through harnessing the energy and goodwill of collaborators around the world. Wikipedia and the Human Genome project have also shown what is possible through collaboration.


What is the relationship between 40 Fires and Riversimple?#

Riversimple was the founding sponsor of 40 Fires and Hugo Spowers of Riversimple is one of the trustees of 40 Fires. But Riversimple has no special status within the 40 Fires community and Riversimple will be given no favourable treatment.


Why has Riversimple licensed its designs to 40 Fires? #

There are two main reasons. Firstly, because it is the right thing to do. The world urgently needs more fuel efficient vehicles and sharing the technology is more likely to enable this than hoarding it. Secondly, Riversimple believes that making its designs available under an open source license is the best way of achieving its business aims. In the software world, open source products have proved to be more robust, cheaper and more flexible than their proprietary counterparts. What’s more, by harnessing the entrepreneurial energy of businesses around the world, open source tends to speed up development and encourages the adoption of common standards.


Why was the name “40 Fires” chosen?#

40 is a shorthand for a large number, representing the ambition for the Foundation to engage and benefit a very large number of people. 40 is used regularly in the Bible to express a very large number.

As for Fires, for us it represents renewal (as the bush is renewed after a fire), something that spreads rapidly (which is what happens with ideas), and a source of light.

Together, the words represent many individuals coming together to create something that benefits everyone.

And lastly we like the idea that 40 Fires will fortify. But that wasn’t why we chose the name!

a photo of the Riversimple urban car


What is the first project for 40 Fires?#

The first project is development of the Hyrban, a hydrogen fuel-cell powered, network electric vehicle. The structure is lightweight, being made from carbon composites, it has ultra-capacitors which are charged by the fuel cell and four electric motors, one in each wheel. We think it will be the most energy-efficient production vehicle in history.


Why hydrogen?#

Hydrogen is not a source of energy but a means of storing energy. So it cannot be a simple replacement for fossil fuels, as some seem to believe. However we believe that for hydrogen fuel cell power will prove superior over long ranges (150 miles) than any other technology including battery electric vehicles and will emerge as the most efficient and flexible choice for inter-urban vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cells are generally acknowledged to be twice as energy efficient as internal combustion engines.

Moving to hydrogen powered vehicles will also enable a more smooth transition from a fossil fuel based transport system to one where renewable play a major role. Hydrogen can be produced in a number of ways, including by "reforming" natural gas or by electrolysis, from electricity. So the energy to power a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle can come from a number of different sources.


Where can I refuel a vehicle with hydrogen?#

This is the number one issue with hydrogen powered vehicles - the lack of infrastructure. There are only a few refuelling stations for hydrogen in Europe. The reason our first project is an urban vehicle is so that we can introduce refuelling stations one by one in small cities, servicing a few hundred cars. In time a network of refuelling will develop, eventually allowing inter-urban vehicles to be produced.


When can I buy a car made by 40 Fires?#

Never! 40 Fires will not make cars – it is a forum where cars (and eventually other products) will be designed and developed. Other organisations will do the manufacturing.

One of those manufacturers will be Riversimple, the founding sponsor of 40 Fires.


Can anyone manufacture cars designed by 40 Fires? #

Yes, provided they sign up to the manufacturing license and agree to abide by the aims and principles of 40 Fires.


What if I already have intellectual property rights in technology that might be used in the car. Can I get involved without losing my rights? #

Yes. There is no need for you to surrender your rights if you want to collaborate with the open source design process. Many parts of the car will be protected by patents or other rights. For example, the fuel cell Riversimple has used in its technology demonstrator is owned and patented by a Singaporean-based company. Similarly the electric motors, the tyres, the steering wheel and many of the electronic components were obtained from third party suppliers who have made no commitment to make their technology available under an open source license. Much of the detailed designs for the car will be made available under an open source license but certainly not all.

The parts of the design which are owned by Riversimple will be licensed for free to the 40 Fires Foundation. Riversimple and other members of the community will then collaborate to design the production prototype of the vehicle.

If the community believes a particular technology or a particular component is suitable for the vehicle then it will be considered. Where there is a choice, it is likely that a technology which is available under an open source license will be preferred but in many cases one will not be available.

You as the owner of technology can propose the technology to the 40 Fires community and provide enough information (including the commercial terms under which the technology might be available) so that the community can make a decision about whether this is the best technology for the car. Any manufacturer (such as Riversimple) choosing to make the vehicle can then enter into an agreement directly with the rights owner to buy the components or use the technology in the vehicle.


What sort of company is 40 Fires?#

It is a membership-based company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales. It is a not-for-profit organisation.


Who are the members of 40 Fires#

The members are currently Hugo Spowers, Patrick Andrews, Roland Whitehead, Adam Brett and Anthony Dawton, all of whom have made a significant contribution to getting the Foundation established.


How can I contribute to the Foundation?#

The best way to contribute is get involved with a project, contributing to its development. Go to Get Involved for more information.

You can also make a donation to help us cover our administrative costs. In the long term we intend that 40 Fires will be self-sustaining through the license fee mentioned above.

How to get in touch#

To get involved, follow www.riversimple.com and send us an e-mail describing your interests.

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