Two Italian researchers are killed in a photo voltaic hybrid automotive explosion

Two Italian researchers have died after a prototype solar-powered hybrid car they were testing exploded near the city of Naples last week.

The vehicle, a converted VW Polo, was developed as part of an EU-funded project to convert old internal combustion engine cars into solar-powered hybrid vehicles. The prototype caught fire during a test drive last Friday and the two occupants were in critical condition.

Maria Vittoria Prati, a researcher at the Italian National Research Council (CNR), died on Monday from complications from third-degree burns.

Earlier this week, the CNR recognized Ms. Prati as “a brilliant researcher” and “an expert in the field of emissions studies and the use of alternative fuels”.

The <3 of EU technology

The latest rumors from the EU tech scene, a story of our wise old founder Boris and questionable AI art. It’s in your inbox for free every week. Join Now!

The other resident, research apprentice Fulvio Filace, 25, died overnight, a spokesman for Cardarelli Hospital in Naples said Reuters on Thursday.

Hybrid Car Explosion ItalyFirefighters are examining the wreckage of the prototype hybrid car that ran aground on a ring road near Naples. Photo credit: ANSA

According to the ANSA news agency, the Naples authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion, but no specific suspects have yet been identified.

The CNR said Thursday it had launched an internal investigation to “reconstruct the cause of the very serious incident” and was working with investigators.

The test was part of the EU-funded Life-Save project, which explored ways to retrofit regular internal combustion engines with additional electric motors, charged by batteries and solar panels mounted on the vehicle’s roof and bonnet.

Solar-powered cars are being touted as a potential solution to the lack of infrastructure and affordable charging options needed to accelerate the electric vehicle revolution. However, the technology is still in its infancy.

Since 2017, Life-Save has secured almost €1.8 million in funding from the European Commission through its LIFE programme, a fund supporting clean tech startups.

Since the incident, Life-Save has taken down its website, which now features a tribute to the families of the deceased.

Comments are closed.