Two Italian green car researchers die after prototype explodes during test drive

Two Italian researchers died after a hybrid car prototype that was being developed with EU funds exploded during a street test.

The researchers had been engaged on the Life-Save challenge that aimed to show vehicles with standard combustion engines into hybrid autos, working at the least partly on photo voltaic power.

Maria Vittoria Prati, senior scholar and engineer at Italy’s Nationwide Analysis Council, and trainee Fulvio Filace had been rushed to hospital with extreme burns after the prototype blew up within the southern Italian metropolis of Naples final Friday.

Prati, 66, died of issues from third-degree burns on Monday, whereas 25-year-old Filace, died in a single day, in accordance with a spokesperson for the Cardarelli hospital in Naples.

Each Prati and Filace had been hospitalised “in very severe situations” however “there was extra hope of saving” Filace “given his youthful age,” spokesperson Pietro Rinaldi, informed Reuters. “Nevertheless it was not sufficient,” he added.

The duo had been test-driving a modified Volkswagen Polo outfitted with new know-how that will permit drivers to remodel their previous vehicles into solar-powered electrical autos.

Prosecutors are looking for the reason for the explosion, though their investigation is at the moment not targetting any particular suspect, information company ANSA reported.

The analysis council expressed “nice shock and sorrow” for the deaths, including it had begun an inner audit and was cooperating with the investigations.

It paid tribute to Prati as “an excellent researcher” and “an authority within the discipline of the research of emissions and using different fuels”.

eProInn, a spin-off of the College of Salerno in southern Italy that had a lead function within the Life-Save challenge, was engaged on retro-fitting standard vehicles with solar-hybrid powertrains.

Its patented concept was to equip common manufacturing vehicles with further electrical motors, charged by a battery and photo voltaic panels fitted on the roof and the bonnet.

The challenge was financed by the European Fee’s Life Programme and has obtained about €1.8m (£1.55m) since 2017. Its web site was reportedly deactivated following Friday’s accident.

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