Saturday, 4 January 2014

Hydrogen As Electric-Car Range Extender?

Hydrogen fuel cells have often been viewed as alternatives to large battery packs for powering electric vehicles.

what if a small hydrogen fuel cell could be used in a battery-electric vehicle as a range extender?

The French postal service, is about to test that concept in three Renault Kangoo ZE

The goal is to double the range, letting La Poste use zero-emission electric Kangoos on its longer routes and in more challenging terrain with steep hills.

The fuel cells come from Symbio FCell, based in Paris, and they'll be deployed in three "HyKangoo" small vans that will go into service by March.

When the range extender concept, originally developed for chemical giant Solvay, was offered to La Poste, the delivery group instantly saw it as solving a crucial range limitation.

La Poste today operates the world's largest electric-vehicle fleet, and it intends to electrify all 60,000 of its vehicles by 2050 or before.

More than 70 percent of its vehicles cover 62 miles or more per day, which currently limits use of Kangoo ZE vans to less than one-third of its routes. The fuel-cell range extender is expected to expand their use to a large majority of regions covered.

The Kangoo ZE is driven by a 44-kilowatt (70-horsepower) electric motor, powered by a 22-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Its range is rated at about 100 miles (160 km) on the European cycle, though in the U.S., its EPA-equivalent range might be as low as 70 miles.

The fuel cell, along with a reinforced 1.3-cubic-foot (38-liter) tank holding 3.8 pounds (1.72 kg) of hydrogen compressed at 5000 psi (35 mPa), is said to add a further 100 miles. At full power, roughly 0.7 lb 0.1 lb (0.3 kg) of hydrogen is consumed per hour.

According to Symbio FCell, the hydrogen-powered range extender is based on a system of 5-kW stacks--the HyKangoo uses a 5-kW system--and can be sized to provide output from 5 kW to 20 kW using one to four modules.

La Poste calculates that the lifetime running costs of the HyKangoo will be no more than the diesel-engined Kangoo vans they use today, including the cost of diesel fuel.

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