April 23, 2008 A three year collaborative research project by PSA Peugeot Citroën and fuel cell specialist Intelligent Energy has born fruit in the form of the H2Origin demonstrator vehicle, a battery-electric vehicle that uses a specially designed hydrogen fuel cell to triple its range to an impressive 300km (186 miles). The hydrogen storage system developed for the zero-emission demonstrator vehicle, which is based on the Peugeot Partner Origin van, is compact enough to squeeze under the bonnet and utilizes a swappable storage rack of compressed hydrogen tanks that slide out the rear, by-passing the need for a conventional fuel station and therefore simplifying the infrastructure needed to make hydrogen-powered vehicles a commercial reality.
The 10 kW fuel cell power system is based on Intelligent Energy's PEMFC (Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell) technology is compact enough to fit in the engine compartment along with all auxiliary equipment and the electric motor. The fuel cell units have a lifetime of 5,000 hours, or about five years based on an average use of three hours per day and the company's experience in compact fuel cell systems with cold start capability has also resulted in a vehicle that can be started at temperatures as low as -20°C.
The companies see the use of a compact fuel cell as a range extender as the most practical and feasible solution "from both the economic and design standpoints" for applying this technology.
"Our fuel cell expertise and systems integration capabilities have been proven yet again in developing the power system and incorporating it into this vehicle. We have made the fuel cell system robust and compact enough for real-world clean motoring applications, and have gained invaluable experience through the collaboration with PSA Peugeot Citroën," says Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy.
A successful example of integrating fuel cell technology into an electric powertrain, the H2Origin is the fifth demonstrator developed by PSA Peugeot Citroën. Each of these vehicles - Peugeot Hydro-Gen, Peugeot Taxi PAC, H20 light fire-fighting vehicle, Peugeot Quark and Peugeot 207 CC “e-Pure” - is equipped with different types of fuel cells.
The demonstrator is also an example of PSA Peugeot Citroën's ongoing work in terms of storing pressurized hydrogen gas at 70MPa - an achievement that increases the amount of hydrogen that can be kept in a given volume by nearly 70%. The carbon fibre and resin hydrogen tanks used undergo extremely rigorous tests - including having bullets fired at them - to ensure that leakage, and in-turn accidents, do not occur. The exchangeable sliding platform design has previously been used in the Taxi PAC vehicle and is designed to free-up most of the payload area for cargo.
"As a leader in low carbon vehicles, we have already demonstrated several zero emissions vehicles. The Intelligent Energy fuel cell in the H2Origin extends its range from approximately 100km to three times that distance. This sort of range increases the attractiveness of electric vehicles for urban delivery, which is one of the most promising future markets for electric vehicles," says Jean Pierre Goedgebuer, Scientific Director of PSA Peugeot Citroën.