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Volvo developing fuel cells for extended range EVs

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October 27, 2010

The fuel cells will be tested on cars based on the based on the current C30 DRIVe Electric

The fuel cells will be tested on cars based on the based on the current C30 DRIVe Electric

In an effort to overcome one of the main drawbacks of battery electric vehicles, Volvo is initiating development of a hydrogen fuel cell that is expected to increase an electric car’s operating range by up to 250 km (155 miles). In the first phase of the project the company, together with Powercell Sweden AB, will conduct a study into a Range Extender, which consists of a fuel cell with a reformer that breaks down a liquid fuel – in this case petrol – to create hydrogen gas. The fuel cell then converts the hydrogen gas into electrical energy to power the car’s electric motor.

The fuel cell would generate electricity without any emissions of carbon oxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and particles. The only end products are electricity, water and a small amount of carbon dioxide. The technology can also be adapted for renewable fuels. The reformer’s ability to break down existing liquid fuels provide a distinct advantage over other hydrogen fuel cell vehicles such as Honda’s FCX Clarity, which can use a standalone Home Energy Station unit to produce hydrogen for the car to cater for current lack hydrogen distribution infrastructure.

"This is an exciting expansion of our focus on electrification. Battery cost and size means that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. Fuel cells may be one way of extending the distance these cars can cover before they need to be recharged. What is more, the project gives us increased knowledge about fuel cells and hydrogen gas," says Volvo Cars President and CEO Stefan Jacoby.

In the second phase of the project, Volvo and Powercell aim to produce two test cars based on the current C30 DRIVe Electric that will be ready for testing in everyday traffic in 2012.

"We have just taken the first steps and it is naturally too early to talk about market introduction of electric cars with Range Extenders. The industrial decision will come after we have learned more about fuel cells and the opportunities they offer," says Jacoby.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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7 Comments

Worldwide people are rejecting unworkable battery cars in favor of Hydrogen.

John Bailo
28th October, 2010 @ 01:07 am PDT

O.K. this is what I've been say'n all along! Fuel cells are the ONLY way to make electricity! Screw battery's and I know the purists out there aren't going to like the fact that fossil fuels are still being used but people are going to have to get over the fact that oil is more then likely going to be used for the rest of our lives and for generations to come and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it's combusted in the most efficient manor possible, and I can't think of a better way to do it then using a fuel cell! THIS is what will make people want and use electric cars. :-)

mrhuckfin
28th October, 2010 @ 06:01 am PDT

So how many miles does a litre of petrol provide once it has been reduces to hydrogen and carbon (where does the carbon disappear to ?), then the hydrogen is processed in a fuel cell?

Techtwit
28th October, 2010 @ 08:25 am PDT

Still on the carbon kick? I look forward to the day when this "carbon footprint" garbage is finally recognized by all as the junk science hoax that it is.

Gubbins
28th October, 2010 @ 09:43 am PDT

IF this works (big IF of course) it is a good interim solution. We cannot depend on oil to fuel the world forever.

habakak
28th October, 2010 @ 11:07 am PDT

AMEN Gubbins! :-)

mrhuckfin
29th October, 2010 @ 08:16 am PDT

I was quite interested in this idea until I read the word 'petrol'. Don't we already use it to power vehicles?

Terotech
1st November, 2010 @ 02:45 am PDT
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