31 January 2011

Hydrogen: The Green Fuel Of The Future

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Engineers from 28 research institutions have combined their expertise to make significant improvements to the electric powered car. They worked on fuel cell technology and electric drive systems to build a car which is cost efficient, satisfies the customers and is ready for mass production. Working together within the European research project HySYS, their aim was to create a standard of the improved and newly invented components

Together the engineers worked on the fuel cell propulsion system by upgrading the air supply, integrating a humidification system, redesigning the hydrogen supply line and developing a hydrogen sensor concept. The hydrogen sensor concept was developed at the University of Montpellier. It uses palladium nanostructures which has enabled the engineers to build a warning system responding already to one percent of hydrogen in the air. The Palladium on the sensors undergoes a chemical reaction with the hydrogen. “As hydrogen is an explosive and inflammable gas, there´s always the risk for explosion,” explains Frédèric Favier, chemical researcher at the University of Montpellier. “In the case of a major leak the sensors send a signal to the embedded computer which then activates the required safety measures of the vehicle.” The hydrogen supply or the fuel cell itself is shut down. This makes the system safe for mass production and ready for the daily use.

The Daimler AG in Germany coordinated the project and tested all new inventions in their test car F-Cell. The results of the HySYS project are not only limited to improving the safety of electric cars. The engineers have achieved a reduction of energy consumption and an increase of power density in the hybridized fuel cell car. The car can now be filled with hydrogen at 700bar and one filling lasts for 350 to 400 kilometers. Propelled with hydrogen the car produces no greenhouse gas emissions and is now conceivable for large scale production.

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