Can hydrogen and batteries co-exist?
Hydrogen fuel cell cars and plug-in electric vehicles.
Oil and water? Fire and ice?
Or perfectly complimentary technologies?
Some of the most forward thinkers and activists in the auto and energy-related fields believe in hydrogen fuel cell cars or battery-powered electric vehicles. Many of these thinkers and activists, however, believe only in one of these technologies, while finding the other technology a complete boondoggle.
EnerDel, a lithium-battery developer and its subsidiary, EnerFuel, on the other hand, believe that these technologies are a perfect match according to a very fascinating GreenCarCongress report.
Together the two companies are developing an electric vehicle with a fuel cell range extender with a unique on-board reformer that enables the use of conventional fuels rather than hydrogen, thereby reducing the need for super grids, charging stations and a hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
“To the user, suggests Dr. Daniel Betts at EnerFuel, perhaps the most important difference between a fuel cell and an ICE range extender such as that used in the Chevrolet Volt is that the fuel cell can charge the vehicle battery while parked. Further, fuel cell system efficiency increase at partial loads, whereas ICE efficiency decreases at partial loads. Depending on the state of charge of the vehicle battery or the rate of charging that is required by the user, the efficiency of charging could be many times higher than that of ICE and on occasions higher than the grid efficiency, EnerFuel says.”
One of the keys to this combination of technologies is the fact that unlike a typical fuel cell vehicle which relies on a fuel cell that can provide 60 kW to 100 kW of power, EnerFuel is developing 3 kW and 5 kW systems; thereby significantly reducing costs. Based on this capability, EnerFuel envisions other combinations that offer less overall range, such as 200 miles, but at significantly reduced costs.