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Fuel Cells Bulletin
Mercedes-Benz F 800 Style enables plug-in hybrid or fuel cell drive
aimler says that its MercedesBenz F 800 Style research concept vehicle represents an all-new multi drive platform, which is suited for electric drivetrains using either fuel cells or plug-in hybrid systems. Designing a single car platform that can be used for either propulsion method offers significant long-term manufacturing cost benefits over separate designs. The F 800 Style is a five-seat luxury sedan, in which all of the components of the vehicle’s plug-in hybrid or fuel cell drive system are installed in a space-saving manner in the engine compartment and in gaps within the chassis. This applies in particular to the fuel cell drive system, which has been enhanced by MercedesBenz to be smaller and more powerful. The front end’s compact package was made possible through the consistent downsizing of all F-CELL components. As a result, the entire interior space is preserved, and offers plenty of room for five occupants. Professor Herbert Kohler, head of e-drive & future mobility and chief environmental officer at Daimler, says that the innovations featured in the F 800 Style are already close to series production. ‘This is true not only of the electric drive with fuel cells but also of the plug-in hybrid, whose components were taken from our modular system for electric and hybrid vehicles,’ says Kohler. The components for the fuel cell drivetrain come from the range of e-drive modules which Mercedes-Benz has developed for a variety of electric vehicles. These components are already being installed in the limited edition B-Class F-CELL [FCB, September 2009]. The F 800 Style is an example of this flexibility, as it uses rear-wheel drive, in contrast to the B-Class F-CELL. The same components are also installed in commercial vehicles, with developments here being spearheaded by the new Citaro fuel cell bus, which is equipped with two of the F-CELL systems used in the passenger cars [FCB, December 2009]. The new Mercedes-Benz research vehicle has the PEM fuel cell system located in the front, while the compact electric motor is installed near the rear axle. The 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery is located behind the rear seats, for protection in the event of an acci-
dent. Two of the four 700 bar (10 000 psi) hydrogen tanks are located in the transmission tunnel between the passengers, while the other two are under the rear seat. The tanks are hermetically sealed, so that no hydrogen can escape even if the vehicle is not used for extended periods. The electric motor in the F 800 Style develops around 100 kW (136 hp), which translates to a maximum speed of 180 km/h (112 mph) and offers 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration in 11 s. The overall hydrogen consumption (NEDC) is calculated at 0.9 kg per 100 km, equivalent to 3.0 liters of diesel equivalent (roughly 78 mpg), leading to a range of some 600 km (375 miles). Daimler, Fuel Cell Drive Technology: www.daimler.com/ technology-and-innovation/drive-technologies/fuel-cell
Proton Power fuel cells for Smith Electric Vehicles
roton Power Systems has signed a memorandum of understanding with UK-based Smith Electric Vehicles, under which they will collaborate to build and market a battery-powered commercial vehicle, equipped with a Proton Power PM200 fuel cell system as a range extender. The collaboration aims to supply systems to local authorities and other fleet operators across Germany initially, and will also address projects in the UK and North America. The new partnership will target Smith’s highly successful Edison range of electric lightduty vehicles, which are currently used by leading UK brands such as Sainsbury’s, Scottish & Southern Energy, and Royal Mail. Smith has also rolled out its larger Newton electric vehicle in North America, through its associate company, Smith Electric Vehicles US Corporation. Proton Power and Smith will present the first prototype at the Hannover Fair in April. The vehicles will utilize PEM fuel cell systems manufactured by Proton Power’s German subsidiary, Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH. The partners plan to roll out the vehicle in transport and maintenance applications across German municipalities, with the first vehicles due to be delivered in the last quarter of 2010. The hydrogen and electric vehicle promotion organization NOW GmbH – which is backed by the German federal government – has expressed interest in providing funding support to operators of electric vehicle fleets and local authorities in Germany. This would be for the
NEWS / editorial purchase of up to 20 vehicles with specifications similar to the prototype that will be presented at the Hannover Fair. Proton Power’s PM200 fuel cell will improve the range of vehicle operation (from 160 to 300 km/100 to 190 miles), enabling the vehicles to have a wider application within large fleets. It will also provide an onboard electrical supply, which will boost the ease of maintenance work. This would improve the vehicle’s suitability for everyday back-to-base applications, while also supporting auxiliary functions such as airconditioning and heating. ‘There are strong initiatives, such as NOW, in Europe towards the adoption of electric vehicles, and there is also considerable interest in the US and Canada,’ says Thomas Melczer, CEO of Proton Power. ‘We aim to use our fuel cell range extender to help electric vehicle manufacturers such as Smith break further into these markets.’ Proton Power Systems is a developer and manufacturer of fuel cells and fuel cell hybrid systems for motive and stationary power supply. Proton Power is gaining access to a broad range of markets through partnerships with leading OEMs such as Skoda Electric [FCB, May 2009] and Smith Electric Vehicles, in addition to contract manufacturers such as Deutsche Mechatronics [FCB, August 2009]. Proton Power Systems Plc, UK. Web: www.protonpowersystems.com Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH, Puchheim, Germany. Tel: +49 89 1276 26520, www.proton-motor.de Smith Electric Vehicles: www.smithelectricvehicles.com Smith Electric Vehicles US Corporation: www.sev-us.com NOW GmbH: www.now-gmbh.de
Oorja launches Model 1 DMFC as onboard battery charger for forklifts
alifornia-based Oorja Protonics, a leading developer of powerful direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology, has added the 4.5 kW OorjaPac™ Model 1 to its product line. The company is targeting forklift operators and fleet managers, with a claimed operating cost of $0.18 per kWh for the Model 1. The system eliminates the need for battery charging stations for class 1 and 2 forklifts.
The OorjaPac addresses the low vehicle runtime and operational cost challenges facing materials handling fleet managers. OorjaPac continuously trickle-charges the onboard battery in such vehicles, regardless of whether it is operating or parked, which ensures the battery never reaches a state of deep discharge. Thus battery charge and power are maintained at high levels, and the battery is not subject to the heat damage caused during recharging. This significantly increases productivity by eliminating the labor and equipment costs associated with swapping batteries. The OorjaPac system operates on liquid methanol. The 11 gallon (42 liter) methanol fuel tank is sufficient to power two 8 h shifts. Methanol is a widely available and easy to handle energy source. It can be produced from natural gas, and from landfill gases and biowaste. The process of fueling the OorjaPac is as simple as refueling a car. ‘Oorja is leading the commercialization of fuel cells in forklifts by using inexpensive, abundant, and easy-to-handle methanol instead of volatile and expensive hydrogen for material handling operations,’ says Sanjiv Malhotra, founder and CEO of Oorja Protonics. ‘A single refuel of the new Model 1 takes less than one minute, and can last two eight-hour shifts. We’ve seen payback in as little as six months, with companies seeing full payback in 12–15 months.’ Oorja Protonics has previously won two orders for its Model H units, to power materials handling vehicles at Super Store Industries’ facility in Lathrop, California [FCB, July 2009 and January 2010]. And Nissan North America in Smyrna, Tennessee has deployed OorjaPac DMFCs for materials handling applications [FCB, October 2009]. Oorja Protonics Inc, Fremont, California, USA. Tel: +1 510 687 9501, www.oorjaprotonics.com
Fuel cell forklifts for Walmart Canada distribution center
almart Canada will open its first sustainable refrigerated distribution center in Balzac, Alberta later this year. The center will include a pilot of fuel cell technology, as well as many other sustainable features. The company expects to open the cutting-edge distribution center in fall 2010, and is investing C$115 million (US$111 million) in its construction.
uel cells are touted as ‘clean’ power systems, especially those using hydrogen, but in many applications their energy source is at least partially derived from a fossil fuel. Completely ‘green’ hydrogen can of course be generated using electrolysis in combination with renewable energy technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) or wind energy. For example, last month we saw that Honda is using a prototype solar hydrogen vehicle fueling station at the Los Angeles headquarters of Honda R&D Americas [FCB, February 2010]. But there is increasing interest in running fuel cells on gases derived from other processes, either as ‘waste’ or as a byproduct. Some applications are better suited to such an approach, in particular large stationary systems. The front page story in this issue, on Bloom Energy's SOFCs, is a prime example. And in Finland, Wärtsilä is having some success running a 20 kW solid oxide fuel cell on gas originating from a nearby landfill. The varying composition of the methane-rich landfill gas has been a challenge, leading to the development of an efficient control system, as well as impurity removal techniques. Meanwhile, Ohio-based Technology Management Inc is field-testing a 1 kW SOFC system, which is targeted for distributed energy applications in developing nations. TMI has engineered the SOFC to run on a wide range of locally available fuels, including methane, ethanol, digester biogas, ammonia, vegetable oils, used cooking oil, corn oil, soybean oil, biodiesel, and jatropha oil. This flex-fuel capability allows farmers to grow or make their own fuel. Such applications are not limited to SOFCs. NedStack is to deliver a 1 MW hydrogen fuel cell power plant to a Solvay chlor-alkali plant in Belgium, which would be the world’s largest PEM fuel cell installation. It will use byproduct hydrogen from chlorine production, so it utilizes a fuel that might otherwise be regarded as waste. Molten carbonate fuel cells are also prime candidates for biogas operation, as reported in our January issue. In Germany, MTU Onsite Energy will supply a HotModule power plant to an automotive supplier; this MCFC unit will use biogas from a nearby corn silage biogas plant. And in California, FuelCell Energy has sold a fourth DFC300 MCFC power plant to the City of Tulare. This will produce electricity at the regional wastewater treatment facility, running on methane as a renewable byproduct of wastewater processing.
Fuel Cells Bulletin