There IS progress with the development of fuel cells. For really good, clear info and what you can do to help visit www.fuelcells.org or email Jennifer@fuelcells.org for their newsletter. Following is a tiny bit of what is being reported around the world:
Toyota FCHV Travels From Osaka To Tokyo On One Tank Toyota Motor Corporation’s latest version of its FCHV fuel cell hybrid vehicle successfully completed a long-distance road test by traveling from Osaka to Tokyo, approximately 560 kilometers, on a single tank of hydrogen. This new FCHV is 25% more fuel efficient than earlier versions, thanks to improvements in the Toyota-developed, high-performance fuel cell stack and to improvements in the control system for managing fuel cell output and battery charging/discharging. It also features in-house developed 70Mpa high-pressure hydrogen tanks capable of storing approximately twice the amount of hydrogen as previous tanks.
GM Introduces HydroGen4 General Motors introduced the HydroGen4, the European version of the Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell vehicle, at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The HydroGen4 is designed for a lifecycle of two years/80,000 kilometers, and can start and run at sub-zero temperatures – a considerable advancement over the predecessor HydroGen3.
Hyundai Unveils The i-Blue At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Hyundai Motor Company introduced its new i-Blue Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle concept. The i-Blue platform is tailored to incorporate Hyundai’s third-generation fuel cell technology, currently being developed at its Eco-Technology Research Institute in Korea. The i-Blue is powered by a 100 kW electrical engine and fuel cell stack. Fueled with compressed hydrogen (700 bar) stored in a 115 litre tank, the i-Blue is capable of running more than 600 km per refueling and achieves a maximum speed of 165 km/h.
Mercedes-Benz To Begin Production Of Fuel Cell Vehicles In 2010 In the summer of 2010, Mercedes-Benz will launch the first series-production car of the B-Class F-Cell vehicle. This F-Cell will contain the next generation fuel cell engine with a redesigned stack that is 40 percent smaller and produces 30 percent more power, using 16 percent less fuel.
DOT Moves Closer To Allowing Fuel Cell-Powered Devices On Passenger Airplanes The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a proposed rulemaking to allow the transport of micro fuel cells and methanol fuel cartridges on board passenger airplanes. This would allow passengers to carry portable electronic devices powered by fuel cells onto passenger airplanes, along with up to two spare fuel cartridges per person. This move brings U.S. transportation regulations into agreement with global regulations adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which went into effect January 1, 2007. Several other countries have already incorporated the ICAO allowance into their national standards.
Some of the frequently asked Fuel Cell questions and answers:
Doesn’t it take energy to create hydrogen? Extracting any fuel takes energy – even getting gasoline from well to pump costs the equivalent of 20% of the energy of the gasoline. It takes more energy to generate hydrogen than gasoline, but since a fuel cell is more efficient than conventional energy devices, fuel cell vehicles – even today’s prototypes – offer attractive overall efficiencies, even using hydrogen.
Looking at the whole picture is important. Well-to-Wheel analyses compare the entire pathway of producing, storing, distributing and utilizing any number of fuels. They can compare efficiencies and energy needs for the many different hydrogen production methods as compared to different fuels and vehicle technologies.
Michael Wang, from Argonne National Laboratory, found that most, but not all of the fuel-cell vehicle/fuel combinations being considered achieve significant energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission benefits over existing and other advanced technologies.
How safe is hydrogen? Hydrogen, like any flammable fuel such as gasoline, requires certain safety precautions to ensure safe transport, distribution and handling. There are many codes and standards already in place, and hydrogen as a fuel source already has an impressive record. Also, certain properties of hydrogen make it safer than convention combustibles.
Hydrogen is much lighter than air and has a rapid diffusivity, which means that when released in an open environment is rises upwards and dilutes more quickly into a non-flammable concentration. Hydrogen, if to catch on fire, would burn at a lower radiant temperature than a gasoline fire, significantly lowering the risks of secondary fires by ignition other combustibles in the vicinity. Finally, hydrogen will not contaminate groundwater, nor will a release of hydrogen contribute to atmospheric or water pollution.