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DaimlerChrysler Readying 2nd-Generation F-Cell Test Vehicle; Targeting 2012-2015 for Commercial Intro

The second-generation B-Class F-Cell.

DaimlerChrysler estimates that the marketing of hydrogen fuel-cell drive systems will begin sometime between 2012 and 2015, according to a recent fuel-cell workshop held by the company in Germany.

DaimlerChrysler is thus readying its second-generation of F-Cell B-Class fuel-cell test vehicles—announced last year (earlier post)—with an eye toward the beginning of series production with that marketing timeframe in mind.

A total of 60 DaimlerChrysler A-Class vehicles with fuel-cell powertrains are currently in use worldwide, being driven by various customers at six locations in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Representing the largest fuel-cell fleet test to date, all relevant measured values are sent on a daily basis via radio and the Internet to the DaimlerChrysler researchers and developers in Nabern and Ulm.


Compared to the current A-Class F-Cell, the second-generation B-Class F-Cell vehicles feature a number of improvements that are essential in order to bring the technology further toward the series-production stage and which have been installed as prototypes in the F 600 HYGENIUS research vehicle. (Earlier post.)

The most important innovations in the fuel cell drive for the F 600 HYGENIUS include:

  • A newly developed fuel tank that stores hydrogen at 700 bar rather than the previous 350 bar, thereby enabling the vehicle to hold four kilograms of hydrogen and travel a distance of more than 400 kilometers on one tank.

  • A new membrane technology for the fuel cells and a new humidification system consisting of hollow fibers. Both of these innovations allow for precise heat and water management, which means that water in liquid form no longer collects in the stack. Such water accumulations freeze in the winter and make cold starts difficult. However, the F 600 HYGENIUS starts easily even at temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius.

  • A new electric drive unit on the rear axle in the form of a permanently excited synchronous motor that is both smaller and more powerful than its predecessor from the F-Cell.

  • A lithium-ion battery that produces 30 kilowatts of power in continuous operation and 55 kilowatts at peak loads—twice the output of the nickel metal hydride batteries previously used.

  • New bipolar plates that are no longer made of graphite but instead consist of metal foils only 0.15 millimeters thick. The metal improves the conductivity and robustness of the fuel cells, and the thinner foils make the stack around 40% smaller than before.

  • A new electric turbocharger that supplies air (oxygen) to the fuel cells. This turbocharger is three times smaller and seven times lighter than the previously used screw-type compressor.

Together with other innovations, the new technology package is responsible for the improved fuel economy of the F 600 HYGENIUS, which consumes the energy equivalent of only 2.9 liters of diesel fuel per 100 kilometers. The research vehicle’s fuel cell system operates efficiently—in the partial load range, it has an efficiency rating of 60%, according to DaimlerChrysler.

A further goal of the F 600 HYGENIUS test drives is to develop an optimal operating strategy for future B-Class F-Cell vehicles. Questions explored in this research include:

  • Would it make sense to operate the vehicle only with the stack or only with the high-voltage battery?

  • Under what conditions and performance demands should the booster function be activated, whereby energy for the electric motor is supplied by both the fuel cell and the battery?

  • What are the best situations and points in time to shift the vehicle from one mode to the other?

  • In which charge stage and driving situation should the motor be used as a generator and the battery be recharged?

The stack that will be used in the B-Class F Cell and—as a double pack—in the successor model to the Citaro fuel cell bus will include a series of innovations from the F 600 HYGENIUS.

The most important technological innovations that DaimlerChrysler will take from the F 600 HYGENIUS are:

  • The 700-bar tanks for storing hydrogen, in order to increase the full-tank range from today’s 160 kilometers to more than 400 kilometers (249 miles).

  • The electric drive motor. This permanently energized synchronous motor, which stands out through its light and compact design, has a maximum power output of 85 kilowatts and achieves a maximum torque of 350 Nm.

  • The lithium-ion battery.

  • The technically simplified humidification and de-humidification system consisting of hollow fiber modules that lends second-generation stacks freeze-start capability.

The all-new fuel cell stack for the B Class F Cell also generates 40% more output and has a higher power/weight ratio.

Two other innovations from the F 600 HYGENIUS will be gradually introduced to new fuel cell fleets. First of all, the bipolar plates in the fuel cells will be made of metal foils in the future, allowing for more space-saving installation than today’s graphite plates. Secondly, a light electric compressor—rather than the heavy screw-type compressor—will be used to supply air to the stacks.

DaimlerChrysler’s H2 argument. DaimlerChrysler defined three objectives for ”sustainable mobility”:

  • Maximum efficiency and thus minimal energy consumption by vehicle drive systems;

  • Diversification of primary energy sources used for transport applications and a greater share of fuels from renewable sources in the energy mix; and

  • Further emission reductions (in view of the effect of greenhouse gases as well), leading to the long-term goals of zero emissions and complete CO2 neutrality.

Hydrogen has proved to be the ideal secondary energy source for achieving the above-mentioned objectives. That’s because when hydrogen is used as fuel for fuel-cell vehicles, it leads to energy efficiency in the resulting drive system that is nearly twice as high as that achieved by the most modern gasoline and diesel engines. Such fuel cell powertrains therefore offer tremendous gains in efficiency that cannot be achieved even with improved concepts for combustion engines, which DaimlerChrysler is also working on.

Even if the primary energy source and the process used to produce the hydrogen are taken into consideration, fuel-cell drives are still superior to all combustion engine concepts when it comes to emissions as well. Fuel-cell vehicles that run on pressurized hydrogen are by their very nature always zero-emission when in motion. If the hydrogen is obtained from a renewable energy source, the entire utilization chain is also free of emissions.

Petroleum’s nearly complete dominance as the primary energy source for today’s motor-vehicle fuels cannot be maintained over the long term. There are several reasons for this, including the finite nature of this fossil resource, its very high price at present (which is not expected to decrease significantly), and the fact that much of the world’s crude oil reserves are in politically unstable regions. In light of this situation, most oil-consuming countries have made it their goal to break dependence on petroleum, which is why they are increasingly demanding and supporting alternative primary energy sources for use in the production of fuels. Such sources include natural gas, wind power, and biomass.

It is very difficult to forecast the course fuel prices will take. Only two or three years ago, for example, practically no expert would have predicted that the price of crude oil would be more than $75 per barrel in 2006—at that time a barrel of crude was selling for just $25. Nevertheless, over the next few years we can expect further increases in the prices of fuels obtained from fossil energy sources; the only thing not certain is how large the increases will be.

Supplies of crude oil will also continue to dwindle, and the need to exploit lower-yielding sources of crude oil, such as oil shale and oil sand (considered too costly in the past), will by itself lead to higher prices. Then of course there is the factor of politics in oil-producing regions, which has a major impact on prices.

At the same time, there are several factors in favor of techniques for producing fuels from renewable sources. For one thing, solar energy and wind power, at least, are essentially inexhaustible resources, which means scarcity can never play a role in their prices. And the technological advancements that will be achieved in the future with today’s emerging techniques for producing energy from renewable sources will mean greater efficiency, which in turn will reduce production costs. This development can be clearly seen in techniques for generating electricity from wind power. In general, fuels obtained from fossil energy sources will become more expensive in the future, while prices for fuels from renewable sources will tend to fall. And the greater efficiency of fuel cell drives will help to reduce overall vehicle operating costs.




Well, atleast this does further develop electric powertrain components. Perhaps, when a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is ready for production many companies will offer battery electric vehicles at the same time given the transferability of a portion of the fuel cell vehicle research.


The question remains why use electricity to make hydrogen instead of charging a battery.


One contention I take issue with in DiamlerChysler's statement is the notion that since renewable sources are essentially inexhaustible, "scarcity can never play a role in their prices." This is false, as it confounds renewability with throughput.

Consider an example: Hydropower is renewable and generally inexhaustible, in the sense that every season more rains come to recharge the reserviors behind the dams, which supplies turbines with energy. Even if we simplify the situation by ignoring drought years or potential climate change, the fact remains that every year only a certain amount of water (say 'x') is caught behind any given dam, and a certain amount of electricity ( e(x) ) can be generated from that water. If our hypothetical dam supplies a certain isolated town with 100% of its power requirements, scarcity can still result if the population of the town grows and/or their per capita energy consumption rises. If people demand 105 MWH from a dam that can only supply 100 MWH per year, you have scarcity. Prices will have to rise to drive demand back to 100 MWH per year, or alternative power sources will have to be found, in order to deal with the scarcity.

The same thing can be said for any other renewable resource. I will admit that there are so many more untapped wind sites and solar-rich sites, relative to hydro sites, that it will be a long time before we build them out and then find outselves still short on electricity. But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that it is physically impossible to run up against scarcity even in a renewable context. I am ignoring the extreme (and thermodynamically interesting) case, where we assume that all sunlight incident upon the earth is captured by some energy harnessing device (mechanical or biological) and put to human use, and assuming that suitable renewable power sites are fairly circumscribed in nature and location.

Most renewables don't tend towards depletion, I will grant. Depletion, as is obvious, is the condition of having consumed all of a non-renewable consumable substance in the world, and being stuck with a zero throughput because there is simply nothing left to retrieve. Full exhaustion of any particular resource serving an essential need is not a likely outcome, since as we tend towards partial depletion, scarcity is likely to become more chronic and prices are likely to go up, meaning incentives to find and utilize substitute resources goes up. The depletion dynamic is important, but quite distinct from scarcity, and I think it does us all a disservice to confound the issue.

And, of course, this talk of scarcity is entirely on top of the simple costs to produce and adequately buffer/deliver power from renewable sources, which are still not inconsiderable.

John McConnell

marcus, that's exactly my question! Why are we going down this road at all, except for the fact that hydrogen 'manufacturing' will probably be centrally located, and therefore controlled by huge corporations. On the other hand, with an electric car you can have your solar panels and run it for as long as the batteries last. Maybe I'm wrong on this, but I just don't get it.

It just seems so clear that electric cars are where all these billions should be going in research.


John - I certainly agree with you. I strongly suspect that large corporations have sold our government a false bill of goods.

Anyone who has taken a carful look at Hydrogen and fuel cells comes to understand that *IF* this technology ever comes to pass, it is in the distant future.

BUT - That is where the taxpayers money is being doled out. Many don't consider themselves immoral to be taking it under false pretenses.

The quickest way to go - from where we are at - is alcohol enhanced BioDiesel. We should have started working on it thirty years ago.

Lou Grinzo

I know this is wandering into tinfoil hat territory, but I've long suspected that the big US gov't push for hydrogen is their way of trying to build a lifeboat for the oil companies. EV's are perilously close to going mainstream in a big way (thanks to the latest lithium-ion batteries), and the only way to keep passenger cars from converting relatively quickly to a fuel source that needs no distribution network (other than the electricity grid) is to push hydrogen. If EV's get here first (and I strongly suspect they will), then hydrogen will be relegated to at best a niche status, and most gas stations will be taking a long walk on a short road to extinction.

The issue of where to spend energy is an excellent one. If you measure just BTU/mile, then EV's are far more efficient than ICE, hydrogen FC, etc. Consuming electricity to make hydrogen makes far less sense than does using it to recharge batteries. About the only way hydrogen makes sense, from that perspective, is if you can generate it cheaply via a biological process, so it would no longer be competing for increasingly scarce electrons.


Yes, hydrogen makes little sense but since we are obviously not in great enough numbers to pressure our representatives and senators into putting the money into what we deem more worthwhile research efforts at least you can see that there are still some advantages to their efforts. Lighter, smaller, more robust in wheel electric motors developed for hydrogen fuel cell use could still be used for an all electric vehicle and the ancilliary technology could still be adapted as well.


I still don't really understand it. I mean couldn't hydrogen be made at home using electrolysis of water obviating the need for fill up stations owned by big companies?


Some of the Big Oil companies do see the writing on the wall and are becoming "energy companies" with electrical generating power in their portfolios (Particularly BP and Total, Shell also but they are trying to cover all the bases). Even IF there is lots of conventional oil left its mostly in the hands of National companies. International oil companies will be on the outside looking in. The one with their heads up their buts would be Exxon (they seem to be trying to squeeze out the last bit of profit before they turn out the lights and close the door)

Even if the backers of Fuel cells do manage to force the issue and succeed, their product is starting to sound more like a PHEV(H2) anyway.

Personally I think one of the big car manufacturers will break from the rest of the pack on fuel cells and go with PHEV's and EV's just to steal a march on their competitors. (Kind of like a game of chicken)

Marcus: Stuart Energy is just one example of at home hydrogen.


P.S. I do seem to recall that you can use Solar to create H2 directly ... That might alter the efficiency equation.


I find it helpful to think of it this way: all cars in the future will be electric, with a battery of some sort and an electric motor 100% responsible for driving the wheels. Some of those electric cars will have an auxillary liquid fuel system to extend range and allow for refueling on long trips. Those auxillary liquid fuel systems will be either gasoline/ethanol, diesel/biodiesel, hydrogen, or something else entirely, like zinc or even pressurized air. I don't really care much which of those it turns out to be, since most of these electric cars will have sufficient range on battery alone that most of us probably won't even need the refuelling system at all--it's just a lot of extra complication, an option, if you will. The main question for the vast majority of drivers will be whether you will be allowed to plug your car in at home, thereby shutting down gas stations and throwing oil companies out of business. That's a political question. But no matter what, technologically, I see all roads leading to what can only be fairly called an electric car.

I think the Tesla announcement is the most exciting news of the day, because it will help raise the cachet of electric cars, perhaps to the point where all this "hydrogen car" business can finally be buried, and we can start calling them electrics again.

Bob Bastard

So to everyone who thinks that hydrogen is some vast right-wing conspiracy to keep us all perpetually enslaved to "Big Oil" due to the fact that it may require production and distribution by large companies, may I ask who you believe will be manufacturing and distributing those super high tech batteries/supercaps that will allow you to drive 300+ miles per charge and that you can afford without taking out a second mortgage on your house? I suppose any old mom and pop small buisiness will be able to do it?
Sorry, I guess I'm too brainwashed by the capitalists or zionists or whomever to see the conspiracy. The fact is that in the near term, the best solution is conservation, biofuels, hybrids, and generally smaller, more aerodynamic designs, as well as the realization that there is no real need for 300 horse power in the minivan or family sedan. The long term still seems somewhat open, although it would seem, at this point, to include electric final drive. Exactly what produces the input power for the inverters seems to be still somewhat up for grabs. Current hydrogen technology sucks from a well-to-wheel effeciency standpoint, but then again, none of the other current technologies seem acceptable from a manufacturability/cost/performance standpoint.
Sorry if that sounded a little abrasive but the fact is that there is no silver bullet, as there is no single villain who created this problem. We've all helped to create this problem, and we all need to spend less time trying to allocate blame on others and spend more time taking responsibility and doing our part to clean up this mess.

Bob Tasa

>The 700-bar tanks for storing hydrogen,
A 700 bar tank is twice as pressurized as the
the tanks in the Compressed Air car.
which is much easier to find and compress than
Hyrdogen. :)


Lou - "I know this is wandering into tinfoil hat territory, but I've long suspected that the big US gov't push for hydrogen is their way of trying to build a lifeboat for the oil companies."

Not really tinfoil hat territory. Remember that it is difficult to brand electricity. Hydrogen can be branded because you will buy it from a pumping station. You know 'Shell Hydrogen is purer and drives further' sort of crap. These companies have spent billions on these brands so it is not really a conspiracy but large corporations protecting their investment.

Consider also that BEVs will only have one moving part in their drivetrain - the motor. Electric motors are extremely reliable and durable, there is no gearbox, no oil changes etc. This has huge implications for the present service industries. Fuel Cell cars are much more complicated and have much more scope for regular servicing so they are much more acceptable for the present car industry and service industry.

I think the oil/car/service companies want to engineer the situation where today you pull into a BP service station and buy petrol and smokes, milk etc and then tomorrow, when Peak Oil starts to bite, seamlessly transition to where you will pull into a BP service station and buy hydrogen, smokes and milk etc. Home charging extremely reliable battery electric cars really upsets this comforting model and are hence actively discouraged. Plug in hybrids are acceptable because they still have the IC motor that has the same sort of service requirements.

I don't think that it is any sort of tin foil hat idea to assume that the major oil companies, the car companies that use oil and the car service industry collude to protect their existance.


We'll just have to see if they can squish Tesla. Lets hope the orders are strong and the financial backing solid.


This 700bar tank would double the range of a particular CNG car. How about the energy needed to compress all these goodies?

Is it the fuel cell or battery? Which one is closer to us? And the myth of aluminium battery, is it for real(for being 20 times better then lithium-ion and cheaper)? And there is near zero effort on other alternative energy storage, like zinc battery?

What is the real aim of the auto makers? Priority on making profit, dont blame them becoz they are not doing charity and their survival depends on it. Only a fool will do research on something that can deny the exsistance of all other technology they processed.

Why hydrogen? Many people can become hydrogen suppliers, but ultimately still the big oils can provide the cheapest hydrogen.


The hydrogen cars simply cannot come fast enough. This is great news. It's the perfect fuel...clean, renewable, efficient. What's not to love?

Lee Dekker

Which product would best facilitate the collection of highway taxes, hydrogen or electricity?


Road taxes squeeze is already happening in Europe. The only real alternative to fuel-based road taxes I see is registration/insurance fee dependent on miles traveled and GVW. Roll-back of odometers would not be big problem: modern on-board computer is not simple thing to tamper with every year. Already bunch of vehicles with satellite navigation system are quite often sending their odometer reading to satellite and further to database.


I seriously think that the "keep the status quo" argument that has been brought up, is true. Big oil, big carmaker, big distribution channel, big service platform would love to see oil last for centuries longer, but now have to admit that time is running out and decide to pick a model that keeps most of the current situation the same. Otherwise they go out of business and/or have to invest a lot of money. Bingo: hydrogen and bio-fuels fit the bill. EV's do NOT ! What's more efficient, or better for the environment, or makes more logical sense is of NO concern whatsoever; we're talking about who's in control and big money here. Personally I don't like this model at all; I would love to see a big carmaker with balls to jump in and start making efficient EV's in large quantities, but that will never happen - because they are part of the pact.

However history has proven that it would be possible to abandon an established technology or way of live and replace it successfully with something else, without destroying the economy altogether. Where one business disappears , including the jobs, another new business will fill the gap and create new jobs. That is; when big oil is gone and the distribution centres and supporting infrastructure , you will have a boom in the industry and infrastructure that is necessary for supplying the new technology and everything that is related. You will have a shift in jobs, not a complete loss in jobs. Although it's not going too happen, I would rather see that, than the oil companies and related platform staying in business. They've had their time, did nothing to improve anything useful in the world, did more harm environmentally, politically and for many fellow human beings in the world, put new (threatening) developments in the fridge and just sat on they're money , hoping the oil would last for another 1000 years, while they could have done so much to develop new technologies and improve live of so many people and save the environment. That politicians support the efforts to save the oil infrastructure is understandable, they practically drink oil with they're breakfast instead of coffee; don't expect anything from them..., they only know one rule; (short-term) economy goes before EVERYTHING else !

Let's hope for a miracle company that jumps in with exceptional (cheap) technology, that they simply can never compete with...



Oil industry currently is a minor contributor to polluting environment emissions. No company, industry, or small business to that matter care a bit about anything but their profits. This is the reason why we have massive governmental intrusion in economy, business practice, environmental protection, and socially-oriented wealth re-distribution. Automotive industry is highly competitive, and individual company will sell in a hart beat their old gasoline supplier buddies for next quarter profits in EV vehicles sales, if technology allows it.
The only “small” thing oil companies did during last century is to supply civilization with high quality energy and fuel to propel our prosperity. They did it not for free, and expect other vice would be naïve at best.


"No company, industry, or small business to that matter care a bit about anything but their profits."

I know, neither do politicians, in terms of vote counts and popularity (resulting in real world power). This combination prevents drastic (and necessary) meassures. You can't change our way of living , or consumption profile, without making dramatic - and therefore unpolulair- changes. I'm a realist; I know that the way things are , politicians and companies couldn't have done much else than they have done so far.

Nevertheless politicians, carmakers and oil companies knew from day 1 that oil supplies wouldn't last forever and have done nothing substantial during the past 100 years, to come up with a better solution than ICE. They could have (and should have) started much earlier, if they wanted to. Clearly nobody cared and nobody dared, therefore they lose all credit. Ford and GM for instance, are still producing monsters of cars with 300+ HP where they don't even dare to mention the fuel consumption - in 2006 !! And what the oil companies are doing in the sand-to-oil fields for example is a complete destruction of the environment. Where's the fresh innovative approach ? I feel no need to protect dinosaurs like that in any way, sorry.


just great, in addition they should pop up with a home refuelling station that uses renewable energy like solar or heat from the earth or whatever maybe first of all natural gas, like honda does, so the problem of just having some big energy suppliers would be over,


maybe one like this^^ http://www.world.honda.com/news/2003/c031002.html


The hydrogen fuel cell is just not viable full stop. I was listening to a podcast with Dr. Ulf Bossel who is the organizer of the European fuel cell forum. He has been involved in fuel cell development for a large part of his life and has come to the conclusion hydrogen fuel cells are unsustainable and will never be the future. He is pushing for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered from renewable energy sources. As of next year their forum will no longer research hydrogen fuel cells and instead will concentrate on solid oxide cells that can use fuels other than pure hydrogen. He gave an example that really put's hydrogen into perspective. He said that if you took all the cars parked at a smallish airport, it would take 5 nuclear reactors and enough water to supply a small city just to run them. In many parts of the world, water is in short supply as it is, just think what creating enough hydrogen to run all the cars in the world would do to the water supply!

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