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Quantum to Supply Hydrogen-Storage Systems for GM Equinox Fuel-Cell Fleet

Quantum’s TriShield storage tank. Click to enlarge.

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. has received a multi-million dollar purchase order from GM for hydrogen-storage systems to be used in GM’s recently announced Chevrolet Equinox Fuel-Cell vehicle program. (Earlier post.)

GM will begin building and deploying a 100-vehicle fleet of Equinox Fuel-Cell vehicles in 2007. The 10,000 psi (70 MPa, 700 bar) hydrogen storage systems for these Equinox Fuel-Cell vehicles are based on Quantum’s Type IV (polymer-lined, all-composite) ultra-lightweight tank technology, incorporating advances in materials, material utilization, and optimized design, yielding benefits proprietary to GM. (Earlier post.)

These hydrogen storage systems are fully integrated modules comprising three 10,000 psi tanks that together store 4.2 kg (9.24 lb) of hydrogen. The systems incorporate Quantum’s proprietary high-pressure valves, regulators, and safety systems. Quantum designed, developed, and safety tested these systems specifically for this GM vehicle program.

The Equinox Fuel Cell is powered by a fourth-generation, 93kW fuel-cell stack. The stack will operate in temperatures ranging from 13° F to +113° F (-25° C to +45° C). A 35kW NiMH battery pack supplements the fuel cell and captures energy from regenerative braking. The 3-phase asynchronous electric motor generates 73 kW of continuous power (94 kW maximum) and torque of 320 Nm (236 lb-ft).

The Equinox Fuel Cell accelerates from 0-60 mph in 12 seconds; has a top speed of 100 mph (160 kph); and has an operating range of 200 miles (320 km).


Rafael Seidl

This will be one expensive vehicle! Add to that the expense of setting up the infrastructure for hydrogen production, distribution and dispensing (H2 @ 700 atmospheres, chilled) and you've got to wonder if a PHEV/BEV wouldn't be a much better way to go. It seems this hydrogen juggernaut is to be forced down our gullets whether we want it or not.

Hybrid Cars

I understand what Rafael Seidl is saying about being very expensive to set up, but as with all new technologies that they are trying to bring out there is always a huge cost, but once the system is proven the benefits are so rewarding for a system like this


For transporting hydrogen over long distances, do you think it would be better (cheaper) to transport ammonia ?
Once the ammonia is on its destination point it can be separated into hydrogen and nitrogen.
I do not know how much energy is needed for separation of ammonia.


Try NG out of the pipe to H2, at your local fueling station.


Can the higher efficiency and more simple BEV beat out the big money of H2? Not without some quick help from PHEVs I think. Without more public education they will cram H2 down our gullets. I suppose it won't be too bad if the H2 goes the PHEV route and I only need to tank up on H2 for long drives.


4.2 kg of hydrogen contain the same heating energy of about
4 US gallons of gasoline. Since the fuel cells are far more efficient than SI engines, the range of 200 miles (320 km) seems a reasonable figure.

Sid Hoffman

I don't think anyone needs to worry about FCV's getting crammed down our throats. Non-prescious metal FC stacks only have about a tenth of the power output of platinum based FC stacks, and there's only enough platinum production in the world for a million or two FCV's per year at the absolute best. Even that level would jack the price of platinum way up, further reducing the financial viability of FCV's. Considering worldwide automobile production is over 50 million units or so, it's unlikely fuel cells will ever catch on as mainstream due to the finite production of platinum.


It would be nice if the amount of platinum that they used in FCs were the same as the amount that they used in Cat converters, then it would be a wash.


This report is out of date but gives you a ball park number of platinum. At the time of this report a car fuel cell has about 2oz of platinum. That number has been declining. The goal is to get that amount down to .2 (Other reports I've seen list the more likely amount as .4 In contrast I believe that autocatalysts use .05oz of platinum and .15oz of palladium.

Nickel may have the potential to replace some (maybe all) of the platinum.


"Since the fuel cells are far more efficient than SI engines"

This is a myth, I have no idea where this comes from. Hydrogen is actually remarkably inefficient. PEM fuel cells have a theoretical upper limit of 50% efficiency. In practice it's about 40%, not far from a diesel engine.

Factor in manufacturing, distribution, compressing etc and the well-to-wheel efficiency is terrible, and there's not much room for improvement.

200 miles range, and 0-60 in 12 s is not very impressive for a car that costs as much as the Bugatti Veyron.

Rafael Seidl

Jorge -

ammonia becomes toxic at roughly the same concentration at which it induces nausea. I suspect few customers would accept it as a fuel.


afaik, present PEM technology requires about 10x the platinum per vehicle as three-way-catalysts do. That's why Sid's estimate of a two-million limit on FCVs due to limited platinum availability strikes me as too low.

Fredrik -

energetically, the whole point of fuel cells is that you avoid thermodynamic cycle processes altogether. As you know, the fundamentally upper bound for those is the Carnot efficiency defined by the highest and lowest absolute temperatures reached in the cycle. I'm therefore curious where you got your 50% number from.

But as you rightly point out, even if a practical fuel cell were substantially more efficient than a diesel, the overheads of hydrogen production and distribution pretty much eliminate any gains made. This is especially pertinent if the hydrogen is produced from natural gas via steam reformation. Proponents argue that this is irrelevant if the production is based on nuclear power or renewable energy. I beg to differ, both wrt basic physics and wrt economics/environmental impact.

IMAO, hydrogen is simply not an appropriate fuel for ground-based vehicles. There are obvious applications in rocketry and perhaps also some in aviation.

Roger Pham

This is an exciting milestone for GM after years of diligent research in H2-FCV technology. This vehicle promises very high efficiency without toxic exhaust emission, and the capability of using renewable energy down the line.

The cost of H2 production and setting H2 infrastructure will be far less than the cost of manufacturing batteries for PHEV, and/or the cost of setting up rapid charging stations for BEV in order for BEV to be competitive with FCV or H2-ICE-HEV. See my previous postings on this same subject.

The cost of transitioning into the Hydrogen economy will spur great economic growth and job opportunities for millions, same as or even greater than previous economic booms in computer and cell phone technologies. So, fear not! Our global economy and the environment will see big gain with the transitioning to the Hydrogen economy. The earliest PC's were very expensive, so will the Equanox likely to be, but in due time, FCV's will be very affordable.

The cheapest way is to do nothing revolutionary now, and keep burning up petroleum like we are doing now, but our current way of life is not sustainable, not ecologically, not economically! Our dependency on Petroleum are making us very vulnerable to the disruption in the supply of oil.

Once the transitioning to Hydrogen economy will be completed, it can remain for centuries no matter where our energy sources will come from, since H2 can be easily and efficiently produced from all kinds of energy sources, renewable or not! "To Infinity...and Beyond!"


Let's see, if they can reduce platium required for PEM fuel cells 10 to 1, then the platinum they use for cat converters can go to fuel cells. Or, just use SOFCs and use the precious metal for something else.

Cheryl Ho

DME developments in China:
Since DME has an advantage of decomposition at lower temperature than methane and LPG, R&D for hydrogen source for fuel cell has been carried out.

If you would like to know more on the latest DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information:


Perhaps you should look at ITM Power in England
This outfit have eliminated precious metals from electrlysers and got the cost/Kw down to around 5% (yes five percent) of the best in class today.....They presented to Wall St in Feb2007 and stated they were confident they could repeat these improvements on fuel cells which are the mirror image of electrlysers This means that the $50/Kw auto fc is just around the corner

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