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Ford Edge with HySeries a Possible Step Toward “Mobile Electricity” (Me-)

Ford Edge with HySeries Drive. Click to enlarge.

Ford recently brought its plug-in fuel-cell series hybrid concept Edge with HySeries Drive (earlier post) to Canada for the first time as part of a trip to showcase the advanced research vehicle alongside the production 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid.

The roadshow came shortly after researchers from the University of California Davis Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) published a paper arguing that such plug-in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles—with the addition of an export capability (“plug-out”)—could be the foundation for a group of opportunities collectively called “Mobile Electricity” (Me-). Correspondingly, the Me-FCV (Mobile Electricity-Fuel Cell Vehicle) may prove a strong avenue for commercialization of fuel cell technology.

The paper, “Commercializing light-duty plug-in/plug-out hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles”, appeared in the 15 April issue of the Journal of Power Sources.

The HySeries Edge combines a 336V li-ion battery pack with a fuel cell range extender. When the battery state-of-charge (SOC) drops to approximately 40% (about 25 miles of all-electric range), the fuel cell begins operating to keep the battery pack charged. At full range (approximately 360 km / 225 miles), the HySeries Edge offers combined city/highway gasoline equivalent fuel economy rating of 5.9 l/100km (41 mpg) with zero emissions. For those who drive less than 80 km (50 miles) each day, the average jumps to more than 3.0 l/100 km (80 mpg).

Individual experiences will vary widely and can stretch out the time between fill-ups of the 350-bar tank, which stores 4.5 kg of hydrogen. The hybrid can travel at speeds of up to 136 km/h (85 mph).

Applying the fuel cell as a range extender in a series hybrid configuration rather than as the primary source of direct motive power reduces the size, weight, cost and complexity of a conventional fuel cell system by more than 50%, according to Ford, and promises to more than double the lifetime of the fuel cell stack.

What Ford has not emphasized with its HySeries work, however, is what ITS researcher Brett Williams characterizes as the “plug-out” aspect—the ability to export electricity across the traditional vehicle boundary to provide home recharging and mobile power; power for emergencies; and electric-grid-support services through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) functionality. Williams’s contends that such Mobile Electricity applications are the pathway to sustained commercialization of fuel cell technology in vehicles.

Even in the absence of vehicle performance limitations, robust private value propositions for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (H2FCVs) would be necessary to sustain their successful commercialization and to displace entrenched gasoline and diesel-powered cars and trucks. Because H2FCVs thus far are not superior to today’s vehicles on those dimensions conventionally valued by private consumers, product value must flow from other sources.

...H2FCVs will not sell simply as clean cars and trucks; they must be marketed as new products that provide innovative value to consumers....One group of opportunities for H2FCV innovation stems from the ability of these vehicles to produce clean, quiet electrical power for purposes other than propulsion.

—Brett Williams

The study integrates and extends previous analyses of H2FCVs, plug-in hybrids, and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) power. It also uses a new electric-drive-vehicle and vehicular-distributed-generation model to estimate zero-emission-power versus zero-emission-driving tradeoffs, costs, and grid-support revenues for various electric-drive vehicle types and levels of infrastructure service.

Given that even the best fuel cell vehicle/infrastructure combination modeled here earns modest spinning-reserves net revenues, and that even a relatively small plug-in battery doing regulation appears profitable (assuming ongoing improvements in battery life)...there is a case to be made for commercializing H2FCVs as plug-in/-out H2FCVs, that is Me-FCVs.

Might Me-FCVs be recharged at home (for daily needs) and hydrogen refueled abroad (for longer trips)? Or vice versa? Although the latter option seems less likely due to the costs of stand-alone small-scale hydrogen production, the home energy station being developed by Honda to supply hydrogen to cars and electricity and heat to homes might be even more valuable if it sends the family car with a full tank each day out into a fuel-neutral Me-world to earn some revenues.

Either way, it appears time to move beyond framing batteries and fuel cells in a zero-sum game, and to start thinking of them as complimentary.

—Brett Williams




Lame!! Why not replace the $1million Fool-Cell with a
Briggs & Stratton generator. You can get one at any Home Depot.


I think this is a move in the right direction. They're on to the advantages of an EV drive train. It has a decent PHEV range of 25 miles. They're talking about V2G (or power for your campsite). They're cutting the fuel cell down to a reasonable size and extending its life considerably by running it at a steady state. To get my interest all they have to do now is make a larger battery a plug-in upgrade option and make the fuel cell a removable option. As a third option you could have a bio fuel genset. (Please, something quieter than a Briggs and Stratton)


SJC, could you educate us with your reasons why the general idea put forward by DS is so silly?


I think if they put a generator in it you would have the chevy volt. there trying to be a leader good for them i hope it emmisions would be nice also


I suspect the specific Briggs & Stratton reference was a little in jest...
I would say though that if Ford doesn't hook up an ICE in series they are going to be left way behind if the Volt actually makes it to the show room floor.


Hm I like the fuel cells as a good way to have extra juice although I'd take an ICE anyday just because gas is just a more powerful substance and so far ICE + CAT combo is much more cost effective than a FCS (fuel cell stack) + CAT + hydrogen tanks.

The fuel cell stack can come 20 years later when the cost is finally to a reasonable number next to ICE's


Why would you need a fuel cell when you can recharge a battery just as fast? 100 mile charge in 1 minute.

Hydrogen is just dumb.

Where as electricity can be as dirty as possible, and still be like driving a hybrid in total emmisions.

hampden wireless

With a good ice generator this vehicle could be built now. Yes, it would be very similar in operation to the volt.

Yes, the idea of a fuel cell hybrid is nice, but its not going to happen in the next 10 years. Not at least with a price under $100k.


why not forget the fuel cell and put the 40 kms electric vehicle in market right away with a quick charging battery.


The last post was NOT done by me. Mike has deleted this clowns messages and banned his IP. He will have to contact his ISP next.


I know that SUVs are unpopular here, but as an SUV driver, this is what we need. Seriously, I use that type of vehicle because that is what I want. Instead of trying to force me into a small vehicle, give me a large vehicle that produces low emissions. One way or another, I drive a SUV. It is up to you what type of fuel it uses.


As long as they're using the battery for load-levelling and not the H2 fuel cell itself....

Imagine that, put 100 kWh of surplus electricity into the FCV for storage in the H2 tank and get 20 kWh back out again. Fortunately, even Ford have seen sense and aren't suggesting storing the electricity in this way.


It is a myth DS that hydrogen fuel cells still cost millions for propulsion applications see this presentation by Ballard Ballard does not disclose costs for their automotive fuel cells yet. They expect them to be commercially available by 2014. But that will most certainly be for bus use (their 80 kW model). Their fuel cells for fork lifts cost $900 per kW right now and are expected to drop to $500 by 2010. This price is a good proxy price for the automotive cells which should be a little cheaper because they are larger. So in 2010 a 20 kW fuel cell for cars (the size needed for a large SUV) would cost about $10000. This is not far from the commercial target of $4000 for a 20kW car application. I bet that future fuel cell vehicles (any type really) will not use compressed or cooled liquid hydrogen but instead sugar water 50% resolution that can be converted entirely into CO2 and H2 by enzymes at below 50 degrees Celsius. This means safe and low cost handling of the fuel see all the arguments at

The plug-in enzymatic sugar PEM fuel cell car will likely hit the market sometime 2017-2020. It will shock all the oil exporting countries because that industry could dye out entirely by 2040 if this vehicle is made commercially available before 2020. All we need for this to materialize is for the price of PEM fuel cells, PHEV batteries and sugar hydrogen enzymes to drop by about 75% or more. The best guarantee that the enabling research in these three technologies continue is that crude oil stay above $60 and preferable go further up.


"One way or another, I drive a SUV. It's up to you what kind of fuel it uses."

Up to whom? Me? GCC? Ford? Dick Cheney?
Now how does that go...Something about non-negotiable way of life? Smugness, not just for Prious Drivers!


"On the subject of this new vehicle: I am NOT in support.."

That was not my post either. From now on I will have a new nickname and new email. If you see any posts by this guy it is not me.

Mike apparently banning the IP did no good. You should contact this person's ISP.


"I use that type of vehicle because that is what I want" ... this is the kind of logic you'd get from a child.
"One way or another, I drive a SUV. It is up to you what type of fuel it uses." ... an adult takes care of his own problems. Look after your part of the world Mike switch to something smaller for now and get in line for a Phoenix .


Henrik- I agree that NON-hydrogen based fuel cells MAY have some merit IF their production cost, longevity AND fuel source is competitive in price, safety, ease of use and ecologically friendly with other biofuels. The rub (or wonder) is that the new batteries can be fully recharged in less than 10 minutes which leaves the series PHEVs like the Volt and the HY-Series simply short-term stepping stones to pure BEVs for anything but long-range travel. Most families will either have both or rent a PHEV when traveling. Economy of scale in battery production, existing fuel infrastructure and buyer familiarity with ICEs will mean that BEVs and PHEVs with petro/biofuel powered genset will ultimately kill the fuel cells. The infrastructure costs and inefficiency and other dangers of Hydrogen makes it a non-starter. The bottom line is that fast-chargers are cheaper than tanks and tanker trucks and electrolyzing water into H2 is a waste of energy. The real key here is flexibility. May you live in interesting times… isn’t that a curse? Maybe and maybe not. Only the future will tell.


"One way or another, I drive a SUV"

Have you tried Cialis ? It's cheaper and more effective
for your ailment.


To understand how fuelcells make so much sense you have to think about cumulative improvements.

In simple terms how much better are fuel cells today compared with 8 years ago and at what rate are they improving now and thus what does the future 8 years out look like?

Well each new gen of fuelcell has been a massive improvement.. in thelast 2 years they have gone from a 50 kw model the size of a very large engine and well.. SPENDY to an 80 kw model the size of a 4 cylinder engine and vastly cheaper AND more efficient to boot..

Thats 2-3 years.

They are eyeballing a 4k 80kw fuel cell in the not far future. And howsoon might a 20kw version pop up for 4-8k? Not long now.

Asfor energy costs... when we started 8 years ago it likely was 5% eff overall.. its over 50 now.

It wont take long for the total eff of a fuel cell sysem h2 gen anduse combined to be 75%...

And as history shows people will pay more for more and fuel cells will deliver morethen batteries.. morerange more power more more more...

By 2020 we will likely see fuel cell cars packing 200 even 300 kwh worth of energy per fill. We wont seethat in battery form.


I'd argue big disadvantages with the hydrogen fuel cell range extender system. Perhaps the foremost disadvantage is the extended driving range is limited.

The theory I wrestle with most is that driving distances overall must be reduced. (Too many cars. Too much dependence upon them for every travel need.) Promoting a limited-range battery-power vehicle can create an economic incentive to drive less. Driving beyond minimal average distances should be possible, but expensive, no matter what fuel extends that range. However, hydrogen will be the most expensive fuel for the least extension of driving range. Thus, hydrogen's limited driving range extension is a disincentive. Wrestle with that one!

Other disadvantages: hydrogen application (in a fuel cell) and its distribution is more complex than bio-fuels. Hydrogen is also limited compared to the variety of bio-fuels. Methane-derived hydrogen may be deleterious to a fuel cell stack.

Hydrogen as a combustable fuel in a Plug-in Hybrid ICE drivetrain may be its best application and compromise. Such a drivetrain can utilize other available and practical fuels.


One thing I would like to know from that suger to hydrogen article is how much solution is required to get a 300 mile range. You can calculate that to get the equivalent energy of a 12 gallon tank of gas, you would need 31.6 gallons of suger solution. However given the different efficiencies of an ICE vs fuel cell/ electric motor I am not sure how the comparison goes when this energy gets converted into miles.


Ok I've found it. So you only appear to need 4 kg of hydrogen to get a 300 mile range and this could be obtained from a 12 gallon tank of sugar solution.


Marcus you must be wrong. The report on sugar to hydrogen says “A car with an approximately 12-gallon tank could hold 27 kg of starch, which is the equivalent of 4 kg of hydrogen.” And the GM Volt does 300 miles on 4 kg of hydrogen. I don’t know you get the 31,6 gallons of sugar it is 12 gallons of starch/sugar.


Sorry I didn't see your latest post


wintermane ,
Fool cells have never been used in a prodution car , so how
can we tell as consumers if they are any better than ten years ago , should
we leave it up to our ultra honest car manufacturers to assure us they are
better !
Had a ride in a fool cell car a few weeks ago , used 4 times as much
energy as the BEV version to go the same distance, sounds great to me, maybe
fool cells will give us a new type of crime " highway platinum robbery "!
Its all a load of ****ocks if car car companies put the same money into
Bev as they have put into this quite rediculous technology we would all be
riding around smelling of daisies!

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