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Hyundai Introduces New Tucson/ ix35 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

4 March 2010

Ix35 fcev1
Cutaway model of the new Tucson/ix35 FCEV. Click to enlarge.

Hyundai unveiled its Tucson/ ix35 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, saying that the introduction was moving it another step closer to the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

The Tucson / ix35 FCEV incorporates several important innovations over the previous generation Tucson FCEV that will enable it to meet its goal of ramping up production volume of FCEVs into the thousands by 2012. Key innovations include:

  • Adoption of metallic separators (bipolar plates) in the Hyundai fuel cell stack. Metallic separators replace graphite, which is extremely difficult and expensive to manufacture. The metallic separators significantly reduce the cost of the fuel cell stack and simplify the fuel cell manufacturing process.

  • Advances in modularization which simplifies final assembly. Fuel cell engineers at the company’s Eco-Tech Research and Development Centre in Mabuk, Korea have succeeded in taking complex arrays of components and combining them into simpler modules, improving production scalability. As a result, the person-hours required to assemble an FCEV have been drastically reduced, making it economically feasible to ramp up production into the thousands.

  • Adoption of a 21 kW LiPoly electrical storage battery pack in place of super capacitors: LiPoly storage batteries are already in mass production and with the improved economies of scale, LiPoly technology can now be cost-effectively applied to FCEVs thereby lowering their overall cost.

  • Adoption of an induction motor instead of a permanent magnet-type motor for cost benefits. Even with the slight decrease in overall vehicle efficiency associated with induction motors, their use will offset the cost risk associated with magnetic motors which depend on rare earth elements whose prices have soared in recent years because of their scarcity and high demand.

By 2012, Hyundai plans to begin manufacturing FCEVs in the low thousands and delivering them to fleet customers in Korea.

Hyundai Tucson/ix35 FCEV
Max. speed 160 km/h (99 mph)
Vehicle range 650 km (404 miles)
Stack max. output 100 kW
Motor max. output 100 kW
Motor max. torque 300 N·m (221 lb-ft)
Battery power 21 kW
Hydrogen tank max. pressure 70 MPa
Hydrogen tank capacity 5.6 kg

March 4, 2010 in Fuel Cells, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)

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Fuel cell vehicles suffer from many problems and one of the bigger ones is that fuel cell systems have very poor volumetric power density leaving very little space for passengers and luggage in the FCV. In fact Panasonics upcoming silicon based lithium battery cells enable building a more compact battery electric power train than will ever be possible with fuel cells. This is shown below:

Volumetric power density of Panasonic’s newest cells: 800Wh/l.1) Discharge efficiency 99% meaning an effective power density of 792Wh/l.

Volumetric power density of compressed hydrogen at 700 bar: 5.6MJ/l = 1555Wh/l. 2) Fuel cells are at most 60% efficient meaning an effective power density of 933Wh/l.

Now, this means that Panasonic’s forthcoming lithium batteries (2012 delivery) are almost as power dense as highly compressed hydrogen when the space for the fuel cell it selves and the high-pressure tanks are ignored for the calculation. If that space is included you will lose minimum 50% more in terms of space as pressure tanks are impossible to build in prismatic shapes as it is possible with battery cells and because the fuels cell stack and it full size cooling grill is very bulky as can be clearly seen in the picture of the Tucson/ ix35 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV). Battery cells also need packaging and a cooling system but the volume loss is more like 20%.

Conclusion

Practical volumetric power density for Panasonic’s new silicon batteries 633Wh/l=(800*0.99*(1-0.2)).

Practical volumetric power density for fuel cell battery 466.5 Wh/l= (1555*0.6*(1-0.5)).

Moreover, Panasonic will be able to continue to improve their silicon based battery cells whereas it is practically impossible to increase the power density of hydrogen in pressure tanks as higher pressure will also lead to bigger pressure tanks.

Hydrogen for vehicle transportation is a dead end for many reasons including non-competitive volumetric power density.


Source 1, Panasonic 800Wh/l cells
Source 2, Hydrogen 1555Wh/l at 700 bar

@Henrik

Your argument and calculations would be more convincing if you knew the difference between Power and Energy.

A Wh is a unit of energy, not power as you referred to it throughout your entire argument.

Please read up basic physics.

Sorry and thank you for noticing! I did of cause mean volumetric energy density and not volumetric power density. I very much know the difference between power and energy density. This error is corrected in the text below so please disregard the text in my first post.

***

Fuel cell vehicles suffer from many problems and one of the bigger ones is that fuel cell systems have very poor volumetric energy density leaving very little space for passengers and luggage in the FCV. In fact Panasonics upcoming silicon based lithium battery cells enable building a more compact battery electric powertrain than will ever be possible with fuel cells. This is shown below:

Volumetric energy density of Panasonic’s newest cells: 800Wh/l.1) Discharge efficiency 99% meaning an effective energy density of 792Wh/l.

Volumetric energy density of compressed hydrogen at 700 bar: 5.6MJ/l = 1555Wh/l. 2) Fuel cells are at most 60% efficient meaning an effective energy density of 933Wh/l.

Now, this means that Panasonic’s forthcoming lithium batteries (2012 delivery) are almost as energy dense as highly compressed hydrogen when the space for the fuel cell it selves and the high-pressure tanks are ignored for the calculation. If that space is included you will lose minimum 50% more in terms of space as the pressure tanks are impossible to build in prismatic shapes as it is possible with battery cells and because the fuel cell stack and its full size cooling grill is very bulky as can be clearly seen in the picture of the Tucson/ ix35 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV). The battery cells also need packaging and a cooling system but the volumetric loss is more likely to be 20%.


Conclusion

Practical volumetric energy density for Panasonic’s new silicon batteries 633Wh/l=(800*0.99*(1-0.2)).

Practical volumetric energy density for fuel cell battery 466.5 Wh/l= (1555*0.6*(1-0.5)).

Moreover, Panasonic will be able to continue to improve their silicon based battery cells whereas it is practically impossible to increase the energy density of hydrogen in pressure tanks as higher pressure will also lead to bigger pressure tanks.

Hydrogen for vehicle transportation is a dead end for many reasons including non-competitive volumetric energy density.


Source 1, Panasonic 800Wh/l cells
Source 2, Hydrogen 1555Wh/l at 700 bar

@Henrik

First, let me say I am neither for nor against fuel cells. It is a technology that can be useful in certain applications. That said, it is my nature to look for solutions to problems - so... Panasonic’s forthcoming lithium batteries (2012 delivery) are almost as power dense as highly compressed hydrogen when the space for the fuel cell it selves and the high-pressure tanks are ignored for the calculation. If that space is included you will lose minimum 50% more in terms of space as pressure tanks are impossible to build in prismatic shapes as it is possible with battery cells

Would it not be possible to make a prismatic fuel cell stack? You could then lay four such stacks along the sides of a cylindrical pressure tank to turn the combined whole into a more space efficient volume.

Al_vin

In all likelihood it is impossible as the fuel fell stack emit a lot of heat about 40kW in a 100kW stack operating at full power. Wrap that stack around a hydrogen tank and in a few minutes the vehicle will explode. You need to cool the fuel cells almost as much as in a diesel engine as they are only 60% efficient. You need a big grill and you need to keep the hydrogen tank in a safe distance from that heat.

Fair enough.

The basic math of fuel cells is they will fill a market segment the car makers NEED. Batteries will fill one section fuel cells anouther and trhe rest will be filled by other fuel sources.

Thing is they need all these segments.

How could Hyundai have a 2012 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV - price?) when they weren't given billions of our US tax dollars for decades?

If no viable, competitive domestic FCEV's are marketed, what is the Present Value for the $billions of federal dollars auto firms took for FCEV's over the decades?

The payback should be quite significant for US taxpayers.

"Adoption of an induction motor instead of a permanent magnet-type motor for cost benefits."

I figured more than a few would catch on to this.

Future advanced batteries energy density will multiply in the next few years. Panasonic says that the current or past 11% annual improvement rate will be at least 18% for the next 5 years and even higher thereafter. High quality batteries will hit about 600 Wh/Kg by 2015 and over twice that by 2020. Long range BEVs will be a reality when batteries reach 1000+ Wh/Kg. Meanwhile, PHEVs will have to be used for long drives.

Will fuel cell keep up with lithium and post-lithium batteries with improved enegy density units? Time will tell.

Regarless of the comparative energy density, improved future e-storage units seem to be a better approach than fuel cells, specially for future efficient cars and light trucks. Heavy trucks, long range buses and locomotives may fair better with future fuel cells.

GM had 100 Equinox FCEVs out for testing a while back, we have not heard much about that lately. If this company has enough money to do this, I would be putting some of it into DMFC development.

I'm thinking of "A Better Place" and their idea about exchangeable batteries. Instead of large batteries that require heavy equipment to change, how about very small batteries pumped into a "battery tank". Perhaps they could arrange and align themselves magnetically. You could go to a battery station and pump charged batteries in while the spent batteries were pump out and into the service station for a recharge. This way no heavy equipment would be required.

That does not make a lot of sense. You are recommending that small batteries be "pumped" in? Perhaps a fluid that is used and then reused, but small batteries?

We have a "battery" that is chemically recharged, it is called a fuel cell. Some even run on liquid fuels like methanol either directly or indirectly through a reformer.

The current Hyundai ix35 doesn't appear to have any room to fit a large fuel cell with out compromising vehicle dynamics and performance. Either this fuel cell wont be sustainable which would suggest that its too small or lacks long term power output or the driving capability of the vehicle along with functionality will be compromised. Each of these will see the fuel cell not heading to market anytime soon.

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