Ford to Begin Production of Hydrogen ICE Shuttles
Mitsubishi Developing Clean Diesels for US and Japan in 2009

Volvo to Preview Five-Fuel Vehicle; Includes Hythane (updated)

The Volvo Multi-Fuel. Click to enlarge.

Volvo will preview a prototype five-fuel Multi-Fuel vehicle at the Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2006, which takes place in Paris, June 8-12. The company is also previewing a new generation Collision Warning System.

The Volvo Multi-Fuel is a new prototype optimized for running on five fuels: bioethanol E85; methane in the form of either natural gas or bio-methane; gasoline; and a 10% Hythane blend (10% hydrogen, 90% natural gas).

The Volvo Multi-Fuel

Hythane refers to hydrogen-CNG mixtures of 20% or less hydrogen by volume; blends of 21% hydrogen by volume or more are called HCNG. Tests with Hythane have shown reductions in NOx emissions compared to pure CNG without affecting vehicle fuel consumption or power. (Earlier post.)

The Multi-Fuel meets virtually all known emission standards in the world, including the proposed Euro 5, according to Volvo. Running on fuels such as hydrogen, biomethane and bioethanol means negligible net tank-to-wheels contribution of carbon dioxide to the greenhouse effect.

Volvo developed an alternative catalyst system to meet the demands of the PZEV/SULEV rating on the US market. The vehicle has two catalysts, one close-coupled to the engine that lowers initial start emissions, and one under the floor for reduced high-speed emissions. High-temperature materials in the exhaust manifold and turbo allow extremely high exhaust gas temperatures of up to 1,050 °C. This enables the car to run cleaner, accelerate quicker and operate more smoothly at higher speed.

The turbo-charged engine delivers 200hp (149 kW) of power, accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 8.7 seconds, and can be started directly on natural gas.

The Multi-Fuel vehicle contains one large and two smaller tanks totalling 98 liters (26 gallons US) for gaseous fuels (hythane, biomethane and CNG), and one 29-liter (8-gallon US) tank for liquid fuels (bioethanol E85 and gasoline).

The small gaseous fuel tanks are made of steel, whereas the large tank has a durable, gas tight aluminium liner, reinforced with high performance carbon-fiber composite and an exterior layer of hardened fiber-glass composite.

The fuel tanks fit under the luggage compartment floor, preserving the loading capacity. Two fuel fillers are used to fill up all five fuel types, one for gaseous and one for liquid fuels. The engine automatically adjusts itself to the right blend of gaseous or liquid fuels. To switch between fuel types, the driver  presses a button.



All this talk of multi-fuel vehicles...what ever happened to the 42V electrical system? I first heard of the desire to change to 42V 10 years ago...understandable that the installed user base of 14V electrical systems is much larger than when they changed from 6V to 14V but with the greater electrical demands on vehicles a 42V system is a no brainer.

1/9th the power loss in the wiring system as compared to today's 14V system.
Support for more electronic sensors, toys, telematics, and faster controls.
Support for starter/alternators with enough power to act as "traction motors" for even V-8 engines allowing a more easy transition for ALL vehicles to be equipped with an idle-stop function.
Support for more advanced cylinder heads (such as Valeo's camless head) with electronic controls providing precise valve control (how far they open, how long they open, and when they open) and removing the throttle. This also removes the timing belt and associated losses.
Support for all electric accessories (water pump, thermostat, power steering, AC, etc).

Of course there are a few negatives as well (every electrical component is currently designed around 14V systems from fuses to lightbulbs meaning all suppliers would have to make fundamental changes to every electrical component).

Mark A

The problem with the 42V electrical system, as I understand it, is the switches. Every time a circuit or switch is opened or closed, an arc is thrown. Sort of like striking an arc with a stick welding machine. Over time, the contacts eventually are so corroded and pitted they lose their effectivness. Have you ever accidently crossed the + and - terminals, on a regular 12V battery, with something like a long screwdriver? It creates quite a big arc. Plus, I think there was a big concern on the part of paramedics and rescue workers on having that much voltage circulating through a mangled wrecked car, needing to extract an injured occupant with the "jaws of life" extracting tool.

Perhaps these problems can be overcome, but I havent heard much of these high voltage systems in about 2-3 years.


That's a minor problem, if one at all. Solid state relays could be used if they were of good quality... alternately they could use larger coil relays, I've seen 240 volt relays still working that are over 20 years old and turn on and off many times a day every day of the year.

I think the big delay on 42v is that no one wants to face the cost hike it would entail.



12V can kill you just as easily if there is sufficient current. 50ma through the heart is about what it takes to fibrilate it. Car batteries definitely have sufficient current.

Please, don't ever short a battery of any type as it will quickly heat up and can possibly explode.


Do you ever wander why 42v? Because it is max voltage (in 12V increments, plus 2v per 12v bank for charging) which is considered to be safe to use in vehicle applications. Big rigs are doing just that.

tony chilling

12v cannot kill because the human body has too much resistance. Because of this, Safety Bodies(safety approval agencies) have a limit, in the 40v range,
where extra safty barrier construction is not required.

This is why low voltage, even outdoor wiring has no safety concerns if the voltage is below this value.

As stated before, copper loss is important, so the higher the voltage, less copper is required. So it is a good move to 42v.
This will allow even higher power rated audio amps in cars. Why it could lead to "Acoustic Propulsion Systems!


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In what application have you seen a 240 V relay to reliably operate for 20 year?

Most likely, this was either a AC application, or, alternatively, somewhere where the switching of the relay is timed such that it only switches during no-load (current ~= 0) conditions.

electric arcs burning with DC won't extinguish by themselves as their AC counterparts do, 50 or 60 times per second...

Replacing the dotzends of inexpensive 12 Vdc relays in a vehicle with a similar (or double) the number of IGBTs / MOSFETs together with their protective and operational circuitry is many times more expensive than using a simple mechanical relay w/o any special precautions for arc extinguishing and air gap requirements...

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Seth Tornborg

440 VOLT DC contactors have been used in the railroad industry for some time now. I have worked on Locomotives that are in excess of 50 years old and the Relays/Contactors are still in perfect working order and arc much larger that a 12 volt car battery. I cannot see why they would have problems with deterioration as long as they used the right materials. I would also like to remark that hybrid Diesel electric “hybrid” technology has been in place since the 50’s.

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Darren Koozer

Okay, have to bring this up. Volvo is not coming out with a NEW multifuel car! The military has had multifuel vehicles since at least the early 1980's. The auto industry didn't have any reason to implement it, no one wanted it, maybe they didn't care about emissions back then or didn't know about the mulitfuels availability.

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