Although much of the attention on Ener1 has been focused on its lithium-ion battery subsidiary EnerDel (which last week signed a letter of intent for a potential long-term battery supply agreement with Fisker, earlier post), Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer used the company’s quarterly earnings conference call also to highlight what he called the “excellent progress” being made at EnerFuel—Ener1’s fuel cell subsidiary—on fuel cell range extenders for plug-in hybrids.
EnerFuel is developing advanced high-temperature PEM fuel cell systems and is currently focused on developing a range extender for electric vehicles, said Daniel Betts, EnerFuel’s Principle Engineer and on the executive management team, on the conference call.
By the end of 2008, EnerFuel had successfully integrated a prototype high-temperature PEM fuel cell range extender into an EV, Betts said. The system incorporates a compact, lightweight, 3 kW fuel cell power system supporting the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery system. The present system is designed to extend the prototype vehicle’s driving range by 50%.
With the hydrogen content in the vehicle, the fuel cell is capable of delivering 20 kWh hours of energy into the battery throughout the course of a day. The total fuel cell system weighs 176 pounds (80 kg), including the hydrogen tank, power electronics and fuel cell stack. This prototype extended range EV is being used by the company for technology valuation and testing.
EnerFuel is concentrating its development on range-extending power systems with 3-15 kW. Many competitive fuel cell vehicle systems are targeting 30-100 kW from the stack, with less battery capacity.
Betts said that EnerFuel is aggressively pursuing funding from the federal government, and will be meeting in Washington today with the Department of Energy. EnerFuel is pursuing funding for three different applications, all based on the same technology platform: the simplified, mid-power, high-temperature PEM fuel cell coupled with Li-ion batteries.
...we believe replacing the gasoline internal combustion engine with a fuel cell for range extension is the most likely scenario for our next generation of range extended plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
...The other thing I would point out is that, because it’s a much smaller fuel cell system, you can reform the hydrogen in your garage. So, we really think we’re on a very, very exciting path. We think it’s extremely complementary to what we’re doing with EnerDel, which is why we chosen to highlight it.—Charles Gassenheimer