UK government awards £598K for hydrogen fuel cell range extender with micro-bead H2 storage for BEVs
The UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) have awarded £598,000 (US$980,000) to micro-bead hydrogen storage company Cella Energy (earlier post) and its partners MIRA, Coventry University and Productiv to develop a hydrogen generation system to extend the range of battery electric vehicles. The award is part of the Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform Integrated Delivery Programme 8 (IDP8) competition.
In an existing TSB-funded project called “Breakthrough in Energy Storage Technology,” Cella, MIRA, Unipart Eberspacher Exhaust Systems and Productiv are developing a 1 kW hydrogen generator using Cella Energy’s lightweight hydrogen storage material. The aim of this new project is to take this technology and scale it to a 5 kW unit to power a small electric vehicle produced by Microcab Ltd, a spinout company from Coventry University.
Cella Energy, itself a spin-off company from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK, is developing and commercializing a way to nanostructure and encapsulate complex chemical hydride materials to improve their performance, in terms of temperature of operation, adsorption and desorption kinetics, and to render them safe to handle in air. Currently, heating one gram of Cella’s pellets will produce one liter of hydrogen.
Cella’s materials are already performing at 9 wt% of hydrogen, which when packaged into systems, such as those for the battery replacement work or when used in vehicles, approach the US DOE’s 2017 target of 5.5 wt% hydrogen.
In the previous project; MIRA, Cella and Unipart Eberspacher Exhaust Systems packaged Cella’s material in cylindrical cartridges—about the size of a large marker pen—which can be handled safely and distributed cheaply. The partners then developed a system that seamlessly moves these cartridges from a magazine to a hot-cell where the hydrogen was released in a continuous process.
The aim of the project is to deal with battery EV range limitations using Cella Energy’s lightweight hydrogen storage material in tandem with a fuel cell to produce enough electrical energy to drive a car as far and as fast as a diesel- or gasoline-powered vehicle.
The low carbon vehicle group at Coventry University have many years of experience in the development of fuel cells vehicles. Using this technology we should be able to add at least 120 miles [193 km] to the range of our existing battery electric cars.—Bernard Porter from Coventry University and Microcab
MIRA is a leading independent provider of research, product engineering and test services, primarily in support of the automotive industry. Productiv bridges the gap between small enterprises developing leading edge low carbon technology and large vehicle manufacturers.