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Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL fuel cell vehicle cracks 300,000 kilometer mark; Daimler receives f-cell Award 2014

A B-Class F-CELL fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) (earlier post) from Mercedes-Benz’ current FCEV fleet has achieved a continuous running record of more than 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles) under normal everyday conditions. The still running test shows that fuel cell cars are reliable even under extreme stress and over several years, Daimler said.

Produced under series production conditions, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL has been in day-to-day use with customers in the European and US markets since 2010. The total mileage of the Daimler fuel cell fleet, which now numbers more than 300 vehicles, including numerous research vehicles, has passed the 9-million-kilometer mark (5.6 million miles). Based on the current and pending results, the Mercedes engineers expect to identify further potential for optimization, which will flow directly into the development of the next generation of fuel cell electric vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz began limited production of the B-Class F-Cell in 2009. The B-Class-based vehicle had light modification to support the integration of the fuel cell system, the hydrogen tank system and the electric drive.

Based on an optimized, more compact fuel cell system presented by Mercedes-Benz in its F 600 HYGENIUS research vehicle in 2005 (earlier post), the 80 kW stack module in the B-Class F-CELL is around 40% smaller, but develops 30% more power output and cuts fuel consumption by 16% compared to the A-Class fuel cell stack.

11C1221_03
Top: The fuel cell system of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL. Bottom: Development status of a future stack as of early 2013. The significantly more compact dimensions will mean that the future fuel cell system can be accommodated in the engine compartment of a conventional vehicle. Click to enlarge.

In 2013, Daimler, Ford and Nissan signed a three-way agreement for the joint development of a common fuel cell system to speed up availability of zero-emission technology and significantly reduce investment costs. (Earlier post.) Daimler is planning for sereis production of F-Cell vehicles from 2017 onwards.

Pressing ahead, Daimler is thus working on market preparation, and is involved in several initiatives, such as H2 Mobility, for the build-up of a hydrogen infrastructure.

We have clearly demonstrated that the fuel cell electric drive is ready for the road. The last hurdles we will overcome in intensive cross-industry and cross-border teamwork.

—Prof Herbert Kohler, Vice President Group Research and Sustainability, Chief Environmental Officer of Daimler AG

In recognition of the 300,000 km milestone, Daimler AG was honored with the “f-cell Award 2014” given by Ministry of Environment, Climate, Protection and Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg and the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation (WRS). “The test is a step in the direction of series-ready application of the fuel cell drive train”, said the jury.

Donated by the state of Baden-Württemberg, the Innovation Award honors application-oriented developments around the topic of fuel cells.

Comments

Davemart

Durability was one of the big questions.
Not any more, it seems.

SJC

Twenty years ago Daimler had NECAR which reformed methanol on board for the PEM fuel cell, one of the models was driven across the U.S. Mercedes has been advancing fuel cell technology for decades, even though some say it can not or should not be done at all.

Davemart

Yep, but no one has proven durability across many years and thousands of miles, and umpteen stop starts as Daimler has now done.

Having the fuel cell stack last for the lifetime of the car was one of the big worries.

That has been one of the big reasons for hesitating adopting them for their first mobile commercial target, buses.

SJC

One issue was platinum requirements , that has been reduced by about a factor of 10 over the years. Hydrogen fuel cells are advancing, whether some like it or not.

One of the arguments was that we should not do anything but electric cars, because alternatives to EVs would impede their adoption. That bit of "thinking" amazes me.

HarveyD

Mercedes historical quality may be the main factor for the extended durability of their FCs. BMW, TMC (Toyota) and many others can certainly do as well in the near future. The technology is mature enough.

At 300,000+ Km FCs will last the normal life time of most personal vehicles. Taxis and commercial vehicles may be the exceptions but nothing says that commercial-industrial FCs will not last 500,000 to 1,000,000 Km.

H2 stations using REs as feed stock is the next challenge but not impossible.

Interesting decade ahead?

SJC

One factor seldom discussed is tank life. There is a finite number of times you can fill a tank to 10,000 psi in a short time before it becomes unsafe.

Davemart

Hi SJC:

I have not been able to track down the cycle life specs, although I did see one reference to 1500 as a goal, but could not find the details.

LPG tanks here in the UK in cars have to be tested once a year, and I assume that NG tanks in Europe are the same.

The LG tank test costs around £60, so that is another running cost.

SJC

I know CNG tanks have a life span, after a certain number of refill cycles they can no longer be used. I assume that is due to the mechanical stress that 3000-3600 psi puts on the tank. 5,000-10,000 psi hydrogen would put even more stress on tanks.

jane leonard

The first ever electric vehicle to hit with its unbelievable distance coverage. Mercedes-Benz just rocks with its new technology!!

Davemart

'In the 1990s, the NGV industry created CNG cylinder certification standards. Cylinders built to meet the original (1992) version of Standard NGV2 were designed for a service life of 15 years, with labeling requirements setting a "Do not use after" date. A 1998 revision extended allowable cylinder life certification to 20 years. The 2007 revision raised that figure to allow a 25-year lifespan.

Most countries have adopted similar CNG cylinder standards. Tanks cannot be recertified after reaching the expiration date set at time of manufacture and must be taken out of service. That leaves vehicle owners two options: retire the vehicle or replace the cylinders.'

http://www.truckinginfo.com/article/print/story/2013/08/what-happens-when-your-cng-tanks-expire.aspx

I'd be astonished if the standards for hydrogen tanks on vehicles were not equally stringent and specify 25 years.

The pressure is higher, but they have moved to CF to deal with it, and the manufacturers are well aware that licensing authorities would take a very dim view of any attempt to ease the standards from those for natural gas.

SJC

We covered that topic, it involves Total Cost of Ownership. If EV car fans talk about lower cost for electricity, but fail to talk about highway taxes nor battery replacements, they are telling only part of the story.

HarveyD

How many 25 years old private vehicles are still in regular use.

Vintage vehicles may be the exception? In that case, a new H2 Tank may be the price to pay?

SJC

Whether it lasts 10, 15 or 20 years, it is still part of the total cost of ownership, either through replacement or resale value. These are the factors for sustainable mobility.

People obsess about carbon footprints for renewable fuels, but I have not seen much mentioned about the carbon footprint for oil. Exploration, development, production, transportation and refining all take their toll. If we are going to have meaningful discussions on the merits, all relevant factors should be considered.

SJC

Audi Opening Synthetic Fuel Plant
http://www.hybridcars.com/audi-opening-synthetic-fuel-plant/

SJC

Small gas-to-liquids plant planned for former Houston power plant site

http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/08/04/small-gas-to-liquids-plant-planned-for-former-houston-power-plant-site/

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