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Intelligent Energy introduces new high performance 100kW automotive fuel cell architecture

Intelligent Energy is expanding its PEM fuel cell offerings with a new 100 kW automotive fuel cell architecture. Designed to deliver primary motive power within an advanced electric driveline, the 100 kW fuel cell architecture and core technology will be available to vehicle manufacturers through technology licensing programs and joint development agreements.

The 100 kW platform takes full advantage of Intelligent Energy’s stack technology, which offers leading power density of 3.5 kW/l (volumetric) and 3.0 kW/kg (gravimetric), while being engineered for low cost, high volume series production. As points of comparison, the US Department of Energy (DOE) 2020 technical targets for an automotive fuel cell stack are 2.5 kW/l and 2 kW/kg. Toyota says that its new fuel cell stack in the Mirai offers 3.1 kW/l (2.2 times higher than that of the previous Toyota FCHV-adv limited-lease model) and 2.0 kW/kg. (Earlier post.)

The Intelligent Energy system builds upon the company’s prior work developing automotive fuel cell solutions both independently and with its automotive customers. As examples, earlier generation, lower-powered stacks were implemented in the London Taxi fuel cell hybrid (30 kW stack) and a Peugeot Partner electric van (10 kW stack).

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The new 100 kW fuel cell unit. Click to enlarge.

Intelligent Energy said it developed the new architecture in response to increasing market demand for high power automotive fuel cell solutions. The key enabler for these high power densities is the company’s proprietary, evaporatively-cooled (EC) technology.

Compared to conventional liquid-cooled fuel cell stacks, the EC design removes the need for individual cooling channels between each cell. This delivers an advantage in terms of stack mass and volume, and helps contribute to the stack power density which translates into in-vehicle packaging and weight advantages.

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The 100 kW stack, which uses evaporative cooling. Click to enlarge.

Intelligent Energy has a long association with the automotive industry, including an eight-year relationship with the Suzuki Motor Corporation. The collaboration has seen the introduction of the world’s first type approved fuel cell powered scooter, powered by 4kW fuel cell systems that are based on Intelligent Energy’s complementary air-cooled (AC) technology.

The two companies have also established a joint venture business that manufactures stacks and fuel cell systems from a ready to scale production facility in Japan.

Comments

HarveyD

This is a major step in power density from FCs. Toyota and others will have to do more to catch up.

The next generation will possibly hit 5 KW/Kg and per Liter.

To bad H2 is not produced on board with an ultra light high efficiency converter?

Lad

Harvey:
As you know H2 is a carrier of electrons and not a fuel; so H2 can never be as efficient as charging batteries directly using solar panels. That is a flaw even when you can generate H2 onboard, i.e., the feedstock must be converted to H2.

And, it's my understanding a H2 FC is at best 60% efficient. The energy waste is not as great as using hydrocarbon fuels in ICEs, but it ain't great.

Efficient hasn't been a major factor in our energy management in the past because hydrocarbons were cheap and abundant. Because of GHGs and the gross hydrocarbon pollution of air, land, water it now becoming a consideration.

Davemart

Its amazing how many battery only advocates powered by solar either live in the tropics or don't fancy driving their cars in winter.

For anyone much north of San Diego the real equation is solar converted to something which can store it in vast quantities the regenerate electricity, or using hydrogen which already has the storage built in.

So the supposed efficiency comparisons are utterly meaningless.

EP's advocacy of nuclear to power battery cars is a very different matter, as that makes sense winter and summer.

I'd like that too, but they aren't building the nuclear plants to power it in the West.

electric-car-insider.com

Thanks for the shout-out to my "summer" home town Davemart ;-)

Efficiency is relevant insofar as it relates to cost, which it usually does in the end. I'd love to see a reliable, low cost, carbon-neutral H2 solution in my lifetime. But every time I look at the roadmap for H2 vehicles vs battery electrics, the electrics seem to be way ahead and pulling away.

Maybe someone will crack the code and grant Harvey's wish - affordable, light, small onboard light fuel reforming. But that too seems to be further down the road than very high energy density batteries.

With 200 mile all-electric range and fast recharge, the market for liquid fuels gets a whole lot smaller.

Davemart

eci:

Here you go:
'The new catalyst has a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 2%. The best water-splitting photocatalyst to date is nanocrystalline cobalt oxide, which has a conversion efficiency of around 5%.2 However, this began to lose its activity within 1 hour. The current photocatalyst, however, showed no degradation after 200 days. The researchers calculate that if they optimised their photocatalyst so it had a 5% conversion rate this would lower the cost of hydrogen production to $2.30/kg (£1.50/kg) – well below the US Department of Energy’s target of $4/kg. ‘Even at this stage, the number we get is only about $6,’ says co-author Yeshayahu Lifshitz, now at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.'

http://fuelcellsworks.com/news/2015/03/03/sun-rises-on-new-solar-route-to-hydrogen/

You must have been following entirely different technological publications to me if you reckon that batteries are progressing faster than either fuel cells or hydrogen production technologies.

Davemart

The silence of battery only advocates on VW's PHEV FCEVs is also significant.

Clearly that would greatly reduce the hypothesised 'efficiency advantage' of batteries over fuel cells, which in any case does not exist using present production methods for electricity and hydrogen instead of going on about solar which only produces <1% of US electricity and strangely is not actually available at night when most battery cars are charged.

HealthyBreeze

@ Davemart,

Leave solar out of the well-to-wheels equation and most FC are still suspect. Cogeneration natural gas plants can convert at up to 80% efficiency. Put that into, and out of a battery and it's still likely better than the 60% claimed for an FC. There are conversion losses for refining fuels for FC which that 60% number probably doesn't include.

HarveyD

@ Lad: 10+X batteries may be OK for Extended range BEVs in cold places but they are not around yet. At the current development pace it may take another 10 to 15 years.

Quick charging 200+ kWh batteries is another challenge to be solved but much easier than the 10+X batteries.

FCEVs can already operate in cold places, can be refilled in minutes and will soon be as cheap as equivalent ICEVs or extended range BEVs.

Large H2 stations is still a challenge to be addressed but it will be done. One large H2 station per 200 miles would be OK to start with at a cost equvalent to about one year of modern Oil war for USA.

Lad

DM:
Not a battery only advocate here; I like the idea of nuclear helping to fill the gap until all his shakes out. The less coal and Natural Gas we burn for power the better. I don't support H2 presently because it encourages the continuing mining and nasty conversion of hydrocarbons to high pressure hydrogen, completely controlled by the oil companies. A move from a hundred years of "Gasoline 1" to "Gasoline 2" if you will.

Roger Pham

If a FC-PHEV is plugged in using daytime solar energy at work for 80-90% of the time, while filled up with RE-H2 for long trips, then all-RE-transportation will be possible. The H2 tank will need to be filled
only to 2,500 psi for most of the time because of convenient daily plug-in ability, except for long trips, thus will improve safety and prolonging the lifespan of the H2 tank and valves to near infinite, lasting for many decades.

Now, what to do with all these solar power on the weekends when the lot is empty?
You use these solar power to make Hydrogen for those
FCEV owners owners who need filling up during the week, or for FC-PHEV owners who need to drive on longer trips. Also, on rainy days, no solar charging will be available at work, and so FC-PHEV's must use the H2 made from many previous sunny days and weekends.

When most at work parking lots will be filled with solar car ports, there will be so much solar energy produced on weekends, while industries and businesses that can use these solar power are mostly closed, so what else can absorb those huge excess of weekend-empty-parking-lot solar energy except for making Hydrogen for use later during the week?

Hydrogen will encourage faster deployment of RE due to increase in economic values for those intermittent and non-dispatchable resources.

Davemart

Seeking Alpha does not seem to be working properly at the moment, but I have analysed the comparative figures for FCEVs and BEVs there, from mostly DOE data, and there is basically nothing in it for emissions between fuel cell cars and battery ones, after all losses are accounted for.

That is using present systems.

For future systems whilst assuming no progress at all in hydrogen generation technology the assumption is that solar will rise from the present 1% of generation to a very large proportion, whilst the issues that most BEV charging takes place at night and much worse in many places there is not a lot of sunshine in winter is simply magicked away.

HealthyBreeze:
For your system all that would need doing is for most of the generating capacity in the US to be replaced, and of course most of the houses and industry would need relocating, as they are not put in place where the heated water from combined heat and power can be used.
Holland where it is common has rather higher density housing.

If people are determined not to use fuel cells in cars, then the best way would be to use fuel cells in the home, where the waste heat could actually be used.

That does indeed approach 80% or better efficiency.

Of course if you have the same fuel cell in the car, that same waste heat obviates much of the loss of range in winter of battery cars.

Most of the problems of both battery cars and fuel cell ones disappear if one combines them in intelligent ways instead of setting up false dichotomies.

It simply is not much fun on a long run hanging around for half an hour plus recharging batteries, however many problems Tesla advocates seem to think the whole population suffers with their bladder.

Conversely a decent sized pack in FCEVs would mean that many less hydrogen stations were needed, and where convenient solar daytime workplace charging which really is more efficient could be used.

That is a very different matter to pretending that you are using solar when you plug your car in at night or in the winter.

Catering for that is going to involve losses one way or another in any case, unless there is a massive build out of nuclear.

electric-car-insider.com

The work by Kang and Lifshitz that you cite Davemart is an interesting and laudable development and I appreciate the link.

But I'm curious how it would be the solution to the problem you describe of lack of insolation in northern regions in winter, unless you are also envisioning long pipelines and large scale storage, but of which are particularly problematic and expensive for hydrogen.


JMartin

I continue to be fascinated by the either/or debates in these threads. As technology develops markets will change, but I suspect there will be a place for both BEV and FCEV. The real game changer for fuel cells will be in-home use, where it can heat the house and generate electricity to charge the PHEV in winter. Distributed energy and new storage schemes will change our world, we just don't yet know how.

Davemart

@eci:

I can't remember how many times I have provided links to the storage of hydrogen, which in any case can be at some energy cost converted to methane, methanol etc.

This appears to translate into: 'and another thing' argument, as you initially made two points, that:
' I'd love to see a reliable, low cost, carbon-neutral H2 solution in my lifetime.'

and that you alleged that progress in batteries was much faster.

I have provided a link which gives one of umpteen methods which are perfectly capable of providing hydrogen at reasonable cost in low carbon production, certainly good enough for use in a PHEV instead of a very big battery, and probably good enough to provide it on its own if necessary.

I don't see the evidence which you claim for production of higher energy density batteries much beyond that currently in the Tesla S.

If you think that long term storage of hydrogen is problematic, I would be interested in seeing your links to the long term storage of electricity without it.

For the record, here, once again, is one of the analysis of energy storage using hydrogen etc:
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2015/01/20150121-itm.html?cid=6a00d8341c4fbe53ef01bb07dff520970d#comment-form

Where are your links for:
1. Your assumed progress in batteries?
2. Your claim that transporting hydrogen by pipeline is problematic?

FYI they have been transporting vast quantities of hydrogen that way for decades over hundreds of kilometres.

HarveyD

@JMartin:
A PHEV with smaller battery pack (10-20 kWh) and a small (15-25 KW) FC range extender could be ideal in cold places?

Mannstein

With every announcement of a new breakthrough in FC development the sky falls according to the EV peanut gallery.

CheeseEater88

I am excited to own either an EV or a Plugin hybrid fuel cell.

I am curious whether the hype from the EV fans is correct, or if the industry is correct. Looking at the funding that is going into each, I believe that the less mature fuel cell is becoming at a rapid pace a realty.

Apart from the volt, bolt, and the model s there isn't a whole lot of direct replacements for the ice. I think fuel cells can get us there quicker, and in the long term we may return to a BEV solution.

And as Harvey points out... If the battery pack is a decent size, you can make due with a smaller cell. But again that could cause some issue, it would have to be sized correctly to generate enough power to go up an incline at a speed higher than 75mph. Which could be very well around 25kw of power.

We don't have to have massive fuel cells to get huge boosts or range from an EV.


Again I see EVs dominating any thing B class and smaller. D class and larger, or in platforms that tow/haul or do a lot of stationary generation will probably fuel cells domain. C class well probably see some overlap, or interesting combinations for the two.

As several point out, waste heat is welcome in colder climates. Especially in mobility. When current cars generate 70%+ heat, and still sometimes do an inadequate job at heating the cabin and glazing, it could stand to reason that 20-40% wasted by FCs could be useful. I am very curious to know how heating the cabin is done on the fuel cell vehicles today, if they are in fact tapping into it. Next time I am on all data ill take a look.

I hope Tesla and other giga factories can bring sub $100/kwh packs into reality... It would make a very interesting future, a very exciting one no less.

We might see laptop and phone batteries at a reasonable price too!


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