DLR fuel cell power pack gives cargo bikes added power; spin-off to provide technology and logistics concept
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has developed an innovative fuel cell module—the Fuel Cell Power Pack (FCPP)—that extends the range of electric cargo bikes and doubles the service life at a comparable price to purely battery-operated systems.
DLR researchers are organising a spin-off project to deploy the technology alongside an innovative logistics concept that is faster and more flexible than a car or van, while also ensuring quiet and emissions-free operation.
The DLR spin-off project FCPP is one of the six innovative business ideas selected in the current competition round for the Helmholtz Enterprise support program organized by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.
The Fuel Cell Power Pack combines a fuel cell with a small lithium-ion battery. The fuel cell is designed for a continuous output of 300 to 500 watts and can charge the battery—which is activated in peak load periods, for instance when accelerating—while traveling or during breaks.
The system can be filled up in seconds and works reliably, even at low temperatures, said Mathias Schulze from the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics in Stuttgart in summarizing two of the key benefits of the FCPPn compared to exclusively battery-operated systems.
The bicycle can be operated all day in several shifts without requiring the time-consuming charging or replacement of the battery, as the hydrogen tank only takes seconds to fill.
In this variant, the FCPP is sited under the cargo area.
An innovative cold-start module, also developed by DLR, enables reliable winter operation. It works on the basis of metal hybrids that preheat the fuel cell system without extracting energy, which would otherwise reduce the range. The modular structure of the Fuel Cell Power Pack means it can be easily integrated in current bicycle concepts.