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Ford and AVL developing fuel cell electric commercial vehicle demonstrator based on Jumbo Transit

AVL Powertrain UK Limited and Ford Motor Company are working together on an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC)-funded research and development project to define, design, develop and test a driveable demonstrator Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV). The goal of the project is to accelerate UK-based FCEV expertise and know-how to support the automotive industry’s drive towards zero-emission propulsion. AVL will lead the following areas of the project:

  • Defining the balance of plant components and the integration of the fuel cell (FC) and hydrogen systems into the vehicle;

  • Building the FC system and integrating it into the vehicle;

  • Creating a digital toolset comprising a coupled vehicle and FC and cooling subsystem models; and

  • Developing the FC system and H2 system BSW and ASW (Basic Software and Application Software in the AUTOSAR layered architecture).

This exciting collaboration between Ford Motor Company and AVL Powertrain UK will not only deliver a FC demonstrator vehicle but will also provide a simulation platform for the development of such systems going forward. This project represents a further step in showcasing AVL Powertrain UK’s skills, whilst also providing an opportunity to further develop our UK capability and leverage AVL’s global network of skills and expertise.

—Dr. Bernadette Longridge, Engineering Center Manager at AVL

Using the Jumbo Ford Transit platform as a starting point for engineering, the project seeks to define, design, develop and test a driveable demonstrator FCEV. It will develop a digital toolset consisting of a fuel cell system simulation that’s coupled with other key systems and vehicle simulations, which will enable component sizing and key parameter selection. This can act as a foundation for the future development of these systems.

For partners and the general UK supply chain, the project will increase know-how and technical capability in the areas of fuel cell vehicle engineering and integration. The tools and technical knowledge acquired during the project will be used for the next phases of fuel cell research and to inform partners about the commercial viability of potential products and services.

The project will use a prototype Ford Transit Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and a modularized fuel cell system approach. The heavy BEV battery will be replaced by a smaller battery. In addition, a PEM fuel cell system will be installed and the prototype’s electric motors will be retained.

A concurrent simulation approach will aid the design and development of the FCEV, which will ensure that the right battery and BoP component sizing is selected. This will help assess the benefits of FCEV (long range, fast refilling and increased payload) compared with BEV for high-payload usage in the light-duty commercial vehicle sector.

Findings. First and foremost, with its findings, the project hopes to be able to determine the correct vehicle attributes and relevant system requirements for a feasible fuel cell electric commercial vehicle. In the end, these will facilitate pre-defined customer “use-cases”.

The findings will not only be used to develop the package design and functionality for a drivable FCEV, but they will also help identify key challenges and critical decisions in the development process. The findings will also assist in identifying component sizing—including battery and fuel stack—for near-optimal vehicle configuration. Finally, the findings will clarify developments in the wider UK hydrogen ecosystem.

A coupled simulation of the vehicle and the FC system will be the cornerstone for future phases of FC vehicle development. The simulation will be used in the current project to aid component selection and will be validated against the FCEV demo vehicle.


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