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Intelligent Energy unveils smaller, more powerful fuel cell system targeting passenger cars

Intelligent Energy (IE) unveiled a new hydrogen fuel cell system that is smaller and more powerful than any other solution on the passenger car market. Intelligent Energy’s IE-DRIVE™ system has been designed to give passenger car manufacturers direct access to a smaller, more powerful, turnkey and commercially-viable hydrogen fuel cell solution.

The single stack platform broke cover during a launch event at Intelligent Energy’s Loughborough headquarters where it powered a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) provided by Changan UK.

  • More power. In its current configuration, Intelligent Energy’s DRIVE fuel cell stack is capable of 157kW gross electrical power. This is higher than any other single stack application that is currently available for the passenger car sector.

  • Smaller. Intelligent Energy’s patented direct water injection technology means DRIVE’s heat exchanger is up to 30% smaller than its competitors at equal net power output. The single pass heat exchanger in IE’s test SUV only measures 0.34m² but enables cruising at 130km/h in peak temperatures and a speed of 90 km/h to be achieved when traveling up a long, steep hill. Having a small heat exchanger makes vehicle packaging much easier and benefits fuel cell vehicle design, particularly in relation to bonnet height and improved driver visibility.

  • Simpler. Designing its novel direct water injection system has allowed Intelligent Energy to reduce its component count and bill of materials. An example of this is shown by the fact IE’s fuel cell doesn’t require a humidifier and related parts.

  • Turnkey. DRIVE is a complete fuel cell system in the shape of a traditional engine and is designed to meet the low bonnet requirements of passenger cars. It includes the fuel cell stack, electronic control unit, heat exchanger and Balance of Plant (BOP). It represents a turnkey solution for car manufacturers.

  • Commercially-viable. Under full-scale, high-volume manufacturing conditions, Intelligent Energy predicts its DRIVE fuel cell system will cost around 100 GBP (US$127) per kW by the end of the decade, making it less expensive than BEV solutions and comparable to ICE.

Intelligent Energy’s quest to develop a new breed of patented hydrogen fuel cell technology is the result of a four-year project—named ESTHER—that got underway in November 2019 and was supported by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

The £22-million initiative was a collaborative effort involving Intelligent Energy, Changan R&D Centre, Lyra Electronics and Alexander Dennis. Changan provided essential support during the project, including the provision of three SUVs to enable fuel cell testing.



Much of the hassle and complication of fuel cells lie in the humification etc.
This has the potential to substantially reduce costs.

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