Volvo fuel cell project to extend EV operating ranges
Backed by research support from the Swedish Energy Agency the company is initiating development of a fuel cell with Powercell Sweden AB. The technology is expected to increase the electric car's operating range by up to 250 kilometres – in addition to the range provided by the car's battery pack.
The plan is to have two prototype chassis based on the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric ready for testing in everyday traffic in 2012.
'This is an exciting expansion of our focus on electrification. Battery cost and size means that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. Fuel cells may be one way of extending the distance these cars can cover before they need to be recharged. What is more, the project gives us increased knowledge about fuel cells and hydrogen gas,' said Volvo Cars president and CEO Stefan Jacoby.
In the first phase of the project, a preliminary study is being conducted into a Range Extender, which consists of a fuel cell with a reformer, which creates hydrogen gas and converts it into electrical energy.
The technology generates electricity completely without any emissions of carbon oxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and particles and Volvo says that CO2 emissions are significantly reduced compared with a conventional vehicle. The end products are electricity, water and a small amount of carbon dioxide.
In the next phase of the project, pending support from the Swedish Energy Agency, Volvo Cars and Powercell will produce two test cars based on the current Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric. Testing of the cars will begin in 2012.
'We have just taken the first steps and it is naturally too early to talk about market introduction of electric cars with Range Extenders. The industrial decision will come after we have learned more about fuel cells and the opportunities they offer,' said Mr Jacoby.