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Fuel cell cars: not science fiction!

First published on the Cleantech Investor website, 4 April 2014

Hyundai Fuel Cell Vehicle ouside City Hall, London (2012)A hydrogen future is becoming a reality in London and five other European cities, with the launch of the HyFive (Hydrogen For Innovative Vehicles), project, the largest of its kind in Europe. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, says HyFive - which involves a fleet 110 fuel cell vehicles - will demonstrate that hydrogen “is not science fiction”. A total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell cars will be deployed throughout six European cities (Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich and Stuttgart), alongside the development of hydrogen refuelling station clusters. The project, funded to the tune of €38 million (£31 million) by the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and the industrial partners, is being co-ordinated by the Mayor of London’s Office.

The FCH JU is contributing funding of €18 million with the balance of €20 million coming from the partners. The vehicles will be supplied by BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota. And hydrogen fuel companies involved in the project include Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde and OMV. Hydrogen filling stations will be built and operated in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy and the UK. All refuelling stations share internationally agreed fuel and re-fuelling standards.

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Methanol and Fuel Cells: Range Extenders for BEV

altA Fuel Cell Today Analyst View, by Dan Carter, republished courtesy of Fuel Cell Today

 

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Methanol is an attractive fuel for a wide variety of fuel cell applications. It is currently enjoying success across the world in various stationary applications, is of interest to the military in a number of countries to fuel portable fuel cells and is also extending the range and operational lifetime of batteries powering a small number of niche transport applications, such as materials handling vehicles. We have written a number of Analyst Views on the subject over the past two years covering the applications mentioned above, discussing methanol’s environmental credentials and the potential to generate renewable methanol, and most recently the work by Danish company Serenergy which was demonstrating the potential for methanol to power range extenders for small battery electric city cars. The major automotive OEMs however have not shown interest in the technology for many years, instead focussing on compressed hydrogen storage in combination with low-temperature fuel cells; that is until earlier this year.

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Hydrogen Infrastructure Developments in the USA

altA Fuel Cell Today Analyst View, by Dan Carter, republished courtesy of Fuel Cell Today

 

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The USA has a long history in trying to encourage the adoption of hydrogen as a transportation fuel. Its automakers led early attempts at introducing hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and attempts have been made to develop the necessary infrastructure on both the East and West Coasts.

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The Cost of Platinum in Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

altA Fuel Cell Today Analyst View, by Dan Carter, republished courtesy of Fuel Cell Today

 

Just over two years ago, I wrote an article on the subject of platinum and its use in low temperature fuel cells. At that time the price of platinum was rising steadily and had reached its highest point since before the global financial crisis. It therefore came as no surprise that the subject of substituting platinum with cheaper materials was a hot topic. Since then platinum has decreased in price by around 20% and this drop has taken place despite the destabilising pressures in the South African mining industry which have not gone away, such as threats of strike action and shortages in electricity supply. With the imminent release of fuel cell electric vehicles in the coming years how much does the cost of platinum affect the cost of fuel cells and what is being done about it?

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