Objective of the Project

Electric cars and light commercial vehicles will play an important role in future urban transportation. However, some important challenges remain. One such challenge is the limited energy capacity of the batteries. Although the driving range that can currently be achieved in electric vehicles would be sufficient for most urban transportation tasks under good conditions, some environmental conditions such as cold weather can cause a significant reduction in the driving range. As this is due to the parasitic consumption of power by appliances such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and others an additional on-board power source should help to mitigate the problem. One requirement for this power source is that it should not cause strong emissions, so that the advantages of electric driving can be maintained. Also, it must not create further obstacles to the market introduction of electric vehicles, for example by dependence on an unusual fuel.

Our Approach

The goal of the project is to develop a fuel cell system consisting of an HTPEMFC stack and steam reformer that can provide the required electrical and thermal energy while operating on conventional fuels such as petrol or diesel.

Technical Targets

  • net power output
  • 3 kWel
  • weight
  • < 150 kg
  • volume
  • < 225 L
  • electrical efficiency referred
    to LHV incl. reforming
  • continuous operation
  • ≥ 28%
  • incl. start-stop cycling
  • ≥ 25%

    Advantages and Challenges of the Concept

    A combination of steam reformer and HTPEMFC provides the best compromise between the use of a fuel with existing infrastructure, low emissions, and the requirement of frequent start-stop cycling. This selected approach also poses some technical challenges:

    Solution Strategies

    Within the project a solution will be developed to overcome these challenges. In order to avoid storing liquid water on board the vehicle, the system will be designed to recover the required amount of water from the system exhaust. Innovative metallic bipolar plates, protected against corrosion by a costefficient coating, will be used to increase the power density of the system. To increase the resilience of the HT-PEMFC MEA against transient exposure to liquid water the hydrophobic properties of the gas diffusion layer and the electrode will be optimized.

    Project Background

    The project is part of the ERA-NET+ program Electromobilty+. The project started in April 2012 and has a duration of three years.