Systems for Automobiles
Fuel cells are clean, fuel efficient, and fuel flexible. Any hydrogen-rich material can serve as a potential fuel source for this developing technology. Possibilities include fossil-derived fuels, such as natural gas, petroleum distillates, liquid propane, and gasified coal, or renewable fuels, such as ethanol, methanol, or hydrogen.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) partnered with Ford Motor Company to develop full functional, zero-emission fuel-cell power-system technology for automotive applications. The purpose of this work was to demonstrate the technology in a complete laboratory propulsion system.
This fuel-cell system, which operates on direct hydrogen, should achieve weights and volumes competitive with those of internal-combustion-engine propulsion systems. It should also have the potential to meet competitive production costs.
- The world's first direct-hydrogen fuel-cell power system producing more than 50 kilowatts of electrical power without an air compressor was developed by International Fuel Cells under a DOE contract with Ford.
- This system generates enough power to propel a lightweight mid-size car.
- Eliminating the need for a compressor greatly simplifies the system and decreases the auxiliary power requirements, a change resulting in greater energy efficiency.
- The power plant weighs 300 pounds, has a volume of eight cubic feet, and can easily fit under the hood of the car.
- Achieves high fuel economy (two to three times higher than conventional engines).
- Produces zero pollution.
- Uses non-petroleum fuel.
- Reduces U.S. dependence on imported oil.
- Low-cost components are necessary for the system to be competitive.
- Low-cost, high-volume manufacturing methods must be developed.
- Lightweight, compact, and affordable hydrogen storage system technologies must be developed.
Ford Motor Corporation
International Fuel Cells
Fuel Cell Program
The Department of Energy recognized the potential of fuel cells for transportation applications and began development of a phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC) powered bus in 1987.
Reprinted from the Department of Energy