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The Race for EVs

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Hydrogen Fuel Cell as Range Extender for Electric Van

August 28th 2017

Israeli battery vehicle MIA

In the recent past, the battery electric principle has gained a lead over hydrogen fuel cells in the market of emission-free propulsion principles. However, it is certainly too early to pronounce them dead. Now ULEMCo, a British company focusing on developing such drives for commercial vehicles, came up with a new suggestion: A fuel cell that acts as a range extender for a series battery electric van.

ULEMCo has developed a fuel cell based unit that will extend vehicle range by supplying additional power to the standard Nissan e-NV200 van; particularly targeting the need from vehicle operators for improved utility of electric vehicles when fully loaded. With the combination of the on-board hydrogen storage and fuel cell module, the van will have a range of over 150 miles (241 km) when laden, satisfying the range requirements of most average daily delivery operations for this size of van. 

The power module has been engineered to provide additional energy to the vehicle  so that the operational practicality of the full electric vehicle can be widened to cope with seasonal range variation, working lifetime, and the impact on range when fully loaded - all things that currently limit the range of duties an operator can target for existing for zero-emission commercial vehicles.

Using a 12kW fuel cell and 1.6 kg/day on-board hydrogen storage capability, the van will have almost twice the range of the standard e-NV200, measured to NEDC standards. Since the fuel cell module will be roof mounted, it won’t occupy valuable load space. The development is particularly relevant as the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) is specifically targeted to be eligible under Great Britain’s recently announced Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) support scheme. The OLEV Hydrogen for Transport Programme was launched last week to provide up to £23m of new grant funding until 2020 to support the growth of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, alongside the deployment of new vehicles via an open competition for both Hydrogen Refuelling Stations and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
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