Even as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles gather increasing attention, it's a less exotic - and these days a surprisingly more mainstream - auto technology that's set to showcase the near-term viability of hydrogen fuel.
ANAHEIM, California Even as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles gather increasing attention, it's a less exotic - and these days a surprisingly more mainstream - auto technology that's set to showcase the near-term viability of hydrogen fuel.
Hydrogen hybrids, which combine the high fuel economy attributes of today's most popular gasoline- electric hybrid model with the near-zero emissions of internal combustion engines running on hydrogen. The result is an extremely clean-running vehicle that effortlessly uses the same environmentally positive fuel as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but at a lower cost.
Several examples of this approach are being fielded by Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD Ovonics), developer of a solid storage medium for hydrogen vehicles. Using metal-hydride technology being commercialized by the company's Ovonic Hydrogen Systems subsidiary, these hydrogen hybrids carry their fuel in low-pressure fuel tanks that absorb hydrogen in powdered metal alloys, and then release gaseous hydrogen on demand to power a hybrid's internal combustion engine. The same storage technology can be used for hydrogen fuel cells.
Ovonic Hydrogen Systems' hydrogen hybrids are part of a demonstration program being launched by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the air pollution control agency for four Southern California counties that have historically faced significant air quality challenges. The technology is featured in an article running in the Fall 2005 issue of the auto enthusiast magazine Green Car Journal, as well as on the magazine's companion website, Green Car Journal Online (www.greencar.com).
This approach to hydrogen storage is unique in several important ways. Because a pressurized storage vessel can hold a larger volume of hydrogen when using metal-hydrides than without them, greater driving range is provided. Range is one of the key challenges being faced today by fuel cell vehicles.
Ovonic Hydrogen Systems' method of storing hydrogen in metal-hydrides at low pressures of under 300 psi is contrary to the trend currently being set by fuel cell vehicle developers. Present-day fuel cell vehicles typically offer inadequate driving range because of the limited fuel carried by their first- generation 5,000 psi hydrogen storage cylinders. Because of this, automakers are exploring 10,000 psi hydrogen storage as a potential solution for their fuel cell vehicles. Storing hydrogen in metal form at low-pressures provides a safer and more practical answer.
Additional information on hydrogen storage technology, along with how ECD Ovonics' discoveries in amorphous, disordered, and related materials are being applied to nickel-metal-hydride batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, advanced photovoltaics, phase-change optical and electronic memory, and the Ovonic Threshold Switch, can be found on the company's website at www.ovonic.com.
Source: PR Newswire, Energy Conversion Devices, Inc.