Extended Range for Hydrogen Vehicles

Extended range with metal hydride storage is now a reality

Large scale use of hydrogen vehicles requires that they have the same range as gasoline fueled vehicles. This challenge is being addressed by an innovative hydrogen vehicle from Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) which has now started fleet testing at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) in Diamond Bar, California.

The advanced vehicle is a high-profile test designed to prove that hydrogen hybrids can be practical in daily life. The vehicle also serves to showcase ECD Ovonic(R) solid metal hydrogen storage technology. Based on a production gasoline-electric hybrid model, it is part of a five year, $7 million multi-vehicle hydrogen hybrid demonstration at AQMD. Additional ECD Ovonics hydrogen hybrids are expected to join the fleet in the coming months, and one is already in service at ECD Ovonics’ headquarters in Rochester Hill, Michigan.

“The ECD Ovonics hydrogen hybrid will help demonstrate this emerging technology and address current storage and range limitations,” says Chung Liu, D.Env., Deputy Executive Officer of Technology Advancement for the South Coast AQMD. “This technology will help us expand our region’s hydrogen infrastructure and serve as a stepping stone to longer-term future technologies including fuel cell vehicles.”

ECD Ovonics’ hydrogen hybrid has been equipped with hydrogen storage tanks using the company’s proprietary solid metal hydride technology, which enables hydrogen to bond at the atomic level with a powdered metal alloy inside the tanks. This technology allows storing hydrogen at much lower pressures than the 5,000 to 10,000 psi storage tanks typically used in other hydrogen vehicle applications. The result is the ability to carry a greater volume of hydrogen on-board to provide increased driving range, in this case to almost 200 miles.

“That’s substantially greater range than most hydrogen vehicles today, and an important milestone toward making hydrogen vehicles a practical alternative for the highway,” says Robert Stempel, chairman and CEO of ECD Ovonics. “Our goal is to apply the diverse technologies based on ECD Ovonics’ proprietary work to make advanced hybrid, hydrogen, and fuel cell vehicles competitive in the marketplace. This hydrogen hybrid vehicle is a great example of that evolutionary process.”

ECD Ovonics’ hydrogen hybrid has been turbocharged to compensate for hydrogen’s lower energy density and enhance overall performance and drivability. Refueling during fleet testing is taking place at a hydrogen station at the South Coast AQMD headquarters, which has been specially modified to refuel the vehicle at a low 1,500 psi.
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