Fuel cell vehicles on the global agenda
Fuel cell vehicles have been largely overshadowed by battery-powered electric cars, but the vehicle industry is working extensively on hydrogen-based mobility solutions. f-cell, an international trade event for the hydrogen and fuel cell industry, will provide a comprehensive overview of relevant international markets and technological advances.
In Germany, cars, buses and commercial vehicles are responsible for around 18% of carbon dioxide emissions. Climate change mitigation can, therefore, only succeed with a transport revolution. Fuel cell technology is tipped to be a significant contributor to this shift in transportation.
Fuel cell vehicles offer a climate-friendly solution over long distances, particularly when driving distances exceed 250 km. In this situation, fuel cell vehicles have an advantage over battery-powered cars. From a climate perspective, battery-powered electric cars with a small battery and limited range are the most eco-friendly means of individual transportation by car. In contrast, for vehicles with a range of several hundred kilometres, fuel cells are more economical than batteries when it comes to emissions.
In July 2019, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE performed a life cycle comparison of battery and fuel cell vehicles as part of a study commissioned by H2 Mobility Germany, with the aim of determining the greenhouse gas footprint of alternative drive concepts. The research team found that a fuel cell car travelling over a long distance emits fewer greenhouse gases than a comparable battery-powered vehicle charged using the mix of energy from the German grid.
The high cost of fuel cell vehicles currently acts as a barrier to wide adoption of the vehicles, as does the modest hydrogen filling station network in Germany. Development of infrastructure is necessary to accompany the switch to eco-friendly vehicles: there are currently 72 hydrogen filling stations in Germany able to refuel fuel cell vehicles. It is estimated that, by the end of 2019, there will be 100, and by 2025, a total of 400.
f-cell trade event
The international hydrogen and fuel cell industry will meet at the f-cell trade event in Stuttgart, Germany, on 10–11 September to discuss the future of fuel cell technology. Experts from Fraunhofer ISE will present their study findings, as well as results of other relevant research, at their exhibition booth. The findings will also form part of the panel discussion ‘f-cell Talk: What Drives our Future’.
Moderated by Jürgen Pfeiffer, researchers and industry representatives will discuss the great mix of alternative mobility technologies — including hydrogen, batteries and synthetic fuels — required to achieve a long-term, effective reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
f-cell exhibitor e-mobil BW, the state agency for new mobility solutions, will explore the use of raw materials for electric mobility. According to the agency, the goal of sustainability, in regards to raw material extraction and recycling for battery-powered electric and fuel cell vehicles, will determine the costs and future of the technologies. Information on e-mobil BW’s current study, investigating solutions for the problem of raw materials for electromobility, will be available at the event.
Hands-on technology at the f-cell
f-cell attendees will have the opportunity for a close encounter with a fuel cell car. The Mercedes GLC F-Cell is the latest hydrogen-powered offering from the Stuttgart-based automotive manufacturer. The SUV is a fuel cell plug-in hybrid with rechargeable battery. Once refuelled with hydrogen, the vehicle has a range of 430 km. An integrated battery extends this by another 50 km. The GLC is currently only available to rent by selected customers and partners, but at the f-cell trade event, visitors can see the car live.
In addition to hydrogen vehicles for private use, fuel cell technology also offers great opportunities for commercial and local passenger transport. The French bus manufacturer SAFRA will present its Businova bus concept at f-cell. The vehicle has an electric motor that is fed by a powerful battery, which in turn gets its energy from a 30 kW fuel cell. This means that the bus has a range of around 300 climate-friendly kilometres.
24-Hour Hydrogen Challenge
In the lead-up to this year’s f-cell, a 24-hour rally will take place on Monday, 9 September. The ‘24-Hour Hydrogen Challenge’ will see teams starting in Stuttgart to head to various checkpoints within 24 hours on a self-chosen route across Germany. The winners will be announced at the f-cell evening event on 10 September.
For more information about the f-cell event, visit www.f-cell.de.
When: 10–11 September 2019
Where: Haus der Wirtschaft, Stuttgart, Germany
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