Volvo, which has been busy testing out its C30 DRIVe Electric green car, wants to extend the range this vehicle can go via fuel cell technology. The automaker, working with research support from the Swedish Energy Agency, is developing this technology with the aim to have two prototype chassis based on the C30 DRIVe ready for testing in everyday traffic in 2012.
Volvo certainly isn’t alone in its endeavor to bring fuel cell technology to cars and trucks – a number of its competitors around the globe are trying it out as well. With its approach, Volvo believes it can increase the electric car’s operating range by up to 250 kilometres – in addition to the range provided by the car’s battery pack.
Volvo, working with Powercell Sweden AB, is first studying the range extender concept, which it says “consists of a fuel cell with a reformer. The task of the reformer is to break down a liquid fuel, in this case petrol, and create hydrogen gas. In the fuel cell, this hydrogen gas is converted into electrical energy, which is used to power the car’s electric motor.” If all goes well with this study, next up will be the prototypes.
“This is an exciting expansion of our focus on electrification,” said Volvo Cars President and CEO Stefan Jacoby in a statement. “Battery cost and size means that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. Fuel cells may be one way of extending the distance these cars can cover before they need to be recharged. What is more, the project gives us increased knowledge about fuel cells and hydrogen gas.”
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