Honda to take hydrogen car into production

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US Honda will commence production of its FCX hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle (FCV) in three to four years, the company announced at the North American International Motor Show.

The concept vehicle features a fuel cell system that can deliver more power in less space, using a low-floor fuel cell platform.

This is achieved through the V Flow platform, where oxygen and hydrogen flow from the top to the bottom of the fuel cell stack and the fuel cells are arranged vertically in the centre tunnel for new, high-efficiency packaging. The system is compact enough to fit into the centre tunnel and produce 100kW of power.

The key to the fuel cell is water management, with the new system taking advantage of gravity to discharge water formed during electrical generation. This improves performance in sub-zero temperatures, providing a solution to the cold-weather start-up, a key obstacle to the commercialisation of FCVs.

Honda claimed the new V Flow fuel cell stack gives ultra-low temperature start-up performance on a par with that of petrol engines.

The FCX concept drive train features three energy-efficient motors, one 80kW in the front and a 25kW motor in each wheel, which leaves sufficient space in the car’s interior.

To counter the one barrier to FCV commercialisation — the need for lightweight and compact hydrogen storage — Honda has developed a fresh approach to expanding storage capacity. A newly developed hydrogen absorption material in the tank doubles capacity to 5kg of hydrogen at 5,000psi, extending the cruising range to 350 miles, equivalent to a petrol-driven car.

In a bid to ensure a hydrogen-based society Honda is also developing the Home Energy Station (HES), a system designed to meet residential needs by supplying electricity and heat in addition to the convenience of hydrogen refuelling cars at home. As well as reducing carbon emissions by 40 per cent, HES is expected to halve household costs for electricity, gas and vehicle fuel.