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New Technologies to Cars

New Technologies to Cars

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Published by Chinchay Guinto

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Chinchay Guinto on Feb 08, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/23/2010

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Green Technologies: Electric Cars with Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Two hundred years ago, Swiss engineer François Isaac de Rivaz invented an internalcombustion engine that used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen as fuel. But the car hedesigned to go with it was a failure. The first electric cars were invented some 25 yearslater, long before Messrs. Daimler, inventor of the modern gas engine in 1885, and Benz,recipient of patent DRP 37435 for a gas-fueled car in 1886, came along. At the turn of 20
th
Century electric cars were more popular than gasoline-powered models, for much thesame reasons that consumers are taking a second look at electric cars today: they did notemit noxious fumes, were quiet, smoother and easier to drive. So why did the more- polluting gasoline-powered cars take over the market? Several factors came into play.
Clean energy
Today’s internal combustion engines can be readily converted to run on a variety of fuels,including hydrogen. However, hydrogen fuel cells used to power cars with electricmotors are two to three times more efficient than gas-fuelled internal combustion engines.Moreover, they have zero-emissions and, because they have few moving parts, are quietand vibration-free. Hydrogen is one of the most plentiful elements in the universe. It can be extracted from natural gas, coal, crude oil, etc., but water is the only pollution-freesource of hydrogen. The hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water can be easily and cleanlysplit apart by electrolysis, ideally using electricity from clean sources, such as solar  panels and wind turbines. The resulting hydrogen can be compressed for storage and usein fuel cells. It was a Welsh physicist, William Grove, who in 1842 invented the firstsimple hydrogen fuel cell. Grove recombined hydrogen with oxygen – the reverse of the process of electrolysis – to produce electricity with only pure water as a by-product.
Francis Bacon, a chemical engineer at Cambridge University in the U.K,whose interest was piqued when he read the papers published byGrove some 100 years earlier, dramatically advanced the technology inthe 1950s. Pratt and Whitney licensed Bacon’s fuel cell patents in the1960s and further developed the technology for use by NASA – thesame fuel cell could provide electricity for in-flight power, heat andclean drinking water for the crews aboard space crafts. The Apollo,Gemini and all subsequent NASA missions, including the space shuttle,used fuel cells. Grove’s technology had come of age.A number of companies founded after the oil crisis of the 1970s based theirbusiness models on the hydrogen fuel cell as a clean source of renewable energy, using Grove’s paper and Bacon’s patent informationas the starting point for their research. Researchers are now workingon many types of fuels cells, as shown by the hundreds of internationalpatent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) forfuel cell-related inventions over the last few years.
In the 1990s, a researchteam at Ballard Power Systems in Canada made a major breakthrough when theydiscovered a way to increase the power density of hydrogen, upping the average figurefrom 200 Watts/liter to some 1,500. Using Ballard’s PEM fuel cell technology, a car witha motor of similar size to that of a gasoline car can match it in performance – going from
 
naught to 100 km/hour in 15 seconds, with top speeds around 150 km/hour. Thetechnology is also viable for residential use – electricity and heating – or as backup power applications.
Fill her up: Compressed hydrogen, please
DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Honda, General Motors, Mazda – all of these big car companieshave developed fuel cell concept cars, some of which have been delivered to customersfor trial. In 2003, a team from DaimlerChrysler crossed the U.S. in 12 days with the fuelcell NECAR 5, reaching a record speed of 160 Km/hour and proving that fuel cell carscould go the distance. Mazda started leasing fuel cell RX-8s to commercial customers inJapan in early 2006, making it the first manufacturer to put a hydrogen vehicle incustomer hands. Refueling currently remains a problem for customers, unless they live inCalifornia, which plans to build 150 to 200 hydrogen-fueling stations by 2010. A number of car companies aim to tackle the problem by providing consumers with home hydrogenrefueling units. Honda recently unveiled the third generation of a home unit designed inconjunction with U.S. fuel cell company Plug Power Inc. And GM, whose Vice ChairmanBob Lutz believes fuel cells could create a new golden age for the company, plans torelease a home model, which would make hydrogen either from electricity or sunlight, in2011. This year, GM aims to place 100 hydrogen fuel cell Chevrolet Equinox SUVs for trial with consumers.
Cars and Computers: Microsoft Develops New Technologies for theAutomobile Industry
REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 8, 2001 — 
The numbers speak for themselves. According tothe U.S. Department of Transportation, Americans spend more than 500 million"commuter hours" per week in their automobiles. More than 650 million cars areregistered worldwide, and more than 55 million new cars are sold annually. Automobiles,the ultimate in mobility, still play a key role in the lives of people around the world -- andtheyre here to stay. So are computers. While carburetors and operating systems mayseem like strange bedfellows, the bond between high-tech and what began as HenryFords dream in Detroit is growing stronger and deeper by the day. Technology is at work when you drive a car, when you buy one, when you interact with a dealer and even at theautomotive assembly plant. According to Microsoft, the company is committed to helpingconsumers, dealers, manufacturers and suppliers save money and time at key pointsthroughout the automobile industry.
Hydrogen –fuel-cell-powered Chevrolet Volt
General Motors(GM) unveiled a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered version of its ChevroletVolt concept, a family of electric cars that get a portion of their energy from being plugged into the electrical grid. The first version, announced in January, married plug-inelectric drive to a gasoline or ethanol generator that can recharge the battery. Butswapping out the generator for a fuel cell may be a step backward. That is in part because
 
 producing the hydrogen needed to power the fuel-cell version could increase rather thandecrease energy demand, and it may not make sense economically. "The possibility thatthis vehicle would be built successfully as a commercial vehicle seems to me rather unlikely," saysJoseph Romm, who managed energy-efficiency programs at theDepartment of Energy during the Clinton administration. "If you're going to the troubleof building a plug-in and therefore have an electric drive train and a battery capable of storing a charge, then you could have a cheap gasoline engine along with you, or anexpensive fuel cell." Consumers will likely opt for the cheaper version, Romm notes.Still, the Volt is part of a promising trend toward automotive electrification--which coulddecrease petroleum use and reduce carbon emissions. It is part of GM's response to ananticipated future in which both petroleum and carbon-dioxide emissions will carry aheavy price, driving consumers to buy vehicles that run on alternative, low-carbon power sources. The new Volt, announced in Shanghai, replaces the generator with a fuel celland cuts the battery pack in half, in part to make room for storing hydrogen. The lithium-ion battery pack can be recharged by plugging it in. The fuel cell kicks in immediatelywhen the car is started and provides power at a constant rate at which it is most efficient.If more power is needed, such as for acceleration or high speeds, the battery provides a boost of power, much like what happens in today's gas-electric hybrid vehicles. Whenless power is needed, such as when the vehicle is stopped or at low speeds, the batterystores energy to be used later. By allowing the fuel cell to run at a constant rate, the batteries improve efficiency, cutting down on hydrogen consumption. The battery further improves efficiency by storing energy generated during braking. Compared with earlier  prototypes, the new concept also uses a more advanced fuel-cell design (thinner stainless-steel parts were substituted for thick composite parts) and the vehicle is lighter, making it possible to have a 300-mile range using half the hydrogen.The car emits no harmfulemissions from the tailpipe. But because hydrogen fuel today is primarily made fromfossil fuels this means the carbon-dioxide emissions are simply happening someplaceelse, Romm notes. He says that using renewable energy to charge up the battery in thegas-generator version of the Volt makes more sense than using it to make hydrogen.That's because it's more efficient to charge a battery than to make hydrogen, compress it,and then convert it back into electricity using a fuel cell. Nick Zielinski, the chief engineer at GM responsible for advanced vehicle concepts, says that GM released thefuel-cell version in China because hydrogen has a better chance of taking hold there. InChina, energy infrastructure is still being developed, and gasoline and electricity may not be available everywhere. "They could develop a hydrogen infrastructure much sooner than we do here. And a fuel-cell vehicle may make more sense than a plug-in-to-gridoption because hydrogen may be much more accessible," Zielinski says. He adds that"hydrogen, when it's generated in a renewable way, produces no emissions. And that'swhere I think we'd like to get to."With the Volt, the power source can vary according tothe proposed market. In the original version revealed in January, likely to attractcustomers in the United States, the first 40 miles of driving are powered by energy storedin a battery pack that can be recharged by plugging it in. That's enough range for a typicaldaily commute. For longer trips, a gas- or ethanol-powered generator recharges the battery, allowing for an additional 600 miles of range. In Europe, diesel generators can beused, rather than gasoline generators or fuel cells. Other major automakers are alsodeveloping plug-in fuel-cell and battery-powered vehicles. In January, Ford unveiled a

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