• Jul 17th 2007 at 1:08PM
  • 25
Click on the bare Fusion for a high res gallery from the first track test

Last week Ford gave us the first look at the fuel cell-powered Fusion that they will be taking out to Bonneville next month to try and establish a top speed benchmark for production bodied fuel cell vehicles. This past weekend a group of twenty engineers and technicians from Ford and Roush took the Hydrogen Fusion 999 to the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, OH for its first track test as a complete vehicle and they invited AutoblogGreen to stop by.

The Fusion 999 project was born in early 2006 when Ford Fuel Cell Engineering Manager Mujeeb Ijaz approached Roush about doing a project to demonstrate the performance potential of a fuel cell-powered vehicle. Although they initially envisioned using a Focus body shell, once the analysis started it quickly became clear they would need something larger, so they switched to Fusion.

Continue reading the story of the Fusion 999's gestation and see video of the car after the jump.

  • Matt Zuehlk
  • Scott Staley and Matt Zuehlk
  • Driver Rick Byrnes
  • Driver Rick Byrnes

The team from Roush, led by Rick Darling, worked with a team of Ford engineers and technicians led by Matt Zuehlk to come up with a vehicle design that could meet the goal of exceeding 200mph on the Bonneville salt flats fueled only by hydrogen. Using computer simulations the team determined how much power and fuel would be needed to push a car wearing production Fusion body panels past the double century. Since the car only needed enough range to get through the seven mile course laid out on the salt a number of features normally used on road going fuel cell cars were discarded such as regenerative braking and a battery for parallel hybrid functionality.

Being essentially a drag racer, transient performance is also not really an issue for the Fusion so the battery hybrid functionality wouldn't be of much benefit. Since aerodynamic drag force increased exponentially as the speed increases, a tremendous amount of power is needed to move a car at 200 mph. It was determined that the Fusion would need about 350kW to achieve its goal. The fuel cell engineers at Ford, led by Shazad Butt, used the same type of Ballard fuel cell that's in the Focus FCV and essentially plumbed four of them together to create the stack for Fusion. Prior to vehicle integration the stack was bench tested at up to 336kW, a limit imposed by the electrical load sinks that were available. At full power the system will be putting out about 600A at 600V.

The car itself was designed and fabricated by Darling's team at Roush with the tube frame being built at the race shop in Livonia and final assembly and systems integration being done at Roush's Allen Park, Michigan facility. In order to minimize the drag, Ford's wind tunnel gurus created a sealed off front clip that will use NASCAR style stickers to replicate the Fusion face. Since air can't flow through the front bodywork an alternative method of cooling would be required. The space between the front wheels that's normally occupied by the engine now contains a stainless steel tub capable of holding 400lbs of ice. Enough heat is generated during the course of a three minute all-out run to completely turn that ice to liquid water.

The 999 drives the rear wheels through a stock Ford GT transaxle. In order to accommodate the powertrain, the rear wheels were moved back six inches relative to the front axle. The fuel cell stack is mounted under the floor and the entire car from the B-pillar back is filled with the fuel storage and delivery system. In order to maximize power output from the stack it was decided replace the usual air compressor with an on-board supply of oxygen. After initially evaluating a nitrox mix, the team decided to use heliox (helium-oxygen mix) with forty percent oxygen which was more than capable of achieving the required power. The back of the Fusion has two large tanks of compressed heliox and a 5000psi hydrogen tank containing 4kg of H2.

During the week before the track testing the completed car was dyno tested at Ford's sustainable mobility test lab to make sure the electric motor and drivetrain system worked properly. That testing was done by connecting an off-board electrical supply to drive the motor. Until the car got to TRC the full system of fuel cell and motor had never been run together on the vehicle. When I arrived on Sunday morning the team was completing their final systems checks and putting on the front body work. The just-completed car was still coated in primer for this initial test and will be getting its paint in the coming weeks prior to heading out west.

After rolling the car out of the garage they hooked it up to the push truck for the initial un-powered tests. Before starting the fuel cell stack they used a truck to push the Fusion up to 60mph so that driver Rick Byrnes could test the brakes and steering. Since this car is designed to go in a straight line at very high speeds the steering ratio has been reduced from the usual 16:1 to 40:1 to keep up from veering off course. Since stability is more important than handling on the salt nothing was done to reduce weight and although the team declined to disclose the weight, they did say that no extra ballast was needed as usually happens with LSR vehicles.

Once the un-powered tests were completed they got ready to run the car under power for the first time. They had already run the stack in the vehicle for the first time just idling and now it was time to try it in motion. For safety the entire rear compartment of the vehicle is sealed from the drivers compartment. Because the stack is running at higher than normal pressures to maximize power output there is some hydrogen leakage into the compartment. A purging system consisting of a tank of nitrogen that flows its contents into the fuel compartment is used to force out the hydrogen. Numerous sensors are used to monitor hydrogen levels and shut the system down if a problem is detected.

During the first attempt the nitrogen flow rate was lowered to ensure that it didn't run out but it was set too low and the safety system prevented the stack from starting up. After analyzing the data the engineers determined the problem and changed the flow rate back to normal and got ready to try again with a fresh bottle of nitrogen. A second attempt turned out the same. Ultimately they got the car running under its own power, just not all of it. As it turns out they were actually over-cooling the fuel cell stack causing it to run in a low power mode. They're headed back to the lab this week to recondition the system and modify the cooling system before they hit the track again.

Since no one has ever attempted a land speed record with a fuel cell car before there is no official class. That means the team doesn't have to make a two run within a pre-defined time period for this attempt. If Ford is successful and other teams show interest in future years the Bonneville organizers may create a specific class for such vehicles and there are rumors of at least one and possibly more companies working on their own challengers for next year and beyond. In the meantime, if Ford succeeds this year they will always be the first.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Since Hydrogen is made primarily from Natural Gas and will therefore keep us enslaved to the energy cartels who are desperately trying to force this inefficient fuel down our throats, the Fusion 999 should really be called the Fusion 666.

      Your ignorance is showing. Hydrogen can be derived from electrolyzing water from electricity generated by solar, wind or ocean wave/tidal motion, all of which have nothing to do with fossil fuels.
      Storage of hydrogen or heliox in tanks is obsolete as we speak. Generating hydrogen on demand from adding water to an aluminum/gallium alloy generates tremendous amounts of hydrogen, which negates the need for storage. Nanotube technology allows storage of hydrogen at relatively low 1500 psi.
      Read up on the subject before you comment. Don't just parrot the oil industry line. Thanks.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Let's think 2070 not 2007:
      - Electricity permits US energy independence and security because it can be produced here.
      - Electricity dramatically reduces pollution and green house gas emissions because it has no carbon, or any other emissions.
      - Electricity CAN be produced using renewable and eco-friendly processes without carbon...in 2007 natural gas use is common BUT "green" Electricity at a market acceptable price is absolutely necessary, and will prevail.
      - Electric refueling is convenient, the grid goes everywhere, and high speed charging or Zinc Air fuel cells or "electrified guideways" or 1,200 mile range Li-Air batteries will allow extended trips that we all expect.
      - Electricity can be produced using hydro-wind-thermo-solar-nuclear etc. power and can be readily stored via batteries or pumped storage. H2 is extremely bulky and not easily or cheaply stored.
      - Delivering Electricity via the high efficiency grid is now common, and on-site production is possible. Who wants thousands of high pressure H2 tankers clogging the streets to service all the H2 cars?
      - Considering that electrolysis/fuel cells is much less efficient and takes 3 to 4 times as much electrical energy as charger/batteries, does anyone think that the electrical grid can supply enough power for all the H2 electrolysis infrastructure during peak summer traffic demand, when today it can't handle a transient hot spell?
      - When discussing efficiency of energy transfer, don't forget the conversion losses in electrolyzer systems or the energy losses for compression or liquifaction, or the pumping losses in pipelines, or the leak losses;
      - Electricity is not preferred by the oil industry because they want to deliver H2 fuel using the methods they invested $ trillions in;
      - Electricity will not be the only energy-carrier answer, but certainly H2 will only play a very small role in 2070, perhaps as a range extender or rocket fuel.
      - Do you think people in 2070 (63 years) will prefer the more expensive less efficient H2 option?
      Can ya dig it?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Since the beginning of time most car innovations come from germany then the next year japanese imitate it then one more year and u.s imitate it too. A real dance in line. The germans invented fuel injection, plug over coil, electric fuelpump in the gas tank, abs breaking, etc. If they can break this habit i will buy from china or mexico or canada.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Holy crap, they scrapped nearly everything from this car, and it only gets 7 mile range.

      If they don't get any less than 0-60 in 3.9 seconds I'm gonna laugh :P



      I won't be impressed unless it's below 3.5 since thats what the WrightSpeed clocks in at.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If Toyota attempted this it would receive front-page treatment and be lauded as a "brave example of technology marrying with American love of speed".

      Since Ford is doing, it's called the "666".

      The hypocrisy is jaw-dropping.
      • 8 Years Ago
      10. Holy crap, they scrapped nearly everything from this car, and it only gets 7 mile range.

      If they don't get any less than 0-60 in 3.9 seconds I'm gonna laugh :P

      Your ignorance is showing...you know nothing about whats under the body...but I suppose you could do better
      • 7 Years Ago
      Okay, so every square inch of the car is filled with HIGH PRESSURE TANKS and HIGH VOLTAGE WIRING, and all that only gets you 7 miles down the road?

      Yes, this technology will be out soon...
      • 8 Years Ago
      There are lots of ways to make H2, but all are expensive and inefficient. The cheapest source of H2 is to react methane CH4 with steam H2O at high temperatures to produce H2 and CO2. That is why the oil companies and oil man Bush is pushing the "H2 economy" - they will be the ones selling the costly new fuel and they will be the main source of supply. Sorry, RS, you are the one parroting the oil company line.

      The "AlGa water" reaction is an expensive process and not very efficient. It produces a large volume of gas, but H2 is very low density and that large volume has very little energy. It would be more efficient and a lot less expensive to use aluminum in an aluminum air fuel cell, and forget the wasteful H2 conversion step.

      Carbon nanotube turn out to be poor at storing H2, unless "seeded" with metal atoms. The metal by itself is better at storing H2. Of course, "nanotubes" are the latest buzzword, so the H2 researchers just had to try it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      You folks agree on nothing!

      You might as well us magnetically induced electricity from free universal energy sources like what Steron proposes with its Orbo technology:

      Orbo is based upon the principle of time variant magneto-mechanical interactions. The core output from our Orbo technology is mechanical. This mechanical energy can be converted into electrical energy using standard generator technology either by integrating such technology directly with Orbo or by connecting the mechanical output from Orbo to the generation technology. The efficiency of such mechanical/electrical conversions is highly dependent on the components used and is also a function of size.

      Orbo technology is subject to continuous development. This development is focused on improving the manufacturability of the technology, production costs and power density. Orbo was initially developed as using stop-start mechanisms (with a power density of 0.5 Watts per cm3), Steorn is currently finalizing the development of constant motion systems and a significant improvement in power density is anticipated.
      • 8 Years Ago

      Hydrogen is the perfect alternative fuel, and with recent advances in conversion, it is only a matter of time before we see it become the economical alternative, as well as it is the pollution solution alternative. I commend Ford for bringing hydrogen into the mainstream of news, this will do far more for the industry than all the small under funded inventors combined. It is all about money, and if the gov. funded more hydrogen research, we wouldn't be in this foreign oil dependency situation which is bleeding us dry.

      • 8 Years Ago
      "Us Folks" don't agree on everything, but those of us who understand basic physics agree that Steorn and their "Orbo" is an elaborate hoax.

      There is no development, as there is no actual working models to be developed. Not suprising, they can't build an actual working model of something that cannot possibly work. What we get from Steorn is a lot of self-promotion and hype, and endless excuses as to why they cannot deliver on their promises.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The car is named the Ford Hydrogen Fusion 999, but some silly twit will get the wrong idea. "Fusion" is just a model name, the car runs on conventional hydrogen fuel cells, not nuclear fusion.

      I mention this because the "nanodetonator" website (mentioned in post #4) is an elaborate scam promoting a phony "controlled hydrogen fusion" engine using "nanodetonator cartridges" that are supposed to replace the spark plugs in your car and "precisely fuse two atoms of hydrogen" using "Robinson Waves". The site is filled with elaborate nonsensical pseudoscientific bafflegab and tall tales to fool the gullible.

      One of those tall tales is a supposed confirmation by Dr Edward Teller, that Dr. Teller had also invented the same fusion engine and had tried for years to get investor funding, but couldn't. Nonsense. Dr. Teller had many contacts in high places, including universities, the military, the Nuclear industry (GE, Westinghouse), and even President Reagan. If Dr. Teller had really invented a working fusion engine, he would have had no trouble getting all the funding he could ever want. The Military would certainly welcome such a power plant, they eagerly adapted nuclear reactors to ships and subs, and even tried nuclear aircrsft (failed due to excessive weight and safety concerns). Nope, it's all a lie, Dr. Teller never invented a working fusion engine. He certainly did not spend the last years of his life trying to fund this makebelieve fusion engine. Teller actually spent the last years of his life promoting Reagans "Star Wars" defense initiative.

      They aren't actually selling these imaginary "nanodetonator cartridges", nor are they offering any demonstrations or photos or illustrations. No, they are selling "dealerships" to fools who think this will be the next "big thing". They promise to start shipping after they've gotten "sufficient funds" (in other words, enough to skip town and retire to some luzurious tax haven).
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