• Dec 23rd 2009 at 4:08PM
  • 19
Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid - click above for high-res image gallery

Ballard Power Systems has announced that it has received a $24 million contract from Daimler to supply its FCvelocity fuel cell systems. At the beginning of 2008, Ballard sold off its automotive fuel cell assets to Daimler and Ford but retained its commercial business for heavy duty and stationary applications. The FCvelocity systems are designed for applications like trucks and buses.

Daimler recently unveiled its latest-generation Citaro FuelCell hybrid bus, which uses the fuel cell in a series hybrid configuration. The first thirty of these buses are due to go in service in 2010. Ballard will start deliveries in April 2010.

  • Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid im Fahrbetrieb. Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid in operation.
  • Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid im Hamburger Hafen. Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid at Hamburg Harbour.

[Source: Ballard]

PRESS RELEASE:

Ballard Announces Supply Agreement with Daimler AG

VANCOUVER, Dec 22, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Ballard Power Systems (TSX: BLD; NASDAQ: BLDP) today announced a supply agreement with Daimler AG for FCvelocity(TM) fuel cell products for Daimler AG's fuel cell car and bus programs. The agreement provides for minimum revenue of approximately $24 million over eighteen months from April 2010, with roughly equal distribution in 2010 and 2011.

John Sheridan, Ballard's President & CEO said, "We are very pleased to be working with Daimler AG, a clear global leader in fuel cell car and bus programs."

He continued, "Automotive is one of the most demanding power applications in terms of efficiency, reliability and safety. As such, this major fuel cell order for the automotive market provides further testimony of Ballard's leading fuel cell product capabilities for commercial clean power applications in backup power, distributed generation and material handling."




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  • 19 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Transit agency in Santa Clara published a memo in 2008
      reporting that on average the cost of running its fuel cell buses
      was 32 times more than the conventional diesel buses !

      The memo also states that fuel cell buses also exhibit a limited
      service life compared to diesel buses , and the reliability and
      availability remain lower !

      + wait for it , Yes the Fuel Cell stack lasted on average less
      than 17,000 miles before replacement !!!!!!!!!!!!

      To all you hydrogen-huggers out there , things will not look so rosey
      when you have to pay for your second or maybe third replacement
      stack before your car has covered 100,000 miles !

      link to the report
      http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/02/transit-agency.html

      link to the Great Hydrogen Swindle
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5thFx4hqFQ
        • 5 Years Ago
        PEM fuel cells for vehicles have been in development for well over a decade.

        They are well past the prototype stage, but costs remain high and lifespan remains too short for even the least demanding vehicle applications.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The NREL site has good links to fuel cell bus testing in the US.

        http://www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/proj_fc_bus_eval.html

        This link is specifically for the Santa Clara (VTA) FC Bus program results:

        http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/tech_validation/pdfs/40615.pdf

        "Fuel Economy—During the evaluation period, the fuel cell buses averaged 3.12 miles per kg of hydrogen, which translates into 3.52 miles per diesel equivalent gallons (or miles per gallon—mpg). This fuel economy includes all hydrogen fuel added to the buses even if there was some venting for maintenance or testing during the evaluation period. The diesel study group had a fuel economy of 3.98 mpg. With the diesel buses as the baseline, the fuel cell buses had a fuel economy 12% lower on an energy equivalent basis. Note that the electric propulsion design of the fuel cell buses does not include regenerative braking. Figure ES-3 shows the monthly average fuel economies of the fuel cell and diesel buses."

        "Maintenance Costs—The maintenance costs in this report pertain to only the evaluation period (March 2005 through July 2006) for the two study groups of buses. All work orders for the study buses were collected and analyzed for this evaluation. For this analysis, the labor rate for maintenance was set at a constant $50 per hour; this is not reflective of an average rate at VTA.
        Total maintenance costs were $3.55 per mile for the fuel cell buses and $0.54 per mile for the diesel buses. The total maintenance costs are much lower for the diesel buses compared to the fuel cell buses.

        This reflects the fact that the fuel cell buses are in the prototype development stage for transit bus service, which caused a need for significant mechanic labor for troubleshooting."

        As for the higher-than expected hydrogen cost, that was the result of issues with the hydrogen fueling station itself. Again, in an experimental test situation using prototype equipment, some equipment failure should be expected. The failures lead to improvements in design and procedure - part of the experiment's goal of understanding how FC buses and their infrastructure will need to be operated.

        "Several incidents occurred at the VTA station that resulted in excessive venting or hydrogen leaks. On at least three separate occasions, vapor clouds were detected by VTA personnel at the hydrogen fueling facility.

        The first incident occurred in October 2004. It involved a small leak and vapor cloud at the front of the liquid hydrogen storage tank. The leak occurred at the stem packing of a cryogenic valve. VTA personnel signaled for an evacuation and pulled the fire alarm to notify the fire department. An Air Products technician diagnosed the problem and stopped the leak by tightening the packing vent valve. Although the repair was simple and quick, the incident involved the San Jose fire and police departments and resulted in a temporary evacuation of the facility. Several training issues were discovered during the incident. The local E-stop, or remote shut down using the electrical breaker, was not activated by personnel on site; however, this would not have stopped the leak. Additionally, a faulty fire alarm pull box did not signal the fire department.

        The second incident, which occurred in February 2005, involved a small leak and vapor cloud at the fueling facility. The leak occurred at the prototype cryogenic compressor. VTA personnel activated the E-stop at the dispenser to shut down the system and notified Air Products. The leak was isolated and the system was placed back into service with the primary cryogenic compressor. Repairs were made to fix the leak and the prototype cryogenic compressor was returned to service.

        The third incident occurred during a bus fueling at the station in May 2005. The prototype cryogenic compressor continued to operate, but was not providing any hydrogen flow into the system or the fuel cell bus. The system was venting excessively and continuously. The bus fueling was stopped and VTA staff notified Air Products. The prototype compressor kept running even though the cascade tanks were not filling and venting continued. When the prototype compressor shut down, the primary system came online as back up. VTA personnel then noticed a leak and vapor cloud at the primary compressor. VTA personnel shut down the entire system using the E-stop button. An Air Products technician corrected the primary compressor leak to get the system back online. The prototype compressor needed more extensive repairs, necessitating the continued use of the primary compressor."
        • 5 Years Ago
        Prototype buses participating in tests aren't all going to have rosy results. The parts costs are high currently due to the fact that they are often produced in very small numbers - if not custom made for each application.

        However, the Citaro FC buses by Daimler have been much more successful, and FC transit bus testing programs around the world are having more positive responses.



        • 5 Years Ago
        "PEM fuel cells for vehicles have been in development for well over a decade.

        They are well past the prototype stage, but costs remain high and lifespan remains too short for even the least demanding vehicle applications."

        Yes PEM fuel cells have been in development for a long time. Many decades in fact.

        By MANY COMPANIES who are NOT sharing research.

        Some companies have early prototypes. Some companies have advanced prototypes. Some companies claim that they are ready or nearly ready for mass production.

        The performance of the Santa Clara buses is no indication of the performance of the latest gen Citaro buses.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "It boils down to different technologies being suitable for different places, just as European cities currently differ from American ones."

      That is part of it.

      Certainly, waste heat from refromation could be used in New York city (or Detroit, Chicago, etc) buildings during the winter.

      And in cold climates in general, waste heat from the fuel cell itself can be used to warm the interior and defrost the windshield.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The standard combustion engine is about 30% efficient, but regular diesel engines are about 38% efficient. New diesel engine and free piston engines can reach 50% efficiency or more."
        -David Martin

        This is still theoretical... the website is not exactly a credible scientific journal.

        Real world standard combustion engine is about 20% efficient... NOT 30%
        And Diesels are about 30%.... not 38%

        And I have yet to see any IC engine get anywhere near 50% efficiency... even hybrids

        Lets say an EV is about 80% efficient from "battery/tank to distance traveled" which includes ALL losses from energy conversion the battery/ICE, motor, transmissions, gearing, tires, air, etc.

        A typical EV @ 5 miles/kwh is quite reasonable
        that puts 100% efficiency at about 6 miles/kwh
        Gasoline contains 34 kwh/gal and even the best hybrids with Atkinson cycle get 65 mpg

        Tesla --- 240miles / (42.4kwh usable) = 5.66 miles/kwh or 94.3% efficient (110wh/km)
        Hybrid --- 65mpg / 34 kwh/gal = 1.91 miles/kwh or 31.8% overall efficiency
        Diesel --- 50mpg / 34 kwh/gal = 1.47 miles/kwh or 24.5% overall efficiency
        Gas --- 30mpg / 34 kwh/gal = 0.88 miles/kwh or 14.7% overall efficiency

        These are standard EPA figures and represent the total efficiency from "battery/tank to distance traveled" which includes motor/engine, transmission, rolling, and air resistance for a standard driving cycle. The IC engines are about 5% more efficient than the above figures if you exclude losses after the engine.

        • 5 Years Ago
        There's no use for waste heat in vehicle applications - it's just dumped to the local environment.

        In residential use, however, waste heat is dumped into water for heating/hot water needs.

        For vehicles, we're stuck with fuel cells whose real-world efficiency isn't much better than a turbo-diesel ICE but costs several thousand dollars per kW.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Using the waste heat from the fuel cell in the vehicle would capture more of the otherwise wasted energy, in addition to that captured by reforming at the gas station.
        It should also be noted that some progress has been made in thermoelectrics to capture waste heat as electricity:
        'Heat flows in a car and using thermoelectrics to tap the waste heat. The standard combustion engine is about 30% efficient, but regular diesel engines are about 38% efficient. New diesel engine and free piston engines can reach 50% efficiency or more. The energy for cooling can also be reduced using thermoelectrics.'

        http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/11/four-times-more-than-current-efficiency.html

        None of this is to say that for many purposes and a lot of the miles we travel batteries are not the better option, but we may be able to reduce the inefficiencies and hassles of using hydrogen where batteries will not do.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Joe,
        The termionic technology highlighted is highly speculative. I should have made it clear that I was just drawing attention to the fairly distant possibility of using some of any excess heat to provide some power, as a kind of addenda to my basic suggestion that some places in Europe are set up so that they may be able to make use of the waste heat in reforming natural or biogas to hydrogen to provide district hot water.
        Any idea of how that would affect the efficiency of hydrogen production?
        Any ball-park figures might help - BTW, Merry Christmas to you and all here - it is now the 25th in the UK!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hydrogen is the future. Not battery power.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Toyota roadmap seems to be looking to larger vehicles as more suitable for fuel cells, and Volvo are also doign work in that direction.
        On board reformers are a lot more practical for these big vehicles, perhaps meaning that the hassles of hydrogen can be avoided.
        For the time being, fuel cell vehicles should realy be regarded as a variant of natural gas powered transport, as that is where the hydrogen comes from.
        Biogas can also be used.
        In Europe a partial solution to the energy inefficiency of fuel cells as against batteries may be possible.
        Here is the use of fuel cells in the home:
        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23451723/
        'Their plain gray fuel cell is about the size of a suitcase and sits just outside their door next to a tank that turns out to be a water heater. In the process of producing electricity, the fuel cell gives off enough warmth to heat water for the home.'

        One can imagine a larger version of this technology converting natural gas to hydrogen at a filling station, avoiding many of the hassles and expense of distributing hydrogen, and since combined heat and power is common in Europe the otherwise wasted heat providing hot water to the district systems common there.

        This would not work in the States, and would involve large amounts of investment even in Britain, as the houses aren't plumbed in and people don't live as densely as in apartment-dwelling Dutchmen or Germans.

        It boils down to different technologies being suitable for different places, just as European cities currently differ from American ones.
        • 5 Years Ago
        With continued development, batteries will start with small, short range applications and work their way to larger longer ranges.

        Fuel cells will start with larger, longer range applications, and move towards smaller shorter range applications. Especially with fleets and urban areas where infrastructure development costs will be more manageable.

        Where they meet in the middle will depend on competing levels of development.

        Government ZEV mandates and subsidies will only override natural progress temporarily.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry, my brain is not working very well tonight.
        This is the relevant bit of the article I referenced:
        'The oxygen the fuel cell uses comes from the air and the hydrogen is extracted from natural gas piped to many homes for heating and cooking. A device called a reformer in the same box as the fuel cell does the extracting, which creates the poisonous byproduct carbon monoxide.

        Another machine in the gray box cleans adds oxygen to make the carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. Even though carbon dioxide contributes to global warming, it isn't poisonous.'

        I am not clear on how much process heat is generated at this stage, as opposed to the later stage for the home unit of turning the hydrogen into electricity.
        I assume it would capture a substantial portion of the waste energy in converting natural gas to hydrogen, but I have no figures.
        Can anyone make a guesstimate?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good Chris, you and the oil companies pay for it please. I will pay for batteries.

        Chris, your post should truthfully read... Natural gas is the future. Not hydrogen power.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That is a sweeping statement based on a few expensive buses!
        I have defended the use fo fuel cells many times on this forum , but that does not mean that we should get carried away in the other direction.
        Once again, batteries and fuel cells are synergistic, not mutually exclusive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should reverse the fuel cell at night and make hydrogen. Just connect the bus to a cheap source of electricity, the perfect electric bus.
        • 5 Years Ago
        NREL (and ITM Power in a separate venture) use electricity - NREL uses renewable sources - to produce H2, which is then compressed and stored. The stored H2 can be used in FCVs, or it can be reconverted back into electricity and returned to the grid.

        It's certainly not the most efficient, but I'd like to see the battery that would be capable of holding a specific amount of energy indefinitely.

        "The Wind2H2 project links wind turbines to electrolyzers, which pass the wind-generated electricity through water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be stored and used later to generate electricity from an internal combustion engine or a fuel cell.

        The goal of the Wind2H2 project is to improve the system efficiency of producing hydrogen from renewable resources in quantities large enough and at costs low enough to compete with traditional energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas."

        http://www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/proj_wind_hydrogen.html

        You'd probably really like ITM's home H2 generator:

        http://www.itm-power.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=146&Itemid=60
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why bother?

        It would be far cheaper and more efficient to store any excess electricity in even lead-acid batteries than to make hydrogen via electrolysis and then convert that hydrogen back to electricity via a fuel cell.
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