• Mar 29th 2010 at 9:05AM
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A quarter century ago, BMW established a special research and development center under the BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH. As BMW Technik celebrates its silver anniversary, it has revealed the existence of hydrogen hybrid 1 series concept. BMW has been working on hydrogen-fueled vehicles since at least the mid-1990s, but most of that work has revolved around hydrogen internal combustion rather than fuel cell electric vehicles.

This new concept is a through-the-road hybrid that uses a both a small gasoline engine and a small five-kilowatt fuel cell. The fuel cell works in combination with a bank of super-capacitors for electrical energy storage. An inline-four gasoline engine is transversely mounted and drives the front wheels. The fuel cell, which is developed from one that BMW has been testing mainly as an auxiliary power unit to generate the electricity needed for the car, is mounted behind the engine. This fuel cell is used to charge the super-caps, which also store energy from regenerative braking. The super-caps drive an 82 kilowatt electric motor at the rear axle.

The electric drive can be used on its own for low-speed urban driving or combined with the engine for on-demand all-wheel drive and acceleration. At highway speeds, the engine provides primary drive. We don't know if this concept drivetrain will go anywhere or if BMW will persist with the super-caps or switch to lithium ion batteries. BMW hasn't revealed any details about electric driving range or performance.

[Source: BMW]


Anniversary: Premiere for fascinating concept vehicles and pioneering technologies.

The history of BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH has been defined by a long track record of concept vehicles and technological innovations which generated pioneering impetus for the development of series vehicles, components and systems. The influence of research projects exerts varying effects on series development, depending on the subject focus and complexity. The scope ranges from direct implementation in the form of a concrete project to long-term development of technology competence. BMW Group Research and Technology is presenting a selection of projects to celebrate this landmark anniversary. The specialists working at the centre have developed these projects and some of them will be experienced for the first time outside the confines of the well-guarded laboratories and workshops.

One of the first projects to be launched by the fledgling subsidiary company was the prototype for a BMW Z1 Coupé developed in 1988. This vehicle was created within the framework of a concept development based on the very first project of the new subsidiary – the BMW Z1 roadster produced in a limited series. The development engineers were interested in methods and technologies to facilitate a maximally efficient extension of a vehicle concept to additional derivatives. The knowledge gained from this project was used for the BMW Z3 series model, which was produced as a roadster and coupé, and for the first generation of the BMW Z4, which was also manufactured in open- top and closed versions.

A fuel-cell hybrid vehicle based on the BMW 1 Series is another project being presented in the public domain for the first time. This project developed by BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH shows a highly innovative form of hybrid technology developed within the framework of Efficient Dynamics in conjunction with the use of hydrogen as a fuel. Alongside a four-cylinder petrol engine, the research vehicle has an electric power unit for city traffic. The electrical energy is generated by a small fuel cell in the form of an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) and stored temporarily in high-performance capacitors. These so-called super caps cover the performance peaks for acceleration and taking off at traffic lights, and store the electricity generated during braking. Using a comparatively small fuel cell to generate electricity from hydrogen achieves a high level of efficiency for city traffic, while the internal combustion engine is only used for high-speed journeys. This combination could have the capability to provide an emission-free range of several hundred kilometres in city traffic and facilitate "recharging" within the space of a few minutes – this is in addition to the mobility reserves provided by the internal combustion engine for long-distance travel.

BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH is also celebrating its anniversary by providing a unique insight into innovative projects in the area of intelligent networking between driver, vehicle and environment. BMW ConnectedDrive already delivers a package of driver-assisted systems and mobility services that is unique throughout the world. These systems enhance comfort and safety, as well as optimising infotainment functions in the vehicle. The current research projects in this area include the narrow-passage assistant, which assists drivers if they are driving along particularly narrow lanes, for example near building works, and the emergency stop assistant which brings the vehicle safely to a stop if there is a medical emergency.

The latest success of the joint venture between BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH and Munich Technical University (CAR@TUM) is also presented. The project "IT-Motive 2020" involves the researchers developing an innovative architecture for information and communication technology integrated within the vehicle that permits functions previously distributed over a large number of different control units to be pooled in a homogeneous communication network. The aim is to provide a consistent hardware platform for displaying the continually expanding number of vehicle, comfort and safety functions.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      im interrested to buy for cash near where i live this half green car at 15000$ to 20000$ max.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Add at least one zero to the end of those numbers, then you might approach the cost of this car. I suspect you might even need to add 2 zeros to reach the cost to produce this prototype. IIRC the current Honda FCX Clarity costs over $500k to make. The previous one cost over $1mil.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, talk about a rube goldberg powertrain.

      Go all the way and add a turbo!!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dave D, now that i think of it, supercaps sound great for a mild hybrid system with stop & go. I wonder if someone out there is using an alternator/starter setup with supercaps as we speak..
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dave D,
        If you take a close look at the press release it is clear that they have a physical prototype at their research department, they have just decided to release some details now.
        As for the comments on the complexity, that fuel cells will always cost a fortune, and so on, they remind me a great deal of a lot of the commentary before, during and after the launch of the Prius, or perhaps some of the comments directed rather earlier to the Wright brothers!
        I see no reason to doubt the claims of the likes of GM that they have concluded their basic fuel cell research and are now moving on to production engineering, and that is for fuel cells a great deal larger than 5kw.
        It looks like some must have inside information from the relevant R & D departments at the companies concerned! :-)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hi Dave D,
        I take your point.
        Presumably the point is to go to a zero emissions vehicle for town driving, as it would certainly be easier to use ancillary power from the ICE one way or another.
        Having said that, the real idea on a prototype like this is surely to learn more about the subsystems which comprise it, and how they interact.

        For a practical town runabout though, if you want zero emissions but a long range, then the dispensable bit would seem to be the ICE!
        I feel that we are in for a long period of dialogue between capacitors, batteries, fuel cells, lotus range extenders and whatever which will take some working out, is not soluble on purely theoretical grounds but is likely to be very hands on, and has anyway no one optimum solution to all uses.
        • 5 Years Ago
        David Martin

        I don't have a source for my statement at hand, I know a read it somewhere a long time back.

        OTOH, PEM fuel cells do show better efficiency than DMFC, with PEMs at up to 70% and DMFCs at up to 30%. There's also the issue of emissions, DMFCs still emit CO2 from the tailpipe - another reason H2 PEMs were preferred was to end CO2 from being emitted from tailpipes.

        H2 PEMs are also proven at the powers needed by automobiles, whereas DMFCs seem to be better situated for lower-power devices, such as consumer electronics.

        All this could change, of course.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Actually, I'm a big fan of fuel cells and I don't talk about them enough. I just happen to prefer direct methanol fuel cells or something along those lines, especially for vehicles. I've just yet to be convinced that the hydrogen side of things makes economic sense."

        There's a simple reason why all the automakers are focusing on hydrogen: standardization.

        They had FCVs that could run on various hydrogen-rich liquids and gases, but those vehicles required on-board reformation, adding weight, cost, and complexity.

        The automakers realized if they all worked with H2 FCs, the reformation step could be unloaded from the vehicle, and done somewhere else - most specifically, at the refueling stations. This would also allow the refueling stations to offer one product (H2) instead of requiring them to carry a variety of other fuels (alcohols, nat gas, etc.)

        • 5 Years Ago
        LOL, right. Make it a quadruple fail instead of just a triple. Luckily this is just a drawing, it doesn't actually exist and I doubt it ever will.
        Someone thinks that because there are some caps in the Prius we'll be seeing them powering vehicles? There are caps in your stereo and computer as well, have been for decades.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Caps are good for smoothing out electric jolts and such.. or maybe short bursts of power.. but EEstor type stuff? hm, i doubt it.

        Capacitors i've seen and dealt with don't store much energy relative to their size... at least they're light.. NiMH seems leaps and bounds better though ( the patent expires in 2015.. ;) )

        Anyway looks like failwhale to me. I thought my BMW was a pain in the ass to maintain.. Jesus crisp
        • 5 Years Ago
        David M.
        Sorry, but I never said it didn't exist and I'm not trying to pick on fuel cells and their cost specifically. If BMW or GM or Toyota...or whoever, can come up with an affordable fuel cell stack and solve the hydrogen infrastructure problem, storage, etc...more power to them and good luck.

        In this case, I was talking about the complexity of adding ANYTHING to a car to generate a simple, extra 6Wh of energy to a supercap pack while sitting at a stop light so you can accelerate when the light turns green. It's silly. That supercap pack is fairly full from your last regen braking and you only need about another 6Wh to top it off! I'm assuming city driving here where you stop and start around 0-25mph...or accelerate to pass someone from 70-75mph on the freeway.

        The supercaps are a perfect option to make this happen but it's just not a lot of energy in the scheme of things.

        Hell just steal a few watts from the existing alternator or something and top of the supercaps so they're ready. Or as I said before....throw a hamster on a wheel under the hood and give him some peanuts.

        A fuel cell, a Mr. Fusion, a windmill, solar panels...hell anything is just overkill for this little bit of energy. They've already got a full ICE in the car...why add yet something else for that tiny flow of power??? I'm just talking common sense here.

        As I said before....the guys are BMW are smart enough to see this so I can only assume this is a showcase for technology.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Neptronix, You nailed it :-) People are indeed doing that as we speak:


        David M,
        You brought up the important point I was overlooking: Zero pollution in city traffic! I'm all for anything that gets rid of the smog and crap we breathe downtown in most major cities. Even someone who doesn't believe in global warming can't claim to enjoy a face full of smoke billowing out of the exhaust pipe in front of you when you're walking down a city street and some diesel bus kicks it into gear!

        Actually, I'm a big fan of fuel cells and I don't talk about them enough. I just happen to prefer direct methanol fuel cells or something along those lines, especially for vehicles. I've just yet to be convinced that the hydrogen side of things makes economic sense.

        But like I said, if someone proves me wrong there, then I'll gladly eat my words...and buy someone a steak dinner that wants to wager me on it :-)
        • 5 Years Ago
        ROFL Good point.

        Hey guys, why not also throw in a flywheel and a hydraulic hybrid while your at it! Lets do this thing right!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dave D,
        Continental AG is also bringing out a stop/start system this year using Maxwell ultracaps:

        You are preaching to the converted when you talk about methanol in a fc - Letstakeawalk - have you a link or anything for the idea that carmakers have agreed to go for hydrogen to avoid doing competing things?
        It sounds reasonable, but I can't be sure.

        DME would also be great carrier for fuel cells, and less dangerous if it got in the eyes than methanol.
        JoeVoicie made some penetrating comments on the use of DME in a fuel cell though, chiefly to do with the power density, so perhaps ultracaps could get around it.
        To restate a question I had which you seem to have missed, any idea how much ultracap energy would be needed by the subject of this article?
        Is it around 100-150 watts?
      • 5 Years Ago
      WTF is that?

      A 5KW fuel cell is useless. Ok more useless...

      5KW isn't enough to do anything. Why go through the expense/complexity of adding yet another energy source when it does so little.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They are claiming that it is enough to power the city driving requirements as a charger for the capacitors.
        Or perhaps more accurately since it is a prototype they are testing it to see if it will, but their engineering calculations must be showing that it does.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not only idle time when driving in municipal areas allowing a 5 kW FC to spend sufficient energy for recharging. An electric motor can be effectively controlled to deliver power as required. It is not always peak power that is requested on demand; it's dependent on the momentary situation. Rapid acceleration in rural areas or on the highway will surely come closer to peak power than driving in the city.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Snowdog, I agree with your question: WTF?

        But first let me say that their numbers work and make perfect sense for true stop and go city traffic:

        - A 3000lb. car needs only 23Wh to accelerate from 0-25mph (another 4Wh if you throw in mechanical losses and a small aerodynamic loss) => so let's say 27Wh

        - A 5kW generator produces 43Wh sitting at a stop light for 30 seconds.

        - Supercaps are over 97% efficient, round trip, so considering the total losses from your last regen braking (about 10% for mechanical losses) you will get about 21Wh back from your last braking (assuming you were going about 25mph when you hit the brakes)

        - So that means you just need an additional 6Wh added to the supercaps to handle your next acceleration to 25mph. Hell, that 5kW fuel cell could do that in less than 5 seconds....

        Having said all that....we have a BIG WTF??? You'd pay all that money for a fuel cell to generate 5Wh??????

        Are you guys nuts? Hell, put a hamster on a wheel under the hood and give him a peanut every time you hit a red light!

        The guys at BMW are pretty sharp so I can only assume this incredible cost/complexity overkill is just to show technologies off???

        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, I guess if you are spending a lot of time just sitting in traffic, it can charge back up, but basing a power system on that seems nuts. It is very limited use for the costs.

        Not to mention a KWh of (actual not EEStor snake oil) ultra cap storage weighs and costs about 10 times what battery storage does.

        This doesn't even seem like practical research.
      • 5 Years Ago
      First response nailed it. A fuel cell, batteries, electric motor, hydrogen storage, AND a gas engine? It will be way to expensive and there will be no room left for passengers & luggage. Stupid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, putting aside the hydrogen thing that we always argue about, it is an interesting idea. It follows the similar idea as the VW plug-in hybrid (front wheels gas, rear wheels electric) except replacing the plug-in part with hydrogen.

      However, like others, I seriously doubt 5kW of PEM is going to do much even with the super-cap bank (which supposedly doesn't store much energy either). Either they need to drastically increase the buffer or they have to increase the PEM size to something a lot closer to the average usage of a car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's retarded. A three way hybrid. Electrical storage, fuel cell and a gasoline engine.

      I bet it's going to be cheap too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Scratch that. Totally missed the gas engine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's just a regular Hybrid. Fuel-Cell/Electric. All hybrids have some sort of energy storage.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The price of a 5kw fuel cell stack is also presumably much less than a full-blown one to power a car everywhere, as they are pretty much plugged together from modular units.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It seems to me that installing an electric drivetrain on the rear axle wastes a lot of potential regenerative braking.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They are talking about using the ICE for highway cruising, so presumably you would not be braking much - most of it is in city driving, which is where the fc comes in.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can see that they would want to standardize, but I'm not sure I agree with you on why that is predominant. If the goal was to get off of petroleum then I think we could have done it with DMFC's already, or at least be well on our way.

      In the section "Important Findings" of the following report, it makes a pretty good case for DMFCs. Granted, this is from the methanol industry so they're going to paint a very rosy picture, but my other readings tend to agree with most of their facts.


      I hate to say it, but I'm still pretty convinced that the car industry bought into H2 because it gave them a lot longer to keep making money on the hundreds of billions of dollars of sunk cost they have in manufacturing current auto tech and delayed anything that was more realistic short-medium term. I'm not saying they're evil. That is responsible business if you're one of the execs at a major car manufacturer. You're there to make money, not throw away sunk costs because something greener came along.

      But that doesn't mean the rest of us have to like their agenda or agree with it. I personallly have zero dollars invested in the current car makers so I couldn't care less if they have profit problems....well, I do because I don't want to see people lose their jobs but you know what I'm saying.

      I think that big oil has the same incentives to keep us using their products. And they either have now, or are buying up, the natural gas reserves so they can keep making money from us as well because that is where H2 comes from...steam reformed natural gas.
      Hell, that's what companies do, they make money and it's not evil. Now when they screw other companies that could provide a better or cleaner alternative by paying for lobbyist to get tax breaks and screw other companies such as methanol producers and have their product declared a "hazardous material"...now that is evil in my opinion. And the petroleum and ethanol folks BOTH helped get that legislation passed.

      I don't want to give my money to petroleum companies anymore.

      Maybe that's why I choose to believe the folks who push other alternatives like the methanol. I think H2 is a stalling tactic for companies that make money today and want to keep making money from us in the future. I want to give my money to someone that I think has a bigger interest in our well being and won't ship hundreds of billions of dollars a year out of our economy.

      Where is Carney when I need him??? LOL
        • 5 Years Ago
        David Martin,

        That's 5 KW and not kwh. Big difference.
        The $300 per "kwh" for a hydrogen is a bit confusing. That price can only be derived if the size of the tank is known. And it has no regard to the size and power of the PEM fuel cell.

        A tiny 100 watt hydrogen fuel cell with a big fat hydrogen tank could provide 500 kwh if need be. It would just take 5,000 hours (or about 7 months) to do it.


        In case you meant $300 per kw for a hydrogen fuel cell:
        I have not seen anything with that price yet. Can you link a source? No predictions or projections please. Thank.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Two comments, after I state that I have no preference in what fuels a fuel cell vehicle; I just pointed out what I thought was a reasonable rationale for using hydrogen.

        1. That link is old, prior to 2003 based on context. Unfortunately, based on current events, a DMFC would no longer qualify as a ZEV, because the EPA plans to classify CO2 as a pollutant, and DMFCs emit CO2.

        2. "If the goal was to get off of petroleum..." that's not what I said. I said the goal was to eliminate CO2 from tailpipe emissions.

        Again, let me reiterate, I think DMFCs are great in lower-power applications like portable electronics. But right now, the emitting of CO2 as a waste product is a deal-killer for DMFCVs.

        I'm glad that more individuals are comfortable expressing support for FCVs here on ABG - things seem to be changing for the positive!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hi Dave D.
        That report is rather old, so it's estimate of $300kwh for fuel cell costs is even more encouraging, especially since it includes the methanol reformer.
        That makes the cost of the little 5 kwh fuel cell stack to do all your running around town sound attractive, at least if you need to do more miles than the 14.5 or so that a plug-in Prius would travel.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've seen much better prices than that for those same batteries. I've seen them as low as $350/kWh and here's one I just found just now for $412/kWh (so whoever is charging $640/kWh is getting some really nice margins!):

        I also wish we could consider more modest starting points for PHEVs. Everyone wants to go with 10-12kWh. I think even 6kWh would be a hell of an improvement and give most people a 24mile+ range (even further in city driving if they had about 50Wh of supercaps to make the regen more efficient and extend the life of that battery pack so it lasted a good 7-10 years).

        At that 6kWh size, and a $350 price, a PHEV pack would be about $2,100 and would more than pay for itself, with lots of city driving, within a few years. An 100 mile pack for a full EV would be $8,400. Suddenly those numbers don't look so bad.

        I think we've fallen in love with a 40 mile range for PHEVs. Sure there was a DOT stat showing that 40 miles covers 78% of all daily commutes. But a 24 mile AER would still cover over 50% of commutes and would put a big dent in overall petroleum use. Those crazy numbers like that Volt guys gave at 230+ MPGe start making sense in the real world for a lot of people.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Dave D

        I'd just like to mention that while Thundersky batteries are cheap, you get what you pay for. Many BEV enthusiasts on this site have said that Thundersky batteries really aren't worthy of consideration, so we typically consider them an outlier when pricing Li-ion batteries.

        Kind of like using the prototype FC price estimates - they're so far off what a true market price would be that they are worthless to use for comparison - although it is fair to point out that a FCV concept car costs about the same as an ICE concept car...

        I am one who believes that PEM FC prices are dropping substantially faster than many would accept, but agree that we'll have to wait a few years before we have any real hard numbers. Projections, OTOH, typically indicate that FCVs will have a lower cost premium over a typical ICE than a BEV - due fact that hydrogen storage tanks currently have far greater energy density than batteries do at the present time.

        • 5 Years Ago
        I am a member of the EV Club of the South here in Atlanta and a lot of the folks here have used the Thundersky batteries with great results. As you say, it may be a luck of the draw though.

        On the other hand, I have real bids from a large battery manufacturer to give us $350/kWh for 2011 and $250/kWh in 2012. Granted, that is for very large volumes and for cell prices only, not a finished pack. But those would be locked in prices from a well established manufacturer who currently supplies large concerns in Europe and the US for buses and trucks.

        I don't have any similar data for the fuel cell side so I could not speak to that side at all. But what I do know from direct interactions on the battery side makes me skeptical of all the negative predictions for battery prices that people keep throwing out.

        I can't share the spedifics on here publicaly, but I do know you invest from your other posts so if you'd like to contact me and join us to throw some money into this venture then I'd be glad to have you on board.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As I have already said, putting in kwh instead of kw was a typo rather than due to fundamental misunderstanding of the distinction.
        As for projections of dropping costs being 'ridiculous' of course they are speculative, but most of this blog is that.
        If we wish to stick solely to current technology, we would be reading 'What Car' instead of spending time here.
        Since fuel cells have dropped greatly in size and usage of precious metals in the lab, and the likes of GM are now moving these gains from the labs to the production line, it does not seem absurd to me to expect substantial cost improvements.
        Of course batteries are rather further advanced, but many even now are still trying to argue that for cars lithium batteries are over $1,000kwh, mainly those who are not able to produce cheaper batteries.
        I agree that fuel cells able to economically put out 50kw or so of power are still some way off, but 5kw does not seem that far fetched.
        • 5 Years Ago
        LOL Sorry Letstakeawalk....the get off petroleum was actually my own editorial. I didn't mean to attribute it to you. :-)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ho Joevioci,
        Sorry about the typo of kwh when I meant kw.
        As for the fuel cell costs, I was simply using the figures Dave D supplied from his link:
        and working out the implications of that, which is an old link for a methanol fuel cell.
        However, although I can see the reason behind your caution in looking at projected costs, this does not appear appropriate to me for such an immature technology.
        Of course no one has actual production cost figures, as no one is producing them in quantity yet.
        It's fair to say that we are no-where near in sight of the goal of producing fuel cells at around $50/kw which would make them one for one comparable with ICE, but equally clear that a lot of progress has been made.

        It seems clear that something along the lines of the small plant BMW suggests here would be viable a lot sooner than a full-sized fc unit, so I was running the figures to see what that costing would do.

        This estimate for cost per kw is in the same ball-park:
        OTOH this store is selling them for thousands of dollars kw:
        • 5 Years Ago
        @David Martin,

        So beyond the optimism of the Hydrogen or Methanol Fuel Cell lobby and someones $200 research paper, you can see why I am skeptical.

        There is just WAY TOO MUCH MUD. Everybody seems to have an agenda. The Lithium Ion battery projections and predictions are just as bad too.

        There is just so much variation to what people claim. So it is reasonable and logical to throw out speculation. And only consider what is currently available to buy.

        And you can currently buy Hydrogen fuel cells at $3,000 per KW.
        And you can currently buy Lithium Ion batteries at $625 per Kwh. (@www.electricmotodepot.com)

        I understand they will become cheaper! But batteries are in the lead on costs.

        You need about 25 KW for a FC range extender and 80 KW for a small car.
        You need about 12 Kwh for a plugin hybrid battery and 24 kwh for a 100 mile car and about 72 kwh for 300 mile car.

        Using today's prices that we can buy right now...
        $75,000 Fuel Cell range extender or a $240,000 FC car.
        $7,500 for a ER-EV battery, $15,000 for 100 mile pack, or $45,000 for a 300 mile pack.

        Fuel Cells have MUCH further to go than batteries.

        For fuel cells, kwh is irrelevant because energy content is contained in the size and compression of the hydrogen tank.
        And battery KW (power) is disregarded because Lithium batteries of reasonable energy content will have more than enough power density for an EV.


        Any wide-eyed optimism of fuel cell costs plummeting is as ridiculous (or as trust worthy) as battery prices plummeting.

        For every advancement in fuel cell tech. I can name one (or two) advancements in battery tech.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dave D:
        There are many sources from which H2 can be derived. The most abundant and cheapest is H2O.
        Are you familiar with the latest technology?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, I'm familiar with the latest findings on sunlight to directly produce H2. But you'll note that they give you no real information to give you any idea if this is cost affective and the information they do give is erroneous. Conventional splitting of H2O to get H2 is 70% efficient already and still not cost effective. Yet they claim this new method is 60% efficient and "that is three times as efficient as today's methods".

        So, how can they claim that today's methods are only 20% efficient? Are they talking about using photovoltaics to generate the electricity? If that's the comparison they're making, great but I'd love to see what PV's they're using to even get 20% efficiency.

        That is like the folks claiming that Lithium-Air batteries work. Yeah, but at what cost and how many cycles, etc???

        As Joe said above, I'm trying to compare technologies available today because the speculation is too rampant on all sides for the future.
      • 5 Years Ago
      David M,
      Sorry, I did miss your other question about the energy needed. A BMW 1 series car weighs about 3250lbs. So if you were trying to accelerate it all the way from 0 to 60 on the supercaps alone, you would need about 153 Wh (including frictional/mechanical losses as well as aerodynamic losses).
      But you have to remember, that in the case of this BMW, you are ONLY using supercaps and the electric motor to supplement the ICE's power. So you would really need a lot less for normal acceleration...and we're back to that ~50Wh probably.

      So how much you would "need" depends on your goal. If you were trying to accelerate with all electric power then you'd need the full 153Wh and you'd need to get that from the fuel cell which would take a nearly two minutes to generate it. If you were just doing accelerations for city driving say, topping out at 40mph, then you'd only need about 66Wh. The needs go up quickly as speed increases as the energy is 1/2 mass *

      And the aerodynamic resistance goes WAY up if you start getting into race car territory, say over 150mph. Then the aero resistance dominates everything else as you get close to 200mph.

        • 5 Years Ago
        SOFCs run at really high temperatures and are difficult to turn on and off quickly, making them difficult to manage for automobiles, but they may find homes in maritime applications.


        Molten Carbonate FCs are also good for maritime use.


        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, there are hassles with every kind if fuel cell, including SOFC's.
        However, there are significant advantages too, for instance SOFCs do not use precious metal, and:
        'Fortunately, the SOFC can operate on partially pre-reformed hydrocarbons
        (unspecified mixture of H2, CO and CmHn) as the reforming process is continued in
        the cell itself and carbon poisoning is not an issue. The endothermic process can
        be integrated into the gas manifolds or the stack itself to provide cooling and to
        recover waste heat for the chemical conversion. As a consequence, SOFCs with
        integrated reformer can reach overall conversion efficiencies of over 60%.'


        SOFCs for transport should combine very well with ultracaps, as they could rapidly bring them up to temperature.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks Dave.
        Those numbers come together really well.
        So a reasonable definition of a car for town use which could avoid the use of the ICE might have 100watts, for say $2000, and then you have the fuel stack at, say, $300kwh so that adds another $1500.
        Of course, you still have the hydrogen tanks, transformer, electric motor and systems integration to pay for, but it doesn't sound too stupid to me.If you only need around 15 miles a day of emission free driving, batteries are likely the better choice, but if you do 30 miles and up in urban conditions then you are saving a heck of a weight and cost in batteries.
        As for methanol vs hydrogen, my own perhaps naive guess is that they are just trying to get the simplest fuel cell working, without the added layer of complication of on-board reforming.
        There are a lot of things 'out there', including SOFC which might be great solutions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope they spend a fortune on it, it's never going to be any of my money.
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