Peugeot Citroen unveils smallest auto fuel cell

PSA Peugeot Citroen has announced its GENEPAC fuel cell product - the smallest automotive fuel cell available so far.

PSA chairman Jean-Marie Folz stresses that fuel cell technology is still at an early stage, and that diesels and biofuel diesel were the best short term solution, with hybrid diesels a viable mid-term solution.

Developed in partnership with the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the 80 kw GENEPAC (GENerateur Electrique a Pile A Combustible) is about the size of a small suitcase (see picture) and weighs about 80 kg. A video describing the GENEPAC's design and operation is available here.

The initial application for the GENEPAC will be in a "range extender" vehicle - a battery/fuel cell combination in which a 20 kw fuel cell provides steady power for the car, with the batteries kicking in to provide extra power as required.

The major barrier to widespread use of fuel cells is their cost - driven by reliance on platinum or gold as a key component of the fuel stack modules. However, PSA Peugeot Citroen hope to cut the current cost of fuel cell production in half by 2010, bringing the technology within reach for practical automotive applications.

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