NEWS In December 2002, Toyota became one of the first companies to commercialize FCHVs, when it began selling them on a limited basis in Japan and the US. A fuel cell hybrid bus (FCHV bus), which Toyota developed jointly with Hino Motors, has been in operation in and around Centrair since July 2006. Initial trials of an FCHV bus began early last year [FCB, April 2006]. The FCHV to be used by Yamato Transport has been modified by Toyota for freight purposes, and the transport company has acquired a commercial registration. The vehicle’s decals have been changed, and equipment necessary for transporting freight has been installed. The vehicle has a maximum load capacity of 150 kg and can seat two occupants, and has a top speed of 155 km/h (96 mph). It features an electric-motor hybrid system powered by a NiMH battery and 90 kW PEM fuel cell, supplied with high-pressure hydrogen. For more on the Toyota FCHV program, go to: www.toyota.co.jp/en/tech/environment/fchv
Protonex, Millennium Cell to develop UAV fuel system
assachusetts-based Protonex Technology has awarded Millennium Cell in New Jersey a subcontract to jointly develop a fuel system for long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) missions. As the prime contractor for the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Protonex is developing a UAV power system that will combine Millennium Cell’s Hydrogen on Demand technology with a high-power fuel cell system designed to increase current UAV flight times from under 2 h to over 6 h. Protonex is working with UAV manufacturers to find ways of integrating its high-performance power plant with their systems to meet the demand for significantly longer flight times, with a greater payload, which is currently difficult to achieve using existing battery-powered systems. ‘After reviewing potential hydrogen storage options and systems, we have determined that Millennium Cell’s Hydrogen on Demand technology is the best choice to meet the high performance requirements of UAV applications,’ comments Scott Pearson, CEO of Protonex. ‘We are developing products which will solve critical power needs for our military customers, and are pleased to be working with a proven partner.’
This high-performance fuel cell power system will address the rapidly growing segment of military UAVs, which are designed for surveillance, search and rescue, chemical–biological monitoring and other critical missions requiring extended flight times. Contact: Millennium Cell Inc, Eatontown, New Jersey, USA. Tel: +1 732 542 4000, www.millenniumcell.com Or contact: Protonex Technology Corporation, Southborough, Massachusetts, USA. Tel: +1 508 490 9960, www.protonex.com
Ballard secures European bus service contracts
anada’s Ballard Power Systems has secured contract extensions with DaimlerChrysler to provide field service to the Mercedes-Benz fuel cell bus fleets in Hamburg, Germany and Amsterdam, The Netherlands during 2007 and 2008. This is the second extension for these two city-partners of the HyFLEET:CUTE demonstration program – a follow-on to the successful Clean Urban Transport for Europe (CUTE) program established in 2003. ‘The extension of the nine Hamburg and three Amsterdam buses reflects the positive experience our customers have had with the HyFLEET:CUTE program,’ says Noordin Nanji, Ballard’s VP and chief customer officer. ‘The performance of the European fuel cell buses, particularly with respect to availability and durability, has far exceeded expectations. Several fuel cell stacks have run for more than 4000 h, and availability of the fuel cell drive systems for the Hamburg and Amsterdam buses averaged 98% in 2006.’ Ballard says that the continued operation of the fuel cell buses over the next year – in addition to the ongoing operation of fuel cell buses in Beijing in China, Perth in Australia and Santa Clara in California – will provide it with valuable data on how the fuel cell buses perform in different geographies and climates. Since 2003, buses using Ballard technology have operated for more than 115 000 h, clocked more than 1.7 million km and safely delivered more than 6 million passengers to their destinations. Contact: Ballard Power Systems Inc, Burnaby, BC, Canada. Tel: +1 604 454 0900, www.ballard.com For more on the HyFLEET:CUTE program, go to: www.global-hydrogen-bus-platform.com
IN BRIEF Nippon Oil, Cosmo Oil link for fuel cell ops In Tokyo, Nippon Oil Corporation (www. eneos.co.jp) and Cosmo Oil Company (www. cosmo-oil.co.jp) have agreed to tie up in fuel cell operations, in a bid to cut costs and accelerate the widespread adoption of the technology. The companies already collaborate in oil distribution, refining and lubricants. Under the agreement, Cosmo Oil will sell fuel cell systems co-developed by Nippon Oil and Ebara Corporation, and by Nippon Oil and Sanyo Electric. In the past two fiscal years (to March) Nippon Oil has sold 446 fuel cell units, while Cosmo Oil sold 29 units, according to a Dow Jones report. Plug aims to install 400 GenCores in 2007 NY-based Plug Power reports that during the first quarter of 2007 it has installed a record number of its GenCore fuel cell systems – a back-up power source for the telecoms industry. It installed 63 in the first three months, compared with 28 in the first quarter of 2006. The company’s objective in 2007 is to install 400 systems. It received orders for three GenCore units during the first three months of 2007, compared with 52 orders in the equivalent period of 2006. The lower level of orders reflects the timing of closing new contracts with existing and prospective customers. It shipped 41 systems in the first quarter of 2007, compared with 15 a year earlier. Hydrogen absorption material could cut cost of fuel cell cars A research group at Tokai University in Tokyo has synthesized a new type of hydrogen absorption compound made from inexpensive materials, which exceeds the 3 wt% absorption criterion set by automakers as a prerequisite for fuel cell cars. The intermetallic compound is made by rotating microparticles of magnesium and aluminum at high speed under vacuum conditions, at room temperature. This mechanical alloying yields a compound that is all in the ‘gamma’ phase. By optimizing the ratio of magnesium to aluminum and adding 1% niobium oxide as a catalyst, the researchers obtained a material able to absorb 4.3 wt% of hydrogen. Other requirements are that the compound works at temperatures of 150–200°C, and that it absorbs and releases the hydrogen in 10 min. According to a Nikkei Business Daily report, the new compound operates at 300°C and takes around 1 h to absorb and release hydrogen, but the researchers believe that they can clear both hurdles using a different catalyst. Compounds based on palladium can absorb more than 5 wt% hydrogen, but this metal is very expensive. Other compounds based on lanthanum and titanium have been developed, but have low absorption rates of 1–2 wt%.
Fuel Cells Bulletin