…the British legal expert and physicist Sir William Robert Grove (1811-1896) built the first fuel cell in 1839? The idea is simple but ingenious: if the elements of hydrogen and oxygen are made to react with each other under controlled conditions, the process generates electrical energy. This is a direct chemical process which specialists also refer to as "cold combustion". It was only over 120 years after Grove's breakthrough that the technology was adopted: in the 1960s the American space agency NASA was looking for an efficient energy system for the manned Gemini and Apollo missions.
…in 1963, NASA's unmanned spacecraft already featured fuel cells with a proton exchange membrane (PEM)? The fuel cell was able to establish itself in space travel and submarine technology because it allows a larger store of energy to be carried in the form of liquid hydrogen and oxygen. These weigh considerably less than electric batteries, and are also able to generate sufficient power for longer missions.
...the development of the fuel cell powertrain already began at Daimler in the 1980s? Back then, Daimler researchers for the first time studied cold combustion – the generation of electricity through the reaction of hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell. As a pioneer, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first fuel cell vehicle with a polymer electrolyte membrane to the global public in 1994 – the NECAR 1. Many more vehicles followed, including the A-Class F-CELL test fleet (2003). In 2010 the B-Class F-CELL entered the market as the first fuel cell powered car manufactured under series production conditions. Since 2003 the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid city bus has covered more than four million kilometres in regular service, with 23 buses currently undergoing trials in six European cities.
…the first fire service car with fuel cell drive already went into daily operation more than eleven years ago? In January 2007 Daimler handed over a Mercedes-Benz A-Class F-CELL to the fire service in Sacramento/California, where it was used as an inspection vehicle.
…the refuelling of fuel cell vehicles has already been standardised worldwide and for all manufacturers since 2002? For a long time, the storage of hydrogen in vehicles was a tough nut for researchers to crack. In mid-2008, with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class F-CELL "plus", Mercedes-Benz for the first time changed vehicles in its existing fuel cell fleet over from 350 to 700 bar tanking technology. This increased their range by around 70 percent. The breakthrough was achieved by multi-sector cooperation, not least within the Clean Energy Partnership. Since then, 700 bar technology has been the worldwide standard for all manufacturers.
…the Mercedes-Benz F-CELL World Drive in 2011 was the first circumnavigation of the globe by fuel cell powered vehicles? During this event, three B-Class F-CELL vehicles drove more about 30,000 kilometres in 14 countries over the course of 125 days. In all, around 200 vehicles were built. They have so far covered more than ten million kilometres in customer operations and been refuelled 36,000 times during this period. On average this takes less than three minutes.
…the fuel cell system of the GLC F-CELL is not only able to power vehicles, but can also serve as a stationary energy provider? Daimler, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Power Innovations are currently working on a pilot project in this field together with the National Renewable Energy Lab. For example, the IT company Hewlett Packard uses fuel cell technology for a computer centre in Colorado. Apart from supplying the computers with energy, this also combines the cooling circuits of the computers and fuel cell.
…the crash tests for fuel cell powered electric vehicles are substantially identical to those in the extensive programme of Mercedes-Benz? Crash tests conducted with Mercedes-Benz fuel cell vehicles have shown that a safety level comparable to that of conventional vehicles is achieved. There are also drive-specific tests: one of these is a side impact with a post at a speed of 32 km/h. This lateral collision is aimed at testing the multistage valve system of the gas tanks.
…for the first time, the drive system of the GLC F-CELL destined for series production uses an electric turbocharger instead of a screw compressor to supply the fuel cells with air? This means that the waste heat from the fuel cell can be used to help drive the turbine, improving the efficiency of the system by around 15 percent. As a special feature, the charger shaft bearing is separated by an air gap: this makes it possible to avoid contamination of the fuel cell with hydrocarbons from the lubrication of conventional rolling or plain bearings.
…the electric power generated by the fuel cell drive test rigs at the Daimler location in Kirchheim/Nabern is fed into the plant's power network? Driving resistances are simulated on Daimler AG's test rigs with the help of generators. The electric power generated by the fuel cell is fed into the plant's power network. Every year the fuel cell experts use around 70 tonnes of hydrogen for their development tests. This feeds around 400 MWh of electric power to the location's network. The only "exhaust gas" emitted is water vapour.
…the energy density of hydrogen is roughly 13 times higher than that of modern lithium-ion batteries?While a lithium-ion battery contains around 125 watt hours per kilogram, the figure for hydrogen is roughly 900 Wh/kg. This allows more energy to be carried on board for a longer range - next to fast refuelling, this is one of the great advantages of FC technology.
…the costs of a full-coverage hydrogen infrastructure and a battery charging infrastructure are not that far apart? At least that is the result of a scenario analysis carried out by the Jülich research centre and H2MOBILITY. For both technologies, and for up to 100,000 vehicles, the costs for expansion of the infrastructure using existing hydrogen sources are at similar levels (battery: approx. 310 mill. €, hydrogen: approx. 450 mill. €), but become more favourable with the centrally organised dispensing of hydrogen to filling stations.
…recent studies for the year 2030 predict a great future for fuel cell technology? One example is the study by the business consultancy Frost & Sullivan - "Global Executive Analysis of the Fuel Cell Passenger Car Market, Forecast to 2030". The analysts assume the market launch of 20 fuel cell models in the next few years, which will consolidate growth in the global market for fuel cell vehicles (FCEV). Another forecast is that the number of hydrogen filling stations will increase from 261 in 2016 to around 7500 in 2030.
…Daimler is working on mobility in the third dimension with Volocopter GmbH? With its investment in the start-up company Volocopter GmbH, Daimler's innovation incubator Lab1886 is supporting the development of innovative mobility products and services in a new dimension. Volocopter intends to make vertical urban mobility possible for everyone with the innovative Volocopter urban air taxi.
…the number of members of the worldwide, multi-sector "Hydrogen Council" initiative has almost doubled within one year? Since early 2017 the Hydrogen Council has acted as a global initiative by leading energy, transport and industrial companies who have the shared vision and long-term objective of furthering the energy transformation with the help of hydrogen. The Council has recently welcomed eleven new members from Asia, North America and Europe.
…the project "Autostack-Industrie" is preparing for large-scale fuel cell production in Germany? With a pioneering initiative, the German automobile and supply industry wants to create the conditions for the commercial introduction of fuel cell vehicles in Germany and Europe by 2020: In the "Autostack Industry" project, eleven partners are jointly working on bringing the core of fuel cell technology, the fuel cell stack, to industrial maturity. The aim is to develop and prepare competitive series production of fuel cells, which will take into account the high quality requirements of the German car industry. "Emission-free fuel cell drive systems are ideal for touring cars, delivery vehicles and city buses," says Werner Tillmetz, board member of the Baden-Württemberg Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) and head of the business unit for electrochemical energy technologies. "However, the industrialisation of technology that this requires is still in its infancy. The aim of the "Autostack-Industrie" project is to build up an effective, national supply industry as a basis for reaching cost and quality targets."
…the well-to-wheel balance of fuel cell vehicles is far better than their reputation? Already today, the fuel cell has roughly twice the efficiency of an internal combustion engine. Depending on the operating profile, it can be up to 65 percent higher. The overall energy balance is accordingly much better. The fuel cell is an energy converter – it converts hydrogen into electric current. This is why such a system can never be as efficient as a battery. However, this weakness is also one of its strengths: the waste heat from the fuel cell system can also be used to heat the vehicle interior. Hydrogen is also unbeatable as a transportable storage medium for large amounts of energy.