GM is claiming 'significant advances' in the Zafira-based fuel cell project. The company claims the advances bring the car closer to production and will be unveiled at the Frankfurt International Motor Show next month.

Compared with its predecessor, the new prototype has shed substantial weight, dispensed with some components altogether, increased power output, improved range, and increased top speed to 93.5 mph. The drive train of the new fuel cell Zafira has been modified and reduced in size to allow for the components to fit more compactly into the vehicle which means more room for passengers.

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General Motors

Earlier this year in the heat of the Arizona desert, HydroGen1 (also powered by pure hydrogen) set 15 international records for fuel cell vehicles.

HydroGen3 development is carried out by Vauxhall/Opel and GM's joint Global Alternative Propulsion Centre (GAPC) based in Germany and the US.

The primary aim of the HydroGen3 development has been to improve the performance and day-to-day use of the propulsion system. Some of the components needed in HydroGen1 have been dispensed with altogether, among them the high-performance buffer battery. Previously this energy-storage unit dealt with performance peaks in the drive unit, but is superfluous now that the GAPC engineers have developed the fuel cell system so that it can provide immediate power on its own.

This has saved nearly 100 kgs in weight, and allowed the floor height of the load area in the hydrogen-powered Zafira to be the same as that of the production-line model.

Now, it is claimed that the HydroGen3 has the same full load space of the production Zafira in the five-seater arrangement.

Other recent developments in the fuel cell system mean that the water produced in the cells from the reaction between the hydrogen and the oxygen is enough to cover the moisture requirements of the fuel cell membranes, so additional external humidifying components for the cells are no longer necessary.

The electrical traction system has also undergone further development, and is now more compact.

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