General
Motors has set a series of new records with the Zafira-based HydroGen1 fuel cell
concept car. HydroGen1 set 15 international records during four weeks of endurance
testing at the GM Desert Proving Ground at Mesa near Phoenix.

The records include 625 miles (1000 km) covered in around 11 hours 30 minutes
at an average speed of 54.9 mph. They were set by the driving team of engineers
from the Global Alternative Propulsion Centre.

HydroGen1 also covered 62.5 miles (100 km) at an average speed of over 62.5
mph and completed a 24-hour endurance test, stopping only for service and refuelling.

The
HydroGen1 fuel cell concept car

"We wanted to push all the car’s systems to their limits in the heat of
Arizona," said Bernd Zerbe, the Opel engineer in charge of the tests on
the Arizona proving ground. The record attempts were supervised by officials
from FIA/USAC (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile/United States Automobile
Club).

Dr Erhard Schubert, co-director of propulsion centre, which is operated by
Vauxhall/Opel and General Motors at three research and development facilities
in Germany and the United States, is pleased with the results.

"The records are an important step towards market readiness of the fuel
cell vehicle and demonstrate the advanced status the new technology has already
reached. We have also gained important knowledge of what must be improved to
offer future buyers of fuel cell vehicles the technology that ensures top performance
under the toughest conditions."

The concept car is powered by a block of 200 fuel cells connected in series.
The environmentally compatible powerplant is an in-house GAPC development delivering
up to 80 kW/109PS constant load or 120 kW/163PS peak load. Hydrogen and oxygen
react electrochemically within the unit to form water at a temperature of 80
degrees C, and in doing so – depending upon load conditions – generate between
125 and 200 volts of electrical energy. The direct current generated in this
manner is converted by an electronic control element into alternating current
(250 – 380 volt) and fed to a 55 kW (75 PS) three-phase synchronous motor, which
drives the front wheels of HydroGen1.

The hydrogen fuel on board the Zafira concept car is stored in liquid form
at a temperature of minus 253 degrees C in a so-called ‘Cryo tank’. Up to 75
litres or five kilograms of hydrogen can be stored in this tank, which is almost
one metre long and has a diameter of 400 millimetres. With this capacity, the
tank, located under the rear seat in front of the rear axle, provides an impressive
operating range of 250 miles. The exhaust system emits nothing but steam.


To view related research reports, please follow the links
below:-

Fuel
Cells to 2004

Automotive
b2b – Strategic threats and opportunities in the automotive supply chain