First High Performance Fuel Cell Sport Utility Vehicle to be Developed by Industry
Hyundai today announced that it has signed an agreement with International Fuel Cells (IFC), a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), to incorporate IFC’s fuel cell power plant in its Sport Utility Vehicle demonstrator program.
“We expect to unveil the preliminary results of this collaborative agreement by the end of the first quarter of next year,” said Dr. Young-Woo Kim, President of Hyundai America Technical Center. “We will remove the internal combustion engine from our new Santa Fe sport utility vehicle (SUV) and replace it with a fuel cell system from International Fuel Cells.”
Initially, the agreement calls for development of two of the prototype Santa Fe fuel cell SUVs. The agreement may be extended to produce an additional two vehicles. All will be used to demonstrate the technology and for testing in real world driving situations.
The 75-kilowatt fuel cell system developed by IFC will use hydrogen as its fuel, thereby eliminating the emissions that cause air pollution and smog. The only emission from the vehicle will be water vapor.
“We expect performance of the fuel cell Santa Fe to exceed that of our standard model,” Dr. Kim said, “making this Santa Fe the first high performance fuel cell SUV.”
The IFC system will have a greater power density than fuel cell systems that have been tested in cars in the past. That means the system will have greater power in a smaller package. In addition, it will have substantially greater efficiency because it uses a near ambient pressure system.
“By eliminating the high pressure requirements of other fuel cells, IFC has created a system that is much simpler. Eventually, that will translate into lower costs for the consumer,” Dr. Kim said.
“We are pleased to be participating in such an innovative development effort as we continue our program of creating fuel cells for transportation and residential use,” said William T. Miller, IFC president. “We look forward both to the relationship and to a fully successful development outcome.”
A fuel cell uses an electrochemical process to directly convert the chemical energy found in hydrogen into electricity and hot water. Because the fuel cell does not burn its fuel, it eliminates polluting air emissions. Fuel cells have been identified by the automotive industry as the most likely new technology to replace the internal combustion engine.
The fuel cell system to be used in the Santa Fe SUV will contain a single “stack” of fuel cells. It will use a conventional automobile battery for start-up. Enova Systems of Torrance, CA, a major developer of Electric and Hybrid drive trains for Hyundai Motor Company will supply the electric drive train and power management systems for the vehicles.
IFC is the only company producing stationary fuel cell systems commercially. The company currently markets the PC25(TM), a stationary 200-kilowatt fuel cell system for commercial applications. In addition to developing automotive and stationary fuel cell systems, IFC also supplies the fuel cells used on the Space Shuttle.