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Power Science Technology

How to Reach 200 MPH on Hydrogen Fuel Cells 158

Posted by Zonk
from the good-use-of-ice dept.
the_manatee writes "Ford's 999 hydrogen-powered speedster is making waves for its upcoming speed record attempt in the Bonneville Salt Flats, but details on what's actually going on under the hood have been scarce. As it turns out, there are NASCAR-style brakes, steering, and suspension components, along with 16 Ballard Mk902 fuel cells that produce 350 kW of electricity. All that juice spins up a 770-hp motor and the rest is (hopefully) history. One final ingredient: 400 lbs of ice for cooling, which will melt in seconds once the car gets up to speed."
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How to Reach 200 MPH on Hydrogen Fuel Cells

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  • Why does the same link need to be posted twice in the summary?
  • by BWJones (18351) *
    I'll have photos up on Jonesblog in the next couple of days on this effort and others out at the Bonneville Salt Flats here [utah.edu].
  • 350 kw = 469 hp. Why the 770 hp motor?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by msmikkol (155023)
      Fuel cell cars usually have some buffer batteries to shave the peak demand on the fuel cell stacks. I would guess that this car is no different - The motor draws juice from both the fuel cells and the batteries.
    • Kinda like having a 250 HP engine in your car when you only need to drive 20 MPH. In other words, your engine has the potential to provide maxium HP when needed even if you never use it.
      • Kinda like having a 250 HP engine in your car when you only need to drive 20 MPH. In other words, your engine has the potential to provide maxium HP when needed even if you never use it.

        No... It sounds more like a car salesman claming the car can reach 200mph when it physically cannot move faster than 70mph.

        A 770hp engine cannot put out 770hp unless it has at least (really more than) 770hp (power) from some other energy source. In other words, the engine is tested and found to put out 770hp, then it is ca
      • In the case you describe the power is available if you put your foot down. In this case the extra hp are unusable because the system is limited by the output of the fuel cells. So you carry the extra weight of the bigger-than-necessary motor around for no reason.
  • Lessee here. 1 kW = 1.34 horsepower. So if they're generating 350 kW, that's 456 horsepower. Where is the other 300 coming from?

    Stupid tech journalists strike again.

    -=rsw
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @06:01PM (#20198259)

    From TFA:

    The pressurized helium/oxygen mixture allows the fuel cells to generate more power than ambient air because of its higher oxygen content, and high-pressure storage eliminates the need for an air compressor

    Nice. I expect the common press to make that kind of mistake, but you'd think that Popular Mechanics would get it right.

    Frankly, I don't consider this "details". "NASCAR style brakes, suspension and steering" doesn't say much, unless they're literally identical to the NASCAR stuff Ford uses in their "Fusion."

    FYI, that car is no more a "Fusion" than a NASCAR "Fusion" is; they're both entirely tube-frame chassis cars with shells that are approximately the same shape, and then overlaid with graphics to fool the eye into thinking they're shaped more like the car they're claiming it is.

    There isn't a single component in the car in common with the production Ford Fusion. Hasn't been true in over a decade or more in NASCAR.

    • by Cassini2 (956052) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @06:17PM (#20198359)

      The pressurized helium/oxygen mixture allows the fuel cells to generate more power than ambient air because of its higher oxygen content, and high-pressure storage eliminates the need for an air compressor
      Nice. I expect the common press to make that kind of mistake, but you'd think that Popular Mechanics would get it right.

      I think you misinterpreted the article. The oxygen cylinder contains a helium/oxygen mix. They have 2 additional cylinders to get the hydrogen from. The compressed oxygen is used so the fuel cells can absorb oxygen at a much faster rate than if they were burning regular air. Likely the fuel cells can't absorb 100% oxygen, hence they dilute the oxygen with a light inert gas like helium.

      Using a dedicated helium/oxygen tank is not likely to be economical for a conventional car.

      • The compressed oxygen is used so the fuel cells can absorb oxygen at a much faster rate than if they were burning regular air

        I have often wondered if there is a benefit in this for internal combustion engines as well. You could do away with quite a bit of plumbing around the engine and get better performance by feeding pure oxygen into the engine. Maybe it would help with low-performing biofuels.

        • by joib (70841)

          I have often wondered if there is a benefit in this for internal combustion engines as well. You could do away with quite a bit of plumbing around the engine and get better performance by feeding pure oxygen into the engine. Maybe it would help with low-performing biofuels.


          You could probably make it work with extensive modifications to the engine. But it's not economically viable. Compressed or liquified pure oxygen is expensive, bulky and extremely dangerous. If you want more power, it's cheaper to just ge
        • by afidel (530433)
          This is essentially what a Nitrous or Nitrous Oxide booster kit does. It is injected as a liquid that quickly gasifies and then breaks down under high temperature to release additional oxygen into the fuel chamber allowing better fuel burning than with atmospheric oxygen alone. This is also why turbo and superchargers are used, but those systems simply inject larger volumes of atmospheric oxygen into the chamber.
  • Strap a rocket to the back, duh!

  • I would think that at these high speeds, you should be able to duct a little bit of air over the battery and get all the cooling you could possibly need.

    -jcr

  • It's all over for H2 when I see a mushroom cloud over the salt flats.
  • This shows that what is needed is more research on higher capacity batteries, from the capacitor type which charges in seconds, to having exponentially more energy density per pound.

    Its a lot easier to engineer a power distribution and charging electrical system, compared to having multiple systems to handle highly explosive gas as well as an electrical system. Its also a lot easier to generate electricity, pipe it into a charging system, compared to the energy used to split water into H2 and O2.

    I used to
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @06:57PM (#20198601)

    In this case by the 300 mph hydrogen fuel cell Buckeye Bullet.

    http://jalopnik.com/cars/alternative-energy/300%25 2B-mph-buckeye-bullet-hydrogen-fuel-cell-streamlin er-259765.php [jalopnik.com]

  • by tinrobot (314936) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @07:32PM (#20198811)
    Here's a question...

    The exhaust of a hydrogen car is mostly warm water vapor - the same output as a humidifier.

    If the whole planet switched to hydrogen, what would be the overall effect of running a billion humidifiers on our roads? Would Arizona suddenly become as humid as Florida?
    • If the whole planet switched to hydrogen, what would be the overall effect of running a billion humidifiers on our roads? Would Arizona suddenly become as humid as Florida?

      Not if we can actually get some laws to take away their drivers licenses. But seeing as they're the majority of people who actually go out and vote, that's not likely to happen any time soon....

    • by dsanfte (443781) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @08:52PM (#20199197) Journal
      The principal biproducts of current combustion engines are CO2 and... wait for it... H2O.

      Yes, water vapor.

      Has Arizona turned to a jungle yet?
    • by evilviper (135110)

      If the whole planet switched to hydrogen, what would be the overall effect of running a billion humidifiers on our roads?

      Wet roads.

      Would Arizona suddenly become as humid as Florida?

      Not the remotest chance.

      Urban areas have long faced higher levels of humidity than is natural, thanks to human use of water. However, even with all the people with all the sprinklers spraying all the water, on all the lawns... it only raises the humidity a very small amount. A few million fuel cell vehicles couldn't hope to com

    • If I'm not mistaken (which happens often), you'd have an accelerated green house affect. I think H2O vapor has a higher green house affect then that of CO2.
      • by ppanon (16583)
        Water cycles out of the atmosphere as precipitation much faster than CO2
        • True. And it's supposed to be self-regulating. However the 'trapping' capabilities of water vapor, I think, is higher then that of CO2. So if all CO2 Engines were to output water vapor would that do more or less damage?
    • Here's a question... The exhaust of a hydrogen car is mostly warm water vapor - the same output as a humidifier. If the whole planet switched to hydrogen, what would be the overall effect of running a billion humidifiers on our roads? Would Arizona suddenly become as humid as Florida?

      It's such a small fraction that it's what I would refer to as "a pee in the Nile". Let's take Arizona as an example... it has about 6 million people and uses around 2.4 trillion gallons (yes 2400 billion) per year [1] with

  • The Southern California Timing Association will have the results [scta-bni.org] of this year's Bonneville trials on-line, along with many photos. Today is the first day of the trials, so no results are in yet. There's still daylight out on the flats.
  • Just objectively, the Buckeye Bullet 2, made at the Center for Automotive Research at OSU (where I work) will soon beat whatever record this car creates. This car is designed for speed, rather than using some bulky Ford Focus shape. I have seen it in person; it is very large and very powerful. The engine is simply massive, and the fuel cells are the size of V8s.

    http://buckeyebullet.com/vehicle.htm [buckeyebullet.com]
  • They come up w/an impractical, overpriced & crude application of the work they put to better use in a testbed van.

    Yep, somewhen in the middle 60's Ford made a experimental Econoline van that was powered by fuel cells.

    Need some sleep? Try ,http://www.fuelcells.org/info/library/fchandbook. pdf [fuelcells.org]
  • No relation to Galaxy Express 999 [imdb.com]?
  • I once calculated that a 3 gallon-per-minute shower involving a 40 degree C temp. boost (the intake temp. in the Canadian winter is not high) draws about 32kW (mostly extracted from the giant heat resevoire known as a hot water tank). If my math was correct, this car provides enough power to heat ten shower stalls on an instantaneous basis.

    Hells bells, I got the same answer again:

    http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=4.184+joules+% 2F+gram+*+3+gallons+%2F+minute+*+1+kg%2Fliter+*+40 &btnG=Search&m [google.ca]

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman

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