I’ve just read a press release about how SFC Energy AG and Sortimo International GmbH are teaming up to create a mobile power device that contains both fuel cell and lithium batteries.
From my read of this press release (and I may be wrong) it sounds like this device will be using hydrogen inside the new device and outside of the vehicle to create electrical power which will then be plugged into a battery electric vehicle for recharging.
Now this raises the question in my mind of whether this is a hydrogen-electric car or a battery electric car? For the purpose of this blog my rule of thumb is something along the lines of a hydrogen car is indeed an H2 vehicle “if hydrogen is used to directly power the vehicle’s wheels.”
This means to me that a vehicle’s wheels (propellers, jets, rotors, etc.) that is propelled by some other fuel (gasoline, diesel, ethanol) but does in fact use a hydrogen fuel cell for onboard power for radios, navigational equipment and other systems is not strictly a hydrogen car.
The typical hydrogen car uses an onboard hydrogen tank and either runs the H2 through an internal combustion engine to power the wheels or through a fuel cell that creates electricity to power the wheels. In addition, the typical fuel cell vehicle is also a hybrid vehicle, containing some sort of lithium ion battery pack, either standard or plug-in and powers an electric motor that turns the wheels of the vehicle.
But what if this hydrogen fuel cell were placed outside of the vehicle to create electricity to power the wheels of the vehicle via the battery? Is this a hydrogen-electric car or a battery electric car (BAV)?
To add another wrinkle there are hydrogen-electric hybrids that are basically BAV’s that use a hydrogen fuel cell as a range extender. So, the fuel cell basically kicks in after so many miles on BAV-only power and recharges the battery that powers the wheels of the vehicle.
Right now, battery electric cars are basically coal-powered as most of the power on the grid comes from this fossil fuel source. But, yes, they are considered to be electric cars and not “coal cars” even though fossil fuels create electricity outside the vehicle then port it over to the BAVs.
I will let you decide what is what here, but this does put a new wrinkle in the hydrogen car versus battery electric vehicle debate. With this scenario I have outlined above, hydrogen infrastructure, with devices similar to those created by SFC Energy and Sortimo would be created to support this kind of zero emissions vehicle.