Another company is getting wise to the fact that building an all-electric vehicle will not do well in the marketplace because of its limited range. So like other companies Volvo has decided to add a hydrogen fuel cell range extender to expand the range of the vehicle by about 150 miles.
The fuel cell will be placed into two Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric prototype vehicles for testing. Now, what is different from the other companies that have decided to add fuel cell range extenders to their electric cars is that Volvo has decided to use gasoline for the main fuel source.
According to Volvo, “Volvo Cars is working together with the company Powercell Sweden AB on this project. In the first phase, a preliminary study is being conducted into what is known as a Range Extender, which consists of a fuel cell with a reformer. The task of the reformer is to break down a liquid fuel, in this case petrol, and create hydrogen gas. In the fuel cell, this hydrogen gas is converted into electrical energy, which is used to power the car’s electric motor.
“The technology generates electricity completely without any emissions of carbon oxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and particles. Due to the highly efficient process, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are significantly reduced compared with a conventional vehicle. The end products are electricity, water and a small amount of carbon dioxide.”
So, unlike other EV and FCV combinations this will not be a zero emissions vehicle, but rather a reduced emissions vehicle. The good news however is that unlike hydrogen fueling stations which are few in number right now, gasoline stations are available nationwide in large numbers which will make the Volvo a more practical short term solution for reducing emissions and petroleum consumption.