Ballard Power Systems to Make Fuel Cells for Volkswagen
March 10, 2013 4:00 PM
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The contract is worth between $60 million and $100 million
Ballard Power Systems has agreed to develop
for Volkswagen Group under a contract worth as much as $100 million.
The deal means Ballard has to design and manufacture fuel cells for Volkswagen HyMotion demonstration cars. The contract is for four years with the possibility of a two-year extension, and is worth between $60 million and $100 million.
"I anticipate accelerating our automotive fuel cell program as a result of this collaborative effort, which will bring together additional fuel cell skills and expertise in both organizations," said Juergen Leohold, head of group research at Volkswagen AG.
Volkswagen has decided to go with Ballard's fuel cells because their cost and performance are finally able to compete with other green technologies.
Ballard's stock increased significantly at the announcement of the Volkswagen deal. On Wednesday, Ballard's stock jumped as high as 82 percent.
"The announcement of this research agreement with Volkswagen Group, a recognized global leader, is a major step for Ballard both strategically and financially," said John Sheridan, Ballard's president and CEO. "Ballard's focus with Volkswagen in this new automotive fuel cell research program will parallel our continuing work in commercial fuel cell markets for backup power and material handling — enhancing product durability and performance while radically reducing product costs."
Volkswagen has been making several green efforts as of late. In January of this year, it launched
largest solar park
the state of Tennessee at
33 acres with 33,600 solar modules
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Moving in the right direction
3/11/2013 10:54:44 AM
I love that there is finally some movement on fuel cell tech! It is such a great tech in that there are no emissions, you don't get the same degradation over time that you get with batteries, and when you are done with it you don't have big toxic batteries to deal with. On top of it all, hydrogen fuel cells can get electric cars up to a range that more equally competes with traditional ICE vehicles, with no more safety concerns than current battery electric cars have already introduced.
But fuel cells have 2 major problems: Hydrogen production, and hydrogen storage/transfer.
On the production side you can cleanly make it via algae, solar power, or nuclear power.
Algae is neat, but it would take far too much space to produce enough hydrogen to use it as a widely used fuel.
Nuclear power is the best option, but as current nuclear plants have no plans for replacement, and new safe/clean low grade nuclear plants like TerraPower or thorium powered plants are not getting the attention or adoption that they should.
Then there is solar, which is great in that it opens up home hydrogen production possibilities, but it requires a large 6kW array (or at least the Honda one does) which is the size required to power your average solar home to begin with. I don't know about anyone else, but my home does not have enough surface area facing the sun to support 2 large solar systems, and while moving to solar power for my home will eventually have a pay-off, I doubt that the car's solar system would ever break even. The only way this would work for me is to have a single power system that does the home and car.
On the other end, there are issues of storage and transfer. When I first heard about hydrogen fuel cells back in the mid '90s the idea was that it would be like a giant battery, or like a refillable propane tank. You remove your old one at a gas station where it would be refilled, and they would insert a fresh one. Nice thing about that is that you would have a refill time of ~1 minute. The bad thing is that the cells would be really heavy so the process would need to be automated, which means that car manufacturers and countries would need to all agree to a single standard... which frankly isn't ever going to happen.
Another idea is that you have an enclosed fuel cell system that acts more like a traditional battery vehicle. The obvious down side to that is that it takes a good long time to reverse the reaction, and of course it would be at night, so you would have your solar power charging batteries (or an in-home fuel cell), and then use those batteries to charge your car overnight. It would not be awful, but that is a huge energy transfer penalty for your car. Still, this is likely the best option available, and if the range on a hydrogen vehicle is similar to an ICE vehicle where you only need to recharge it every week or so then maybe it would not be so bad.
Lastly is the idea of pumping hydrogen into a vehicle similar to pumping gasoline. If there is a way to make it safe, then great, but I would not trust your average Joe with it. Gasoline is safe because it is not immediately flammable, it is just the fumes that are flammable. Moving compressed hydrogen around on the other hand just seems like a terrible series of accidents waiting to happen.
Anywho, I am stoked to see hydrogen cars back in the picture, and I hope the tech gets somewhere this time!
RE: Moving in the right direction
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater
3/11/2013 4:31:35 PM
Ammonia is a handy Hydrogen storage source, almost as good as Methane, and carbon-free. It should also not form NOx if it's not combusted. Coupled with a SOFC it could solve the H2 storage problem.
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