Bosch, Powercell make fuel cell technology ready for mass production: Page 2 of 3

April 29, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Fuel cell stack
Probably the most important alternative to battery electric propulsion is propulsion by hydrogen fuel cells. Bosch is now driving the industrialization of this technology through a cooperation agreement with fuel cell manufacturer Powercell AB of Sweden. The goals are ambitious: By 2030, up to 20 percent of all electric vehicles worldwide will be powered by fuel cells.

The costs of hydrogen will also have to fall. Currently, this energy carrier is mainly produced for industrial applications, often at a price of more than five euros per kilogram. As production increases, the price will tend to fall. One kilogram of hydrogen contains as much energy as 3.3 liters of diesel. For 100 kilometers, a 40-tonner truck needs about nine to ten kilograms of hydrogen.

Hydrogen can be produced climate-neutrally with renewable electricity. Various industrial companies are working on optimizing this process. There is also already an albeit small hydrogen filling station network in Germany with more than 60 stations, and the trend is rising. In contrast to the charging process in battery-electric vehicles, the energy stores in fuel cell cars can be refilled in just a few minutes: Hydrogen is used as a highly compressed gas and pressed into the vehicle’s tanks.

The hydrogen reacts with oxygen in the fuel cell, several of which are interconnected to form the stack. In addition to water as a remnant, this produces electrical energy. This can either be used to charge a battery in the vehicle, or it drives the electric motor directly. By flexibly combining two or more stacks, a service portfolio ranging from passenger cars to heavy trucks can be covered.

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