Error 404--Not Found

From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.

Error 404--Not Found

Error 404--Not Found

From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.

Ford's focus on the fuel cell

The company's Aachen research center for advanced powertrain and environmental technologies provided the backdrop for a first drive of its latest fuel-cell prototype.

by Stuart Birch, European Editor

Automotive design and engineering will always be about options and evolution. There have been periods when it seemed that revolution rather than evolution might bring radical changes, but late 1940's projections about nuclear-powered cars remained comic book fiction. Even the gas turbine, which certainly brought revolution to the aerospace industry, was, after a brief dalliance, dismissed by the automotive industry as theoretically viable but, in fact, hopelessly impractical and inappropriate for cars.


AEI was given the opportunity to visit Ford's Aachen, Germany, research center to drive Ford's fuel-cell Focus.

All of this is why the industry is being cautious about the prospect of fuel-cell technology. It would be absurd at present to regard it as the panacea for the energy and environmental challenges that the automotive industry faces. The future of fuel-cell technology is a long way into the future—perhaps 15 to 25 years in terms of really becoming a wholly viable and accepted alternative to the internal-combustion engine, with infrastructure (or rather the lack of it) possibly the biggest hurdle to overcome. So in the meantime, automotive companies must have a portfolio of technologies to broaden the scope of the internal-combustion engine as we know it—just in case fuel cells simply do not pan out.

But there is no doubt of the growing relevance of the fuel-cell debate. The March edition of AEI carried a comprehensive review of the still embryonic automotive fuel-cell "industry," and this month, the magazine is holding a Fuel Cell Transportation Technology Summit in San Jose, CA. Ford, together with major partners, is one of the leading global participants in fuel-cell research and development, and AEI was given the opportunity to visit its Aachen, Germany, research center to learn more of what the company's advanced powertrain and environmental technologies involve—and to drive Ford's fuel-cell Focus.


According to Richard Parry-Jones, Ford's Group Vice President, Global Product Development and Quality, "...it will be a decade at least before the fuel-cell car becomes viable for some customers and probably two decades for a significant number.

As Ford's Group Vice President, Global Product Development and Quality, Richard Parry-Jones is playing a central role in guiding the company's future direction and is fully aware of the period of potential change that it is entering. But despite the likelihood of small numbers of fuel-cell-powered cars being on the roads in the next two or three years, meaningful production is away in the future. Said Parry-Jones, "I think it will be a decade at least before the fuel-cell car becomes viable for some customers, and probably two decades for a significant number."

This is down to a combination of factors, not the least of which is the establishment of an infrastructure that can support a fuel-cell culture. Ford is vigorously pursuing the fuel-cell goal, but being pragmatic in its appreciation of the timing, the technical/manufacturing/cost problems, and the culture change that will be required of the end user. For those reasons, it is investing in a wide range of technologies that will form a bridge between today's automobiles and tomorrow's fuel-cell vehicles. What there is no doubt about, though, is that, in whatever form it may manifest itself, the automobile is here to stay.


The heart of the Focus FCV is a Mark 900 PEM fuel-cell stack module produced by Ballard Power Systems.

"It has given us the gift of freedom—privacy, flexibility, and mobility," said Parry-Jones. "The automobile is also tremendously important to the economy, contributing to our economic success—but coming from this very success are the seeds of a problem. Its pervasive use, its sheer scale of adoption as an integral part of our society, has brought with it its own issues."

With the transformation of developing countries from rural to industrial economies, the effect on many aspects of the global environment is clear. Parry-Jones does not believe that society would accept a regression and a loss of personal mobility. "Mass transportation has its role, but it is not a universal role; it is restricted to certain circumstances where the automobile does not make sense, such as in congested city environments," he said. But for the vast majority of people, there is not an alternative to the automobile: "So it is our job to re-invent the technology of the automobile to make it more sustainable." That involves how materials are made and also their recyclability, including the biological cycle that allows some materials to be harmlessly returned to the food chain.

Parry-Jones takes a holistic view of a vehicle's environmental impact when considering the efficiency of various technologies and their total emissions—not just part of their use. "So we always do our analyses on a well-to-wheel basis," he said. "We talk of what is the 'total CO2 effect' of extracting oil from the ground and converting it for passenger use." He cited battery electric vehicles as an example, because, although at the point-of-use they may emit no CO2, their stored electricity has to be generated. Unless that process can be achieved without CO2 production, the problem has not been solved.


Ford (F) and its major partners—Ballard Power Systems (B) and DaimlerChrysler (D)— are at the forefront in fuel-cell R&D.
Click to enlarge

From a political standpoint this does, arguably, shift the spotlight away from the automobile per se to other areas of power generation, but Parry-Jones makes it clear that the real answer is to find "sustainable solutions." Hydrogen is potentially the most credible, according to Parry-Jones. "I believe that most people would agree that hydrogen is the fuel of the future," he said. "It allows us to extract carbon from hydrocarbon sources of energy and deal with that carbon in a way that will not have a negative impact on the global climate. It is possible for us to sequestrate it and return it to the cycle." Although some people might worry about its explosive aspects, dealing with hydrogen generation, distribution, storage, onboard carriage, and safe delivery to a power unit is, by no means, insoluble. "It is also possible that hydrogen will provide the fuel for a variety of different types of energy devices; the fuel cell is not the only possible application," he added.

Parry-Jones believes collaboration with business allies is essential for the development of hydrogen-powered internal-combustion engines or hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Ford's allies in this area already include DaimlerChrysler and fuel-cell specialist Ballard, but Parry-Jones regards collaboration with energy companies as also necessary to create the required business model and to achieve the technology necessary to convert various forms of raw material into hydrogen fuel. Equally important is the need to collaborate with governments who make the rules and can offer incentives to make hydrogen technologies viable during the transition to general availability and acceptance. Parry-Jones believes that government fiscal incentives could provide a framework within which the most efficient and environmentally compatible advanced-technology solutions can be promoted, facilitating consumer evaluation. The introduction of lead-free fuel was an example of that.

As well as avoiding any financial burden on the consumer, alternative-fuel vehicles must offer comparable range and performance to current gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars. Although low-volume electric vehicles are "a great way out of the lab along the learning curve to solve problems and make things more affordable," Ford has to develop new technology that has universal applications, said Parry-Jones.


The fuel-cell energy source could be hydrogen, methanol, or gasoline.
Click to enlarge

He emphasized that fuel-cell cars are not "just around the corner," adding, "Fuel-cell technology is going to take a long time to bring to some sort of affordable fruition. There is not going to be a silver bullet. It is a long, slow haul, requiring a lot of consistent work in the areas of research and infrastructure, but there will be some very exciting episodes along the way with very small fleets built. They will be small out of necessity because there are no hydrogen refueling stations....A company like ours cannot pick one winner; we have to have a portfolio of technologies that will mature at different times. If we say fuel cells are the answer and work diligently on them, we are going to make no improvements in the environment for 10 years—which is not very intelligent."

In the meantime, Parry-Jones and his teams at Ford are continuing to refine internal-combustion engine technology. "To maintain good work on a vast portfolio of alternative technologies is very, very expensive," he said. "We spend over $1 billion a year on R&D to improve the environment and safe-ty across a large number of different opportunities."

The Ford Focus FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle) technology demonstrator is one aspect of that. It uses a Mark 900 proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel-cell stack from Ballard Power Systems. It is 50% smaller than its predecessor and delivers 30% higher power output. Maximum power is 80 kW (107 hp), and mass is 90 kg (198 lb). Maximum power of the Focus FCV's Ecostar electric motor is 67 kW (90 hp) with maximum torque of 190 N•m (140 lb•ft) and mass of 91 kg (201 lb). Curb mass of the Focus FCV is a hefty 1750 kg (3858 lb). Performance includes 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 14 s and a top speed of 129 km/h (80 mph). Gasoline-equivalent fuel consumption is 3.5 L/100 km (67 mpg), and range is 250 km (402 mi). Thermodynamic efficiency is said to be very high at between 60 and 70%. A turbodiesel engine would typically be rated at 40%+ and a gasoline engine about 30%. Hydrogen fuel is stored in two 41-L (10.8-gal), high-pressure—34 MPa (5000 psi)—tanks in the trunk.


Ford's Focus FCV uses a direct hydrogen fueling system.
Click to enlarge

Driving a car that is probably worth around $5 million concentrates the mind. This AEI editor had driven Ford's P2000HFC (Hydrogen Fuel Cell) car a short distance, but the test route for the Focus FCV included city and rural roads but with no steep hills. The driving position is somewhat elevated because the fuel-cell stacks are tucked beneath the front seats. Despite its high mass, the car steps off in a lively manner, accompanied by a high-pitched air-compressor whine. But on quite gentle upgrades that would barely affect a conventional car, the driver uses very wide accelerator pedal settings as speed decays quite quickly. Ford is considering giving the car a power boost for these circumstances using batteries, but these would, of course, add to the weight of the vehicle at a time when efforts are being made to reduce it. So the whole power-to-weight ratio situation is in a state of flux, as are other factors, which indicates how much development work needs to be done. The sound of the compressor will also be reduced, said engineers at Aachen. Eight fans ensure a constant flow of air through the vehicle while it is in use, when being refueled, or when the trunk is open.

Establishment of a viable hydrogen infrastructure or, in the case of vehicles that use reformers, a fuel source would be essential to the acceptance of fuel-cell technology. Ford is looking to use hydrogen in gas or liquid form, although the latter would necessitate the use of a cryogenic tank. According to a Ford study, hydrogen filling stations capable of supplying 100 vehicles a day, built in sufficient numbers to realize respective economies of scale, could sell the fuel at a price comparable to that of gasoline. By means of electrolysis, such filling stations would produce hydrogen from electricity generated by hydroelectric powerplants or convert natural gas into hydrogen by means of vapor reformation. About 10 to 15% of all available filling stations would have to be equipped with such hydro-filling units before full-area coverage of mass motor transportation could be successfully implemented, at least in major urban areas, according to the study.

Error 404--Not Found

Error 404--Not Found

From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.