Volvo with Fuel Cell.
Volvo’s 94-mile range EV was impressive enough, but now it seems that the company intends to add another 155 miles to that with the aid of a hydrogen fuel cell that takes its juice from—wait for it—gasoline.
One can’t help but wonder at the logic (or lack, thereof) in this—our fossil fuels are growing more and more expensive with their depletion, so Volvo’s move seems surprisingly non-innovative and even irresponsible for a company with such a progressive outlook and reputation. Volvo’s logic for this hybrid hydrogen-electric plug-in, however, is quite solid. The fuel cell in question will use hydrogen gas to take up where the C30’s 24kwh battery leaves off once it is exhausted. This is where the extra mileage comes in, and without a need to increase battery size.
With the hydrogen highway promise all but forgotten, Volvo intends to double the efficiency of gasoline in a modern vehicle, instead. The company is currently researching the potential of sourcing the hydrogen from gasoline via an on-board reformer to make this a reality. For those of us knitting our brows at the idea of sticking to the use of gasoline rather than solar or other renewable sources of energy, keep in mind that hydrogen is twice as efficient at powering an electric motor than gas in an internal combustion engine (which also wastes heat energy).
In fact, Volvo boasts that the conversion from gas to hydrogen is 85% efficient. This does away with storage concerns with hydrogen vehicles, since the hydrogen would be created only by demand and not left to leak in an enclosed space such as a homeowner’s garage like other hydrogen vehicles. Volvo’s C30 would have no such concerns, making it more widely marketable.
This prize fuel cell is set to appear in 2012, the same year that Volvo will unveil its C30 Electric and its plug-in hybrid in the United States.
This is a guest post by Maria Rainier.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online programs and blogging about student life issues. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.