A group of Danish companies working on the “Modular Energy Carrier concept” (MECc) has just received Danish government funding to develop a version of the pending all-electric QBEAK into a range-extended vehicle relying on a bio-methanol-utilizing fuel cell.
The fuel cell promises to increase maximum potential range to as many as 500 miles for the vehicle which – in non-range-extended battery electric form – is designed to accept modular energy packs for up to 186 miles range.
Without specifying projected price, the consortium says the range-extended version of the electric car will overcome several objections surrounding EV acceptance and will be cost competitive while offering potentially gas-pump-quick refueling time with liquid methane.
The methane for the QBEAK is to power a High Temperature Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (HTPEM) fuel cell system developed by Serenergy, which the company says is the world’s first commercially available, low pressure, air-cooled HTPEM fuel cell system.
The methanol for the fuel cell is intended to be derived from biomass or waste products such as glycerin and is said to be as simple to transport as other fuels.
Promised benefits for this “game changer in the e-mobility industry” also include minimal pollution from emissions and potential use of existing infrastructure to refuel the vehicle to enable fewer difficulties introducing the technology to the public.
“ECOmove has re-thought the e-car concept from scratch and they have developed an innovative means of transport setting new standards for design, usability and sustainability,” says the company. “Serenergy’s full cell products offer simple and cost-effective air-cooled fuel cell technology with high fuel flexibility and reliable fuel cell operation under extreme temperature conditions.”
The diminutive hatchback city car measures 9.7 feet X, 5.7 feet X 5.4 feet (3m x 1.75m x 1.63m), but offers excellent space utilization and capability to seat as many as six people entering via one of two sliding doors on either side.
EV range of 186 miles for the non-range-extended model requires using six slot-in energy modules of 4.7 kwh each is 186 miles (300 km). Top speed from two in-wheel motors – 35.4 kw each, a total of 70.8 kw peak – is up to 75 mph (120 kph). The bare vehicle without energy modules weighs just 937 pounds (425 kg).
Waste heat from the fuel cell stack will be used for cabin heating or cooling, says ECOmove, and longer life for the batteries is also promised due to a more stable state of charge.
The consortium has already introduced a small EcoMotion fuel-cell truck to market, and the QBEAK people mover will be a “voluntary plug in.” This means energy can come from plugging into the grid during off-peak hours, or when convenience is wanted, it can be quickly topped off with renewable bio-methanol.
Bio-methanol is said to already have good availability, and it’s been estimated an existing fuel pump can be converted to dispense it for around $18,400 (€15,000). Methanol is also considered less bio-hazardous than petrochemicals if it’s spilled.
Funding is coming via the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EDDP), which supports technological development intended to make Denmark independent of fossil fuels by 2050.
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