Fuel cells score with high energy efficiency
In addition to hybrid vehicles and pure battery vehicles, electromobility also includes electric vehicles that generate their own electricity in a fuel cell from hydrogen carried on board. This has many advantages over internal combustion engines: energy efficiency increases and pollutant emissions drop to "zero emissions" on site. The range of today's fuel cell vehicles is between 500 and 700 kilometers, depending on the manufacturer. Refueling - similar to gasoline - takes less than three minutes, ideally green hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources. Emission-free fuel cell powertrains are also ideal for touring sedans, delivery vehicles and city buses. In 2017, the first 5,000 vehicles were sold worldwide. By 2025, their number is expected to rise to more than 300,000 and the number of hydrogen refueling stations to well over 3,000.
The technology has made enormous progress in recent years, yet the necessary industrialization of fuel cells is still at an early stage. In 2017, the "AutoStackCORE" project network coordinated by the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) successfully demonstrated a high-performance fuel cell with a power density of more than 4 kWl-1 at peak load that fits into the engine compartment of a passenger car. Building on this functional prototype, the "Autostack Industry" project is now to create the basis for industrialization by 2021. The alliance of ten companies from the German automotive and supplier industry and the ZSW aims to bring fuel cells to industrial maturity and develop processes and procedures for series production. This is intended to strengthen Germany's competitiveness. The ZSW scientists are focusing on research into fuel cell components and the development of standardized test protocols and test procedures.