Hydrogen cars - what kind of technology and what to expect?
28.02.2021
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Hydrogen cars - what kind of technology and what to expect?

The day is not far off when Daimler Truck AG will begin the first tests of trucks powered by hydrogen. How did the Fuel Cell technology develop and what are its features?

Scheduled tests for hydrogen vehicles at Mercedes-Benz will take place as early as 2023. If everything goes well, then in the second half of this decade we will be able to observe the mass production of such cars. Passenger cars, trucks, as well as public transport will be equipped with Fuel Cell engines. To make this possible, over the past 3 decades, painstaking work has been carried out to improve this technology.

It all started back in 1991, when blocks for fuel cells for electric vehicles were developed by Dornier GmbH in Friedrichshafen. At that time, the then Daimler-Benz AG was able to gather under its management developers from various industries, in particular - digital and computer electronics, as well as astronautics. Together they made systems for manned space shuttles and worked on AFC alkaline fuel cells for the power system. The technology that the engineers worked on originated back in the 1980s, these were fuel cells - with a proton exchange membrane (PEMFC). The peculiarity of the development was that the system worked at relatively low temperatures (from 60 to 120 C), which made it possible to use it in electric cars to produce electricity from hydrogen. Even then, the engineers were ready to offer a new concept car, but not having received approval, they were forced to postpone their developments in this direction until better times.

The first opportunity for this idea came in 1991, when Prof. Hartmut Weile took over the research wing of Daimler-Benz. Thus began work on a power unit with fuel chambers for an electric vehicle. After a couple of weeks of work, the engineers presented the completed engine concept and showed it to Weule management. And in November 1991, they received approval and funding for the release of the first prototype. Despite such a tight deadline, the engineers set to work. The first car was created in which the electric current for the drive motor was generated by the electrochemical conversion of hydrogen, without by-products (only water).

In April 1994, an electric car was introduced - NECAR (New Electric Car), produced using this technology.

Later tests were carried out on a Mercedes-Benz MB 100 van, whose engine weighed almost 800 kg. and occupied almost the entire cargo hold. But he could drive 130 km. without refueling, reaching a speed of 90 km / h. The power of its electric motor was 30 kW (41 hp). Now this exhibit is in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.

The next "live" sample was the hydrogen bus NEBUS (New Electric Bus). Moreover, about 20 copies were released, which worked on real routes in the capitals of Europe, Australia and China.

One of the latest concepts presented to the world was the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL. It is the world's first fuel cell vehicle with hybrid technology. The very next year, he passed extensive tests. Refueling took 3 minutes. Gaseous hydrogen was supplied at a pressure of 700 bar. 155 kW (211 hp) engine and a range of about 430 km in the NEDC cycle, as well as 50 km in hybrid mode (batteries powered).

All these years, the company continued to polish its technology. When using liquid hydrogen, the power reserve reaches 1000 km.

In 2020, Daimler Truck AG unveiled its latest development, the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck, the first hydrogen-powered truck. A mass launch for sale is planned for it in the near future.

As you can see, the future belongs to environmentally friendly cars that do not pollute our World and make our life even better and more comfortable.