The new hydrogen car that travels 2,000 kilometers on a single tank. When will series production be launched?

Volkswagen is working on a new fuel cell that is much cheaper than the current ones and promises hydrogen cars capable of traveling 2,000 kilometers on a single tank.

Volkswagen has just applied for the registration of a patent for a new hydrogen fuel cell which, in addition to being cheaper than the current ones, will be able, according to its creators, to give cars an autonomy of up to 2,000 kilometers without refuelling.

This news represents a reversal of the position he usually displays Volkswagen compared to hydrogen. Like him Elon Musk On each occasion, the German manufacturer’s CEO, Herbert Diess, denied hydrogen’s potential as an energy source for electric cars in a tweet posted in May 2022.

Herbert Diess, CEO, a spus:

However, the patent application for this new file of fuelcreated together with the German company Kraftwerk Tubes, it shows that Volkswagen does not want to lose the hydrogen train and is working on the development of this technology.

How does it work

The huge batteries of electric cars are accumulators electricity which is released according to the needs of the vehicle. Hydrogen fuel cells, by contrast, are capable of generating their own electricity.

For this they need a high-pressure tank that stores hydrogen in the form of a gas – if it were a liquid it would have to be stored at very low temperatures – and a fuel cell that converts hydrogen into electricity.

Fuel cells also have an anode and cathode similar to batteries. Hydrogen enters through the anode and passes through an electrolyte membrane responsible for splitting hydrogen (H2) into a proton (H+) and an electron (e-). An electrolyte then causes them to follow different paths to the cathode.

The electrons pass through an external circuit creating a flow of electricity, which produces approx motor the machine to work – as the protons pass through the electrolyte to the cathode. There they combine with oxygen, which enters the cathode directly, and with the electron, producing water and heat. However, the fuel cell from Volkswagen and Kraftwerk puts a twist on the materials traditionally used for membranes.

Sascha Kühn, CEO of Kraftwerk, explains in an interview with Business Insider Germany:

The main difference with hydrogen cells Hyundai And Toyota is that we use a ceramic membrane instead of the usual plastic. This is a big difference.

“The big advantage of our solution is that it can be produced much cheaper than polymer fuel cells and does not require any kind of platinum”, a precious metal which makes the final cost of the product more expensive.

This technology, says Kühn, is similar to solid-state batteries. According to the executive, both have almost the same electrolytes and similar material structure. The difference is that while solid-state batteries use a compact material to store energy, in fuel cells this role is assumed by hydrogen in the form of gas.

Lower energy cost, greater autonomy

Furthermore, the new ceramic membrane, says Kühn, doesn’t need to be wet, so it doesn’t freeze in the winter, dry out in the summer, and doesn’t attract mold. The manager also points out another benefit that will save costs during vehicle production: the fuel cell generates the heat which can be used to replace both car heaters and air conditioning, which would also mean greater energy savings, he writes

While this patent was applied for jointly with Volkswagen, Kraftwerk assures that it doesn’t work exclusively for one brand:

“Regardless of manufacturer, our goal is to have our technology in a production vehicle by 2026. We are talking about a series of around 10,000 vehicles, spread across different manufacturers of machinery”, says the CEO of Kraftwerk.

“Lithium is definitely not the way to go. Solid-state battery would be an option, but it doesn’t exist yet,” explains Kühn, who sees his technology as an alternative DRIVER who don’t have a suitable charging option or don’t want to waste time at charging stations. According to the executive, with his system “we can travel up to 2,000 kilometers on a single tank of fuel”.

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