The Swedish carmaker plans to have two prototype chassis based on the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric ready for testing in everyday traffic in 2012.
In the first phase, a preliminary study is being conducted into what is known as a Range Extender, which consists of a fuel cell with a reformer. The task of the reformer is to break down a liquid fuel, in this case petrol, and create hydrogen gas. In the fuel-cell, this hydrogen gas is converted into electrical energy, which is used to power the car’s electric motor.
The technology generates electricity completely without any emissions of carbon oxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and particles. Due to the highly efficient process, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are significantly reduced compared with a conventional vehicle. The end products are electricity, water and a small amount of carbon dioxide.
The technology also can be adapted for renewable fuels.
This technology is expected to increase the electric car’s operating range by up to 250 kilometers – in addition to the range provided by the car’s battery pack. The fuel-cell industry expects that the cost efficiency will improve continuously through refined technology and large-scale production.
In the next phase, pending support from the Swedish Energy Agency, Volvo Cars and Powercell will produce two test cars based on the current Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric. Testing of the cars will begin in 2012.