Volkswagen has taken a step further in the fuel cell technology stakes with the development of a high temperature fuel cell. Almost all current fuel cell technology is the low temperature kind, whose performance suffers and can even be damaged if operating temperatures reach above a certain threshold, about 80 degrees Celsius.
VW’s high temperature fuel cell is the only one of its kind in the world and can operate and can operate at around 120 degrees Celsius, allowing designers to do away with a complicated and expensive cooling system. The VW system will be smaller, more efficient and cheaper, as well as being better suited to real world conditions.
According to researchers, “the high temperature fuel cell independently developed by Volkswagen in seven years of research work will make the overall system in the car lighter, more compact, stable and cheaper. And those are the decisive criteria for putting fuel cells on the path towards mass series production.” The solution was to develop a new membrane plus special modifications to electrodes to prevent product water from penetrating the system. Prototypes should be out and running by 2010 with the first production models driving out of showrooms by 2020.