March 1, 2004
Honda FCX fuel cell car offers breakthrough in cold-start performance
Torrance California – Marking a significant breakthrough for fuel cell technology, Honda Motor Co. announced that it has conducted a successful cold-weather demonstration of its FCX fuel cell vehicle equipped with a Honda Fuel Cell Stack. Demonstrating the vehicle’s cold-weather performance capabilities and its ability to start in below freezing temperatures, a major hurdle in the drive to create a truly mass-marketable fuel cell vehicle.
“This is a tremendous breakthrough for Honda and everyone whose dream it is to make fuel cell power a reality,” said Ben Knight, vice president of Honda R&D Americas. “We still have many hurdles to cross, but this is certainly a significant step in the right direction.”
Testing was conducted at Honda’s test track and on public roads on the northern Japan island of Hokkaido. As a part of the test, the FCX successfully started after being parked outside overnight in temperatures as low as -11 degrees C (+12 degrees F). Test drives conducted immediately afterward demonstrated the vehicle’s excellent cold weather driving performance. Honda will continue cold weather testing in its efforts to make widespread use of fuel cell vehicles a reality.
The Honda FCX is the first fuel cell vehicle to be certified for regular commercial use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, and is currently being used by customers in the U.S. and Japan.
The Honda FC Stack — which the company plans to make commercially available within the next year — is the world’s first fuel stack to feature below-freezing start capabilities, and the first to utilize a stamped metal separator structure and newly developed electrolyte membranes. Conventional fuel cell stacks have a complex structure in which carbon separators are fastened together with bolts. The Honda FC Stack, however, has a simplified structure composed of stamped metal separators with rubber seals that are attached in a unique moulding process and enclosed by panels.
The new stack reduces the number of components by almost 50 percent (compared to earlier Honda prototype units) while more than doubling the output density, resulting in world-leading performance. Use of newly developed aromatic electrolyte membranes greatly improves durability and allows for power generation at temperatures ranging from -20 degrees C (-4 degrees F) to +95 degrees C (+203 degrees F), a milestone achievement for stacks that employ conventional fluorine electrolyte membranes. Driving range and fuel economy have also been increased by more than 10 percent compared with the FCX currently in fleet use.