June 27, 2003
New fuel cell aims at overcoming sub-zero freezing problems
Seoul, Korea and Hartford, Connetticut – Hyundai Motor Co. and UTC Fuel Cells, have signed an agreement to jointly develop a new automotive fuel cell power plant capable of operating in freezing conditions, one of the remaining hurdles in the development of fuel cells for automobiles.
The agreement calls for Hyundai and UTC Fuel Cells to work jointly to develop a freeze-capable fuel cell power plant and integrate it into a Hyundai sport utility vehicle platform. Hyundai plans to make fuel cell vehicles available for lease by fleet operators by 2004. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Fuel cell power plants, which combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity without environmentally harmful emissions, produce and consume water. One key challenge in developing fuel cells for transportation applications is starting fuel cells after the water in a system has frozen.
UTC Fuel Cells and Hyundai have worked together on fuel cell vehicle development since 2000, when the companies unveiled the first Hyundai Santa Fe fuel cell SUV at the California Fuel Cell Partnership opening ceremonies. A total of six Hyundai fuel cell Santa Fe prototypes were produced under the previous agreement. A Hyundai Santa Fe, powered by a UTC Fuel Cells power plant, scored best in class in efficiency and noise at the 2001 Michelin Challenge Bibendum, an annual event where new automotive technologies are evaluated by independent judges.
The goal of Hyundai’s fuel cell program is to produce a fuel cell vehicle that appeals to consumers, is environmentally friendly and accelerates the development of a sustainable energy society. Hyundai expects to place fuel cell vehicles into fleet applications beginning as early as 2004, with limited consumer availability planned for 2010.
UTC Fuel Cells is currently partnered with Nissan, Hyundai and BMW to develop fuel cells for automobiles and is developing fuel cells for the bus and fleet vehicle market.