H2rv Ford Hydrogen Hybrid Research Vehicle
While widespread sales of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles may be years off, Ford's H2RV technology concept car could be built and sold today.
The H2RV combines an internal combustion engine powered by hydrogen, boosted by a supercharger, with a Ford patented Modular Hybrid Transmission System (MHTS). Ford Motor Company is the only automaker to develop this powertrain combination and put it into service.
Two H2RV vehicles, based upon the best-selling Ford Focus wagon, are now on the streets of southeastern Michigan, generating thousands of real-world miles.
"H2RV is proven technology - it could be put into production," said Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. "What we are lacking are the other two legs of this three-legged stool - a fueling infrastructure for hydrogen, and uniform laws and regulations that will allow its use across the nation."
Emissions from the H2RV of all pollutants, including carbon dioxide, are nearly zero. The electric motor in the automatic transmission and the advanced embedded controls allow the H2RV to stop the internal combustion engine when the vehicle is at rest and start it again quickly and smoothly, offering extra power for acceleration.
The hydrogen hybrid powertrain was unveiled to the public in the Model U concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. It combined the hydrogen hybrid powertrain with a range of safety, telematic and material technologies. Model U was called "a model for change for the next century."
The drivable version of the powertrain was unveiled as the H2RV during the Ford Centennial celebration in June. Scores of journalists from around the world were able to experience driving the H2RV firsthand during a media drive held in a Detroit-area park.
"The hydrogen internal combustion engine in the H2RV has reliability proven to be similar to a gasoline-fueled engine," said Bob Natkin, group leader for hydrogen ICE development, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. "Maintenance is much the same, as is long-term durability." Natkin says hydrogen ICE engines have logged thousands of hours on dynamometers, and more than 10,000 miles on the road under the hood of Ford Focus vehicles.
In the H2RV, the hydrogen-powered engine is mated to a Modular Hybrid Transmission System. As the name suggests, the MHTS system can be used interchangeably in various vehicle structures. MHTS is a full hybrid system using a single 300-volt electric motor, upgraded automatic transmission and modified hydraulics. "The MHTS offers a familiar drive experience and better fuel economy", said Dr. Arun Jaura, project leader for hybrid electric vehicle development, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.
"Fuel cells promise improved efficiencies, but hydrogen-powered hybrids offer a near-term cost-effective bridge to fuel cell technology," said Jaura. "Ford is dedicated to the realization of fuel cell powertrains in mass produced consumer vehicles. But fuel cell powertrains are not ready for mass production in the near term."
Ford is also a leader in fuel cell vehicle research. In June, Ford announced that it would place a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell Focus vehicles on the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia for evaluation early in 2004.
The Ford Focus FCV produces zero emissions, and uses a Ballard fuel cell engine that converts chemical energy into electrical energy using hydrogen and oxygen. The electrical energy then powers the vehicle's electric-drive motor, producing only water and heat as by-products.
In comparison, the basis for the H2RV is its hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine which is regarded as a transition or "bridging" strategy to stimulate the hydrogen infrastructure and related hydrogen technologies including on-board hydrogen fuel storage, hydrogen fuel dispensing and hydrogen safety sensors.
The H2ICE engine has many benefits. H2ICE's are all-weather capable, requiring zero warm-up and have no cold start issues. H2ICE's are highly efficient (52 percent peak indicated efficiency).
H2ICE's can easily achieve SULEV emissions, or better, and more than 99 percent reduced CO2 vehicle emissions. Performance is comparable to gasoline while fuel economy is increased by 25 percent with the engine only and up to 50 percent with an aggressive hybrid electric strategy.
"The transition of where we are today to a hydrogen economy is going to be a huge national and international challenge that is going to require coordination between governments, fuel providers and ourselves in a scale that we have never seen before," said Dr. Gerhard Schmidt. "Whether we want to take that step is a decision for public and government - but Ford Motor Company is ready with product today."