Canadian Plastics

Fuel cells will fundamentally change cars, and much more

Fuel cell systems could dramatically influence both the design and function of automobiles, says Pierre Rivard, pre...

May 3, 2004   Canadian Plastics

Fuel cell systems could dramatically influence both the design and function of automobiles, says Pierre Rivard, president and CEO of fuel cell systems supplier Hydrogenics Corp. (Mississauga, ON). Although mass production of fuel-cell powered automobiles is probably 10 to 20 years in the future, Rivard notes that a fuel cell power module can be flat in shape, which radically changes car design because there’s no need for an engine compartment to house the internal combustion engine.
In addition, fuel cell powered vehicles will be about 40% lighter and have 50% fewer moving parts, he predicts.
Another radical change could be the function of the family car. Because the fuel cell is a zero-emission, efficient power generator, Rivard forecasts that the fuel-cell powered family car could be used to power the household or even provide power to the electricity grid when it is not being used for transportation.
However, fuel cell vehicles are not the most immediate application for fuel cells. Rivard says applications in aerospace, R&D, utility vehicles (small tractors, forklifts), military vehicles and as reserve or back-up power systems will emerge first.
Hydrogenics has worked with John Deere to develop a demonstration utility vehicle, and is involved with the development of a solar/fuel cell powered airborne communications unit as well.
Rivard was a luncheon speaker at Plast-Ex on May 3. The show runs until Thursday, May 6, at the International Centre in Toronto.


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