Nuvera Fuel Cells Inc. (Cambridge, MA) announced a breakthrough technology concept that could rapidly advance the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles. The innovation, invented by Nuvera and to be developed through the firm's high-efficiency quick start (Hi-Q) program from funding provided by the US Department of Energy, addresses key issues such as start-up time and system efficiency common to conventional fuel cell power systems.
The breakthrough involves an advancement to Nuvera's multi-fuel processor technology, which is capable of converting hydrocarbon and renewable fuels into hydrogen for use in fuel cell applications to generate clean energy. Using Nuvera's latest innovation, fuel cell systems in the 50kW range could surpass 50 percent operating efficiency and start up in less than 10 seconds. The Hi-Q fuel processor features a lightweight system design, compact catalysts and a small-scale turbo compressor-expander. The system architecture enables Nuvera to run its PEM fuel cells at higher temperatures, resulting in a net increase of operating efficiency and power density.
"The challenge to commercializing fuel cell vehicles remains the same," stated Nuvera Vice President William Mitchell. "Size, weight, efficiency, cost and fuel infrastructure are critical areas that must be addressed. The technology developed under our Hi-Q program will far exceed established PNGV technical targets, which places fuel cells on a fast track to commercialization. This innovation not only benefits the automotive industry in its efforts to advance the development of fuel cell vehicles but also for distributed-power applications where the high efficiency of our Hi-Q concept will make it the standard in 50kW class systems."