Ford Motor Company's plug-in hybrid, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technology uses a drivetrain called the HySeries Drive. Development of the HySeries technology was partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and has been shown in vehicles including the Ford Edge and one-off concepts like the 2007 Ford Airstream. Ford is working on a variety of technologies including gasoline-electric hybrids, ethanol internal combustion, hydrogen fuel cells, clean diesel, hydrogen internal combustion, and more. Combining several of these technologies in a single vehicle, which is the case with the HySeries, simply makes sense.
Ford's Hydrogen Hybrid
Ford's HySeries Drive features a hydrogen fuel cell powered series hybrid. The concept's goal is to reduce weight, size, cost, and fuel cell system complexity by more than half, while providing greater durability. The HySeries uses a flexible architecture so Ford can use it with new fuel and propulsion technologies as they mature without needing to redesign the basic vehicle platform.
How It Works
This plug-in HySeries hybrid is powered by a 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle is designed to drive the first 25 miles solely on stored electricity, after which the fuel cell begins operating to keep the battery pack charged. This provides another 200 miles of range for a total of 225 miles. The pack is also charged by plugging into the electrical grid. Ford uses a Ballard Power Systems hydrogen fuel cell system.
HySeries Delivers High Mpg
The HySeries technology could stretch out the time between fill-ups to more than 400 miles. Drivers with modest daily needs would need to refuel only rarely since driving could mostly be done on electric power. Drivers who travel less than 50 miles each day could see combined gasoline/electric fuel economy of well over 80 mpg. Those with long daily commutes would see somewhat lower numbers as the fuel cell must run a larger amount the time.
More Convincing Data
While Ford has already made significant progress with the HySeries technology, there are major challenges to be addressed before a vehicle like a HySeries-powered Edge is seen in dealer showrooms. Foremost among these are the high costs of fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries, plus additional improvements to be made in durability. Also, there is the almost complete lack of a hydrogen infrastructure that will need to be overcome before any hydrogen power vehicles are mass marketed.
Wendy Clem is a Michigan-based writer/photographer providing material for newspapers, magazines, and online - locally, regionally, and nationally. Her syndicated auto column for Avanti NewsFeatures has appeared in 400 national markets, and her online how-to articles serve an international audience. Wendy holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in journalism from Detroit's Wayne State University.