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Audi speeds fuel cell dev't using patents from Ballard

Posted: 13 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Ballard Systems? Audi? fuel cell? patent? combustion engine?

Audi has gained renewed focus in developing alternative drive technologies. The Germany-based carmaker has acquired a set of fuel cell patents from Ballard Systems Inc., a Canadian fuel cell company. The car manufacturer has also announced to extend its development collaboration with the Canadians through 2019.

With the move, the development of hydrogen fuel cell drives at Audi gets more momentum. And since Audi is part of the Volkswagen group, the same likely holds true for other brands of this group such as Bentley, Seat and Skoda. "Audi acquires these strategic patents for the entire Volkswagen group and makes them available for all other brands within the group. This secures decisive expertise for us and will generate new impulses for further development of the fuel cell technology," commented Audi development top manager Ulrich Hackenberg who is also responsible for the development management across the entire VW group.

Fuel cell

The recent fuel cell patents acquisition by the German car maker gives it momentum to develop alternative drive technologies.

Though Daimler is widely regarded as the technology leader among the European carmakers in the area of hydrogen fuel cells (and Toyota in worldwide comparison), the topic is not entirely new to Audi. During his speech at the company's general shareholder meeting on May 22, 2014, Audi CEO Rupert Staller announced that company will emphasise the development of alternative drive technologies to meet the CO2 fleet emission target of 95g CO2 or less per kilometre. In this context, he said that alternative drive technologies, including fuel cells, will contribute 30 per cent to this goal.

In November, 2014, Audi introduced its first fuel cell-based prototype, the A7 sportback h-tron Quattro. The fuel cell of this vehicle offers 170kW. The car is said to have a driving range of 500km, significantly more than available battery electric vehicles. The fuel cell stack consists of more than 300 cells for a total voltage of 230V to 360V. According to Audi, the fuel cell features an overall efficiency of up to 60 per cent, more than twice the efficiency of a modern combustion engine.

Audi is also active in the production of hydrogen: Since 2013, the company runs a pilot plant to generate hydrogen. The installation uses electric power from wind turbines to produce hydrogen through electrolysis. This hydrogen is fed into the production of synthetic methane, but according to Audi, it is a "concrete option" to feed the hydrogen into a future network of hydrogen filling stations for fuel cell vehicles. The overarching goal of all these activities is creating a sustainable, emission-free mobility, indicated the company.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
??EE Times Europe





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