Interior heating that can withstand a Nordic climate is a challenge for all manufacturers of electric vehicles. Excessive energy consumption when using an electric heating element risks adversely affecting the range of a conventional battery-powered vehicle.
But what about a fuel cell powered vehicle?
Is it possible to use the waste heat that the fuel cell produces to heat a passenger compartment? And how energy efficient is it compared to conventional technology? Could there be other effects?
With these issues as a starting point, myFC together with Inzile, who manufactures light electric transport vehicles, aluminum company Gränges AB, APR Technologies AB who is a system supplier of solutions for heat regulation, and Abtery AB, developer of electric drivelines, participated in the research-oriented feasibility study HYFCBAT. The study is co-financed through the Swedish strategic vehicle research program, FFI. The Swedish research institute RISE / IVF has been responsible for project management and final report in collaboration with the participating industry partners.
The study's reality-based simulations show more than once that it is possible to use the fuel cell's waste heat to warm the truck's cab without unnecessary power losses.
– With the developed models, it was possible to verify that the selected battery capacity and fuel cell power were sufficient to meet the requirements, and that the fuel cell's efficiency can be increased up to 75 percent by using the waste energy to heat the vehicle's cab under cold temperature conditions, says Sebastian Weber, CTO at myFC.
He sees a strength in the fact that the fuel cell process also generates heat at the same time as it generates energy, a heat that can be used for other purposes.
– Using the fuel cell's waste heat in cold weather does not affect the vehicle's range, but rather increases the vehicle's efficiency, says Sebastian Weber.
In the project, a Last Mile Delivery vehicle from Inzile has been analyzed based on real driving cycles that dimension the hybrid fuel cell and battery system and design the thermal system to enable both heating and cooling needs.
According to Sebastian Weber, this provides a good specification of how to implement and control the hybrid fuel cell and the battery solution, as well as a common thermal system that enables use in cold weather without adverse distance effects. At the same time, through the continuous charging, the fuel cell extends the life of the battery and thus the system, something that is not completely insignificant.
FFI stands for Vehicle Research and Innovation and is a strategic national research program in Sweden, focusing on research, innovation and development in environment and safety. The purpose of the program is to strengthen the Swedish automotive industry's competitiveness. The program, with approximately SEK 1 billion in project money, is based on a collaboration between the automotive industry – both vehicle manufacturers and suppliers – and the three authorities Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten) and the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket). FFI's funding ratio is a maximum of 50 percent of each project.