Alongside hybrids and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are set to be an important part of decarbonising transport and getting to net zero – with companies like Hyundai, Toyota and Honda already investing in this technology.
Hydrogen and battery electric vehicles are often seen as separate to each other, but what many people don’t realise is that batteries are vital for FCEVs too.
That’s because FCEVs need batteries to act as a buffer between the fuel cell system and the electric motor. Hydrogen fuel cells are most efficient (and use the least amount of hydrogen) when they run at a constant rate, but vehicles have to be able to vary their speed.
This is where the battery comes in – for example, allowing a higher discharge of energy when you put your foot on the accelerator and vice versa when you slow down. Having a battery also enables a vehicle to use regenerative braking which provides the ability to continue to charge our high power cell.
FCEVs have specific battery requirements and one element that’s limited their growth in recent years, alongside building refuelling infrastructure, is developing the supply chain to provide the necessary components.
Battery-electric cars need their batteries to provide both energy (range) and power. For FCEVs, however, a vehicle’s range largely comes from the hydrogen stored on board, so the focus for them is more about where their power is coming from.
At AMTE Power we’ve been working on the solution through the development of our differentiated Ultra-High Power (UHP) cell at our Thurso base and at the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre.
UHP is ideal for FCEVs. It can discharge large amounts of power and charges quickly too, with our latest testing showing it can be fully charged in just six minutes.
It also offers a good level of usable energy so FCEV manufacturers don’t have to compromise on high power at the expense of lower energy rates. UHP’s power means that OEMs can install lighter battery packs, improving performance and increasing range. This also allows fuel cell systems to be downsized, as the battery can do more of the work.
The full potential of FCEVs is still being realised. Solving battery challenges for them is essential to unlocking progress and helping us lower vehicle emissions. At AMTE Power we’re commercialising our high-power cell technology and scaling up production rates to do just that.
Fergal Harrington-Beatty, AMTE Power