CHRYSLER UNVEILS FUEL CELL MINIVAN
The Chrysler Group unveiled its third generation fuel cell concept vehicle, the Chrysler Town & Country Natrium,fueled with sodium boro-hydride, a compound chemically related to borax, the naturally-occurring substance used in laundry soap.
This unique fuel and fuel cell system gives the Natrium a range of 300miles, comparable to a gasoline-powered vehicle and significantly longer thanany fuel cell vehicle shown to date. In addition, the vehicle has zero emissions -- no greenhouse gas or smog-forming compounds are produced by the vehicle.
The sodium boro-hydride fuel is available in significant supplies, it isnon-toxic and nonflammable, and it can be recycled, potentially providing anendless supply of fuel for transportation needs.
"This unique concept vehicle represents Daimler Chrysler innovation at itsbest," said Bernard I. Robertson, Senior Vice President -- EngineeringTechnologies and Regulatory Affairs. "It combines our industry-leading fuelcell vehicle development program and the creative thinking that we have cometo expect from our Liberty & Technical Affairs group. It also continues our heritage of close working relationships with key technical partners, both inside the company and around the world, to bring exciting new technologies to market."
Natrium is the Latin word for sodium. Sodium boro-hydride is safe -- itcan be handled in dry form. It is available in large supplies in the U.S., and infrastructure issues are less challenging than with other fuels proposed forfuel cell vehicles.
"The most important unresolved issue with fuel cell vehicles is not the fuel cell -- it's the fuel," said Thomas Moore, Vice President at DaimlerChrysler's Liberty & Technical Affairs research and development group.
"While sodium boro-hydride will strike some as an unusual fuel for an automobile, it has the advantages of the other fuels that have been proposed for fuel cell vehicles, without the significant disadvantages," Moore said.
"Plus its environmental benefits are even greater -- there are nohydrocarbons to contribute to greenhouse gas buildup, no smog-producing emissions, and the fuel can be recycled."
In the Chrysler Town & Country Natrium's fuel cell system, sodium boro-hydride is processed to extract hydrogen, which is combined with oxygen in the fuel cell stacks to produce electricity that drives the vehicle's electricmotor. The Natrium's fuel cell system is produced by DaimlerChrysler's fuelcell partner, Ballard/XCELLSiS of Vancouver, Canada. The hydrogen is producedusing the "Hydrogen on Demand"(TM) system developed by Millennium Cell, Inc.,of Eatontown, New Jersey.
The chemical equation for the fuel processing is:
NaBH4 + 2 H2O ---> 4 H2 + NaBO2 Sodium water catalyst hydrogen Sodium borate Borohydride (Recycleable)
After processing, the spent fuel is sodium borate which is chemicallyidentical to borax. The spent fuel can be reprocessed into sodium boro-hydrideand reused in a fuel cell vehicle.
"In addition to its extended range, the Town & Country Natrium's fuelcell system preserves the full utility of the Chrysler minivan", noted Christian Mohrdieck, Senior Manager, Fuel Cell Systems, who led the Natrium project. "The sodium boro-hydride fuel storage and processing system arecompletely packaged under the vehicle's floor. There is no cabin intrusion atall, so the vehicle is fully usable," Mohrdieck said.
The Chrysler Group has produced two other fuel cell concept vehicles.
- Jeep(R) Commander, unveiled in 1999, demonstrated an onboard reformer to produce hydrogen from gasoline for the fuel cell stacks.
- Jeep Commander 2, unveiled, uses a methanol reforming fuel cell powertrain in a large, luxury, four-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle.
Chrysler Town & Country Natrium Preliminary Specifications
Vehicle: Chrysler Town & Country minivan Powertrain: Front-wheel drive Regenerative braking Motor: 35 kW Siemens AC motor Battery Pack: 40 kW SAFT Li-Ion Fuel: Sodium Boro-Hydride, recyclable Fuel Processor: Hydrogen on Demand system Millennium Cell, Inc. Fuel Cell System: Ballard/XCELLSiS Performance: Fuel economy: 30 mpg gasoline equivalent 0-60 mph: 16 seconds Top speed: 80 mph Range: 300 miles Emissions: Zero emissions
Written by: DaimlerChrysler
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