Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Fuel Cell Systems

PEM fuel cells are the center of an integrated propulsion system-one that is radically different from conventional vehicle systems. The diagram below shows the basic components of a hydrogen-fueled FCV.

FCVs like the one above use pure hydrogen as fuel, stored onboard the vehicle in highly pressurized tanks. Other FCVs are designed to use a liquid fuel such as gasoline or methanol, which is stored in a conventional, non-pressurized tank. FCVs using these fuels also need a reformer-a fuel processor that breaks down the fuel into hydrogen for the fuel cell, carbon dioxide, and water. Although this process generates carbon dioxide, it produces much less than the amount generated by gasoline-powered vehicles.

Fuel cell vehicles can also be equipped with regenerative braking systems that capture the energy usually lost during braking and store it in an up-sized battery.

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