Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will circumnavigate the world using the first series-produced fuel cell vehicle, the B-Class F-CELL, at the end of January 2011.
The overarching ambition of the F-CELL World Drive is to demonstrate the efficiency and suitability for everyday use of fuel cell technology, the company explained. Added to this, the event will form part of a broader campaign geared towards the development of a global hydrogen filling station network.
While the vehicle technology of the B-Class F-CELL is now fully mature, Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management at Daimler AG, acknowledged that the fuel station infrastructure represents limitations. “With our ‘F-CELL World Drive’ we want not only to demonstrate the capability and everyday usability of fuel cell drive, but also to lobby for the establishment of a hydrogen fuel cell network” he stated.
“Today, as with the invention of automobile 125 years ago, the issue of a corresponding fuelling infrastructure arises. But I am confident that together with all of the parties involved we will find a solution that enables us to fully exploit the tremendous potential of this technology” Dr Webber commented.
The journey will last 125 days and will see the vehicle driven through four continents and the widest variety of climate zones. The exceptional long-distance journey will take the fuel cell vehicles through 14 countries: from southern Europe, through France, Spain and Portugal, the cars will continue on to North America, where they will drive through both the USA as well as Canada. After crossing Australia the cars will reach the continent of Asia. From China they will then pass through Kazakhstan, Russia and finally northern Europe, until the tour returns to Stuttgart at the beginning of June, where the 125-day round-the-world tour will come to an end.
Mercedes-Benz has adopted a clever solution for the lack of hydrogen filling stations along the route. Acting as the exclusive supplier for hydrogen is the project partner Linde AG, which will guarantee a reliable supply thanks to its sites and subsidiaries located throughout the world. On remote routes a tanker vehicle, which has been specially developed for the tour in cooperation with Linde AG, will also be on hand to supply the fuel cell vehicles with the necessary hydrogen
“With this unique circumnavigation of the world we are emphasizing the high level of technical maturity of our electric vehicles with fuel cells. Such an undertaking would not be possible using purely battery-powered electric vehicles,” Dr Weber added. “This will make the B-Class F-CELL a global ambassador for a new, local zero-emissions auto-mobility of the future.”
Powered by an electric motor with 100 kw (134 horsepower) and 290 Nm (215 lb-ft) of torque, the new B-Class F-CELL provides driving performance comparable to a similar conventional car while using about half the fuel. The car utilises a fuel cell stack for generating electricity and a lithium ion battery for energy storage. Taking around three minutes to refuel, the B-Class F-CELL emits only water as a by-product of the fuel cell system.
Both Powder Metallurgy (PM) and Powder Injection Moulding (PIM) technologies are expected to be at the forefront of the development of next generation drive train systems for electric powered vehicles and hydrogen storage systems.
- Qualification of material DIN 1.4404 (316 L) for liquid hydrogen storage applications
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