Honda Introduces Breakthrough Fuel Cell Stack that Operates at Below Freezing Temperatures
Honda-developed FC stack delivers improved performance, range, energy efficiency and recycleability

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced the development of the Honda FC Stack, a remarkably compact next-generation fuel cell stack that delivers higher performance with increased range and fuel efficiency, and is designed to operate at temperatures as low as -20oC (-4oF).

Cold weather operation is one of the most significant technical barriers to the mass-market application of fuel cell technology. Honda will soon begin public road evaluation of the vehicle's cold start and driving performance capabilities to advance more widespread use of fuel cell vehicles.

Honda's originally developed FC stack is the world's first fuel stack to feature a stamped metal separator structure combined with newly developed electrolyte membranes for improved efficiency, recycleability, and operation over a greater range of temperatures.

Where conventional fuel cell stacks have a complex structure in which carbon separators are fastened together with bolts, the Honda FC Stack has a simplified structure composed of metal separators with rubber seals that are attached in a unique molding process and enclosed by panels. This reduces the number of components by almost 50 percent compared to a conventional stack, and more than doubles the output density when compared to the Honda FCX V3 stack, resulting in world-leading performance.

Further, the use of newly developed electrolyte membranes greatly improves durability and allows for power generation at temperatures ranging from - 20oC (-4oF) to +95oC (+203oF); a difficult achievement for stacks that employ conventional fluorine electrolyte membranes. The driving range of the FCX with a Honda FC Stack also has increased by 20 miles to more than 180 miles (Honda estimate based on EPA's range certification method). Fuel economy is also improved by over 10 percent compared to the current model FCX.

Honda began fuel cell technology research in the 1980s. Tests of Honda developed fuel cell stacks were conducted under a range of driving conditions using the 1999 FCX-V2 and the 2001 FCX-V3 prototypes. Developed with a view to volume production and the ultimate need to recycle fuel cell vehicles, this next generation Honda FC Stack significantly reduces the use of special materials and offers excellent driving performance and low temperature starts.

The Honda FCX is the world's first fuel cell vehicle certified for commercial use by the U.S. government, and the first to meet all applicable U.S. motor vehicle safety standards. The FCX earned certification from the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in July 2002. The FCX is also the first and only fuel cell vehicle to be tested and listed in the EPA's 2003 fuel economy guide. In December 2002, the city of Los Angeles took delivery of the first of five FCX vehicles being leased by the city for regular daily use as part of their alternative fuel vehicle fleet. In September of this year, the city of San Francisco joined Los Angeles in committing to the use of advanced Honda fuel cell technology and will take delivery of two vehicles before the end of this year.

Key Features of the Honda FC Stack

Compact, high output

  • The number of components is reduced by almost 50 percent through use of the world's first stamped metal separators and a panel-type structure, while the output density is almost double that of the Honda FCX V3 stack.

Low-temperature startup

  • Proton conductivity at low temperatures is double that of a conventional stack due to the use of newly developed electrolyte membranes.
  • Use of metal separators improves conductivity.
  • Thermal capacity is reduced because the unit is more compact. Warm-up time is just 20% of a conventional stack.

Durable even at high temperatures

  • Power can be generated at up to +95oC (+203oF).

Next-generation fuel cell stack developed with an eye towards mass production and recycling.

  • Some special materials have been replaced by more readily-available materials.

Specifications of the Honda FC Stack-equipped FCX

Name FCX with Honda FC Stack
Number of occupants 4
Max. speed 93mph
Motor
Max. output 80kW (107hp)
Max. drive 272N_m (201 lb-ft)
Type Permanent Magnet AC synchronous electric motor
Fuel cell stack (2 units)
Type PEMFC (Proton exchange membrane fuel cell)
Output 86kW
Fuel
Type Compressed Hydrogen
Storage High-pressure hydrogen tank (5000psi)
Capacity 156.6 liters
Dimensions (L x W x H, mm) 4165 x 1760 x 1645
Energy storage Ultra Capacitor (manufactured by Honda)
Vehicle range More than 160 miles (real world)
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