IE hydrogen

Intelligent Energy (IE) has unveiled a new hydrogen fuel cell system which it says is smaller and more powerful than any other solution on the passenger car market.

IE’s new IE-DRIVE system has been designed to give passenger car manufacturers direct access to a smaller, more powerful, turnkey and commercially-viable hydrogen fuel cell solution that is needed to make zero carbon emission mobility a global reality in the passenger car market.

The single stack platform, which IE says is the first of its kind to be designed, manufactured and tested by a British company, recently broke cover during a launch event at IE’s Loughborough headquarters where it powered an SUV provided by Changan UK.

IE says the specification of the IE-DRIVE platform brings significant benefits when compared to other fuel cells that have been developed by large automotive groups and their third-party fuel cell suppliers. These benefits include more power – in its current configuration, IE-DRIVE is capable of 157kW gross electrical power.

IE’s patented direct water injection technology also means IE-DRIVE’s heat exchanger is up to 30% smaller than its competitors at equal net power output. Having a small heat exchanger makes vehicle packaging easier and benefits fuel cell vehicle design, particularly in relation to bonnet height and improved driver visibility.

IE says the system is commercially-viable too. Under full-scale, high-volume manufacturing conditions, IE predicts its DRIVE fuel cell system will cost around £100 per kW by the end of the decade, making it less expensive than BEV solutions and comparable to ICE.

IE’s quest to develop a new breed of patented hydrogen fuel cell technology is the result of a four-year project – named ESTHER – that got underway in November 2019 and was supported by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). The £22m initiative was a collaborative effort involving IE, Changan R&D Centre, Lyra Electronics and Alexander Dennis.

IE is now ready to roll its technology out to the passenger car market, in partnership with suitable car manufacturers.

David Woolhouse, IE’s chief executive, said: “With 25% of all passenger cars expected to have hydrogen fuel cell powertrains, this clean technology represents the future. I’m proud that, as an independent and privately-owned company, Intelligent Energy has developed a breakthrough solution that can open up the market for passenger car manufacturers that need to package a more powerful system into their vehicles.

“Our DRIVE product has the potential to shake up the hydrogen fuel cell market and accelerate the transition towards zero-emission mobility.”