CAIT project no.: 59 RU771
Fiscal Year: 1998/1999
Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): Patrick J. Szary, Ali Maher
External Author(s): Michael Strizki, Donald Borowski Henry Schweber
Sponsor(s): NJDOT, FHWA-USDOT
The intent of this project was the retrofit of a donated aluminum Ford Mercury Sable with an electric drive train, fuel cell power system, advanced battery pack, and a hydrogen generator to do a preliminary demonstration of the technology. Currently there are several high profile electric vehicles and hybrids now commercially available through numerous automotive manufacturers. Many of these manufacturers are now evaluating hydrogen as a source of fuel to power future vehicles. The mechanism to process the hydrogen into a usable from of energy for these mobile applications is the fuel cell. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has contracted with the Center for Advanced Infrastructure & Transportation (CAIT) at Rutgers University to conduct an advanced clean vehicle development program known as the New Jersey Fuel Cell Hybrid Electric Vehicle (New Jersey Genesis) Project. The program is a multi-party partnership of governmental, private, and academic institutions in the State of New Jersey collectively known as Team New Jersey. The New Jersey team is engaged currently in the development of a prototype vehicle incorporating an advanced fuel cell and using a novel method of hydrogen storage. Hydrogen will be generated, stored, and transported in the form of a 20 percent solution of sodium Borohydride in water. In the vehicle, the sodium borohydride solution will be passed over a catalyst to generate gaseous hydrogen. The hydrogen gas is then cooled, dried, and used to power the fuel cell. Since the hydrogen is produced on-board only a small amount of hydrogen gas will be present in the vehicle at any given time between the catalyst reactor and the fuel cell, thus reducing storage problems. There are many important issues still to be resolved and refined, thus this work should be considered a preliminary study. As such, this vehicle has little chance of being used a the final prototype for a practical vehicle, a unusable rear seat and little trunk space would not be user acceptable, thus more engineering is necessary. At the time this report was written, at the end of 1.5 years of development work, a fully functional integrated system had not yet been demonstrated.