Denmark’s government is supporting research into methanol fuel cells, said to be a cheap and effective solution as EV range-extenders
By Farah Alkhalisi on July 7, 2012 11:59 AM
Danish firm Ecomove is working on a range-extended version of its Qbeak electric vehicle, which will use methanol fuel cell technology to give nearly 500 miles between recharges.
The air-cooled biomethanol fuel cells act as battery range-extenders; the car incorporates up to six ‘slots’ in its structure for modules containing either a battery, methanol tank or a fuel cell, according to user demand, with scope to add more modules for further-enhanced range.
Methanol – which can be synthesised from sustainable sources – is split in the fuel cell to create electricity and, as a by-product, water; there are no exhaust emissions. Waste heat is recycled for cabin heating, at 80% efficiency.
The MECc project aims to create “a clean, simple and competitive range extender for battery-electric vehicles”, and says that a range of at least 800km (497 miles) is possible. Refuelling with methanol can be done in less than three minutes – like filling up with petrol – and methanol could, says Ecomove, be easily distributed via the existing fuel-supply infrastructure.
The prototype cars will be based on Ecomove’s Qbeak, which we reported on last year. It's a three metre-long lightweight EV with a modular structure that can be adapted to seat up to six within different body-styles. The Qbeak weighs just 400kg (before you add its energy modules) and features in-wheel motors to give a top speed of 120kph (75mph) and a range of 300km (186 miles) between charges. Ecomove aims to have the first cars in production later this year.
The MECc (Modular Energy Carrier) project is funded by Denmark’s Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EDDP), an initiative to make the country free of fossil-fuel energy by 2050, and is a collaboration between Ecomove and fuel cell firm Serenergy. The programme will be overseen by Insero E-Mobility, a Danish organization managing R&D and tying up Danish EV engineering work with global activities.