Volkswagen sets out to study fifth-generation fuel cell technology that is expected to mature at the end of next year

Recently, the Volkswagen Group launched three hydrogen fuel vehicles at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Among them were the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro, the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion and the Passat HyMotion.

The above three fuel cell models of the Volkswagen Group all use a fourth-generation fuel cell group independently developed by Volkswagen. The fuel cell group uses a 100-kilovolt low-temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cell, which is powered by the Volkswagen Group Electric Traction Technology Center. The VW Group Research Institute completed research and development. Dr. Ulrich Heckenberger, member of Technical Development Management Committee of Audi Motors, told a fuel cell technology seminar at the Los Angeles Auto Show that the Volkswagen Group has already begun researching fifth-generation fuel cell technology and expects The new technology will gradually mature at the end of next year.

Inherit the modular style

From the appearance point of view, the parts used by the Volkswagen Group's several fuel cell vehicles are basically directly from their respective production models. This also reflects the Volkswagen Group's design concept of developing different power configurations for the same model to continuously enrich the product line to provide consumers with more diverse product choices.

From the technologies adopted by the above several fuel cell vehicles, it can be seen that the purpose of the Volkswagen Group is to use its modular production platform to carry out the modular automobile production. This means that the above several fuel cell vehicles use the Volkswagen MQB (Trail engine) platform and the Audi car company's MLB (Longitudinal Engine) platform. According to the emphasis of the Volkswagen Group and the responsible person of the brand, the ultimate goal of the above modular production platform is to use the same production line for the same model and to realize various power output systems, among which different power output systems mainly include gasoline engines and diesel engines. , Natural gas, plug-in hybrid, battery power drive, and fuel cell and other power drive methods.

The problem of hydrogen still exists

For the production time and target markets of the above fuel cell vehicles, the Volkswagen Group did not make too many introductions like Toyota Motor Corporation, Honda Motor Corporation, and Hyundai Motor Corporation.

Dr. Heinz Jacob Neuer, member of the Volkswagen Group Development Management Committee, said: "In 2009, we had predicted that it would be difficult for hydrogen fuel cells to achieve breakthrough progress by 2020. Now we are still convinced that This point, but fuel cells have always been a very important part of our electrification strategy, so we will only formally introduce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles after all related issues such as hydrogen fuel cell hydrogen refueling stations are resolved. We are very willing to show people our R&D results."

Targeting efficiency and mileage

The above Volkswagen's fourth-generation fuel cell group consists of more than 300 individual fuel cell units. The core portion of each individual fuel cell employs a polymer proton exchange membrane, while both sides of the proton exchange membrane are coated with a platinum-based catalyst.

In proton exchange membrane fuel cells, hydrogen gas is directly connected to the anode. Hydrogen is decomposed into protons and electrons through the action of the fuel cell. The protons that are decomposed pass through the membrane under the action of the potential to reach the cathode, and then the proton and the cathode air. The oxygen in it generates water vapor. At the same time, the electrons decomposed by the hydrogen gas move toward a certain direction outside the fuel cell stack to form an electric current to provide electric energy for the fuel cell. According to the load, the supply voltage of each individual fuel cell unit is 0.6V-0.8V, so the entire fuel cell stack can reach 230V-360V.

The auxiliary components of the above fuel cell stack mainly include a turbocharger, a circulation fan, and a coolant pump. Among them, the main role of the turbocharger is to provide more air intake for the fuel cell, while the circulating fan can feed the unconsumed hydrogen back to the battery anode to improve the efficiency of the battery. The above fuel cell auxiliary components employ a high voltage drive mode, which is directly powered by the fuel cell.

The fuel cell is also equipped with a separate cooling circuit to achieve the cooling function of the fuel cell. At the same time, the fuel cell is also equipped with a heat exchanger and a thermoelectric adaptive auxiliary heating element. Through the application of the above functions, a stable and comfortable working temperature can be maintained in the fuel cell installation and fixing chamber.

In the fuel cell seminar Shanghai Dr. Inz Jacob Neuer said that the Volkswagen Group's research on fuel cells is mainly focused on how to improve work efficiency and increase mileage. Among them, the first method to achieve the above two goals is to reduce the fuel cell pressure loss as much as possible, followed by proton exchange membrane technology. Volkswagen Group is developing a nano-platinum coating, which can not only greatly increase the surface contact area of ​​the platinum coating but also reduce the thickness of the platinum coating.

Heinz Jacob Neuer also stated that the nanostructures used in proton exchange membranes are similar to the nanostructures of the battery itself. Among them, the nanostructure Volkswagen Group of fuel cells is also making full-scale research and development.

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