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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Nov/Dec 2003 : Special Section : ECD Ovonics: On the Road to a Hydrogen Future

Special Section

ECD Ovonics: On the Road to a Hydrogen Future

The future of transportation will be fueled by hydrogen. To make this vision real, every aspect of how people use fuel must be addressed—the challenge is to make storing, shipping and using hydrogen practical, easy, safe and affordable.

Solid State Hydrogen
ECD Ovonics, through a joint venture with ChevronTexaco called Texaco Ovonic Hydrogen Systems (TOHS), has developed an innovative solution for storing hydrogen in a solid state. This technology holds great promise for enabling a hydrogen future that delivers cars to consumers with similar range, performance and refueling experience as vehicles today.

Solid state hydrogen can be stored at much lower pressure (both in refueling stations and in the car’s fuel tank) than either gaseous or liquid hydrogen. Lower pressure makes solid state hydrogen far safer and more practical to transport and use. In fact, ECD Ovonics has modified a 2002 model Toyota Prius to run on its system. It currently has a range of about 150 miles per refueling and was recently demonstrated (to rave reviews) at the prestigious Challenge Bibendum. ECD Ovonics is working now on improvements that could increase the range to 300 miles per refueling. The company chose the well-known Prius because its nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries and all-electric operation mode at idle and start-up make it an excellent mate for hydrogen fuel. (NiMH batteries are an innovation that is a direct result of research done by, and patents held by, ECD Ovonics.)

How’s performance? In dynamometer tests, the stock Prius using gasoline generates peak engine power of 66 BHP at 4,000 rpm. ECD Ovonics was able to closely match the horsepower using hydrogen, obtaining 70 BHP at 4,000 rpm after making some modifications to the stock vehicle. Zero to 40 mph acceleration times were 6.9 seconds for the stock Prius and 7.8 seconds for the ECD Ovonics vehicle—a compromise that most drivers do not notice.

The advantages of ECD Ovonics’ solid state storage technology do not stop with hybrid vehicles. Solid state hydrogen can also be applied to other internal combustion engine vehicles, as BMW has recently shown.

Solving Tomorrow’s Problems Today

Low-pressure solid state storage can provide immediate access to the road leading to a hydrogen economy. And ECD Ovonics technology can work with today’s internal combustion engines every bit as well as tomorrow’s fuel cells.

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