Automakers know that rising oil prices and tougher environmental rules will increase the public’s interest in vehicles that use less fuel with reduced tail pipe emissions.
Hybrids increase fuel efficiency by capturing the energy normally lost to friction braking and storing it in a battery for later use when driving power is again required. Unlike internal combustion engine hybrids, Volkswagen’s hydrogen fuel cell hybrid emits only water.
The VW Touran Hymotion has high-torque electric motor that draws its power from a fuel cell and is absolutely emission free. The standard version, driven by petrol and diesel engines, which are as agile as they are economical, is by far the most successful van available in Germany. In the Touran HyMotion, an 80 kW electric motor provides vehement propulsion.
The core element of this fuel cell is an extremely thin plastic film (membrane). This spatially separates the reagents, hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is broken down into positively and negatively charged particles (protons and electrons). The protons are able to pass directly through the membrane, whilst the electrons take a more indirect route via an external current circuit, driving the electric motor. On the other side of the membrane, the protons, electrons and oxygen combine to form water.
The hydrogen is transported in gaseous form at 350 bar in a special tank fitted in the Touran. A capacity of 1.9 kg hydrogen when converted corresponds to the energy contained in 7.5 litres of petrol. In combination with the electric motor’s high efficiency, this quantity of hydrogen provides the vehicle with a range of approximately 160 kilometres.
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