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From: riposte1/10/2006 9:18:51 AM
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PSA Peugeot Citroen unveils small fuel cell



PSA Peugeot Citroen unveils small fuel cell


Mon Jan 9, 2006 4:13 PM GMT

CARRIERES-SOUS-POISSY, France (Reuters) - French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen on Monday unveiled the smallest fuel cell currently available for cars and pledged further research to halve the price of these environmental friendly power sources by 2010.

PSA Chairman Jean-Marie Folz told a news conference that the best way to save on fuel consumption of cars in the short term was by boosting the use of diesel and by adding bio-fuel to diesel.

For the medium term, hybrid diesel engines would offer further reduction in consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, while fuel cells, which release energy from the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen with a catalyst, were for a later stage, he said.

"This technology is still at its early stages but offers a real answer for the future," he said, as PSA unveiled the Genepac fuel cell -- an 80 KW power unit the size of a big suitcase that can be used in light municipal vehicles.

It can run for 500 km (310 miles), which is more than previous fuel cell projects, but still insufficient for general use.

PSA officials said that the cost and size of the fuel cells remained a problem that needed to be solved. Part of the fuel cell is made from platinum, which is an expensive precious metal.

Its size should also be reduced. At 57 liters, Genepac is much smaller than previous versions but would still not fit in a small passenger car.

Another problem remains starting with cold temperatures.

Folz remained scathing about petrol hybrid engines, such as developed by Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp, saying these "serve no interest whatsoever in industrialized countries" because they still consume more than diesel engines.

According to the Washington-based Society of Automotive Engineers, a fuel cell can be two or three times more efficient than an internal combustion engine and it has no moving parts.

A fuel cell converts hydrogen and oxygen directly into energy with heat and water as by-products, making it almost pollution free. Hydrogen is most commonly used and research is taking place into fuel cells based on methanol and oxygen.

The European Commission is backing fuel cell research to cut oil dependence and reduce greenhouse gas emission.
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