From: shahid ahmed on
Korean automaker Hyundai is no stranger to zero emission fuel cell
technology. Hyundai initially demonstrated fuel cell capability to the
world by packaging FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) technology in the
Santa Fe SUV back in 2000. Five years of development led to a second
generation FCEV based on the Tucson platform in 2006, with power
increased to 80 kW and lithium-polymer batteries added. This
automaker’s fuel cell expertise has also been demonstrated at a mass
transit level with fuel cell powered buses.
While utilizing the Santa Fe and Tucson did work well to forward the
company’s fuel cell development program, packaging fuel cell
technology into existing vehicle platforms has limitations that
require engineers to accept compromises that can get in the way of
optimum powertrain design. Recently, Hyundai moved beyond this with
its introduction of an all-new, purpose-built FCEV concept that’s
nothing less than stunning. The new Hyundai i-Blue was designed from
the start to integrate the latest third generation fuel cell
technology. According to Dr. Hyun-Soon Lee, Hyundai’s president of
Research and Development, the i-Blue makes a tremendous leap forward
for the automaker’s R&D program, with the company’s engineering team
successfully designing a more compact fuel cell vehicle while
retaining the safety, comfort, convenience, and driving range of a
traditional internal combustion vehicle.
The i-Blue is a small “D” segment car, which Hyundai describes as a
2+2 crossover platform. Much more compact than the existing FCEV SUVs,
i-Blue required significant engineering advancements. Downsizing
requirements are addressed by the third generation fuel cell
technology that enables placing the new and compact 100 kW fuel cell
stack beneath the floor of the cabin, rather than in the engine
compartment. Placement of the fuel cell and battery mass low and in
the middle of the vehicle delivers an optimum 50-50 weight
distribution and a low center of gravity for optimum handling dynamics.