Power management company Eaton announced a new partnership with Ballard Fuel Cell Systems and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop heavy-duty truck fuel cells. The prototype will incorporate airflow technology initially designed to improve fuel efficiency.
Said technology is Eaton’s Twin Vortices Series (TVS), made to improve fuel efficiency and which the company claims is capable of providing precise airflow to hydrogen fuel cells.
“Our TVS supercharger technology provides fuel cell manufacturers with a precise amount of controlled air to increase power and efficiency,” said Karl Sievertsen, Eaton Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “The efficiency of competitive fuel cells is lower because most hydrogen fuel cells use simple fans for airflow, which produces less pressure and is not controllable.”
The intermediate goal of the new partnership with Ballard and NREL is to design and test a subscale, proof-of-concept system prototype utilizing TVS technology that delivers a “significant reduction in air system power consumption and fuel cell efficiency for heavy-duty truck applications,” so Eaton.
Eaton added, the TVS technology was ideal for harsh environments, as it can tolerate water, has operating maps with broad efficiency, and provides accurate airflow control in proportion to speed. The company claims that these properties enable a water applicator to replace the humidifier to achieve higher operating pressure ratios and isentropic efficiencies.
“The innovation will be demonstrated in a laboratory setting and will become a springboard for US advanced manufacturing capabilities and technology leadership,” Sievertsen added.
To do so, Eaton will leverage its Corporate Research Labs in Golden, Colorado and Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Southfield, Michigan, using advanced 3D printing.
As for Ballard, the company appears to have come on board to provide fuel cell stacks equipped with the Eaton technology.
The funding partnership is funded by a grant Eaton’s Vehicle Group received through the NREL to develop highly efficient hydrogen fuel cells capable of powering heavy-duty machinery.
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