Progress Begins on Hydrogen Fuel Cell Fleet

California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) has approved US$2.3 million for a fuel cell company to provide the engineering, design and development of advanced hydrogen fuel systems for a fleet of 30 Toyota Prius Hybrid Electric Vehicles.

Irvine, California – April 8, 2004 [] Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide was selected for the contract to develop the complete OEM-level hydrogen internal combustion engine fuel system, including both the injection system and hydrogen storage system. Included in the fuel systems will be the company’s patented fuel injectors, fuel rails, electronic control system and software, hydrogen storage and a customized turbocharger. Quantum will also integrate these hydrogen fuel systems into the vehicles and perform complete validation including crash testing, engine and vehicle durability, and emissions testing to ensure compliance. The newly awarded AQMD test fleet program will entail Quantum performing all of the necessary engineering, safety testing, interface with licensing agencies and validation of the model year 2004 Toyota Prius to provide a turnkey conversion that meets performance specifications and in-use conditions determined by the AQMD. In addition to performing in specified starting conditions and meeting certain drivability specifications, the vehicle will also need to achieve SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) emissions levels. The AQMD has identified the use of alternative clean fuels in mobile sources as a key air quality attainment strategy. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are near zero-emission vehicles but currently have limited availability, high costs and short warranty periods. In order to stimulate the demand for hydrogen, expedite the development of infrastructure, and provide a bridge to fuel cell vehicles, the AQMD has initiated an effort to establish a network of hydrogen fueling stations and deploy a small fleet of hydrogen powered ICEs. This program is directly in line with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “hydrogen highway” initiative, which proposes to install hydrogen fueling stations approximately every 20 miles along major freeways throughout California. The demonstration sites for the vehicles will include the AQMD headquarters in Diamond Bar, the cities of Burbank, Ontario, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Santa Monica, and subject to approval, the DoD-NAC. The company will offer the vehicles with two hydrogen storage configurations: Quantum’s TriShield compressed hydrogen storage system or an optional metal hydride storage system. Quantum will integrate Texaco Ovonics’ metal hydride storage into five of the 30 vehicles for evaluation. Quantum previously worked with Texaco Ovonics to develop a hydrogen-powered concept vehicle using a model year 2002 Toyota Prius Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Quantum will also market these vehicles to fleets across the United States to help promote the growth of hydrogen usage and to provide a transitional vehicle while fuel cell vehicles are becoming more prevalent. “This program will help bridge the technology between conventional gasoline vehicles and fuel cell vehicles as well as to help expedite the expansion of a hydrogen infrastructure,” said Alan P. Niedzwiecki, President and CEO of Quantum. “We are pleased to have been awarded this opportunity to leverage our capabilities to assist the AQMD in their efforts to fight smog and to create a hydrogen economy in California–the recognized leader in clean air initiatives.” The value of the contract may be expanded to $2.5 million, contingent on co-funding by the Department of Defense National Automotive Center (DoD-NAC), which would increase the total number of vehicles to 35.
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