Posted on September 03, 2016
The first formula car equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell. The Forze IV is a state of the art vehicle equipped with an in-house designed fuel cell. After three years of experience with kart based vehicles, this year we designed and built the first hydrogen fuel cell Formula Student vehicle.
Basically the Forze IV works as follows: Hydrogen is fed to the fuel cell. In the fuel cell the hydrogen and oxygen react and produce electricity. The voltage produced by the fuel cell is then brought to a higher level by a DC/DC converter. The generated electric energy is then stored in ultra-capacitors, which serve as an energy buffer between the fuel cell and the electric motors. When the driver kicks down the pedal, the engines subtract their energy from these ultra-capacitors.
The 12 kW fuel cell consists of several devices, from which the most important one is the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) stack. In the stack, the hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2) are separated by a membrane. Humidicore humidifies that membrane, thereby increasing the life of the fuel cell. At the anode side, a catalyst splits the hydrogen molecules into protons and electrons (2H2 -> 4H+ + 4e-). The protons can go through the membrane to the oxygen at the cathode side, but the electrons cannot and have to go through an external circuit, forming a complete circuit. The reaction on the cathode side is then as follows: 4H+ + 4e- + O2 -> 2H2O. As you can see, pure water is the only exhaust coming from the fuel cell!