Design & Technology
Looking into a ‘green’ future September 21st, 2007
By Kyehwan Roh
Environmental Management Team
Did you know that Kia has 20 years of history developing eco friendly autos? Kia was Korea’s first automobile manufacturer to develop and mass market electric vehicles with the introduction of the Besta in 1986.
Over the years, Kia has been a pioneer in Korea of lead cell electric, electric hybrid and 2nd generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. And following on from our 2nd generation hydrogen fuel cell electric Sportage, which is currently undergoing long-term testing in the USA as part of a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored validation program, we recently displayed our 2nd generation fuel cell electric vehicle platform at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Next generation FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) platform
This new platform represents the next step forwards in Kia’s continuing commitment to develop cleaner, greener production vehicles for the future.
The all-new 4.6-metre long platform has a 2850 mm wheelbase and is designed to fit beneath an SUV-style vehicle. Propelled by three electric motors, powered by a 100 kW Fuel Cell and fuelled by twin tanks storing hydrogen at 700 bar, the FCEV promises usable performance.
Kia’s computer simulations indicate that clothed in a Sorento-type body, the new FCEV could accelerate to 100 kph is just 10 seconds, reach a top speed of 170 kph and achieve a 600 km range – all with zero emissions.
The new platform features a high-strength, light-weight ladder-frame chassis with (from front to rear) a radiator, transversely-mounted 100 kW (134 ps) electric motor (driving the front wheels), thermal management unit, humidifier, centrally located 100 kW fuel cell (using Metal Bipolar Plates), super capacitor, fuel processing system, twin 76-litre hydrogen tanks and a 20 kW (27 ps) electric motor in each rear wheel.
Kia’s developmental engineers have endeavoured to retain the acclaimed driving dynamics of the brand’s regular gasoline models. Mounting the fuel cell and hydrogen tanks low down in the new vehicle platform provides FCEV with several dynamic benefits.
The centre of gravity is unusually low for an SUV-style vehicle and the perfectly balanced weight distribution, 50/50% front/rear, together with the 4×4 drive system and wide, large diameter tyres on 18-inch wheels, delivers maximum traction with the road surface at all times.
Taking fuel cell technology forwards
The Kia FCEV works by converting the chemical energy released during the oxidisation of hydrogen fuel into electrical energy. Electrons are separated from the protons of the Hydrogen atom at an electrolyte in the fuel cell, and are forced to flow through an electrical circuit, thereby producing an electric current which powers the motors in the vehicle.
Once this has occurred, the hydrogen protons and electrons re-combine, and oxygen is added from a separate system. The sole outputs of the fuel cell process are electricity and H2O (pure water), which means that the Kia FCEV gives out no harmful emissions whatsoever – only pure water vapour.
What’s more, the new Kia FCEV is a highly efficient system, not only providing the vehicle with 100 kW (134 ps) of power, but also featuring the ability to start in extremely cold temperatures (down to – 30C) and an extended range (up to 600 km).
While accomplishing good progress in terms of greener motoring, the new FCEV is very much a ‘real world’ solution to daily transport challenges – offering lively performance to match its commendably low emissions and fuel consumption figures.