News Releases 2003

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October 10, 2003

New Honda Fuel Cell Stack Operates at Low Temperatures; Breakthrough Technology to be Tested in FCX on Public Roads

October 10, 2003 — Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced the development of the Honda FC Stack, a remarkably compact, next-generation fuel cell stack that delivers high performance, yet operates at temperatures as low as –20ºC (-4ºF). It is the world’s first fuel stack to feature a stamped metal separator structure and newly developed electrolyte membranes. The FCX equipped with the Honda FC Stack was certified September 24, by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. 

Honda will begin public testing of the vehicle’s cold start and driving performance capabilities to advance more widespread use of fuel cell vehicles. Honda FC Stack-equipped FCX will take the role of a lead car in the 80th Tokyo-Hakone Ekiden relay race in January 2004. 

Conventional fuel cell stacks have a complex structure in which carbon separators are fastened together with bolts. The Honda FC Stack, however, has a simplified structure composed of stamped metal separators, with rubber seals that are attached in a unique molding process and enclosed by panels. This reduces the number of components by almost 50% (compared to a conventional unit*1) and more than doubles the output density*2, resulting in world-leading high performance. Further, use of newly developed aromatic electrolyte membranes greatly improves durability and allows for power generation at temperatures ranging from -20ºC(-4ºF) to +95ºC(+203 ºF)— a difficult achievement for stacks that employ conventional fluorine electrolyte membranes. The driving range of the FCX with a Honda FC Stack also has increased by 40 km*3, from 355 km to 395 km, while fuel economy has improved by over 10%*4

Honda began fuel cell technology research in the 1980s. Tests of Honda fuel cell stacks were conducted under a range of driving conditions using the 1999 FCX-V2 and the 2001 FCX-V3. Developed with a view to volume production and the ultimate need to recycle fuel cell vehicles, this next generation Honda FC Stack significantly reduces the use of special materials and offers excellent driving performance and low-temperature starts.

Honda FC Stack

Honda FC Stack

FCX equipped with the Honda FC Stack

FCX equipped with the Honda FC Stack

Key Features of the Honda FC Stack

(1) Compact, high output
The number of components is reduced by almost 50% through use of the world’s first stamped metal separators and a panel-type structure, while the output density is almost double that of a conventional fuel cell stack.
(2) Low-temperature starts
Ion conductivity at low temperatures is double that of a conventional stack thanks to use of aromatic electrolyte membranes.
Use of stamped metal separators improves conductivity.
Thermal capacity is reduced because the unit is more compact. Warm-up time is 20% that of a conventional stack.
(3) Durable even at high temperatures
Power can be generated at up to +95ºC(203ºF).
(4) Next-generation fuel cell stack developed in consideration of mass production and recycling.
Some special materials have been replaced by more readily-available materials.

*1Honda fuel cell stack on the FCX-V3
*2 output/volume, output/weight
*3 LA4 mode Honda in-house calculations
*4 Compared with an FCX equipped with a Ballard fuel cell stack

Specifications of the Honda FC Stack-equipped FCX

Name FCX
Number of occupants 4
Max・speed 150km/h
Motor Max. output 80kW (109PS)
Max. drive torque 272N・m (27.5 kg・m)
Type AC synchronous electric motor (manufactured by Honda)
Fuel cell stack
(proton exchange membrane fuel cell, manufactured by Honda)
Output 86kW
Fuel Type Compressed hydrogen
Storage High-pressure hydrogen tank (350 atmospheres)
Capacity 156.6L
Dimensions (L x W x H, mm) 4,165 x 1,760 x 1,645
Energy storage UltraCapacitor (manufactured by Honda)
Vehicle range(LA4 mode) 395 km