Germany tests hydrogen-powered cars as mobile power plants

The FCEVs can support sector coupling by feeding electricity and heat into stationary distribution networks as required.

Germany’s DLR Institute for Vehicle Concepts in Stuttgart and the DLR Institute for Networked Energy Systems in Oldenburg are working on coordinating energy flows between vehicles, consumers, and distribution networks.

The tests are conducted with the help of a converted hydrogen car, where the vehicle’s fuel cell is equipped with external connections at DLR Stuttgart. The vehicle’s fuel cells can deliver high levels of electricity and heat during driving, where the cells can be used as independent units or connected to power grids.

To test the energy exchange in practice, the DLR researchers equipped the fuel cell of a hydrogen car with additional power connections and a heat exchanger. A test stand is developed, which simulates the laboratory’s building and power grid connection, allowing the fuel cell vehicles to be flexibly integrated into the building’s energy supply as mobile combined heat and power systems.

The research aims at how these energy flows can be coordinated. For that purpose, energy suppliers and consumers have to exchange data and information. This applies to battery and hydrogen cars as well as to mobile and stationary consumers. Hydrogen cars can also help to balance out fluctuations in renewable energies and stabilise the distribution networks.

The fuel cell has a 230-volt connection with an output of 2 kW. Commercially available electrical devices or tools can be connected to the car. Another power connection with 400 volts DC voltage on the high-voltage system is provided for higher electrical outputs.

With its tank capacity of 6.3 kg of hydrogen, the vehicle can generate around 100 kWh of electricity, equivalent to around the average monthly consumption of a one-person household. Waste heat is generated in the fuel cells, and with currently 20 kW of heat and electrical output, the vehicle can already heat a modern house.

Ethan Mandel

Ethan is the special correspondent for Europe covering the hydrogen industry for H2 Bulletin. Please click on the email icon to contact me via email or follow me on social media. I am reachable on Phone: +44 (0) 208 123 7812
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