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What is a fuel-cell?
A fuel-cell is an electrochemical device that uses hydrogen and oxygen from the air to produce electricity, with water and heat as its by-products.
Where does hydrogen come from?
Hydrogen can be sourced from fossil fuels, such as natural gas or propane, or renewable fuels including anaerobic digester gas and landfill gas. Hydrogen can also be produced by water electrolysis, which can be powered by electricity from renewables such as solar or wind power or from nuclear energy and the electrical grid (the grid). RONN Motor Group, Inc. will produce hydrogen by water electrolysis using all renewable solar or wind power.
Is hydrogen safe?
YES! There is an abundance of misinformation regarding the safety of hydrogen. The fact is that hydrogen is equally as safe, if not safer, than alternative fuels (i.e. gasoline, diesel, lithium-ion batteries, natural gas, etc.) Why? Today’s high-strength carbon fiber hydrogen tanks are put through rigorous testing, including being blasted with 50-calibre ammo and the most stringent international crash test standards. According to Energy.gov, a leading authority on the national policies regarding energy and safety, hydrogen fuel tanks are subjected to more than twice the maximum pressure expected under normal service conditions to ensure they do not fail. To further ensure safety, these tanks undergo cycling tests in which they are pressurized and depressurized many more times than they would be during their lifetime on a vehicle. Worldwide, it has been estimated that millions of high-pressure composite tanks are in use in various commercial and industrial applications, and the overall safety record of these tanks has been excellent.
How is hydrogen better for the environment?
Hydrogen, the most abundant element on Earth, burns in the air, producing nothing but water vapor. It is, therefore, the cleanest, non-polluting fuel available. It offers zero pollution while reducing our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas effects. Earth’s natural greenhouse effect is critical to supporting human, animal and plant life. Human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have intensified the natural greenhouse effect, causing the Earth’s atmospheric temperature to rise. By utilizing hydrogen as a fuel-source, we are not only protecting our Earth, but also our health and the health of future generations.
What is a zero-emission vehicle?
A vehicle powered by an energy source that emits no waste products to pollute the environment or disrupt the climate. RONN Motor Group, Inc. is committed to developing vehicles that will reduce our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas effects by creating sustainable energy that will take us into tomorrow.
What is the difference between Electric Vehicles and Electric-Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles?
Electric Vehicles (EVs) store electricity in a lithium-ion battery to power the vehicle which often results in:
• Extensive recharging times
• Limited driving range contributing to “range anxiety”
• Limited disposal options for lithium-ion batteries
• Environmentally toxic pollutants impacting landfills
Electric-Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles (EHFCVs) are powered by electric motors, like BEVs. However, the electricity is produced by a chemical process inside the fuel-cell delivering electricity to the motor. In fact, the same electric motor can be used in either type of vehicle, but there are additional benefits to EHFCVs:
• Same benefits as EVs: quiet operation, zero-emissions
• High quality, reliable power
• Durable and rugged
• Refueling time of less than 5 minutes @ 350 to 700 bar
• Driving range comparable to that of a gasoline-powered vehicle (RONN vehicles will have an estimated range of 600+ miles with the hydrogen fuel-cell range extender)
• Ability to be sourced from fossil fuels, such as natural gas or propane, or renewable fuels including anaerobic digester gas and landfill gas. Hydrogen can also be produced by water electrolysis, which can be powered by electricity from renewables such as solar or wind power or from nuclear energy and the grid.
What is RONN Motor Group’s vehicle range?
Our vehicles are estimated to travel a range of 600+ miles before refueling when utilizing the RONN hydrogen range extender. This is nearly twice the distance of traditional BEVs. Our revolutionary all electric-hydrogen fuel-cell technology will allow drivers the freedom to travel expansive distances, eliminating range anxiety. For comparison, the top 10 BEVs with the longest driving range before recharging include the 2017 Fiat 500e (#10) with an estimated range of 84 miles to the 2017 Tesla Model S (#1) with an estimated range of 335 miles. Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles such as the Honda Clarity can achieve an estimated range of 400 miles, making the RONN hydrogen range extender both exceptionally unique and a highly sought after technology.
How does hydrogen fuel-cell technology work?
RONN Motor Group, Inc. uses Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel-Cells (PEMFC), which utilize hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to produce electricity. Fuel-cells do not need to be periodically recharged like batteries, but instead continue to produce electricity as long as a hydrogen fuel source is provided. Due to their high efficiency, fuel-cells are very clean, with their only by-products being electricity, heat and water. In addition, as fuel-cells do not have any moving parts, they operate in near silence. Scientifically speaking, compressed hydrogen is stored in the vehicle via ultra-safe carbon fiber tanks. Hydrogen is fed into a “stack” of fuel-cells, consisting of an anode (-) and cathode (+) separated by an electrolyte and exposed to atmospheric oxygen. The anode causes the release of hydrogen electrons that travel towards the positive cathode to create an electric current. Hydrogen ions, missing an electron, are directed to the cathode via an alternate route where they regain electrons, combining with oxygen to become water molecules. PEMFCs use a polymer membrane as an electrolyte and a precious metal, typically platinum, as a catalyst. What distinguishes these fuel-cells from others is the PEMFC’s ability to operate at cooler temperatures relative to other types of fuel-cells, between 80 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Pure hydrogen gas is the typical fuel for PEMFCs due to their use of precious metals and lower operating temperatures. They are capable of handling large and sudden shifts in power output, making them well-suited for cars and other specialty vehicles such as forklifts that need to quickly start up or accelerate. Additionally, PEMFC’s can be scaled in stationary applications for use in telecommunications, data centers and residential markets.
How are fuel-cells currently used?
At the state and local level, fuel-cells are helping meet environmental goals, boosting reliability and resiliency to ensure constant power while saving taxpayer dollars and industry investment. This includes primary and backup power to:
• Fuel-Cell Vehicles (FCVs) – typically replicate today’s driving experience: range of approximately 300 miles per hydrogen fueling, refuel at a pump in 3-5 minutes
• Material Handling Equipment (MHE) – fuel-cell provides constant power, without lag, over an entire shift, reliable operation in refrigerated environments, can refuel in minutes
• Airports (baggage tow tractors, nose wheels)
• Ports (MHE)
• Fleet Vehicles
Commercial Stationary Uses
• Fuel-cell units have flexible siting; can be placed in various locations in doors/outdoors
• Lightweight as a fuel-cell unit can sit on top of roof
• Modular/Scalable to meet any need, ranging from a few watts to multi-megawatt systems (UOM)
• Able to provide primary, supplemental or backup power
• Can be grid-tied or can operate independently from the grid
• Compatible with solar, wind, batteries and other renewable/conventional technologies
• Can be used with, or instead of, fossil fuel generators
• Requires less space than solar photovoltaics
• Operates in water balance/uses very little water in operation
• Government offices, jails, fire and police stations
• Wastewater treatment plants
• Communications and emergency networks
• Schools and hospitals
• Zoos, parks and gardens
Private Stationary Uses
• Facilities, such as retail stores, corporate headquarters, data centers, hotels, apartment buildings
• Cell phone towers
• Railroad signals
• Electric grid substations, providing multi-megawatts of power to local users
• Off-grid equipment for security, energy exploration, recreation
What other companies are using hydrogen fuel-cell technology?
Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota, just to name a few, are all incorporating hydrogen fuel-cell technology as more and more countries (China, India, France, Norway) are mandating the partial or complete elimination of new fossil fuel vehicle sales as early as 2019. Wal-Mart and Amazon have also announced that they will be utilizing hydrogen technology to power their forklifts. In the U.S., states such as California along with Shell Oil, Co. are actively participating in the development of the hydrogen refueling station infrastructure to aggressively pave the way for hydrogen fuel-cell technology in the United States.
Where is the U.S. in terms of hydrogen technology?
The fuel-cell footprint is growing in the U.S. on a variety of levels. The industry consists of companies large and small, located in states across the country, representing the entire spectrum from components to systems to integrators and end users. Installations and deployments are increasing every year, in number and in megawatts (MW). Cities are adopting fuel-cells to power essential services when the grid goes down. Railroad and telecom companies use fuel-cells to power communication towers and signaling infrastructure. Major corporations are not only installing hundreds of fuel-cell systems to power retail sites, data centers and other facilities, they are also deploying fuel-cell powered forklifts in warehouses and distribution centers across the country. Fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) are available for purchase or lease in California, and fuel-cell buses are in operation in several states. It is the support and investment by state governments that have propelled the use of fuel-cell and hydrogen technologies in certain parts of the country.
What does the hydrogen infrastructure look like in the U.S.?
According to the Fuel-Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA):
• California: 50 hydrogen fueling stations open or in development. 18 fuel-cell buses are operating in transit service. California has more fuel-cell distributed power generation than any other state, with more than 480 fuel-cell systems, totaling more than 210 MW of power generation, that were placed in service with the support of state grants
• Connecticut: A public hydrogen fueling station will be opened in Hartford, estimated by year-end 2017, one of 12 initial northeast U.S. hydrogen stations under development. CTtransit, a bus system that is a division of that state’s Department of Transportation, began operating demonstration fuel-cell buses in 2007 and now operates one fuel-cell bus in daily revenue service. Conservatively, at least 35 MW of fuel-cells now operate in the state and another 20 MW are planned. A 63.3 MW fuel-cell installation has been approved by Connecticut’s Siting Council, and would be the world’s largest fuel-cell power park
• New York: A public hydrogen fueling station will be opened in the Bronx, estimated by year-end 2017, one of 12 initial northeast U.S. hydrogen stations under development. New York is home to more than 180 companies that are part of the hydrogen and fuel-cell industry. More than 14 MW of fuel-cells operate in New York, some going back a decade or more
• Colorado: Two private hydrogen stations are located in Golden at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The first, opened in 2009, is a station that uses wind power to produce hydrogen. The second, opened in October 2015, is part of NREL’s new Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility
• Hawaii: Toyota Japan and SERVCO Hawaii brought 6 production Mirai vehicles to Hawaii in January 2016, making it the second state after California to receive the Mirai. Servco Hawaii is building a fueling station in Mapunapuna (Proton OnSite) and uses the Mirai to promote hydrogen vehicles and infrastructure in the state
• Massachusetts: Massachusetts has at least 300 companies that are part of the Northeast region’s hydrogen and fuel-cell industry supply chain. Two public hydrogen fueling stations will be opened (Mansfield and Braintree), estimated by year-end 2017, part of an initial network of 12 northeast U.S. hydrogen stations under development. As part of a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) project for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Nuvera, of Billerica, Massachusetts, completed the installation of a hydrogen generation and fueling station that will fuel Boston’s first fuel-cell powered public city bus
• New Jersey: The New Jersey Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) reports that, for the period 2012-2014, 12 fuel-cell systems were installed, or had funding committed, totaling more than 12.5 MW
• Ohio: Ohio is home to a major fuel-cell industry that includes fuel-cell component and material suppliers, stack and systems integrators, and balance of plant equipment and service providers. The state’s industry group reports that there is not a fuel-cell manufactured in the U.S. that does not have Ohio components. In 2015, more than $100M in fuel-cell components were purchased from Ohio companies and an additional $150M was invested in 2015 by Ohio industry for fuel-cell development. By 2018, the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) (Canton) will have the second largest fuel-cell bus fleet in the nation. The 10 buses, funded under FTA’s National Fuel-Cell Bus Program (2 buses) and No and Low Emission program (8 buses), will join SARTA’s fleet in 2017 and 2018
Will my vehicle explode if I get in an accident?
Unfortunately anything is possible when any type of fuel interacts with unpredictable elements (fire, air, etc.) during an accident. However, let’s first address what happens to gasoline in this scenario. Gasoline leaks out and pools beneath the vehicle, creating a dangerous and ready source of fuel for a prolonged burn. It does not escape into the atmosphere the same way that hydrogen does making gasoline significantly more dangerous in the event of a crash. If a hydrogen tank is compromised during impact, the hydrogen instantaneously dissipates into the atmosphere, as hydrogen is 16x lighter than air. Another added precaution is that hydrogen fuel tanks are significantly more durable than traditional gasoline tanks as proven in thorough crash and ballistics testing.