Team Develops and Demonstrates the "Gator" Vehicle at the Utah Showcase
August 28, 2001The HyTech Team at the Savannah River Technology Center (SRTC) partnered with academic and industrial partners in developing an industrial fuel cell vehicle. The goal of this project was to develop and demonstrate fuel cell vehicles running on direct hydrogen. In addition to SRTC, the project partners included Deere and Company, Energy Partners L.C., Southeastern Technology Center, Teledyne Brown Engineering Energy Systems, University of South Carolina, and York Technical College. The partners and the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency shared in the cost of the project. The project objective was to offer the small industrial vehicle sector an alternative to limited-range, battery-electric vehicles. To ensure the utmost safety for indoor applications, HyTech was asked to develop a low-pressure hydrogen storage system for these vehicles. The project team was able to develop and demonstrate the "GATORTM" vehicles running on hydrogen stored in the form of metal hydride powder, an inherently safe and efficient solution. The vehicles demonstrated a 50% improvement in fuel-to-wheel efficiency when compared to similar internal combustion engine vehicles and 100% improvement in range when compared to battery-electric vehicles. During the course of the vehicle development the HyTech team was able to reduce the weight of the hydrogen storage system by 15% and lower its material costs by over 50%.
The HyTech is currently involved in another partnership to develop an underground fuel cell mining vehicle. There are substantial health and safety benefits in replacing diesel engines in underground mines. Safe hydrogen storage and refueling will be major issues in this project and the HyTech Team is prepared to address these issues as part of the overall project.