DOE's Advanced Powertrain Research Facility is Now Hydrogen-Capable
October 15, 2004
Officials at Argonne National Laboratory have announced the completion of hydrogen fuel and test equipment upgrades to the Laboratory's Advanced Powertrain Research Facility (APRF). The upgrades will enable the APRF to test hydrogen-powered fuel cell engine technologies as well as technologies for internal combustion engines powered by hydrogen. The APRF is the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) principal research facility for assessing advanced and hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technologies for DOE's FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program.
In parallel with the development of hydrogen test capability, Argonne is building a new hardware-in-the-loop rolling test platform called the Advanced Powertrain Research Platform (APRP). The APRP is configured as a "powertrain buck" — a wheeled test bed outfitted with scalable engine components, custom instrumentation, and flexible transmission technology to allow testing of hydrogen-fueled vehicle systems with varying degrees of hybridization.
According to Bob Larsen, director of Argonne's Center for Transportation Research, "Fuel cells have excellent long-term potential to serve as the basis for highly efficient propulsion systems. The challenge is how to get there from where we are today, and we see having hydrogen capability at the APRF as an important step in the right direction. By increasing the viability of today's hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine vehicles, we can provide a bridging technology to a fuel cell future as well as stimulate development of hydrogen fueling infrastructure. At the same time, we will be identifying hybridization strategies that can be applied to both hydrogen-engined vehicles for the short term and fuel cell vehicles in the longer term."
Ford Motor Company is providing Argonne with the latest hydrogen engine technology for testing, as well as technical support. Argonne researchers will conduct the APRF's first hydrogen engine tests during October using a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine in a Ford Explorer modified as a hybrid electric vehicle by Texas Tech University for the 2004 FutureTruck competition. Soon after the final testing of the hydrogen delivery system, Argonne engineers expect to begin work with a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine pickup truck developed for DOE by Collier Technologies.