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Safer filling for fuel cell cars

December 3, 2001, 09:00 CET

The Methanol Fuel Cell Alliance (MFCA) has today, 3 December, signed a contract with the Swedish company IDENTIC AB for the development of a new and safer filling mechanism for methanol-powered fuel cell cars.

MFCA consists of DaimlerChrysler, Xcellsis, BP, Methanex, BASF and Statoil.

DaimlerChrysler will install the prototype in its fuel cell car, the Necar 5. The system will be tested in connection with the California Fuel Cell Partnership’s demonstration programme for fuel cell cars in Sacramento, USA, in the first quarter of next year.

“The alliance hopes that the prototype will form the basis for a global standard for methanol-powered fuel cell cars,” says Sjur Haugen, manager for business development in Statoil's methanol unit.

The objective of the partners is to help make methanol as safe as possible if it is introduced as a fuel.

“We believe that the weakest part in the methanol system is linked to the actual fuel cell filling process. That is why we intend to develop a safer system whereby the customer does not have access to the fuel, either during filling or later when the fuel is in the car,” explains Mr Haugen.

The new pump system means that the driver cannot release methanol from the pump before the car and the fill-up gun are in a locked position. When the tank is full and the gun is removed, the lock snaps back into position and blocks access to the tank. Mr Haugen adds that the system is very easy to use.

The new system is based on IDENTIC’s AT-1 system, which is already in use on thousands of diesel-powered vehicles in Scandinavia and the UK, among other countries.