Hydrogen-Fueled Electric Utility Vehicle Participates in SunDay Race

A hydrogen-fueled, zero-emission electric utility vehicle developed by Energy Partners (West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.A.) was unveiled at the 5th Annual SunDay Challenge in September, a race in the State of Florida showcasing alternatively fueled vehicles. The SunDay Challenge is sponsored by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), the Florida Department of Community Affairs, and the Florida Energy Office.

This off-road electric utility vehicle developed by Energy Partners, powered by a hydrogen-fueled PEM fuel cell, was unveiled in September in Florida.

This event—held Saturday through Monday, September 21-23, 1996—showcased and promoted alternative energy vehicle technology. The event began with a cross-county rally at FSEC headquarters in Cocoa Beach and concluded at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center in Orlando, with exhibits and vehicle parades.

The Energy Partners vehicle, built on a John Deere Gator 6x4 chassis, was entered in the race to prove the advancements in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology. Although the electric Gator was displayed throughout the duration of the SunDay Challenge at both the FSEC and EPCOT exhibits, its designation as an off-the-road vehicle did not allow it to participate in the actual rally.

The manufacturer expects the electric Gator will lead the way to an era of nonpolluting lawn and garden equipment. Today, a gas-powered lawnmower produces as much smog in 20 hours of operation as a 1996 car after driving 26,000 miles.

The Energy Partners’ vehicle was developed by Energy Partners as a test platform for commercialization of PEM fuel cell technologies. This vehicle, the first of three demonstrators, is powered by a Perry Power Cell, a 10-kilowatt PEM fuel cell manufactured by Energy Partners, Inc. It carries two passengers and a payload of 750 pounds for approximately five hours with speeds up to 15 mph.

PEM fuel cells are electrochemical devices that produce electricity from hydrogen while producing no harmful emissions. PEM fuel cells, first developed for the U.S. space program, are now coming down to Earth as the leading candidates to replace batteries as the primary energy source for zero-emission electric vehicles. In addition, PEM fuel cells are being considered for the transportation and stationary power generation industries due to their high efficiency, simplicity, and zero-pollutant emissions.

Energy Partners was founded in 1990 to develop and commercialize PEM fuel cell technology. The company has developed a variety of prototype PEM fuel cell stacks and systems which are in operation worldwide.

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