Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

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Scotter
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Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

I remember reading an article and brochure for the VX-1FCe, a NiMH battery powered Vectrix with a Parker 500W H2 (or Methanol) Fuel Cell in the helmet compartment.
OK.. that's old news. I happen to be pawing my way around the service manual and noticed connectors for... guess what... a Fuel Cell!

The brochure says the 500W fuel cell continually charges the battery, even while driving, doubling or tripling the range. How would that work? Especially when doing regen braking.
I wonder if the Vectrix's controller and charger can still handle it? I mean I once had a factory rep tell me that you could program a vectrix via bluetooth...

I have access to some cool fuel cells in the 500W to 1500W range at good prices. The cogs and wheels are turning! Imagine 60Ah LiFePO4 batteries and a 1Kw fuel cell. Might be good for a couple hundred miles at speed...?

But can it be done safely. I'd hate to get blasted into low earth orbit and burn up upon reentry!

--Scotter

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Hi Scotter,

I just can't see how this would work. Not only are you going to have to carry around the FC (not an inconsiderable lump) but also a fuel tank. Assuming it is H2 fuel, the tank would have to be at least the size of a football to give any decent range - 50 miles...? Remember, H2 has to be compressed to at least 175BAR - 2500psi - to reduce it to a volume sufficiently practical to give worthwhile range - most FCVs use much higher 700BAR (10,000psi!) tanks and these are super strong - and quite bulky. Add to that the safety issues (due to the pressures used it is almost impossible to eliminate leaks, H2 mixed with air has something like 10 times the explosive ratio range than any other flammable gas - and it burns with an invisible flame!) and the efficiency that is only *at best* twice that of petrol/diesel and I'm not surprised we don't see many Vs powered by FCs on the roads - or anything else for that matter!

Besides all that the vast majority of H2 is derived from natural gas by the reformation process (cracking if you will) so there isn't even an environmental benefit. Of course, the US has lots of NG at the moment so it is very cheap - less than one third the UK price. But I don't think that will last. Do we really want to repeat the disaster for the world that petrol/diesel has been? Do we rally want a Big Gas to rip every one off again and ravage the planet for a second time in the process?

MW

Regards, Martin Winlow
Isle of Colonsay, Scotland
evalbum.com/2092

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

If I remember correctly it was supposed to be a methanol fuel cell

Once you go EV, Gas is history!

kingcharles
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

If I remember correctly it was supposed to be a methanol fuel cell

Once you go EV, Gas is history!

myvectrix2008
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

I have a snapshot of a Parker-Vectrix collaboration leaflet and also PDF copy of the 2 page brochure that Vectrix published all that time ago.

Don't know how to attach it here, but can PM/email them to anyone.

Chris V
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Steve just forwarded a copy of the brochure and specifications for the VX-1 with the Parker H2 fuel cell and converter- what incredible foresight. I will post the links as soon as I brush up on HTML

I'm excited that you are pursuing the project! I'm sure you know the long history of electrical problems and solutions that have plagued the VX-1, and that updating it and the charging system is critical before going further with an H2 fuel cell and conversion system. From what I understand, even BMS equalization does not work effectively on the VX-1; rather the solutions pointed out by the "Laird" and other knowledgeable "V" men point to modification of the software to lower amp current in the charging system. We are fortunate to have these members make a difference in the quality of our rides and lives.

See link: ......http://visforvoltage.org/forum/12321-latest-may-2012-software-instructions

Rather than invest in a restoration project, you may want to consider an update of the Parker-Balston H2 generator. The cost is about $750 US and is a complete integrated PEM fuel cell electric power generator:

250-500W generated with boost to 1000W for 30 seconds
Air cooled for easy portability
Reliable power source for a myriad of end applications
May be hybridized with battery or other secondary energy storage devices for higher peak outputs
Field service proven for reliable and durable operations
May be coupled with APFCT low-pressure hydrogen storage canisters for total power system solutions
Probably one of the best things about it is it's size- only 530mm x 320mm x 200mm
Here is a link to the unit:

See link: .....http://www.thehydrogencompany.com/58/

I'm going to make an appointment with a factory rep, as their North American plant is only 50 miles away--- I'll report back to you if you are interested. If you do go ahead with the restoration, I would find out some of the problems that they had in the introduction or rather the failed introduction of the Parker Methane fuel cell and H2 generator. (Someone, please correct me if I'm incorrect about the introduction of this system).

I don't know about a bluetooth connection unless you had a wireless adapter rigged to the CAN BUS- someone more knowledgeable would know how to do this.

My Best to you

Chris V

Scotter
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Thanks for the great input! I went to: http://www.thehydrogencompany.com/Fuel-Cell-Systems/20W---1kW-Systems/23/H-500-PEM-FC-System-(500W).htm

Very interesting setup. Although, I can get a 1Kw H2 unit from a good company in China for about the same price as the 500W (I'm under NDA so I can't give details). But Horizon unit is more compact.

I looked up the Parker-Balston H2 generator, but I didn't see one that was $750 both a gas generator and power generator in one. Do you have a link?
Scotter

PS. Here a link the Vectrix brochure: http://visforvoltage.org/sites/default/files/manuals/vectrixfuelcellhybrid.pdf

Choices are H2 or reformed methanol using Protonex NGen 500W -- website doesn't show much

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

myvectrix2008
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Here's the brochure (again), plus a couple of small related articles...
http://www.sendspace.com/file/jv22tv

It said "...initial commercial models are expected to be available in 2006."

What happened I wonder?

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Hi Scotter
Here's the link to the H2 generator I discussed in my recent post:

The link I put here was not working-- I will correct this soon

By the sound of it you have some healthy contacts in the trade; regardless, I hope this of some help to you in your search. I'd be appreciative if you keep me (us) in the loop about the process of your selection. I will call the Parker factory (1 hour away from my house)to get more detailed specifications on the fuel options for it.

There is a 24V power input to the unit and it uses an integrated PEM fuel cell, so it appears that an H2 tank is needed at least to start the process. What makes this unit stand out to me is the option of storing excess output in an APFCT low-pressure hydrogen storage canister, which can then be used to fuel the H2 generator. Cool.

I am curious, like My Vectrix 2007, as to whether Vectrix ever sold their bikes with the Parker H2 generator installed. I remember a few responses from a Vectrix engineer. I'll dig around on this and may also call their office, which is also 1 hour from my home in Massachusetts, US.

Best to you
Chris V

Chris V

Scotter
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Thanks Chris! I'd love to know more and see that link. I think I read the Vectrix didn't sell any units. I have a service manual and I see some indicators on the dashboard for fuel cell (little gas-pump symbols!!!) which is what prompted me. I happen to have a spare dashboard, I might play with it a little.

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Hi Scotter.... I found a way to get the link to work without difficulty- DO NOT CLICK ON THE ACTIVE LINKS. COPY and PASTE on BROWSER

http://www.thehydrogencompany.com/Fuel-Cell-Systems/20W---1kW-Systems/142/HyPower-250-(250W).htm

Cut and paste this on your browser and select the link from www.thehydrogencompany.com. You will on the website's 250-500W generator. Let me know what you think.

Chris V

Chris V

Scotter
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Very interesting! They do not show prices. I wonder if it's no longer available? Can't find it using the website navigation, but your cut-n-paste trick worked. The other portable systems, the Greenhub Power, on the website include AC inverters, which we don't need.

The Asia Pacific Fuel Cell website only shows the HyPower-250 and 1800 watt, but not the Greenhub Power products... odd. Whatever, we don't need AC for Vectrix... ;-)

I'll check around, but it looks very intriguing -- one thing I starting to understand is that these things are expensive and the refuel times are quite long. 4 to 24 hours to fill a bottle in a safe medium. Which ironically can be, guess what, NiMH! ! Hmm.... maybe the old Vectrix batteries you take out can be converted to store H2! moh-Hahahahaha!
I digress
Scotter

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Scotter... I'm glad that the link worked for you. If you go into the Hydrogen Systems website and click on the link for Portable systems (not a link from the Portable systems menu)and go to the second page you will find the unit on the bottom left on the page. I wrote to the rep from Asia Pacific Fuel Cell Technologies and they confirmed that the system can and does produce H2 that can be collected in low pressure canisters for use in powering the start up of the system. The H2 is produced as an excess byproduct when the power requirements of the batteries (or other)are satiated.

The advantage of this system is that it can be designed to fuel the vehicle and fill a low pressure recovery system to extend mileage or keep as a reserve. I need to find out more about the ratios for H2 fuel used/hr. vs. volts/watt output plus excess H2. The brochure says that the fuel rate is 0.07 ~ 1.0 MPa and that ratio may be 10 parts fuel to 1.5 excess fuel produced if the generator production is designed to exceed the wattage required. That may not seem like much, but it is a good start to get 15% more mileage or reserve that can be accumulated.

Chris V

Chris V

Scotter
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

I'm building a fuel cell to pump life back into a dead Vectrix... cross your fingers... If you see or hear a big loud ka-boom 20 miles east of Seattle you will know I was partially successful.

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

I'll keep an eye out for a mushroom cloud.

Then I'll blame the North Koreans.

LCJUTILA

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

I managed to recover the voltage of a a Nimh battery with a 12v/24v lead charger, by strategically charging diverse array of cells. The main point is to carefully rise the voltage of the cells to turns on the main charger.

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Sounds good. The cheap variac (freddy charger, or "3rd world charger") works well and can do the entire pack at one time.

Back to fuel cells --> I'm on the trail of developing a methanol fuel cell that will recharge your scooter while driving or resting. Probably around 1kw -- Vectrix was going to offer a 500W unit a long time ago.
The cool part is that I think I can offer these units for less than $1K -- the fuel (Methanol + water) will not catch on fire, in fact you can put out fires with it. You should even be able to run the unit with a mix of Vodka and water!

I have 4 Vectrix scooters that I'll use to experiment with. I may need a few more. Stay tuned.

Scotter

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

A commercial methanol fuel cell? Is it the eFoy? I thought that only put out 12 volts, are you inverting it? Feeding the batteries bypassing the charger?

-Randy

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Scotter
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Hi Randy
I hadn't heard of eFoy before now. The details of the design I'm working on are somewhat TBD, but if we pull it off it will be a great solution, besides I'm under NDA with some of the material suppliers. But I can tell you that fuel cells (of this kind) product .7V per stack-layer of the proton exchange membrane -- put a enough stacks together and you can get whatever voltage you want. Vectrix is a 125V system (under nominal load). So just under 200 layers will provide the required voltage. Regulate & buffered, and put in the correct protection circuits and it can charge the batteries directly and supply cruise power.

To quote Forrest Gump; "that's all I have to say about that". With any luck I'll have something I can demo this year for scooters. On that note, I've got two more scooters coming next week, so I'll have 4 Vectrix VX-1 scooters to play with

--Scotter

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Is this something like Vectrix was working on with the VX-FCe hybrid they were designing? Protonex 500 watt CGH2 fuel cell that fit under the seat?

I always felt that if they didn't do it there would be no electronics to correctly talk to the computer and let it know about the extra electricity, so your range meter would always be wrong and you would just be guessing

-Randy

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Accidental duplicate post, what is wrong with this server? I keep getting Page Not Found and then later discover that it actually did post and there is no way to delete the duplicate...

-Randy

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Scotter
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Yes, this thread started out talking about model VX-FCe. According to the original announcements, and maybe on the brochure it was going to be offered in H2 or Methanol (with a reformer) type fuel cells. There's a link to the brochure on this thread somewhere.

I've reviewed the service manual, there is a fuel cell signal wire going to the dashboard. It appears to be used to turn on a gasoline-pump indicator (heaven forbid!) on the LCD display, which I presume indicate the fuel level in the cell. I have no idea if the current firmware (or any prior version) supports a fuel cell. I have a spare dashboard, I don't know if it works or not... I'll see if I can test it on one of my VX-1s to see how you turn on the FC indicators.

Anyway, I'm building a DMFC (not a reformer type) -- DMFC = Direct Methanol Fuel Cell, meaning a lot less components. The fuel is safe too, you can use it to put out fires! It's 95% water (no the water isn't used a fuel and doesn't go away). Hoping to bring one of my dead scooters back to life. Now if I can just find a inexpensive source for super-capacitors...

--Scotter

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?
Chris V
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

MarcoPam

That's a beautifully designed system and brochure. I know that Parker, whose headquarters are now in Haverhill, MA USA offered the original H2 generator for the V-max. Scotter and I were discussing the new units that Parker offers, earlier in this thread.

Is this a current Brochure? When was it printed and was it ever available? Were any units sold?
Thanks...Chris V

Chris V

MarcoPam
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Chris,
I'm like you, I only found this (old) link and I though to put it here...
I have the same questions like you.

I'm in europe, but I want to know where to find this "fully-integrated 500-watt Protonex NGenTM fuel cell system", seems to be like a picnic fridge...
Does anybody know if they stopped the production?
Thank You

Chris V
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

MarcoPam.....The Parker company is now called Parker-Balston and they still produce H2 generators and sell through "The Hydrogen Company"- see link below. The cost is about $750 US and is a complete integrated PEM fuel cell electric power generator:

250-500W generated with boost to 1000W for 30 seconds
Air cooled for easy portability
Reliable power source for a myriad of end applications
May be hybridized with battery or other secondary energy storage devices for higher peak outputs
Field service proven for reliable and durable operations
May be coupled with APFCT low-pressure hydrogen storage canisters for total power system solutions
Probably one of the best things about it is it's size- only 530mm x 320mm x 200mm
Here is a link to the unit:

Cut and paste this link: .....http://www.thehydrogencompany.com/Fuel-Cell-Systems/20W---1kW-Systems/142/HyPower-250-(250W).htm

Let me know what you think

Chris V

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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

I've done a lot of research on this... not an expert (yet), but I do not think I want to use H2 fuel cells. The metal-halide filled tanks are best for H2 because of the reduced risk of explosion. But it can take 24+ hours to fill a decent sized tank filed with metal-halides. I'm more more interested in the alcohol fuel cells. A good DMFC/MEFC (direct methanol / ethanol) using5% solution of alcohol and 95% deionized water looks like a very safe way to go. You can actually use the fuel to put out fires! Of course hauling 50liters of fuel+water mix would be difficult, to get 2.5liters of fuel for power seems excessive!

I'm planning to make my own fuel cell to power my VX-1 scooters using methanol. I'm proving out a bench-top-prototype in the coming weeks, but so far it looks really good. It's a 1Kw unit. There are some very complex issues to overcome however. Happily I've found the parts and components needed to make the fuel cell work. If it works I might be persuaded to build some units for people willing to give it a try. It would be an on-board charging station and should help extend the VX-1 range by a factor of 2 or more. Cost of components <$300 retail (so far).

Stay tuned. If anyone is interested in this, then please PM me.

Scotter

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

MarcoPam
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Nobody wants H2, it's still too dangerous.
Yes, the methanol was announced in that brochure as fuel for this generator.

My curiosity is about:

- how the generator is re-filled?
- methanol is liquid (isn't it?), how much it costs? how is easy to find it?
- it is the methanolo hazardous by inhalation?

MarcoPam
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

hummm..
the same link at parker.com is still working:
http://corpapps.parker.com/corpapps/Interactives/Vectrix/
(it contains the same .swf animation found previously)

Scotter
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?

Nobody wants H2, it's still too dangerous.
Yes, the methanol was announced in that brochure as fuel for this generator.

My curiosity is about:

- how the generator is re-filled?
- methanol is liquid (isn't it?), how much it costs? how is easy to find it?
- it is the methanolo hazardous by inhalation?

Hi Marco,
Great questions!
Yeah, DMFC (direct methanol fuel cell) units are available. Although I've noticed some manufactures have dropped them for commercial use.

Methanol (wood alcohol) is a liquid, same as ethanol (grain alcohol) and Isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) and several others.

There are two types of methanol systems. Reformer and Direct. Reformer contains an apparatus that breaks down the alcohol into H2 then uses a standard PEM type H2 cell. The Direct method uses alcohol (virtually any type) mixed with water -- at a ratio of 5% alcohol, 95% water, typically. No reformer is needed. Usually the fuel is premixed. But it's possible to recycle the water a few times, so you could have methanol only fuel tank and a water tank. Reformer has a lot worse energy conversion then Direct.

The DMFC or DEFC (ethanol) units have a very good energy conversion rate of over 80%, some are up to 90% (+/-) based on a number of factors. Car engines are typically 20% to 30% energy conversion. So a little fuel goes a long way.

Methanol is readily available as race-car supplies shops, or at your local hardware or pain stores in the form of denatured alcohol. In the USA denatured alcohol at the larger hardware stores is about $7USD per quart. Which is terribly expensive and low quality. The race suppliers sell 55 gallon drums for about the same price but it is extremely high quality (which means very little water) -- the quality doesn't matter a lot because it's mixed with water anyway. I have seen commercial methanol drums for $4USD per gallon in 55 gallon drums.
You can distill your own from any dry biomass in a still for under $2USD per gallon. But the fuel is readily available. And like a said a little goes a long ways. But at 5% solution, you have to carry a lot of volume, so a water recycling method is best for scooter applications.

There are some alcohols that are much higher energy density than methanol or ethanol, such as isopropyl-alcohol, which I believe is nearly double of specific energy (closer to gasoline), but it's a lot more expensive, but also readily available in 70% solution at any pharmacy or chemical supply. Note, as I understand it, concentrated windshield wiper fluid is almost 100% methanol, only colored (although it would clog up the fuel cell after a while).

All alcohols are hazardous when inhaling the vapors -- prolonged exposure is bad. A whiff now and then shouldn't hurt a healthy person.

If methanol becomes popular, it's very easy to increase distribution.

Scotter

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

Scotter
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Re: Fuel Cell Vectrix, rides again?
Nobody wants H2, it's still too dangerous.
Yes, the methanol was announced in that brochure as fuel for this generator.

My curiosity is about:

- how the generator is re-filled?
- methanol is liquid (isn't it?), how much it costs? how is easy to find it?
- it is the methanolo hazardous by inhalation?

Hi Marco,
Great questions!
Yeah, DMFC (direct methanol fuel cell) units are available. Although I've noticed some manufactures have dropped them for commercial use.

Methanol (wood alcohol) is a liquid, same as ethanol (grain alcohol) and Isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) and several others.

There are two types of methanol systems. Reformer and Direct. Reformer contains an apparatus that breaks down the alcohol into H2 then uses a standard PEM type H2 cell. The Direct method uses alcohol (virtually any type) mixed with water -- at a ratio of 5% alcohol, 95% water, typically. No reformer is needed. Usually the fuel is premixed. But it's possible to recycle the water a few times, so you could have methanol only fuel tank and a water tank. Reformer has a lot worse energy conversion then Direct.

The DMFC or DEFC (ethanol) units have a very good energy conversion rate of over 80%, some are up to 90% (+/-) based on a number of factors. Car engines are typically 20% to 30% energy conversion. So a little fuel goes a long way.

Methanol is readily available as race-car supplies shops, or at your local hardware or pain stores in the form of denatured alcohol. In the USA denatured alcohol at the larger hardware stores is about $7USD per quart. Which is terribly expensive and low quality. The race suppliers sell 55 gallon drums for about the same price but it is extremely high quality (which means very little water) -- the quality doesn't matter a lot because it's mixed with water anyway. I have seen commercial methanol drums for $4USD per gallon in 55 gallon drums.
You can distill your own from any dry biomass in a still for under $2USD per gallon. But the fuel is readily available. And like a said a little goes a long ways. But at 5% solution, you have to carry a lot of volume, so a water recycling method is best for scooter applications.

There are some alcohols that are much higher energy density than methanol or ethanol, such as isopropyl-alcohol, which I believe is nearly double of specific energy (closer to gasoline), but it's a lot more expensive, but also readily available in 70% solution at any pharmacy or chemical supply. Note, as I understand it, concentrated windshield wiper fluid is almost 100% methanol, only colored (although it would clog up the fuel cell after a while).

All alcohols are hazardous when inhaling the vapors -- prolonged exposure is bad. A whiff now and then shouldn't hurt a healthy person.

If methanol becomes popular, it's very easy to increase distribution.

Scotter

Sorry I made a few mistakes. The 55 gallon drum race fuel is $7USD per gallon (not quart), and I've see the commerical stuff for $4USD/gallon. "PAINT" stores sell denatured alcohol, which is 90%+ ethanol and 5% methanol. If you drink it you will very sick, which is a deterrent.

--Scotter and his scooter
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Maroon
2007 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Blue
2008 Vectrix VX-1 Silver
Other EV projects in the works

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