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The column materials were prepared by Denis BOROVITSKY, Alexey VOROBYEV-OBUKHOV, Mikhail GZOVSKIY


The hydrogen gas station at Munich Airport does not seem to threaten to remain without customers. BMW, Mercedes, and now Opel are pushing their new products to the coveted "gun."


So, after the Zafira, which runs on methanol, a model with liquid hydrogen in the tank appeared. Unlike BMW, Opel took the path of converting hydrogen to electricity using fuel cells. This principle has already been announced, but you need to decide on the main thing: get H2 directly on board or refuel it in liquid form like gasoline. The first option is good because it wins in fire safety - methanol can be poured into a regular tank at a regular gas station. But on board you have to give a considerable place to the reformer - goodbye, the luggage compartment! The second method requires the development of cryogenic technologies, but is much more profitable due to the compactness of the entire installation.

Let's see what happened on the experimental Zafira? Let's start with the tank, more precisely, the "thermos". With a length of about a meter and a diameter of 400 mm, it contains 75 liters of hydrogen cooled to -253 ° С. Enough of this stock for 400 km and, if divided by 75 by 4, it gives the impression of extreme gluttony of the car. This is not entirely true. All this hydrogen weighs only 5 kg and the specific consumption measured in units of mass will be only 1.25 kg / 100 km! An ultra-modern thermal insulation equivalent to a nine-meter thicker foam helps to save fuel; moreover, a stainless steel cylinder can withstand overloads of up to 30 g and is located in the safest place - under the second row of seats.

Fuel cells (195 of them) are combined into a single unit measuring 590x270x500 mm and are located under the hood next to the traction motor. Their distinguishing feature is a low working temperature (80 ° С), the ability to start up even at –40 ° С (for the first time in the world!) And a total power of 80 kW.

No less interesting is the power unit. With a mass of only 68 kg, it produces a peak power of 60 kW / 82 hp. and a torque of 305 N.m at … 0 rpm! So the hydrogen transmission “Zafira” is simply not needed. And without it, a car weighing 1575 kg (100 kg more than the production model) easily accelerates to hundreds in 16 s and develops a maximum speed of 140 km / h.

Now two “zafirs” - “methanol” and “hydrogen” in fair fight should show their strengths and weaknesses so that the specialists of the GAPC research center could determine the most promising direction for further work.