Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Publication Date: 12/1/2010
Archive >  December 2010 Issue >  Front Page News > 

Fuel Cell Cars Shine in Shanghai
Some 1,000 environmentally friendly vehicles moved millions of visitors, and included 100 of these 8-passenger fuel-cell-powered tourist cars.
Shanghai, China — The recently closed 2010 Shanghai World EXPO, which ran from May 1 through Oct. 31, covered a vast area of 5km2 (1.3mi.2) — a lot of ground to cover on foot, so EXPO management provided a comprehensive people-moving system. Described as the largest world's fair site ever, the task of transporting millions of visitors was mandated as a totally "green" operation. In the course of moving so many people, EXPO unveiled what is probably the largest fleet of public-use fuel-cell-powered vehicles to date. Estimates place the total attendance at the EXPO between 70 and 80 million visitors, and they all needed transportation.

The transport fleet deployed consisted of 1,000 environmentally friendly buses and cars, of which 196 were fuel-cell-powered. There were six fuel cell buses, 90 fuel cell cars, and 100 fuel cell tourist cars. Supporting the entire operation was one stationary hydrogen refueling station and two mobile hydrogen stations. The hydrogen was generated off-site, a byproduct of the coking process at Baosteel, an iron and steel mill, and presumably was carted to the EXPO grounds by tanker truck (not fuel-cell-powered).

Humidifiers for Fuel
Key to continuing, problem-free operation were humidifiers used to keep incoming gas humid enough for proper running. These humidifiers were supplied by Perma Pure LLC, (Toms River, NJ ( According to the company, the FC-Series humidifiers provided the efficient water vapor management critical to the operation of these fuel cells. The humidifiers used in the expo vehicles recover water from the fuel cell exhaust and transfer it into the incoming gases by permeation through the walls of Nafion® tubing, a proprietary technology available only from Perma Pure under license from DuPont, the polymer manufacturer.

With no moving parts, there is no parasitic power load on the stack. The humidifiers provide over 10,000 continuous hours of operation in Class 1 and Class 3 trucks. The compact, lightweight units are available in a range of sizes suitable to virtually any transportation application, from wheelchairs and motorbikes to forklifts and buses, usually far outlasting the fuel cell stacks themselves.

The Perma Pure humidifiers were used on the fleet of 100 of the 8-passenger tourist cars made by Shanghai FCV Powertrain Co., Ltd. a company owned by Chinese carmaker SAIC.

The vehicles have a 6kW fuel cell system, expected to run at least 3000 hours, depending on conditions. That?s more than enough to run 8 hours per day for a full year, or 250 12-hour days. The fuel cell stacks cost about $1000 per kilowatt, so the cost to replace a 6kW stack is roughly $6000 with probably another $500 worth of hardware and fittings. Most of the vehicles were earmarked to also be used for the Asia Games in Guangzhou in November after the Shanghai EXPO closed. Shanghai FCV makes its own fuel cell system and performs the entire system integration — power and control systems, etc. The vehicle body is made by another company.  

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