Opel and hydrogen represent two roads that are not meeting today. But in the past the speech was different: it was 2001 when the German car manufacturer presented the HydroGen3, what Opel itself called a “new proposal for a fuel cell vehicle”. It was unveiled in the frame of the Frankfurt Motor Show twenty years ago, and consisted of a prototype developed on the basis of the compact minivan Zafira at the Global Center for Alternative Energy Sources in Mainz-Kastel, Germany.
A sort of hydrogen-powered Opel Zafira, so to speak: the designers had worked hard to reduce the overall weight of the car, placing themselves the goal of 1,590 kilograms. A target that was only approached, thanks also to the elimination of the powerful storage battery, which previously had the task of disposing of the mechanical performance peaks but which on that prototype had become superfluous since the fuel cell system had been optimized in a way to be able to immediately supply the required power. Thanks to its removal, Opel was able to reduce the overall weight of the car by about 100 kilograms, as well as placing the cargo floor at the same height as that of the production Opel Zafira. Not only: the optimization of the architecture of the entire fuel cell system had ensured that the water produced in the fuel cells was sufficient to cover the moisture requirements of their membranes, which allowed Opel to do without additional external humidifiers.
Even the electric traction system it had undergone further development and was smaller in size, with the entire module weighing just 92 kg and placed between the voltage transformer and the drive shaft: it included the DC / AC transformer, the electric motor and transmission. The autonomy of the Opel HydroGen3 was around 400 kilometers, guaranteed by a tank placed in front of the rear axle under the seats (which had been raised by 25 mm to accommodate it) which, including valves, heat exchanger and supports included, weighed 90 kg.
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