Often when we talk about range extending technologies in electric vehicles, it is based upon the assumption that a gasoline powered engine will be behind helping to go longer distances. What if a more environmentally friendly biofuels option could be used instead? That’s the idea behind the MECc, Modular Energy Carrier concept, currently under development by a mix of Danish companies.
MECc, which recently got funding support from the Danish government, is envisioned to “develop a clean, simple and competitive range extender for battery electric vehicles based on bio-methanol fuel cells” as the alternative to gasoline. Bio-methanol, known also as methyl alcohol, is seen as a green synthetic fuel alternative that, while not entirely zero emissions, is much closer to that ideal than fossil fuel choices. The US government sees some value in this as an alternative, funding last year a project to test market capabilities of methanol fuel cells.
The entities behind MECc are basing this fuel cell supported vehicle on the QBEAK electric car (see video below), which is a planned EV offering by ECOmove reportedly said to debut in Denmark this fall. Fuel Cell Today reports the MECc concept will have six “energy slots” that “contain either a battery, a fuel cell, or a methanol tank, allowing the on-board energy storage to be adapted to different needs.” This means, for example, that greater ranges might be possible depending upon what gets slotted into the vehicle.
As the current MECc concept is envisioned, one could expect a range of least around 500 miles, which is significantly longer than electric mode only cars and 125 miles above that of a Chevy Volt and its gasoline powered range extender. Developers also say this design would have a refueling time of less than three minutes, make use of waste heat from the fuel cell process for interior cabin heating/cooling and help provide a longer life for the vehicle’s batteries because of a more stable state of charging.
Besides ECOmove, other companies involved in this project include Serenergy, which develops fuel cell generators, and Danish EV industry cluster organization Insero E-Mobility. There’s no mention at this point on when this green car design will be presented in its completed form, or if a production ready model will ever actually be made.