Fuel cells and hydride fuel storage are combined with ultracapacitor energy storage.
Figure 1 depicts a hybrid electric utility vehicle that is powered by hydrogenburning proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) fuel cells operating in conjunction with a metal hydride hydrogen-storage unit. Unlike conventional hybrid electric vehicles, this vehicle utilizes ultracapacitors, rather than batteries, for storing electric energy.
This vehicle is a product of continuing efforts to develop the technological discipline known as hybrid power management (HPM), which is oriented toward integration of diverse electric energy-generating, energy-storing, and energy-consuming devices in optimal configurations. Instances of HPM were reported in five prior NASA Tech Briefs articles, though not explicitly labeled as HPM in the first three articles: “Ultracapacitors Store Energy in a Hybrid Electric Vehicle” (LEW-16876), Vol. 24, No. 4 (April 2000), page 63; “Photovoltaic Power Station With Ultracapacitors for Storage” (LEW-17177), Vol. 27, No. 8 (August 2003), page 38; “Flasher Powered by Photovoltaic Cells and Ultracapacitors” (LEW-17246), Vol. 27, No. 10 (October 2003), page 37; “Hybrid Power Management” (LEW-17520), Vol. 29, No. 12 (December 2005), page 35; and “Ultracapacitor-Powered Cordless Drill” (LEW-18116-1), Vol. 31, No. 8 (August 2007), page 34.