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Audi shows fuel-cell tech with h-tron concept

AUDI has revisited the possibility of hydrogen fuel-cells as an alternative automotive energy with a Detroit motor show concept that has the range, performance and refuelling time of combustion engines, but produces zero emissions.

Based on the e-tron quattro concept that broke cover at the Frankfurt motor show last year, the h-tron quattro concept has an additional hydrogen fuel-cell that generates 110kw of electrical energy and another 100kW on tap from a temporary lithium-boost battery for sub-7.0 second 0-100km/h performance.

Its hydrogen fuel tank is far faster to fill than charging a battery, taking just four minutes for a full top-up.

At its core, the h-tron quattro uses a fuel-cell, which can produce up to 280 volts and with recent advances in the technology is 60 percent efficient. For comparison, the best figure an internal combustion engine manages is around 40 percent thermally efficient.

After refuelling, the h-tron has a range of up to 600km, which is also comparable to more conventional combustion engine-powered vehicles, but a roof-mounted solar array can extend that figure while driving.

Its 210kW and 550Nm of torque is fed to all four wheels via a motor on each axle for typical Audi quattro traction and road-holding, and was first demonstrated in the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro.

While other car-makers have experimented with cryogenic storage, the Audi’s hydrogen is stored at normal temperatures, using extreme pressures of 700 bar to hold up to six kilograms of the gas in three separate composite-material tanks. The h-tron needs just one kilogram of the gas to travel 100km.

In addition to the performance practicalities, the h-tron also offers other handy features such as a cabin that can accommodate four occupants in sporty seats with ample headroom, as well as 500 litres of luggage or 1610 litres with the rear seats folded.

The German car-maker is not yet talking about a production version.

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