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TdS Report #10: Team Profile: Electric Blue

The promise of fuel cell technology, which converts hydrogen and oxygen into
water and electricity, once again has a real expression at the Tour de Sol.

One of those expressions is this pickup truck began as a battery electric
vehicle in the early 1980s; about 80 were built by Jet Industries in Huston
Texas for utility companies. "They were born and registered as electric
trucks," says Mike Skelly Sr. Eventually, after years of corporate and private
ownership, it was donated to the Eco Living Fellowship. "We wanted to pick it
up as a student project." They had help from Mike Stritzki, who as the
principal organizer of the New Jersey Venturer fuel cell vehicle that was in
the Tour de Sol in 1999 and 2000, and various sponsors, and students and
volunteers. They are using the original GE SCR controller and the original GE
DC series wound motor. It combines some of the oldest electric vehicle
technology with some of the newest. A hydrogen fuel system recharges the
battery pack as they drive. "A boost converter from Advanced Power Associates
raises the fuel cell output, 43 to 63 Volts, to the charging voltage for the
144 Volt battery pack."

I asked why they stuck with the original controller. I guessed a modern
controller would drop in pretty easily. "It was part of the mission. We
wanted to stick with as much of the original equipment as we could, as the
demonstration. We think it will add about 10% to the range." There are two
battery strings in parallel.

The hydrogen tank is about 43 liters at 3600 pounds per square inch. "That
gives us about 10 hours of 1 kiloWatt output; 10 kiloWatt-hours," said Ken
Kleinfelter, another team member.

Rob Wills, Technical Director of the Tour de Sol made the comment, "Here we
have a volume of about 3 car batteries which deliver about 1 kiloWatt-hour of
energy. 10 kiloWatt-hours out of the fuel cell is 3 times that energy density.
Not to mention the weight advantage."

Mike Skelly added that these fuel-cells, a pair of 500 Watt units manufactured
by H-Power, are "air-breathers; they get their oxygen from the air. There is
no cooling system, huge compressor, no humidification."

"This is an all volunteer effort. High school and college students from
four New Jersey counties and volunteers from various companies and sponsorships
have contributed to a show-string effort to show it to the world."

Vehicle Name Electric Blue
Vehicle Number 1
vehicle type category hydrogen
Team Name Eco Living Fellowship
Organization Eco Living Fellowship
City Willingboro
State NJ
No People in Project 15
Time to Build 2000 person hours, 6 months
Who Built private group
part of school curriculum? No
Vehicle Manufacturer Ford/Jet Industries
Vehicle Model Year 1981
Vehicle Reg Car/Truck
Vehicle Type Class Light Duty (car, truck, van)
Vehicle Type Division Prototype
Vehicle Type Model Elvan750 / Hydrogen
sale price $30,000
motor manufacturer GE
motor type Brush DC
Energy Storage System hydrogen PbA
Battery n/a/ hydrogen PbA
control system manufacturer GE
control system type EVJ
regenerative braking? Non-regen
charger current 18 A
charger input voltage 208/230 V
charger manufacturer Zivan
charger type High freq/ss
Plug Type 6-20P
Conversion Conversion
body material Steel body
frame material Steel frame
# seats 2
Weight pounds n/a lbs
brake front type Front Disc
brake rear type Rear Drum
fuel efficiency mpg
Fuel Type H2
No of Passengers 2
number of tires 4
tire manufacturer DuroTour
tire model P100/80 R17-15H
Program blurb Eco Living Fellowship's truck represents both old
and new in electric drive sustainable
transportation. It was built by a team of New
Jersey college and homeschooled students using a
1981 Electravan 750 which has been restored,
updated and modified to include a hydrogen fuel
cell as an additional source of clean power.

I got a chance to speak with Mike Stritzki and ask where he had been since the
New Jersey Venturer efforts of 1999 and 2000. "The technology in the Venturer
is now sold by H-Power in their Eco units; one of the things that helped them
go public. Partnerships do work and technology developed from research and
educational projects do find commercial application.

"I am now with Millennium Cell. We make hydrogen generators for fuel cell
powered vehicles. DiamlerChryler's Natrium uses that product and will be here
at the Tour de Sol. It's pretty exciting."

So when Mike isn't working on fuel cell technology, he is helping the Electric
Blue get running. He has hydrogen in his blood! "I want to see us get off the
fossil fuel monkey, especially after 9/11. The world does not want to be a
slave to oil and what oil we have I would like to leave for future generations.
There are a lot better things to do with it than burn it."

- - - -
The complete set of Tour de Sol Reports for 2002 can be found at:
The complete set of past Tour de Sol Reports can be found at:
- - - -
The above is Copyright 2002 by Michael H. Bianchi.
Permission to copy is granted provided the entire article is presented
without modification and this notice remains attached.
For other arrangements, contact me at +1-973-822-2024 .
- - - -
For more on the NESEA Tour de Sol, see the web page at
- - - -
Official NESEA Tour de Sol information is available from the sponsor,
the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) at
413 774-6051 , and 50 Miles Street, Greenfield, MA 01301 , and
[email protected] . All media enquiries should be addressed to ...
Jack Groh
Groh Associates
[email protected] email
401 732-1551 telephone
401 732-0547 fax
401 952-0886 cell/pager
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