So far, it’s clear: Volkswagen is fully committed to classic electric motors. In any case, CEO Herbert Diess has publicly rejected possible alternatives to hydrogen several times. The same seems to be true of truck manufacturer Traton. But it is now clear that at least one back door has been left open at VW. This is indicated at least by a patent filed jointly with Kraftwerk Tubes. It is a new type of fuel cell. The main innovation is the use of a ceramic film instead of a plastic film. This means, among other things, that the use of platinum can be dispensed with. In general, the people behind the project hope that production costs will drop significantly. Ideally, this could make today’s expensive hydrogen cars more price competitive.
Volkswagen is not the only partner of the startup
Compared to conventional electric cars, a fuel cell can also offer a second major advantage: developers promise ranges of up to 2,000 km per tank filling. According to the company, Kraftwerk Tubes has already developed the core technology. Now they want to bring them to market maturity together with Volkswagen engineers and integrate them into cars. However, the German automaker is not the only partner here. For example, Kraftwerk Tubes also cooperates with the luxury brand Nissan Infinity. It is also difficult to assess whether Volkswagen really considers the technology an important advance and intends to push it forward on a large scale. Or whether the group just wants to prepare in case the strategy it has followed so far does not work out as hoped. So far, however, the issue of hydrogen has not played a role in corporate communications.
Pocket fuel cell failed once
It is also interesting to take a look at the question of who is actually behind Kraftwerk Tubes. It’s about Dr. Sasha Cohn. This in turn made headlines for nearly twenty years with a futuristic idea. As part of his doctoral thesis, he developed a pocket fuel cell. It should be filled with camping gas and then provide electricity for a month, eg for a smartphone. If you like it, the fuel cell variant of the power bank is prevalent today. In order to turn his idea into a marketable product, Kühn finally turned to a crowdfunding platform and already found 11,000 supporters there. However, they did not receive the final product. The reason: Cohn needed additional investors, but he couldn’t find them. Instead, his former company, eZelleron, went bankrupt. The founder then went to the United States with his technology, raised new money and appears to be active again in Germany today.