Tun Mahathir Test Drove Malaysia’s First Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle
By Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
Pix Izwan Azman
BANGI, 12 January 2015 – Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today test drove a golf buggy powered by a hydrogen fuel cell engine developed by The National University of Malaysia’s (UKM) Fuel Cell Institute.
Dr Mahathir had earlier visited the Institute where he was briefed on the vehicle, the country’s first to be powered by a fuel cell engine using a system known as a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell/Supercapacitor Hybrid Power.
The vehicle was launched by Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh last December.
The vehicle’s electrical power is produced by a stack of fuel cells generated by electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen from the air at low temperatures that produces water as a by-product.
Fuel cell vehicles thus have zero emission and are clean, green, environmentally friendly and sustainable.
The Institute’s team of researchers from the Fuel Cell Process System Engineering Group was led by Fuel Cell’s Former Founding Director and currently Principal Research Fellow Professor Ir Datuk Dr Wan Ramli Wan Daud.
Dr Mahathir was met on arrival by Vice-Chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Prof Datuk Dr Mazlin Mokhtar, the Institute’s Director Prof Dr Abu Bakar Muhamad and Prof Datuk Dr Wan Ramli and other researchers.
In his briefing Prof Wan Ramli said the buggy’s motor has a higher energy efficiency than conventional car engines at 50% compared to 30% for the conventional engine. It is small, easy to manufacture and weighs only 25% of the weight of the replaced battery using just 75% the space.
UKM was given the mandate by the Education Ministry to lead the project to develop a zero emission vehicle using indigenous fuel cells with a grant of RM7 million for 3 years.
Prof Wan Ramli said leading car makers like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Renault and GM will be rolling out commercial fuel cell vehicles later this year in markets that already have hydrogen supply infrastructure such as Japan and Germany and other European and American cities including Los Angeles.
He expects a fuel cell car prototype will be built in the country by 2016 with the cooperation of other Malaysian universities and Malaysian automotive companies.