Category Archives: Hydrogen Car Info

What is a hydrogen car?

The concept of a hydrogen car has been around for a number of years. Creating a clean, green way for people to travel around by converting hydrogen into electricity without producing any pollutant emissions is the main theory behind hydrogen cars.

What powers hydrogen cars?

There are two ways to power a vehicle with hydrogen – either through a modified internal combustion engine or via a hydrogen fuel cell.

For the former, a car’s internal combustion engine would need to be set up to convert the chemical energy that comes from the hydrogen directly into electricity. Nearly ten years ago specialist hydrogen car companies modified the internal combustion engines of a Hummer and a Shelby Cobra to enable them to be powered solely by hydrogen, and at the same time delivered higher mileage and cleaner emissions.

The later essentially fuels the car by the hydrogen fuel cell, which is more like batteries. Hydrogen and oxygen are combined within the cell to generate electricity and water. There are a number of fuel cells available today, and they range in price depending on the type of catalyst used, but currently receiving the most attention are polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The benefit of the fuel cell is that they are much cleaner and more efficient than the internal combustion engine.

The good…

Probably the biggest benefit of hydrogen technology for vehicles is that only water and heat come out of the exhaust. The idea behind a car no longer needing to be fuelled by fossil fuels or producing exhaust fumes is very appealing, especially at a time when peak oil and pollution are at the forefront of many people’s minds. President Bush’s hope was that by 2020 millions of Americans would be able to move to less polluting cars being powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Hydrogen car technology also has some major advantages over electric cars, including a far greater travel range and much faster refuelling. Plus you don’t need to replace or dispose of dead batteries.

… and the bad

There are a couple of key challenges that comes with hydrogen technology. Hydrogen needs to be stored and this can take up quite a lot of room. In older hydrogen cars it is generally stored as a compressed gas. Now there is a lot of research developing the potential to store the hydrogen as a solid or in the form of a cryogenic liquid.

Hydrogen cars need to be topped up with hydrogen at special fuelling points which are costly to build and, unlike electric car recharging points, are totally reliant upon an infrastructure of customized stations being constructed. So at the moment the infrastructure to support mass market availability of hydrogen cars is simply not in place. This has been one of the main barriers to a mass up take of hydrogen cars.

A bright future for hydrogen cars

There are a few countries that use hydrogen cars as fleet vehicles, including Germany and Japan. One of the first global car manufacturers to previously invest in the hybrid car technology, Toyota, is now keen to become a major player in the hydrogen car industry. They are preparing to sell tens of thousands of cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which they hope will replace the current fossil fuel powered cars of today.

The hydrogen car technology is still lagging behind the nearly commercial-scale production of electric cars and the widespread reliance on fossil-fuelled cars, but this type of car has proven to be a viable contender as it offers many of the features car owners are searching for.

Hydrogen Car Conversion

Hydrogen fuel burns up to eight times more efficiently than petroleum and there are hydrogen cars which are now for sale to the general public so the concept isn’t just a dream anymore. Unfortunately most hydrogen cars are really expensive and out of reach of many car consumers. If you can’t afford something in the 150K price range than a conversion is probably your best bet. Hydrogen is efficient and it’s eco friendly, two great reasons to consider a hydrogen car conversion, particularly for drivers of high burning trucks or SUV type vehicles, looking for a more economical alternative to petrol.

Car Conversion Companies & the Costs of Hydrogen Conversion

So what if a person wants to legitimately undertake a hydrogen car conversion – what are the steps and legalities involved?  In the United States there are two major, specialized hydrogen car conversion companies; Quantum Technologies and Intergalactic Hydrogen with prices ranging from $30-60 000 depending on the type of engine being converted. That price should come down significantly as soon as a major corporate comes on board to offer the service on a mass scale and there are several companies with the idea on the table at present.

On first site hydrogen car conversion prices seem high but it isn’t so bad if you take into account the cost of fuel savings on an annual basis, this is particularly true for larger vehicles of course. If you run a truck for business purposes the annual savings could be quite profound. Another cost advantage of switching is that in many states rebates up to 50% to a maximum of $50 000 are available by way of government incentives, which significantly reduces the cost of converting. This is one of a raft of tax credits and incentives being offered by state governments to consumers interested in converting to hydrogen or purchasing hydrogen vehicles.

Hydrogen Alternatives to Conversion

It is perfectly legal in the U.S for a person to convert a vehicle to hydrogen. If converting your own vehicle seems too cumbersome or costly there are other options. Project Driveway which will let you test drive a hydrogen vehicle for free for several months or; Honda has a program called Clarity which leases hydrogen fuel cell cars for approximately $600 per month, which isn’t bad since you may not have to pay anything for the fuel. It turns out that while hydrogen fuel is in the developmental roll out stages the cost at the pumps is nil. That’s right, for now at least the fuel is free! There are currently 68 fuelling stations operating in the United States and another 37 in the works.

The Pro’s and Con’s of Home Conversion

You’ve researched the various hydrogen car conversion companies and you have decided you have the smarts and the inclination to do-it-yourself, so where do you begin and what are the legal technicalities? The legal part of it isn’t as complicated as you might think, in fact the same rules apply as exist for any home built car; it has to pass basic safety standards and prove to be road worthy according to the regulations in your state. The costs are significantly less than if you were to take the car to a hydrogen conversion company, but how much less depends on the system installed to extract the hydrogen and the government incentives you might forego.

Traditional home hydrogen car conversions from petrol usually involve the installation of a hybrid kit which will continue to rely on petrol but to a much lesser extent. The favored contemporary approach to hydrogen fuel conversion is an engine which uses water to produce hydrogen on demand; hydrogen and oxygen is generated from distilled water in real time. In layman’s terms, electrolysis separates the water into hydrogen and oxygen and the hydrogen is then used to fuel the vehicle. Past concerns about hydrogen storage (it is highly combustible) has been the technology’s biggest setback. Concerns over storage have been allayed with the invention of a variety of safe storage options. Nonetheless, for safety’s sake it would make sense to get some professional help with this aspect of the job if you aren’t absolutely certain of your own ability.

Scorpion Hydrogen Car

OK focus. Speed. I am speed. One winner 42 losers, I eat losers for breakfast. Green. I am Green…

The V-6 Engine takes this sleek original from 0 to 200mph fast enough to make Lightening McQueen’s tires spin. For those readers without kids, that’s another way of saying fast, really fast. The Scorpion hydrogen hybrid can move, it’s unbelievably sexy and it’s green. Environmentally green that is, with zero emission proprietary technology unlike any other car in the world.

Co2 emissions are reduced to nearly nil using an alternative, hydrogen on demand approach. To diminish negative environmental impact further, this approach increases fuel mileage by up to 40%. The Scorpions hydrogen on demand system is a unique on board hydrogen creation and injection process invented by the cars creators. It is designed specifically for this vehicle, although plans for expansion appear a definite probability. The system provides 40 miles to the gallon efficiency.

The hydrogen on demand system is what makes this luxury sports car really special. The Scorpion is run largely, not completely but significantly, on water! This technology consists of a system that generates hydrogen and oxygen from distilled water in real time as the car drives along. The system then delivers these gases to the air intake of an internal combustion engine.

This custom technology splits water molecules into a gaseous form to provide additional and more efficient combustion of existing fuel.  Using an electrolysis process to separate water into Hydrogen and Oxygen (a gas), it adds these gasses to the vapors. The Hydrogen atoms adhere to the fuel vapors and completely burn all the fuel and the Hydrogen. Cars can utilize the resulting gases to boost the efficiency of the fuel combustion by combining with the fuel vapor. Very technical but also very cool!

The greatest concern about the hydrogen on demand system has been over safe storage of highly combustible compounds. The Ronn Car Company has addressed this concern in the Scorpion with H2GO™.  H2GO creates hydrogen as a vehicle is driven on the road and does not use an on-board high pressure storage tank because the hydrogen is injected directly into the engine. This alternative approach provides the Scorpion with a very economical 40 miles per gallon and reduces CO2 emissions to nearly zero. This hydrogen engine burns fuel in the same way that gasoline engines do, meaning they can be filled up at the petrol station and that is important.

Because of course the BIG advantage of the Scorpion over other hybrids is that this beauty does not need to be plugged in. The hydrogen is produced on board and this difference is hugely significant because filling up the Scorpion does not involve visiting a specialized station, or having to use home or away recharging bases. For consumers, that convenience really matters.

This car looks good too! Standard color options include black, grey, yellow, orange, red, green of course, and blue. The body is made of hand built carbon fiber which is not only beautiful to look at, but furthers efficiency in terms of reducing drag. Carbon fiber is a special material in its own right used on vehicles, aircraft, space ships and racing cars of distinction since the early 80s.

The carbon fiber sits over a chrome-moly chassis powered by an Acura V-Tech, V-6, type S, 3.5 liter power-plant, with a close ratio six-speed transmission. The car sports 450 horsepower twin turbo chargers.

If that isn’t enough to take your breath away, then the additional features certainly will. Standard specs and optional extras include; GPS guidance system, Bose eight speaker sound, Lamborghini style doors, heated leather seats and 0 to 60 acceleration in 3 seconds.

This is a car that sceptics in the past said couldn’t be built; it defied the laws of mechanics; the engines would be too volatile; a whole raft of reasons this car would not work have been put to rest. The car enthusiast and the environment, that unlikely combination, both benefit from this exceptional vehicle.

The dreamers have prevailed.

FCX Clarity Hydrogen Car

Honda FCX Clarity Hydrogen Car

Greener roads are ahead with the Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen car.  This zero emissions car uses domestic fuel to help slow the increase in greenhouse gases.  With a hydrogen tank, high performance and superior safety, the Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen car promises to be the choice vehicle of the future.

An Overview Of The Honda FCX Clarity Hydrogen Car

The modern Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen car has compact, efficient powertrain components for an attractively streamlined  layout.  The full cell combines hydrogen with oxygen to create electricity to power the electric motor to run the car.  The only byproduct left behind from running the Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen car is water.

The hydrogen tank stores hydrogen used to create electricity with oxygen to propel the vehicle.  The distinctive v flow fuel cells stack generates electricity while the lithium-ion battery stores the electricity.  A sophisticated power drive unit governs the electric flow and the electric drive motor gets the Honda FCX Clarity going on the road.

The smooth, quiet ride with a powerful feeling behind the wheel makes the new Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen car fun to drive.  The Vehicle Stability Assist feature, Collision Mitigation Braking System and reinforced unit body structure make the Honda FCX Clarity safe as well as enjoyable to drive.  The interesting historical development of the Honda FCX Clarity leads to its success today.

The 1999 Honda FCX Concept Hydrogen Car

The first Honda prototype FCX was introduced in 1999.  The four-door, four-seat vehicle had a proton exchange membrane fuel cell powering the engine with a maximum output of 80 horsepower.  The EPA certified range for this first model was 170 miles.  The Honda FCX-V1 was a hydrogen vehicle model and the Honda FCX-V2 was a methanol fuel cell model.

Honda FCX Hydrogen Car From 2000 to 2002

In September, 2000, the FCX-V3 was launched.  This ultracapacitor Honda model was tested on public roads.  In September, 2001, the evolved version of the FCX-V3 was launched as the Honda FCX-V4.  By December, 2002, the first Honda FCX was delivered to Los Angeles City Hall and the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office in Kantei.

The 2002 Honda FCX had front-wheel drive, two doors and four seats.  The maximum output was 107 horsepower with an operating range of 190 miles.  Later software upgrades extended the range to 210 miles.  The Honda FCX used the first fuel cell developed in-house.

Honda FCX Hydrogen Car From 2003-2005

By October, 2003, the FCX fuel cell was introduced as the Honda FC Stack with a power of 86 kilowatts and the ability to run at −20°C.  In 2003 and 2004, Honda only leased FCX vehicles to particular government and corporate entities.  By June, 2005, the first Honda FCX was leased to a non-commercial customer in Southern California.

In 2005, Honda revealed a production version of the concept FCX at the Toyko Motor show.

Honda FCX 2006-2007

Honda formally announced its production version of the FCX at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show.  The new production version was dramatically unveiled on September 25, 2006.  The four-door sedan was sleek with plenty of comfortable interior space featuring plastic, leather and wood.  The fuel cell stack is 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter.  The powerplant is 40 percent smaller in volume with 60 percent greater efficiency.  Technically an all-wheel drive vehicle, the FCX uses three electric motors with a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour. The V flow fuel cell stack can run at an impressive −30°C.

In 2007, Honda also introduced the Home Energy Station (HES).  The HES converts natural gas to heat, electricity and hydrogen to refuel the FCX.  Consumer can conveniently refuel their hydrogen vehicles at home until hydrogen stations become more widespread.

The 2008 Honda FCX Clarity

The impressive Honda FCX Clarity was launched in 2008.   The Honda FCX Clarity is a mid-size, four door sedan with an electric motor.  The 2008 Honda FCX Clarity was first unveiled on November 15, 2007 at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show.  The car was available for lease in the middle of 2008 to a limited Southern California market with leasing terms for 36 months at $600 per month.

The Modern Honda FCX Clarity

The next generation Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen car is almost 400 pounds lighter and 20 percent more fuel efficient.  The powertrain is 45 percent more compact and 10 percent more energy efficient.  The compact coaxial motor runs quieter at a higher rpm for greater speed and efficiency.  The Honda E-drive electric motor minimizes the amount of CO2 released into the air.

Higher cell voltage stability minimizes the amount of heat generated.  The lithium ion battery pack is a supplemental power source during braking and deceleration.  With a low profile and flat bottom underbody, there is minimal drag for maximum efficiency.  Six airbags are a standard feature to ensure safety for all occupants.

Mass production of vehicles based on the Honda FCX concept is expected by 2018.  Limited marketing for the Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen car began in the United States and Japan in June, 2008.

X7 Hydrogen Car

Taking a Closer Look at the X7 Hydrogen Car Design Kit

Hydrogen fuel is one of the most compelling innovations of the 21st Century, with countless possible future applications. We are starting to finally see hydrogen powered fuel cells used in mainstream technology, although as of yet, many designers and manufacturers still do not realise the potential of this technology.

Thames and Kosmos, the company famous for their science kits, have recently unveiled their latest innovation, the X7 Hydrogen car, which is their attempt to bring hydrogen fuel cell technology to children and teachers, to try and show the world just how exciting this new technology actually is.

Based on their previous award-winning fuel cell car and experiment kit, Thames and Kosmos have designed the X7 Hydrogen car to have a more hands on approach than its predecessor, by getting straight into the action and focusing almost entirely upon practical applications.

So How Does the X7 Hydrogen Car Work?

Using advanced fuel cell technology, Thames and Kosmos have developed their own proprietary engine for use in the X7 hydrogen car, which is actually a highly unique innovation in itself. With many typical science kits offering a basic fuel cell, the team has been entirely innovative, by designing a fully reversible energy cell, which can convert from Water to Oxygen to Hydrogen, and back again.

Essentially the fuel cell uses the process of electrolysis to convert and separate water into its component gases of Hydrogen and Oxygen. The Hydrogen gas is then stored, and keeps the fuel cell running, which is the main power source of the vehicle. This process is powered by a single electric battery which could earn it the status of a hybrid fuel cell technology, highly similar to many of the latest real world innovations.

The unique fuel cell design that is present in the X7 Hydrogen car, has to be one of the best and most interesting features we have seen in a while, for a number of reasons, but mainly because it is actually one of the most viable ways to teach alternative energy to children, in a way they simply can’t resist. This is also one of the strongest selling points of this kit.

The X7 Hydrogen car has a reduced number of parts, and also a more practically focused manual, compared to its predecessor. It is best suited to children aged 10+ years due to the fact that the kit does have some small parts that can be quite fragile during construction, so some assistance may be required to make sure children can get the most from the X7 Hydrogen car. Aside from this fact, the kit is well constructed and very easy to put together. The easy to follow manual has been designed for children, and many youngsters have already succeeded in making their own X7 Hydrogen car.

With countless teaching applications, the X7 Hydrogen Car gives teachers and educators a real world practical demonstrator of how fuel cells work. This provides a great way to demonstrate alternative fuel sources and also highlight our over dependence on fossil fuels. From teaching presentations to showing off to children at science fairs, the kit makes a great entry into this highly promising energy technology.

Overall, hydrogen fuel is perhaps one of the most promising fuel technologies for the future. With fossil fuels rapidly running out, technologies such as this may be what we need to take us forward.

Thames and Kosmos have done a great job in bringing next generation technologies to children, in both an entertaining and a highly practical way. This design kit is a great way to show just how effective alternative energy is, and also how we may well be reliant on it in the future. When it comes to teaching children about science, it can be difficult to put certain concepts across effectively. The X7 Hydrogen car makes any child stand up and say “Wow! I want to do that!” This wow factor alone makes this kit a great purchase, an educational gift for children aged 10+ years.

Do Hydrogen Cars Work?

Do hydrogen cars really work?  The answer is definitely “yes”.  Because fossil fuels are destined to run out eventually, hydrogen was introduced as a fuel source in a combustion engine rather than gasoline.  There are also innovators using hydrogen as a catalyst to create electric energy to power up a vehicle instead of using gas.  As research and development continues, hydrogen cars promise to be the green wave of the future.

How Do Hydrogen Cars Work?

To understand how hydrogen cars work, you need to know the four commons parts of all fuel cells.  Cathode is the positive pillar while anode is the negative.  The catalyst is typically made from platinum while the electrolyte is usually made from solid polymer.  Each part makes it possible to power the hydrogen car.  Hydrogen is first pumped into the anode.  The cathode takes in oxygen from the air.  The anode along with the catalyst divides the hydrogen cells and separates the essential electrons.  They are then passed to an external circuit, forming electrical current to move the car.  The byproduct of the reaction is water.  To generate enough power, fuel cells are stacked.  The result of all this science is hydrogen cars that really work with simple water as the environmentally-friendly emission.

Why Is Hydrogen Called The Perfect Fuel?

Hydrogen is the most abundant element and it exists in water.  Unlike fossil fuels, it is unlikely we will run out of hydrogen.  Also, hydrogen cars do not emit carbon dioxide which is one of the major elements causing air pollution.  Another benefit of hydrogen cars is their ability to perform in cold weather.  Contrary to popular belief, hydrogen cars are low on vibrations and make for a quiet, comfortable ride.

Who Drives Hydrogen Cars?

In days gone by, hydrogen cars were mostly sought after by environmentalists.  Today, everyone is concerned by the environmental footprint they are leaving. As atmospheric conditions worsen, everyone from homemakers to business people to municipalities are showing interest in hydrogen cars.  Many celebrities drive hydrogen cars to show their commitment to greener endeavors.  Jay Leno drove around in a BMW Hydrogen 7 and so did Will Ferrell.  Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Hilary Swank also have a BMW Hydrogen 7.

Why Doesn’t Everyone Drive Hydrogen Cars?

Hydrogen cars are still being developed and improved.  Cost is a major problem on multiple levels.  Limited hydrogen cars are produced at prices some people cannot afford.  Additionally, money is needed to build the necessary infrastructure of hydrogen pipelines and stations to get fuel.  The 2010 budget proposed by President Barack Obama calls for $68.2 million for further research and development of hydrogen cars..  Former president George Bush stated in his 2003 State of the Union address, “”With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.”

Do Hydrogen Cars Work Internationally?

People around the world are discovering and exploring the value of hydrogen cars.  In Norway, a 350 mile (560 kilometer) hydrogen highway was opened in May, 2009.  Over a dozen hydrogen cars rallied along the picturesque route between Oslo and Stavanger.  Several hydrogen filling stations were built along the route by StatoilHydro and they may link the road to a hydrogen autobahn in Germany.  California and Japan also have hydrogen highways. The International Conference of Hydrogen Production 2009 was held in Canada during May to discuss the production of hydrogen and its future use including fuel cells.  Scientists, engineers, practitioners and researchers learned about hydrogen technologies, policy making, development, marketing, management and more.

What Are Hydrogen Car Conversion Kits?

If you can’t afford to buy a new car or simply don’t want to, some green enthusiasts are investing in hydrogen car conversion kits.  There are also manuals to instruct car enthusiasts on the proper components and methods to use to convert their vehicles to hydrogen cars.  Depending on your expertise and vehicle, hydrogen car conversion can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

The number of hydrogen car drivers is increasing everyday.  This is the real-life proof hydrogen cars really do work.

First Hydrogen Car

General Motor’s 1966 Electrovan – The World’s First Hydrogen Car

Hydrogen, the first element on the periodic table and the most abundant element in the universe, has powered the fusion reactions of stars for billions of years.  On Earth, attempts to use it as a fuel date back over 200 years, when Swiss inventor Francois Isaac de Rivaz used both hydrogen and oxygen gas to power the first internal combustion engine in 1806.  While Rivaz’s vehicle was commercially unsuccessful, additional attempts were made to harness hydrogen as a fuel over the next 150 years, meeting with limited success.  In 1966 the world’s first hydrogen Car, the 1966 GM Electrovan, was built, and the age of hydrogen cars as we know them was born.

More than two years in the making, a team of 250 led by Dr. Craig Marks developed a hydrogen fuel cell after Dr. Marks learned that NASA’s Gemini spacecraft were powered internally by fuel cells.  Believing that the technology had moved from possible to practical, the team first set their sights on refitting a Chevrolet Corvair, but found that the car was too small for the 1960’s era technology.  They settled on the GMC Handivan, a boxy, six passenger van used mainly to transport cargo over short distances, and went to work.

Two super-cooled tanks, one filled with liquid hydrogen and the other with liquid oxygen, used 550 feet of piping to supply 32 interconnected 5kw Union Carbide fuel cells.  Once completed, the Electrovan sat two and weighed twice as much as its Handivan counterpart.  It had a top speed of 70 miles per hour and a range of about 120 miles, making it ideal for urban use though it never left GM’s property.  It could accelerate from 0-60mph in 30 seconds, hardly acceptable in the age of V8 engines.

After the Electrovan was built, GM showed off their creation as a marvel of engineering to journalists and then promptly boxed the project.  Internally, they realized that the use of several rare metals, including platinum, was cost prohibitive even when constructed on an assembly line.  There were several legitimate consumer safety concerns as well.  A man-sized trough filled with flame retardant in the event of chemical spills would never have sat well with the public.  Leaks at certain points in the system produced what Dr. Marks called “brilliant fireworks”, and an explosion of one of the storage tanks led GM to decide that hydrogen fuel cells were not viable at that time.  Even if the cost and safety barriers could be overcome, GM did not want to further invest in the project without some level of hydrogen infrastructure in place.

The Electrovan was offered to, and rejected by, the Smithsonian Institute.  After decades of storage, a renewed interest in hydrogen fuel cell technology led to its rediscovery, and it has recently been on display at both the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles and the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Dr. Marks’ Electrovan was ultimately an idea that exceeded the existing level of technology.  While many viewed the project as a failure, building the first hydrogen car can only be looked upon as a success today.  Since GM’s attempts in the 1960’s, advancements in technology have replaced the liquid oxygen tank with air, and the technology is easily incorporated into a standard sized car.  Today’s hydrogen cars can accelerate from 0-60 in 8 seconds, some models have a range of over 300 miles, and they easily exceed the strictest emission standards.  Various hydrogen car models have moved beyond the concept stage and several are currently being tested with consumers.  With an emerging hydrogen infrastructure in North America, Europe, and Asia, auto manufacturers are betting that hydrogen cars are not only a viable option today, but the best option as we progress further into the 21st century.

Hydrogen Cars: Embracing the Inevitability of Hydrogen Cars

The race to replace oil in our vehicles has spawned a new generation of technologies vying for dominance in the 21st century, and the stakes have never been higher.  A world dominated by oil has led to unprecedented man made pollution, leaving many cities covered in smog and soot, and many of oil’s top producing countries either have unpredictable governments or reside in volatile areas of the world.

Several technologies compete for the right to power billions of vehicles over the next century, but only hydrogen offers the critical combination of abundance and zero emissions.  Before hydrogen cars fully replace their gas-guzzling counterparts on the roads, several obstacles remain, but the solution is as simple as the phrase uttered in the 1989 film Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come.

Building an Infrastructure

Many detractors of hydrogen vehicle technology cite the disparity between the number of gasoline and hydrogen filling stations, with upwards of 200,000 gas stations versus 62 hydrogen stations in the United States.  The feasibility of hydrogen cars is questioned by using a variant of “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”, but this is a false argument.

Consumers will purchase hydrogen cars where the fueling stations already exist, mainly in densely populated cities.  As more vehicles are purchased, the demand for hydrogen filling stations will increase (37 are already planned) which will make it practical for more consumers to purchase hydrogen cars.  The process will continue organically and stations will be built in a spider web pattern along ‘hydrogen highways’ that will serve to connect population centers.  Similar plans have been enacted in other countries, including Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Norway, and Sweden.

The process will take a number of years, allowing an important but rarely discussed slow and smooth economical transition from gasoline fueling stations.

Widespread Vehicle Manufacturing

Automakers worldwide are facing declining sales in all models, and this has caused some auto manufacturers to suspend their development of hydrogen vehicles.  Others, such as Daimler and Honda, continue to develop hydrogen vehicle technology, hoping to be among the first to market.  These and other auto manufacturers are developing models that may be ready for full production in the next 4-5 years.

Once hydrogen cars are both available and proven, acceptance will increase, enticing additional auto manufacturers to restart their hydrogen vehicle development programs.  Though they will be several years behind and face the stigma of being ‘behind the times’, the transitional pace of gas to hydrogen fueled vehicles will be gradual and won’t significantly harm their company’s bottom line.

A Decline of Alternative Competition

In 2009, gasoline powered vehicles clutter our roads no matter where we live.  Gasoline engines are inefficient, produce a significant amount of pollution, and are based on the consumption of finite fossil fuels.

Biofuel, created from various plants, was popular several years ago but has now sparked several environmental controversies, such as the clear cutting of the rainforest in Brazil and ‘food vs. fuel’ in the United States and Europe.  In addition, biofuel, like oil, is carbon based and is not the long term solution to reduced vehicle emissions.

100% Electric vehicles have supplanted biofuel as the choice du jour and while their technology, like hydrogen, emits zero emissions, their inability to instantly recharge makes them an impractical long term solution, especially in the United States.  In a nation where the majority of shipping is conducted by trucks traversing hundreds of miles per day, electric semis are an inadequate solution.

In nations with a combination of increasingly restrictive emission standards and a road based shipping industry, hydrogen vehicles aren’t the best option, they are the only option.

A Confluence of Technology

The decision to replace gasoline powered vehicles with alternative fuels was first seriously considered in the 1970’s.  Until recently, the idea has been abandoned and rediscovered several times with little success.  Engineers and designers have developed several competing technologies that has fostered innovations that are years ahead of their time.  Each technology has supporters that claim it to be the best choice for our future, but only hydrogen offers an environmental solution as well as the flexibility to serve all of our fuel needs.

Hydrogen Cars FAQ: Answers to Questions You Have

Rapidly fluctuating oil prices have reignited interest in alternative sources of energy. This is especially true for the automotive industry and its customers. Some SUV owners have traded in the vehicles for more fuel efficient options, and many are now interested in gas/electric hybrids.

Car owners and those looking for greener alternatives want to know all they can about Hydrogen vehicles. Some popular questions are: How much do they cost? How do they work? Where can these cars be purchased? This article will answer these questions and more.

What is a Hydrogen Car?

A hydrogen car is simply a car that uses hydrogen to provide power to get the vehicle to move. The hydrogen is converted to energy either through combustion, similar to typical internal combustion engines, or by an electrochemical process in a fuel cell.

How does a hydrogen car work?

While internal hydrogen combustion engines are not that different from gasoline powered vehicles, a fuel cell’s by-products are heat and water. Through the use of a catalyst, the hydrogen is separated into protons and electrons. It is these electrons and protons that meet to produce the electricity needed to power the vehicle. As long as oxygen and hydrogen are fed into the cell, it will produce energy. In that way it is different from the typical car battery in that it won’t die as long as the process is maintained.

How much does a hydrogen car cost?

These cars are still fairly expensive to purchase. Information available online indicates that they cost around $74,000. There is little doubt that as supplies increase prices will go down.

Are these cars currently available?

Wide scale availability of hydrogen cars is still quite a few years off. However, major companies do have some available but the price does not make them readily available to the average consumer. However, some manufacturers have revealed when they expect to have their cars on the general market:

  • BMW:  2008
  • General Motors: 2010 – 2015
  • Honda: 2008 – 2010
  • Madza: 2008
  • Peugeot: After 2010

Which Companies are Manufacturing or Experimenting with Hydrogen Cars?

Quite a few companies are making and or experimenting with hydrogen cell-fuelled cars. One of the forerunners is Honda, who’s FCX Clarity can be had on lease for around $600 per month in California. Other motor companies in the hydrogen zone are Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, GM and Ford.

GM (General Motors) for instance has stated that they will have affordable hydrogen-powered vehicles for sale by 2010. However, their HydroGen3 is priced at about $1 million.

What are the advantages of a hydrogen car?

One of the main advantages of a hydrogen powered car over gas is the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Can I convert my car to run on hydrogen?

Yes, it is possible to convert a car to run on hydrogen fuel. The best bet at this time is to get a company that specializes in this type of conversion to do the job for you. Some companies include:

  • AFVTech
  • The Hydrogen Car Company
  • Quantum Technologies (known for converting the Prius to Hydrogen fuel power)

In addition, the American Hydrogen Association provides useful information on conversion as well as conversion workshops.

Where will I get hydrogen to buy?

Currently there are not many options for fueling a hydrogen car as the number of vehicles available does not provide economic motivation to open stations. The AHA makes three great suggestions on handling this issue now and in the immediate future. The most feasible option currently may be to ‘convert your vehicle to a natural gas/hydrogen hybrid and switch over to hydrogen when fuelling becomes easier.

The other two options would include “building your own fuelling center or holding off on getting a hydrogen car until public fuelling stations are available.”

Is hydrogen dangerous?

Hydrogen is highly flammable but no more so than gasoline. There is no evidence that hydrogen is more likely to ignite when used to provide power. As with any other form of fuel, precautions should be taken when handling hydrogen. One good thing about hydrogen is that because it is so light, if there is a leak it will quickly dissipate. It has also been shown that there are no ill effects from breathing hydrogen.

Yes, it seems that the future of hydrogen cars is definitely here. However before deciding on such a purchase, it is important to arm yourself with as much information as possible.

Hydrogen Car Plans, the Future of the Auto Industry

The auto industry worldwide is facing unprecedented challenges. In addition to the financial hits taken recently, the auto industry has also been perceived as stagnant and out of touch.  Some blame the current financial crisis of the auto industry on a lack of true innovation.  Yet, innovation is taking place, and a whole new breed of cars is on the horizon.  Hydrogen powered cars are the next new thing, and they’re coming sooner than you may think.

Hydrogen fuel cells work much like a regular battery, except for one major difference.  A battery is totally self-contained, while a fuel cell needs a flow of hydrogen and oxygen coming in to it in order to create the charge.  Just as a battery only holds a charge for so long, the same is true with hydrogen powered fuel cells. Current fuel cell technology only gives hydrogen-powered cars a range of about 200 miles.  This limitation has been the greatest disadvantage to creating a public demand for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Auto manufacturers are determined to break through the barriers that limit the range of Hydrogen powered cars.   The list of manufacturers working toward the future of Hydrogen fuel cell technology is really quite impressive and shows just how rapidly the auto industry is changing and adapting. Ford, GM, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan, BMW, Toyota, and Volkswagon are just some of the manufacturers looking to hydrogen power as the future of the industry.

Already available for lease in limited markets is Honda’s new FCX Clarity.  Unveiled in 2007 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Honda FCX Clarity is a new breed of auto.  Featuring a plush, yet, eco friendly interior made from Honda’s own natural plant based bio-fabric, zero emissions and plans for a home fueling station package which will allow customers to produce fuel at home, the Honda FCX Clarity is a sign of things to come.  The only drawback to this impressive auto is its short range of around 300 miles.

Not to be outdone in the lucrative hydrogen fuel cell race, Ford released its own hydrogen-powered version of the popular Ford Focus model in September of 2006.  The Ford Focus FCV features a paltry 150 mile driving range.  Not satisfied with the results, just two months later in November, 2006 Ford released the hydrogen-fuel cell version of its Explorer model. The Ford Explorer FCV SUB debuted in Los Angeles boasting an impressive, and unprecedented 350 mile range.  Still, for all the praise Ford received for this improvement, the vehicle’s fuel cell still holds only enough charge to make it half the way to San Fransisco from LA.

Yet to come, are the newer longer driving range models expected within the next five years from other major auto companies that have hydrogen car plans.  DaimlerChrysler has long been known for quality, luxury and uncompromising style, while relative newcomer Kia is seen as a reliable, yet, “budget conscious” company.  Surprisingly, these two companies are focused in similar directions, pursuing the same concept… to continue to push the limits of hydrogen capabilities.

Kia is in the lead for now regarding its hydrogen car plans. They plan to introduce a longer range hydrogen vehicle for commercial production by 2010.  The Kia Borrego FCEV will have a range of around 426 miles.  Kia plans to open full scale production centers in South Korea as early as 2009, just in time for the 2010 rollout.  While the Kia Borrego FCEV does improve current fuel cell range by over 100 miles per charge, it’s still working toward even longer range, and is continuously experimenting with innovations in fuel cell technology.

DaimlerChrysler has also announced hydrogen car plans to commercially produce the next generation of hydrogen fuel celled cars by the year 2012.  Currently in the mid prototype stage, the DaimlerChrysler Mercedes F600 Hygenius Hydrogen Concept Car is expected to have serious advantages over the current line of fuel cell vehicles.  Its range is expected to more triple from current market limitations of around 200 miles to over 650 miles.  The Mercedes F600 Hygenius could likely be the first hydrogen-powered vehicle to actually make the 615 mile trip from LA to San Fransisco, without having to stop and recharge the fuel cell.

One thing is certain, the auto industry is looking forward, pushing the boundaries, and branching out into new territory.  If the industry continues to view this time of challenge as an opportunity for innovation and technological development, the future may not be as bleak as it may seem.  As our fossil fuel powered lifestyles change to suit the growing demand for eco-friendly alternatives, the auto industry is working hard to keep pace.  By 2012, fuel cell advances could see the majority of people driving hydrogen-powered cars with a 1000 mile range, or more.  The future’s looking bright indeed.