Going Green with Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powered Cars

Hydrogen Fuel Cell – Hydrogen Powered Car

Hydrogen Fuel CellsDoes the idea of a hydrogen fuel cell powered car sound futuristic? In fact, the technology is not only available, but has already been used to produce the first hydrogen powered car. In June 2008, Honda released its first hydrogen fuel cell powered car intended for mass production. But what are hydrogen fuel cells? Are they really better for the environment? How much do they cost? Will we want to rush out an buy one?

The Hydrogen Fuel Cell has been around longer than you think. Hydrogen fuel cells have been around since 1839, invented by William Robert Grove. This is only 39 years after the voltaic battery was first created by Alessandro Volto. Too bad that materials that Grove used were unstable and public interest dwindled. Can you imagine where the technology was pursued way back then?

It wasn’t until NASA revived the technology in the 1960s for use on manned space flights. Hydrogen Fuel Cells are quiet, clean and reliable and produce water as a by-product. So NASA developed the fuels cells as the ideal supply of both power and drinking water for the astronauts. In electrolysis mode, the discovered the added benefits of producing breathable oxygen and hydrogen for rocket fuel. Cool Right? A Go Green Space Program.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells – The perfect fuel

Because it is renewable (in fact, limitless) and can be made from sunlight and water. It leaves no trace of dangerous emissions and only releases warm water vapor as a by-product when burned as a fuel. It is an extremely eco-friendly fuel, if not the most eco-friendly.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells – Make Use of These Attributes by using hydrogen as a fuel.

Instead of an engine, fuel cell cars have a hydrogen cell “stack” under the hood, about the size of a microwave oven. The car also has a pressurized hydrogen tank and an electric motor. The cell converts the hydrogen into water by mixing it with oxygen (think H2O). This process produces electricity. The flow of chemicals – hydrogen and oxygen – is continual, so the fuel cell won’t “die” like a battery.

As noted above, Honda produced its first fuel cell car in 2008, a prototype for mass production, but the technology is still experimental. There are problems with hydrogen fuel cell cars not performing well in low temperatures, for example, or only being able to drive so long without a “rest” to re-charge.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells – What about the cost?

There’s no doubt about it – hydrogen fuel cells in cars are extremely expensive, primarily because there are so few of them. A conventional car can be converted to fuel cell power, but that, too, is expensive. For example, according to a report by MSNBC, a hydrogen-powered Nissan Frontier pickup truck starts at $99,995, and the cost to convert a Hummer begins at $60,000 (Hummer not included). However, as more of these vehicles are produced and demand increases, the price should go down in the future.

Interestingly, toy cars fueled by hydrogen are readily available. Kits range in price from $150 to $250, and involve building your own hydrogen fuel cell powered car – albeit on a small scale!

In some ways, hydrogen fuel cell cars are a thing of the future – it will be some time before the technology is reliable and consumer demand drives the number of cars up and the price down. Nonetheless, the potential is here and now, and is likely to stay.

It is critical that the entire world looks at and experiments with ALL possible fuels. We are rapidly using up our fossil fuels causing incredibly high fuel costs across the world. Perfecting, manufacturing and marketing alternative fuels is the answer to sustain power, heating, and transportation for future generations.

Jay Mueller | JayLynne Enterprises | Renewable Energy Explained

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2 thoughts on “Going Green with Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powered Cars

  1. At the core of this vehicle are several innovations Hyundai says are aimed at easing mass production of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Assembly of the entire system has been modularized, reducing the time needed to build each vehicle. Plates in the fuel stack were switched from graphite to metal, reducing the stack’s cost and complexity. A move from permanent-magnet to induction motors meant a slight decrease in efficiency, but vast cost savings. And Hyundai swapped super capacitors for cheaper lithium-polymer batteries.

    • Hi Charlotte,

      Good information on the Hyundai. I think we area a few years away from have good affordable alternative fuels cars that people will buy in any mass. But I am glad that smart people are working the issues for sure.

      Thanks for stopping by.


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