A decade ago hydrogen powered cars would have seemed like something only possible in a futuristic sci-fi movie, but now? Hydrogen powered cars have long since made their debut.
Hydrogen is by far the most abundant element in the known universe, and as such it comes as no surprise that innovators have decided to tap into this source to create ‘clean’ cars. Exhaust emitted from out automobiles have played a huge part in pollution and destruction of the ozone layer and so like the electric cars, hydrogen powered cars provide a means to mitigate this.
Nevertheless, though we have seen the likes of Elon Musk unveiling futuristic models that have us salivating over the sheer ingenuity of their designs, hydrogen powered cars are not quite ready for the consumer market just yet. At the same time many manufacturers are show casing their prototypes and concept cars so we can all get excited about the future of the car business.
Let’s look at a,few of the popular cars out at the moment. It is good to note that while some are powered by hydrogen fuel cells others have what is called converted gasoline powered combustion engines.
One of the foremost hydrogen powered prototypes was known as the Revolution and was manufactured by Fiberforge, formerly known as Hypercar, Inc. This experiment went on hold during the hydrogen fuel cell phase; however the result was that they discovered a new method for producing extremely lightweight cars using composites of carbon. This cause Fiberforge to come to the realization that if hydrogen powered cars were to indeed be a success, cutting down the actual weight of the cars was a definite must. This factor was essential so that fuel mileage could be increased and safety standards would not be compromised.
Shortly after these developments the owner of Mercedes, Daimler Chrysler, announced that a fleet of A-Class Mercedes-Benz hydrogen powered cars were being produced in Europe and the US. These cars were known as the Mercedes F-Cell cars and their power came from compressed hydrogen.
Mercedes also gave us the F600 Hygenius prototype which powered by a fuel cell and uses a regenerative breaking system to recapture energy as well as recharge batteries- this is a feature of most hybrid vehicles. The F600 Hygenius is also fitted with a 240 v outlet which engineers say can power two houses. It has up to 115 hp (horsepower) with a range of about 250 miles. This F600 does not lack the Mercedes features such as built in cameras that warn drivers if another vehicle is in their blind spot, Pre-safe systems which over passenger protection when a pending accident is detected and heated cup holders.
Honda also has its own hydrogen powered models which have been certified by the California Air Resources Board and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). It out performs the Mercedes prototypes in distance, by boasting a 220 miles before its fuel cells will need recharging- Mercedes has a 90 mile limit per tank.
Toyota also captured a piece of the action when they unveiled their FINE- S concept car which has a hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid electric power train. This was built on the huge success of their Prius which is a gasoline- electric hybrid car.
BMW showcased what they have dubbed “The World’s Fastest Hydrogen Car” called the HR2. The HR2 had the ability to exceed 185 mph and does not operate on fuel cells like most of the current hydrogen powered cars do. It is equipped with a,modified 6 liter and 12- cylinder combustion engine which gives for propulsion.
There is still one big disadvantage for which the makers of hydrogen powered cars have failed to make compensation, and this is the availability refueling stations. Without these stations consumers run the risk of being stranded wherever their fuel cells run dry, and so while designers work on more efficient models, fuel stations circuits are being developed.
In November 2013 Hyundai unveiled its 2015 Hyundai Tuscon hydrogen powered model at the Los Angeles car show, while Elson Musk went head to head with the New York times over their argument against hydrogen powered cars. These events coupled with the already existing and evolving models of hydrogen powered cars show that this is where the automotive future is headed. Many experts believe that hydrogen powered cars are still about 7-10 years away from hitting the market, but as less expensive technology and refueling infrastructure to support a customer base is being developed, you just never know.
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After all, technology and medicine have one thing in common, unexpected break through happen all the time and the automotive industry is well on its way. Soon a hydrogen fueled car will be in your driveway.