One of the most widely explored alternate power systems for motorized cars are hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles. There are more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles being developed in 2008 than any other concept automobiles. Put simply, a hydrogen fuel cell functions by taking oxygen and combining it with hydrogen. It then passes this mixture of hydrogen and oxygen through a catalyst which breaks it down into protons and electrons and generates energy and power to an electric motor. The only tailpipe exhaust and emissions are heat and a small amount of water. If we could take a peek into the future we'd likely find that hydrogen fuel cell auto manufacturers will be major players, and it could happen in only a few short years.
Six Reasons You Aren't Driving A Hydrogen Vehicle Yet.
Modern vehicles being constructed right now are incorporating on board hydrogen tanks, while not so long ago the hydrogen was stored in tanks mounted to the roof. As of this writing, there are no hydrogen fuel cell vehicles available to the public. Here are some reasons why.
One, the production cost for fuel cells has been a constant challenge, keeping this technology out of reach for most consumers. If hydrogen powered cars were put on the market today, buyers would likely have to pay well over $100,000 to own one - simply because the tech hasn't caught up with manufacturing methods yet.
Two, in the United States there are only sixty hydrogen-fueling stations nationwide. We can look forward to seeing many more of these stations being built in the near future as the world 'Goes Green', but as of right now most of them are located in the state of California.
Three, there is the problem of limited range and storage capacity for current fuel cells vehicles being tested on the road today. Until these vehicles can travel a much further distance, consumers won't be willing to give up that convenience.
Four, hydrogen fuel cells are notoriously fragile and many of the road hazards we deal with on a daily basis put too much wear and tear on the cells themselves. Engineers and scientists are working on constructing them from stronger materials.
Five, many of the designs today use costly materials such as platinum in their manufacturing process.
Six, because hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit water, freezing remains a concern for potential owners living in colder climates.
Where Do We Go From Here?
While hydrogen cars would carry a much higher price tag than most vehicles, there would be many benefits to owning one. For starters, they would likely offer a smoother ride and be much more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel burning cars. Hydrogen can be created a very reasonable cost and it is a renewable energy source. Hydrogen cell vehicles offer great opportunities within the green movement, and many have embraced the possibility of owning one someday.
While it may seem as though they are just now being introduced, hydrogen fuel cells have been around for many years. These vehicles are seen as a big part of the future for all automobiles as oil based fuel is rapidly being depleted. Eventually prices for hydrogen fuel celled vehicles will come down as manufacturing processes are refined and new substances used in their catalysts are discovered. Honda recently sent a limited amount of their new hydrogen fuel vehicles to the market; leased to residents in Southern California earlier this year. If testing goes well, Honda may offer them in other select locations in the near future. Honda named their hydrogen car the FCX Clarity, sporting a 150 horsepower (100 kilowatt) engine and equipped with six air bags. The Clarity offers a new, smaller design fuel cell known as the V-Flow (The Vertical Flow), and though "Home Energy Stations" can be fueled up from the owners' home. This is a major component to its success since hydrogen fueling stations are few and far in between.
Due to the current oil shortage and the rising costs of bringing in fuel from foreign countries, hydrogen has now been labeled as the best environmentally friendly and renewable fuel for the next generation of cars, trucks, SUVs and other fuel powered vehicles. Hydrogen can be produced from an abundance of sources including oil coal, biomass and feed stocks. This allows countries to create and distribute hydrogen for themselves with their own natural resources and supplies. This will not only save money, but will also create jobs while improving our global environment.