Large-scale production of hydrogen cars may still be years away, but that hasn't stopped automakers from testing their feasibility. Since 1966, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, Hyundai, Audi, BMW, and many other automakers have built prototype vehicles that employ hydrogen fuel.
Today the best-known hydrogen cars use fuel cells with polymer exchange membranes, which convert hydrogen to electricity. Fed by onboard tanks of gaseous hydrogen, the fuel cells create energy that is stored in batteries (typically lithium-ion) and used to power electric motors. Several big automakers -- most notably GM and Toyota -- are building and testing vehicles of this type. Toyota has even announced that it could sell hydrogen cars for $50,000-$100,000 by 2015.
A few automakers have developed internal combustion engines that can run on gaseous hydrogen. Aston Martin plans to run such an engine in a 24-hour race this month.
We've collected photos of a few of the more notable hydrogen technologies. Many more automakers are experimenting with hydrogen, but the following photos provide a glimpse of the state of its development as a fuel for future cars. Click the photo below to start the slideshow.
Introduced in 2009, the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster concept car mimics the Benz Patent Motor Car from 1886. Fitted with spoked wheels, carbon fiber bucket seats, and a hydrogen fuel cell drive, the car was the product of 150 students and Daimler AG trainees tasked with designing an alternative fuel vehicle. The F-Cell Roadster is controlled by drive-by-wire technology and employs a joystick instead of a conventional steering wheel. (Source: Mercedes-Benz)
I believe the joy stick would be the 2013 equivalent of a tiller.
The speed and range specifications and refueling times for Hydrogen Fuel Cells certainly seem more practical than the all electric vehicles. The explosion risk is always there with hydrogen. I think development of a large scale hydrogen infrastructure would be the hardest thing to overcome. It is very hard to store.
The caption of slide 6 states one mile per kg of gasoline is considered equivalent to 1 mpg. Since a gallon of gasoline is approximately 13.3 kg, this does not seem to make sense. Is this a misprint or am I missing something?
What about the "BOOM" factor of carrying around a substance that is know to blow up space shuttles? Drivers do not seem to be getting any better at driving, even with the advancments in safety technology!
Bloom Energy corporation has been producing fuel cells using methane a.k.a. natural gas or CH4 for fixed installation as commercial building power sources for a few years now. Lesley Stahl did a piece on 60 Minutes about them. A link to their website appears below:
It shouldn't be a problem to scale the technology down for either home or mobile use.
While it doesn't completely eliminate carbon from the fuel cycle, the higher efficiency of fuel cells versus internal combustion engines drastically reduces the carbon footprint and my understanding is that the cell chemisty used can be adapted to hydrogen fuel without too much trouble.
There was a lot research being done on Fuel cells using natural has there been any progress made? With all the sources of NG this could be used right away! PS what happens to the small amount of carbon when NG or propane is run through a fuel cell?
A joystick! interesting. I can't even imagine how that would work. Of course it would take some getting used to, but it could be more comfortable, easier and more responsive than a wheel. I guess that's the point?
Liz, I was particularly intrigued by the Roadster buggy's use of drive-by-wire technology. It has a joystick instead of a steering wheel. For years, engineers have told us that drive-by-wire allows us to do away with the steering wheel and replace it with a joystick or some othr device. Well, here it is.
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