Have you ever heard of Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology? In the future, your vehicle will run on this incredible technology known as the Hydrogen Fuel Cell (FC). This technology can be applied to electric cars, and the major advantage of this technology is low emission and its contribution to climate change. Toyota, Honda and Hyundai announced they will produce vehicles with FC technology in 2015.
How it works
Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCVs) are the most unique technology that has not been used in any previous cars as of yet. These cars consist of a fuel cell stack which converts hydrogen gas into electricity. In these vehicles Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cells are used, and the vehicle basically works on compressed hydrogen gas. These cars emit only water vapors as exhaust.
A fuel cell stack actually consists of various fuel cells combined in a stack, since a single fuel cell produces less than 1.16 volts which cannot power a vehicle. Currently Toyota has not yet explored the size of the batteries used in this technology; however, it is known that there are two cells used and both run transversely.
Benefits of FCVs
According to various sources these vehicles will have numerous benefits.
- Water and heat comes out as exhaust, which means no smoke exhaust and less pollution
- Long distances only require minutes of charging
- According to Toyota, these cars can run 365 miles before refueling
- Low emission
- Low fuel consumption
- If gasoline prices continue to rise, FCVs are a wise option
- These vehicles charge in minutes and require no plugin
Difficulties of Choosing Fuel Cells:
Despite all the benefits described above there are a large number of difficulties that people may experience with these unique vehicles.
- Initially there may be few hydro fuel stations around the country, so charging may be difficult
- These cars will be expensive to buy ($50,000 to $100,000)
- Building the network of hydrogen fuel cars worldwide will be difficult
- Hydrogen fueling needs large amounts of energy
Toyota`s Activities Regarding This Technology
Toyota has promised the mass production of Hydro Fuel Cell cars in Japan in 2015 and in the US in 2016. Sources say Toyota wants to maintain the mix of both Hybrid and Hydro Fuel vehicles, while Hydro Fuel Cell cars are better for long term applications.
Matt McClory, technical engineer at Toyota, said that we got a chance to drive this car two times, once in California and once in Japan. In California we were told that “Future is fuel cell”. The response from Japan was “The power-trains have been invented, making it a real car.”
Honda and Hydro Fueling
Recently Honda has published an advertisement about producing this technology soon. At an Auto Show in November 2013 Honda presented a sleekly styled FCEV concept car. According to sources this superbly designed car will launch in 2015.
Honda produced these kinds of vehicles in limited numbers before in 2008, and were called the green car in 2009. Honda’s Hydro Fuel Cell cars will be known as FCX. Honda is concerned with producing more cars in 2014 with low emission and fuel efficiency.
Other Manufacturers and FCVs
Although Honda and Toyota are the most highlighted companies in the production of these vehicles in the coming future, many other manufacturers are currently working on this technology. Hyundai (ix35), Nissan, and Audi are some of the companies which have been working on this technology so far.
Hybrid VS Hydro
Some analysts are still debating whether FCV technology has a bright future, since this technology is increasingly becoming more feasible. The battery in Hybrid cars is 4.4kW while Fuel Cells require 2kW. There is a chance that Toyota will use the same battery and motor in FCVs that are currently used in Hybrids.
David Keith of the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh says: “Focusing on fuel-cell cars makes no economic sense for any of the goals like Charge security, Climate change air and pollution.”
Some engineers and staff members think that focusing on a technology like Hydro Fuel is not going to have as many advantages as expected, as Hybrids, the most beneficial technology, is already in our hands.