Some say the future fuel of transportation is hydrogen. Hydrogen is one of the most common elements in the universe and when it burns, it doesn’t pollute the air. In fact, hydrogen-powered cars emit steam instead of unburned hydrocarbons. Sounds good, when can you I one? Well, you can’t buy a hydrogen car today but you can actually lease one in California. California has set up a number of hydrogen filling stations on a trial basis and leases hydrogen-powered cars to those interested in trying the system out. Some people believe this brave test of hydrogen is the beginning of the “transportation fuel revolution” in the US and in 20-30 years we will all be driving hydrogen powered cars.
By the way, if you live in southern California, keep your eyes open, you may see one of these cars. Who makes them? To date, Chevrolet has made several Equinox hydrogen concept cars and BMW offers the 745H in limited numbers. However, the most common one on the roads in Southern California is the Honda FCX Clarity. They aren’t hard to miss either, most are embellished with stickers and graphics that state things like “Honda Hydrogen Car” and “Fuel Cell Powered”.
That’s great but going from a trial system in Southern California to full blown, countrywide use is an entirely different thing. There are many problems that need to be overcome before we can even consider hydrogen as a mainstream fuel. For instance, where will we get the hydrogen? Hydrogen may be one of the Universe’s most common elements but you can’t just drill for it like you can for oil. Hydrogen needs to be extracted from water or the atmosphere. This isn’t conceptually difficult but it takes a lot of energy to do it. Oil already has the energy “built-in”. This is a major issue on its own.
Another question is how expensive will these fuel-efficient cars be to purchase? If the cost is too high, adoption of the technology will be hampered because there isn’t an economic incentive to make the switch. And lets not forget about the issue of hydrogen fueling stations. If everyone has a hydrogen car, there had better be a lot of hydrogen filling stations out there for people to use. This is a classic “chicken or egg first?” conundrum. Who is going to invest in hydrogen filling stations if there aren’t a lot of cars to use it yet.
As you can see, hydrogen has some tremendous advantages to consider as the fuel of the future but its adoption may take decades. There are a lot of facets to the hydrogen puzzle and they all must fit together nicely before our hydrogen powered future becomes a reality.
Source: Team Kia
Jul 16, 2013 1
Oct 25, 2013 1