Author Options:

The real gas guzzler: Car that turns hydrogen into electricity hits the road Answered

Car that turns hydrogen into electricity hits the road

Introducing the family car that runs on hydrogen and pumps out only pure water from its exhaust pipe.

Honda's FCX Clarity is the world's first production hydrogen-powered 'fuel cell' car - with its own onboard power station which creates electricity to drive its motor.

It has a range of 280 miles and a top speed of 100mph, yet emits no harmful pollution. And it is about to become the latest 'must-have' accessory for the Hollywood set wanting to show off their green credentials.

Just the thing at a time when oil prices are rocketing to record highs. The only drawback? Finding somewhere to fill it up.

The FCX is the result of nearly 20 years of research and many prototypes by the Japanese firm.

It is being launched first in California where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has spearheaded the creation of a chain of hydrogen filling stations - as part of his environmental drive for cleaner cars.

The first five customers include movie actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Honda claims the FCX offers three times better fuel efficiency than a traditional, petrol-powered car.

The highly explosive lighter-than-air gas - which once kept the ill-fated Hindenburg airship in the air before its fiery end in the 1930s - is kept safely in a pressurised tank in the boot.

Honda plans initially to produce about 70 of the eco-cars a year. They are initially available only to lease for around £300 a month including insurance - equivalent to a purchase price of £24,000.

But Honda admits that the billions it has spent on research means that the true cost would be more like £1million per car.

British motorists will have their first glimpse next month at the British International Motor Show in London's Docklands.

Although there are price issues, its great to see there's development of this idea. I hope this sort of car is available for the "common man" at a "common price" soon.......


Restricted to 100mph?

I like the idea, but don't lose site of the fact that, at present, all H-cell cars are doing is moving the emissions from street-level to the powerstation. That's better (economy of scale regarding treating fumes, moving fuels etc), but still not green.

Would even human-powered transport (bicycles) be considered truly green? The "fuel" that makes bicycles go comes from the food we eat, and greenhouse gases (farts) are produced even more since we need to eat more if we exert ourselves more.

It's an awful lot better than an SUV...

I read somewhere (yes I read it on the internet so it must be true) that the energy needed for the whole process of rearing farm animals, slaughtering, butchering, packaging, distributing etc. means that eating a burger and burning off the energy walking somewhere is responsible for more CO2 emissions than driving the same distance (that might just be car exhaust, though, not well-to-wheel).

More reasons to become vegetarian :( but I love meat so much....

That's better... but still not green.

It's more of a greenish-yellow that isn't very pretty to look at from certain angles.

Power station ? they are not going to use electrolysis to produce hydrogen, it will be produced from natural gas and steam which will produce huge amounts of CO2 emissions, and while yes they could produce Hydrogen and CO, and we have lots of uses for CO, Commercial speaking, CO Poisons the fuel cells ... So it's just more greenhouse gases NIMBY.....

It's still just moving the emissions, and where are they going to get the energy to power the synthesis plant? Hydrogen will never be truly "green" until its manufacture (by whatever means) is also "green". I am not nay-saying hydrogen technologies, I approve of them mightily, I am merely reminding people of the larger picture.

Hydrogen will never be as clean as straight electrically driven cars It's all media hype and the though of water coming out of the tail pipe, it's a concept most people can understand, You don't hear anything about the aluminum air battery ?? And a PEM fuel cell is only 40 % efficient where as a Li ION battery is 93% efficient And I won't mention it takes 2½ times as much energy to make a hydrogen fuel cell than is obtained from it during it's service life, which honestly isn't that long.....

Hmm maybe in the right places these cars are just the thing... Granted EV's are still not really viable for anything other than urban trips, where the least of the green power is available to the everyman... also I'm pretty sure most of those green power companies appearing are a farce...

. Are there any "deposits" of elemental Hydrogen on Earth? Or is it all bound up with O, C, N, &c;?

Well - I assume there's some elemental hydrogen in the high stratosphere, from water molecules getting cracked by intense UV and cosmic radiation. But something tells me that's not what you had in mind when you mentioned "deposits". ;-)

. OK. As reactive as H2 is, I kinda figured it would be hard to find in elemental form.
. Yeah. I was gettin' ready to mine me some Hydrogen. :) But I guess if it were feasible, someone would be doing it already.

It's not just reactive, it's light - it rises high enough and fast enough in the atmosphere to be blown away into interplanetary space by the solar wind.

So, I believe, does helium, which is part of the reason it is in ever-shorter supply.

Helium does- I remember when we worked it out from the gas laws for A level physics, helium molecules are moving at escape velocity at sea level so escape into space. But don't worry- "Hollywood" Raines and his cold fusion reactor will provide us with all the helium we want despite not having any heavy hydrogen isotopes.


. I'm not sure what was going on in the video (I doubt it was fusion, but what do I know?), but it sure did look cool.

He was electrolysing water with a high-voltage supply, which then causes an arc to strike and burn the hydrogen/oxygen mix as it is formed, making an "ooo pretty/burny" effect. People occasionally claim to have measured overunity output from this type of device, which is most easily attributed to the difficulty of measuring the power of high-voltage AC. They also sometimes claim that the device is actually performing cold fusion, despite the fact that no helium or other elements are created. It does look cool, I think it looks even cooler and more "sciency" than a jacob's ladder, but the fact remains that it is clearly not a fusion reaction.

. Hadn't thought about that. If there ever was any "loose" H2 it would have "evaporated" by now.
. Another brilliant idea bites the dust. LOL

Yeah, it's much cheaper and easier to get hydrogen in bulk qualtities through chemical means - either from a metal + acid reaction, or from natural gas.


10 years ago

Why must they only ever lease them out? It wouldn't be quite as sad if this went the way of the EV-1, but still I simply don't understand the reasoning behind it. Perhaps it's to stop them being disassembled and reverse-engineered, because you can make the people who lease them sign a non-taking-apart agreement. Anyway- while people like MY still believe you can get hydrogen out of water at >1 efficiency, people will overhype hydrogen cars (and because "all that comes out of the tailpipe is water vapour"). Sad fact.

I'm thinking that the lease thing is probably either: (a) a book-keeping thing - their accountants would probably not let them get away with a 97% loss on every car or (b) an easy way of keeping track of long-term performance and avoiding embarrassingly public system failures - there's probably some sort of of compulsory maintenance schedule to collect data and fix every possible fault before it's noticed by the drivers.

. I gotta agree with Kiteman on this one. Probably a few other good reasons, too. . Enforcing a "non-taking-apart agreement" would be all but impossible. And most of the technology is probably available through the patent office, anyway.