Hydrogen cars – far or near future?

future worldCrude oil reserves in the world are not infinite. Some predict their exhaustion in the next 40-50 years. This type of predictions are only intended to cause an increase in fuel prices, which does not change the fact that once the oil runs out. Work on alternative energy sources has been ongoing for a long time, and one such source is hydrogen – the most common element on the planet. Hydrogen is the fuel that never runs out (96% of matter in the universe is H2), has the highest calorific value of all fuels and more and more the concept of its acquisition. Of course, it also has drawbacks, such as storage problems, the absence of a free state or a very broad limits of ignition.

Hydrogen is called the fuel of the future for several reasons:

  • Is the lightest element in any state of aggregation
  • Has the highest calorific value of the hydrocarbon fuel based on the weight
  • It is a very reactive fuel, the high octane number and the speed of combustion
  • Never run out? it is estimated that 96% of the universe consists of hydrogen.

Unfortunately, this fuel also has disadvantages:

  • Current hydrogen production is quite expensive and the cheapest method forces the burning of fossil fuels
  • It is difficult to store the hydrogen gas which passes through the gum or even through the steel (at higher temperatures)

Hydrogen can be used to propel the vehicle in two ways. It can be used as fuel in a conventional engine, which undergoes combustion in the chamber, or used in a fuel cell to produce the electric motor driving. The binding energy of hydrogen and oxygen in the water molecule H2O is less than the total binding energy hydrogen molecules H2 and O2. Therefore, when the binding reaction of hydrogen and oxygen in water molecules, the excess energy is produced. It can be discharged from the system in the form of heat (which is converted into mechanical energy in an internal combustion engine), or in the form of electrochemical energy (fuel cells).

Toyota announced a significant reduction in production costs of hydrogen fuel cells. The reduction is so large that the company already in 2015 – years ahead of the competition – will start selling cars of cells. Vehicles will cost between around 50 thousand dollars. That’s a lot, but you have to take into account that the prototype fuel-cell vehicles cost more than a million dollars. One of the improvements introduced by Toyota to reduce the size of the cells and the amount of platinum needed to produce them.

On board the new Toyota named FCV-R will be located tank of compressed hydrogen, whereby the auto beat about 310 miles without the need for refueling. After running out of fuel, refill the tank full will only take three minutes. The manufacturer has not specified the exact technical specifications of the production model of the FCV-R – known only that the drive system will generate about 136 horsepower.
By 2020, Toyota plans to sell tens of thousands of cars powered by hydrogen, which, according to the manufacturer are the answer to the problems of environmental pollution.

Toyota’s competitors, such as General Motors, have announced that will start selling a fuel cell vehicle around 2020. Until then, the price of such vehicles should fall even more.

Now there are models of hydrogen cars on the market. Unfortunately they are still prototypes. These cars can not be sold en masse yet, because they are too expensive. Maintenance costs are also satisfactory and significantly higher than combustion cars.

In January 2013 began the production of the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell. In this way, Hyundai became the first automaker to set off with the commercial production of hydrogen-powered cars. Hyundai plans to produce up to 2015 1 000 such cars. They are intended for the public and private fleets. Limited mass production of 10 000 units is planned after 2015 technology still requires considerable refinement. Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell costs 183 thousand. dollars, and it’s far too expensive to find buyers.

Next important hydrogen car model is Honda FCX Concept. Honda says to start produce Honda FCX hydrogen car in 2015. It probably wouldn’t happen so early because clock is ticking.

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