Innovative ideas, impressive customs and futuristic technology – this is what the car manufacturers are promising us with hydrogen fuel cell cars. Hydrogen cell fuel cars are giving some serious competition to electric cars in the pollution-free road race. The only factor hampering the growth of hydrogen cell cars is the lack of fuel stations.
Ove the past 3 years, major carmakers like Toyota, Hyundai and Honda have leased a couple of fuel cell vehicles and it is estimated that this year they would lease well over 1,000 cell vehicles.
But for now, the leases are confined to California (U.S), which hosts about 34 hydrogen fueling stations.
Undeterred, automakers are heavily investing in technology. Recently, General Motors supplied the United States Army with a fuel-cell pickup. It was reported that Honda and GM are partnering on a fuel-cell system project, which is due to be out by the year 2020. Hyundai is not far behind in the race; the carmaker is expected to introduce a longer range fuel-cell SUV by the next year.
Charles Freese, head of GM’s fuel-cell business said, “We’ve clearly left the science project stage and the technology is viable.”
Similar to electric cars, the fuel cell cars run emission-free and quietly. However, they have some major advantages over electric cars. The fuel cell cars could be refueled quickly (just like an ordinary gasoline-powered cars). On the contrary, for an electric car it takes about 9 hours for a complete recharge.
But the filling stations are the biggest obstacle for the fuel cell cars. The construction of the station costs about $2 million. It is this hurdle that is preventing the carmakers from manufacturing more fuel cell cars. They do not want to make a car that a customer can’t fuel.
How It Works?
How the fuel cell cars generate electricity to run the motor and the battery is by mixing oxygen and hydrogen in specially treated plates, which combine to generate a fuel cell stack.
Advances in hydrogen (H2) storage, batteries and fuel cell stacks have allowed the engineers to considerably shrink the components to neatly fit inside a sedan. Oxygen is taken from the air using a grille and the needed hydrogen is kept in an aluminum-lined, fuel tank which automatically seals in the chemicals to prevent accidental leaks. The reduction of the amount of platinum that is used in the fuel cell stack has made the car less expensive.
Many analysts think that even with these kinds of perks, the sales of fuel cell vehicles would be restricted until adequate fueling stations are set up. However, the carmakers will continue to invest in fuel cell technology.