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Car manufacturers adopting fuel cells to power their future models

by DrPrem Jagyasi

The depletion of fossil fuels, stricter emission laws by governments and people wanting to convert to green fuels have led to car manufacturers adopting fuel cells to power their latest models. Associations like UK’s BGCA, British Compressed Gases Association have welcomed efforts by the government.

This is because there are plans to make low emission cars powered by hydrogen more easily available.  Fuel cells would be used instead of conventional fossil fuels to power cars once this technology becomes widely used. This would reduce atmospheric pollution to a great extent, Read on to find out more about fuel cell technology:

Why are fuel cells better for the environment

Hydrogen fuel cells are in demand because they are extremely eco-friendly, emitting only water from the tailpipes. Cars which run on hydrogen fuel cells have a high driving range of more than 300 miles. This is not only beneficial for making longer journeys, but is also economical.

Also, cars which run on hydrogen fuel do not release Nitrous Oxides and particulates. This characteristic of fuel cell cars makes it an attractive option for cities and towns where there is a lot of air pollution. Reduced levels of air pollution can lead to the better health of residents.

Europe, Japan, America has seen the emergence of fuel cell cars as they have been making progress in the infrastructure required.

The British government’s announcement of releasing 23 million pounds to help accelerate the production of hydrogen fuel cars and invest in infrastructure to support cutting edge vehicles will prove to be a big help for the alternative fuel car manufacturing industry in the UK.

Are fuel cells safe

Many people are concerned whether fuel cells are safe or not. Fuel cells are put through tests to determine whether they can withstand heat and pressure extremes. If temperatures rise to dangerous levels, there is a valve which can vent safely the gas before an explosion occurs. The device is known as TPRD, it’s an outlet which releases hydrogen gradually in an extremely controlled manner. Hydrogen tanks are probably safe also due to the carbon fibre exterior. 

How is hydrogen derived for the fuel cells

Hydrogen is usually extracted from natural sources such as water. It is then transported to filling stations. The ideal situation would be to extract hydrogen on-site (at filling stations), using whatever natural resources are available. 

Take a look at some fuel cell cars available commercially

Clarity Fuel Cell from Honda

This car is a premium sedan which has all the classic Honda features, except for one difference – it is powered by fuel cell tech. The company is targeting customers who are interested in going green.

Honda has a gas and electric hybrid called the Clarity Plus, but it still is going to produce hydrogen fuel cells. This is because the company believes that in the future, there won’t be any one technology that will rule the market, but many green technology solutions will be the answer.

Toyota’s fuel cell initiative

The Mirai from Toyota is one of the first fuel cell cars to be used commercially. The Japanese automobile giant is committed to the research of fuel cell technology and has announced that it will spend $35 million in four years. The company would use AI to accelerate the development of fuel cells by a number of years.

It hopes that AI would help in the discovery and design of new materials required to enhance its fuel cells. MIT, Stanford University and Ilika Plc would be collaborating with Toyota in its research. To encourage people to use fuel cell cars, Toyota offers a lease option, which its rival Honda also extends to its customers.

BMW

BMW’s fuel cell car is still in the concept stages, unlike Honda and Toyota. A joint venture in 2013 with Toyota, would allow it to use Toyota’s know how of fuel cell tech as a starting point for its research into fuel cell cars.

The race to produce the most efficient fuel cell cars is on. Car makers are adopting fuel cell technology as it has the potential to resolve the planet’s energy and environmental concerns, as it can be extracted from renewable resources with the only emission being water.

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