The Car Energy Revolution

Behind the scenes in the motoring world, a quiet revolution is slowly evolving.

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Photo: Franz Patzig

Now you may think this is all about hybrid cars, or maybe electrically powered vehicles and in a way it is. But the long-term future of car propulsion most probably doesn’t belong to the hybrid or the rechargeable electric car – but to hydrogen fuel cell technology, which generates electricity to power vehicles.

OK, you could argue that much of the world’s portable power needs will have the same ultimate solution. It’s a distinct possibility that the notepad computer I’m writing this article on will be powered by platinum or hydrogen fuel powered cells a few years from now.

But cars take a lot more oomph – and it will take longer to get there. Then again, technology has a way of surprising us in finding solutions that simply don’t seem conceivable today.

For example, the newest fuel cell research suggests that future fuel cells won’t need any platinum whatsoever – utilize only hydrogen or methanol instead and thus making the fuel cell fueling infrastructure far more interchangeable than was previously thought possible.

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Photo: Earthworm

Hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity to power the electric motor, which in turn drives the car.

Fuel cell pioneers Honda introduced their first fuel cell vehicle in 1999. Today, the latest version of the same vehicle – the FCX Clarity FCEV  – is the world’s first fuel cell driven car available on general sale – though the production numbers remain relatively small due to the lack of hydrogen filling stations. The car runs purely on hydrogen fuel cells for its power source.

In the relatively near future, all our family cars might well be powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology – and oil-based products will be very useful for … well… cooking!

The quiet car energy revolution is happening and it’s coming to a car near you – soon.

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