Hyundai recently revealed a prototype for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that will be launched in early 2018. The car is a modification of the earlier Tucson ix FCEV that also ran on fuel cells. This was released in 2013 in the UK.
The car promises a range of up to 800 km on a full tank. Like electric cars, fuel cells importantly promise zero emissions, ensuring a cleaner environment with higher sustainability. Refueling the car is also very quick, taking only 2-3 minutes to fill an entire tank.
Made from water, hydrogen fuel cells are abundantly available. Fuel is generated by separating hydrogen and oxygen molecules, through a process called electrolysis. However, doing this isn’t as easy as separating sticks and stones. It requires a lot of energy. This has historically meant that separating hydrogen from water is very expensive. Catalysts such as platinum provide enough energy for separation, but also have high acquisition costs.
Hydrogen fuel cell technologies plan on using nickel as a cheaper alternative to platinum as a catalyst. Nickel, available in abundance, reduces costs significantly.
Well, to be fair, both are in different stages of their development. The range that both the fuels give to a car varies significantly. The highest range that a completely electric car can give is about 500 kilometres. That only being achieved by the Tesla model S.
Because of their different development stages, electric charging points have higher availability than fuel cell ports. Although not as extensively available as petrol pumps, there is a small yet growing presence of electric charging points, especially in bigger cities. Hydrogen fuelling stations, on the other hand, are scarce.
The new Hyundai promises to be a glimpse of what the future of fuel cell technology holds in terms of fuelling vehicles. Hyundai has been working for more than 20 years to get the technology up and running. The 20 years of work, might finally pay some dividends.
Set to be released in 2018, the SUV, will also be supportive of a lot of assistant driver tech. This is something that Hyundai has also quietly been working on over the years. Hopefully, this combination of technologies will create a more sustainable future for the car.
With a promise of a better, more sustainable future, it will be interesting to see, which of the two sustainable fuels (electric & Fuel Cell) actually sustains. Do you think the simultaneous existence of the two kinds of fuels, might be a possibility? Let us know on any of our social platforms.