Hydrogen as a fuel is a fairly new technology. Hydrogen vehicles are vehicles that use hydrogen as their main source of fuel. These cars are able to use hydrogen in two different ways. The first method is very similar to a traditional combustible engine. The hydrogen is burned and then used to power the engine. The second is the practice of converting the hydrogen and the power that it gives off into electricity. The leftover matter from either method is normal ordinary water.
Hydrogen is most easily gathered through the process of electrolysis. The main benefit to using hydrogen is that the leftover product is water. Currently, since hydrogen is not a naturally occurring by itself resource the production method, using hydrocarbons, creates more pollution then that created by fossil fuels. In the future, in order to be more popular research would have to be conducted on using other renewable energy forms to create hydrogen.
Any engine that runs on gasoline or diesel fuel can be easily converted into accepting hydrogen as a fuel. The most efficient way to use hydrogen, however; is to use a fuel cell or an electric motor. The electric motor utilizes the natural reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to create water. The one area that needs some work is hydrogen storage. Once the pure hydrogen touches oxygen that is in the air is becomes water and is unusable by the engine. The two most popular methods of storage are metal hydrides and compression tanks.
Many car companies are investing in hydrogen cars. They recognize that although it is not currently the most cost effective or the easiest technology to use it is becoming more popular and once enough companies are using hydrogen it will take off and we will have all of our cars running off of hydrogen. Here is a short list of current hydrogen car usage.
- BMW - 7 series, based on UTC Power fuel cell technology
- DaimlerChrysler - F-Cell, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
- Ford Focus FCV - a hydrogen fuel cell modification of the Ford Focus
- General Motors - multiple models of fuel cell vehicles including Hy-wire and the HydroGen3
- Honda is experimenting with hydrogen is many ways, all of which are based on the Honda EV Plus
- Hyundai — Santa Fe FCEV, based on UTC Power fuel cell technology
- Mazda - RX-8, with a dual-fuel (hydrogen or gasoline) engine
- Nissan — X-TRAIL FCV, based on UTC Power fuel cell technology
- Volkswagen and Toyota are also coming into the hydrogen world by furthering the worlds knowledge of hydrogen with more research on the topic.