Hyundai will be showing off the world’s first mass produced Hydrogen fuel cell electric car at the International CES 2014 in a couple of weeks time.
In simple terms, the hydrogen fuel cell technology is essentially like carrying around a clean and environmentally friendly (sort of) electricity generator with you on-board the vehicle. Electric cars have long been held back by their having to carry batteries around, in effect lugging around the energy in a less than ideal storage solution for a mobile and moving vehicle.
As such, Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aim to change this by making the energy as you go, rather than storing energy that has already been created.
Problems that manufacturers have been faced with are the usual stories of infrastructure and holding the Hydrogen within a tank. As Hydrogen is the smallest atom, keeping it stored within something is very difficult for any length of time as it literally seeps out between the gaps in the usually much larger atoms that are being used in the material for the container. As a result, Hydrogen tanks are generally very heavy and thick since they have to be to reduce loss of contents. To give an analogy, we’ve all seen (or been bought) a Helium balloon and we’ve all experienced them going flat within a couple of days. Well, if you put an extra layer of material or plastic around the balloon it would obviously help in preventing gas escaping. Hydrogen tanks are similar in that they are often made up of many layers which in turn increases bulk; not a great starting point for a car.
However, Hyundai and others such as Honda and Toyota have been hard at work making fuel cell elements smaller and lighter over the last ten years. As a result, the new Hyundai Tucson is a step forward since it isn’t an enormous monster of a vehicle and it even makes some sense.
With Hyundai really pushing for Hydrogen fuel cells to become a major part of the automotive world, it will be interesting to see how well the Tucson is received by early adopters. We’ll bring you more information as it is announced on January the 6th at the International CES 2014.
As Hyundai puts it,
“For the first time, retail consumers will be able to put a mass-produced, federally certified hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in their driveways, with availability beginning in Spring 2014 at several Southern California Hyundai dealers.”