Researchers at Virginia Tech have come now closer to making hydrogen production more cost effective:
Recently, Percival Zhang, assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech in the US, and his collaborators at two other US labs announced that they had found an innovative method to make hydrogen. Their raw material was cellulose, and they used 13 enzymes in a combination never before seen in nature. These enzymes broke down cellulose and water, producing carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Zhang reckons that he can get to a commercial product â€” for example, one that can be used in an automobile â€” in five to 10 years. â€œIt is like the airplane of the Wright Brothers,â€ says Samir Brahmachari, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) in Delhi. â€œIt will take a long time to become a commercial product.
So it may take, 10-15 yrs, but the fact remains we are moving in the right direction. Yes there are quite a few obstacles such are storing and safely transporting Hydrogen but according too these guys at Virginian Tech, this can be overcome by the secret ingredient (some form of specially developed cellulose) that is already inside the car, it will generate hydrogen and that would go in to the fuel cell which has oxygen and generate water and energy to run the car.
Check out the redesigned Honda Fuel Cell car (FCX) which is on display at the Detroit Auto show. Now thats looks like the futuristic car people were promised. Even though this is just the concept form, the fact that the Honda’s design team took it up another notch and moved away from those boxy designs goes to show that fuel cell cars are not only fuel efficient and enviromentally friendly, but can be sleek and sexy too.
Click here to get more info about the car.
So BMW has gone where no other automaker has gone as yet. Last week in Berlin BMW had people from W.I.R.E.D magazine over to test drive the new BMW Hydrogen 7 bi-fuel car. It can switch between gas and H with the click of a button. Hydrogen cars are not just futuristic concepts that do not make it past the drawing board, BMW have actually taken a few more steps and produced about 100 or so hydrogen 7 cars. Now these guys plan on loaning these vehicles to high profile people such as politicians and celebrities (because you know these people are the leaders and trend makers/breakers and we the hoi poloi just cannot accept anything good, even if it is staring us straight in the face, we need to get approval from the Gods of the silver screen). I would prefer my prototype car be driven by people who commute to work everyday on the autobahn, a car expert, someone who knows the in’s and out’s of a car. I am not an expert, but I would prefer the cars are test driven by Jeremy Clarkson (for those who do not know who this guy is check out Top Gear on BBC)and not by Britney whatshername…!
Some issues with owning a hydrogen car, where in the world are we going to get compressed hydrogen from to runs these machines (not at your local gas station), what kind of mileage are we talking about, emission wise I believe this article states that this car is not a zero emissions car (water vapour and other pollutants like N2O and CO2, no emission levels where available). Lets see what happens next.
When I read this article, I could not believe it, a prototype than can actually run on a combination of gas and water or only water. Denny Klein has converted his 1994 Ford Escort to run either as a water-gas hybrid, or on water alone. He claims that this prototype actually ran 100 miles on 4 ounces of water.
It would be hilarious if in 10-20 yrs down the road car owners will be filling up at a Dasani or Evian water pump.
As promised in my earlier post (Mazda RX8 Hydro Rotary Engine) here is some more information about them. Currently, Mazda has leased out four such vehicles in Japan, the latest two being to government authorities in Hiroshima.
Mazda RX-8 RENESIS Hydrogen Rotary
Gasoline Vs Hydrogen
Power: 206 hp, 107 hp
Torque: 222 Nm, 140 Nm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 16 Gallons, 350 bar
Range: 341 miles, 62.1 miles
Wish I could get my hands on one of these, pity Mazda only plans on giving them (6 more) to local government authorites in Japan. I am more than willing to take on such a project and drive a new hybrid car (any make) and put it to the test, as long as I would be allowed to give my honest impression of the vehicle.
Honda Canada gave us a peek at the future of motoring with real- world demonstrations in Vancouver this week of its FCX hydrogen fuel cell cars.
Apparently there are 20 FCX cars on the roads in the US and 7 in Japan. Honda is the first car manufacturer to get an approval and certification for an hydrogen car from the EPA and California Air Resources Board aka CARB. Now why are the foreign car manufactures always the first when it comes to things like innovative technology for alternative fuel vehicles. Do you see a trend or am I just getting too tied up in conspiracy theory. Well only time will tell. Moving on, to reiterate the great points for a hydrogen vehicle:
- Renewal resource.
- Hydrogen can be extracted from the atmosphere and the only byproduct is water.
- Hence CO2 emissions are omitted from the equation.
More research is being done by companies like Honda, so that hydrogen can be extracted from natural gases and be delivered safely to the masses. Honda will need to have a good infrastructure set up so that sufficient hydrogen refuelling points are available when fuel cell cars eventually do hit the roads, lets learn from the mistakes of others so that there are not repeated, you get my drift.