- Car Transport
It may aggravate petrol heads like Jeremy Clarkson, but finding more efficient and carbon friendly ways to propel our cars through the streets is on the minds of many research and development bods in companies ranging from Honda to Mercedes. The latest buzz is about hydrogen fuel-cell cars which could revolutionise the way we drive. And Toyota’s Mirai is leading the charge.
What are Hydrogen Fuel-Cells?
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It is usually bound with other elements to form things such as water, and the source we use for fuel-cells at the moment is methane, or natural gas, but you can also use something called biomass. Car manufacturers like Toyota now believe that the future of carbon friendly, clean energy cars lies in the use of hydrogen.
You can see a neat animation of how it all works on the Toyota FCV at their website.
Now, those readers who are awake will point out that getting our hydrogen from methane is not as carbon friendly as it sounds. After all, we’re trying to cut down on our use of natural gas – it’s a fossil fuel. These are, of course, early days when it comes to hydrogen fuel-cells and there’s still a little way to go. Finding the right, economical source of the gas is just one. The other issue is going to be how you deliver the hydrogen.
After all, where are you going to find the nearest fuel pump? Toyota, to their credit, have begun investing in the support infrastructure in California, aiming to set up 100 stations by the end of 2020. But the company can’t do it on their own – it needs the involvement of government agencies, new suppliers and other automotive manufacturers. And it could be a good few years yet before fuel-cell cars take over from our current petrol guzzlers.
It’s a risk and a challenge for the automotive industry, especially for those like Toyota, Hyundai and Honda who are currently taking the lead. But those involved who believe it is the future of driving have one more card to play – those two tanks of hydrogen should be able to keep your car going for some 400 miles before you need to refuel.
According to the Guardian this month, Toyota will begin selling the first Mirai’s in Japan this December. The cost will, at first, be prohibitive and that will be the other challenge for manufacturers who see this technology as the future. At nearly $60,000 it’s a lot to pay if you can’t even get to a service pump!