Tag Archive | "hydrogen power"

2015 Toyota May Go Down A Bomb

We hear a lot these days about electric cars and hybrid cars but, coming up on the rails, is the third choice – the hydrogen powered car. On the production front Toyota has indicated that it has cut the cost of the fuel cell system in its next hydrogen-powered car by the equivalent of almost one million dollars. This puts the company on course to launch a mid-sized saloon – which may look something like the experimental vehicle in the image –  in 2015 with a price below £65,000. Whether or not we will see it in the UK remains to be seen as we are way behind on preparing a workable infrastructure for alternative fuels.

The new fuel cell car will first be sold in Japan, the United States and probably Europe, Toyota have said. The news is that the company is set to unveil a concept at the Tokyo auto show in November. This clashes with the Los Angeles Motor Show so maybe it will pop up there too.

The manufacturer says the fuel cell system will cost about 5 million yen (£32,000 approx) compared with prototype costs of more than £650,000. The company’s plans are weighted heavily towards fuel cell cars, which convert hydrogen to electricity, emit only water vapour and have a similar range to conventional cars, as their next-gen alternative fuel vehicle. They have big plans to sell ‘tens of thousands’ fuel cell motors by the 2020’s.

It isn’t widely known but platinum is used in the manufacture of a fuel cell. Toyota have managed to cut the amount needed from an original one hundred grams to as little as thirty grams thus saving even more cash. They believe they can cut it further as the technology is refined. This will bring them in line with the catalytic converters on diesel powered cars which use about twenty grams of the precious metal. Toyota will also use less carbon-fibre in the high-pressure hydrogen tanks and will use cheaper, mass-produced components to cut costs further, they say.

As we are all now well aware, electric cars are range limited and take a long time to refuel. This won’t happen with hydrogen powered vehicles because it takes only minutes to fill the tank and the cars can travel the same sort of distances as cars with combustion engines.

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Hydrogen Cars Take to Danish Roads

The original Hyundai Motor Company, established 1967 in South Korea, has continued to successfully grow in size with more than two dozen auto related subsidiaries and affiliates. Now known as the Hyundai Motor Group it makes cars all around the world including in Europe. Last year, the company sold over four million vehicles worldwide and now it is branching out into the business of hydrogen powered vehicles.

One of its first customers is Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen – home to the TV show Borgen – and one of the more forward thinking cities of Europe. The Danes have just taken delivery of fifteen Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell SUV’s which will form part of their municipal fleet in pursuit of the city’s carbon-neutral objectives scheduled to be achieved by 2025.

The regular ix35 has been very well received and is a reliable, stylish, comfortable and versatile car. Even the entry level vehicles have heated front and rear seats as standard. This then seems like the ideal basis on which to build the hydrogen technology and the cars are the first with this fuel to be produced on a regular production line. This emphasises Hyundai’s commitment to this new power source. The delivery was made to coincide with the opening of Copenhagen’s first hydrogen filling station.

The ix35 Fuel Cell produces no emissions and only water vapour comes out of the rear end. The car derives its power from a 100kw (equates to 136ps) motor and can attain a top speed of 100mph. The two storage tanks, located amidships at the rear axle can be filled in minutes and hold enough fuel to allow the car to be 369 miles away before they run out.

With the present shortcomings of electric cars still to be overcome, hydrogen fuel looks like a very viable alternative. No range issue or lengthy refills to worry about and so on. The downside is of course that there are virtually no filling stations as yet. Electric cars have been with us for some considerable time now and yet, in the UK at least, a viable network of charging points seems a long way off. Coverage is patchy to say the least.

Clearly, it is early days yet for hydrogen but the lesson has to be learned. Motorists will not buy into anything that is going to inconvenience them, running costs aside. Car makers are building some extremely frugal petrol and diesel engines these days and we like what we know. To get us, in the long term, to switch to alternative fuels there has first got to be a useable infrastructure.

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Future Fuelled Aston Martin

Fancy an Aston Martin? To be more precise, fancy an Aston Martin Rapide S? Of course you do, but it’s the running costs that are putting you off, isn’t it? Well, Aston Martin have been thinking about that.

The company understands that constantly evolving vehicle emission regulations means that they have got to achieve ever lower CO² output without jeopardising their super car image. One way they have found to do this is by utilising hydrogen power. Imagine that, a sports car powered by a V12 engine that is exempt from car tax under the existing rules.

Motor Blogger first mentioned this back in April and things have now moved on. Aston Martin have successfully run a car powered by a 90% gas and 10% petrol mix in the recent Nürburgring 24 Hour race, managing to go the distance. One lap was completed on hydrogen power alone and was thus emission free. This is a considerable achievement.AMHH2 Future Fuelled Aston Martin

Most hydrogen cars use fuel cells to generate electricity. The Aston however actually burns the hydrogen in a conventional engine. Best of all, the technology – developed by a company called Alset, based in Austria – can be fitted to existing engines. Fuel injectors for the gas are added along with additional software and a couple of small turbochargers but that’s it, although it’s not as simple as that makes it sound. The Rapide was chosen because it has the space to accommodate the pressurised storage tanks. Amazingly though, all this only adds around eighty extra kilos of weight which is considerably less than a massive battery pack.

The real beauty of this system is that when the hydrogen store is depleted the car simply continues to run on petrol. Brilliant. Right now there are only eleven hydrogen fuel stations in the UK but, given the exciting possibilities of this technology, that number is likely to grow very quickly when and if the finished product is rolled out.

When it comes to emissions it is obvious that the authorities mean business. Whether motorists agree with the climate change argument or not ever lower targets will continue to be issued. Car manufacturers are doing a great job with compliance and it would come as no surprise to find that in another twenty or thirty years the world’s automobiles will be virtually emission free. Thanks to the work done by companies like Aston Martin and their partners it seems that we might well be able to have our cake and gorge on it too. An emission free V12 – now you’re talking!

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Aston Martin To Race With Hydrogen

Using the highly desirable Rapide as a donor car Aston Martin have developed the Hybrid-Hydrogen Rapide S, the first hydrogen powered race car to compete in a major sporting event. It is also the first zero emissions car to complete an entire race-pace lap of the Nürburgring emitting only water from the exhaust. The company will be racing the car in the twenty four hour event at the legendary circuit at the end of May.

The power comes from a prototype bi-turbo 6.0L V12 that can run on gasoline, gaseous hydrogen or a combination of both. Apparently the system installed is comprised of a hydrogen fuel rail, storage tanks and an engine management system. Although this might all be Greek to the average layman, this hybrid/hydrogen kit allows some flexibility of control over combustion depending on the driving circumstances: for example, pure hydrogen, pure petrol or a combination of both can be selected to provide maximum performance. The result is a racing car with the carbon footprint of a Fiesta.

Only minimal changes to the car are needed. Fitting to a conventional engine is straightforward – for the experts. The system means that the need for a complex infrastructure for providing hydrogen fuel isn’t needed, which is a major stumbling block to the production of purely hydrogen powered vehicles for public consumption.

The worry – if that’s the right word – is the hydrogen itself. This is not a word we like to hear in the same sentence as combustion. With the Rapide S the company have taken the matter of safety very seriously. The hydrogen is stored in four high strength carbon fibre tanks. The gas totals 3.5kg and is stored at a pressure of 350bar. Two tanks are in the boot but the other two are right next to the intrepid driver. To the untutored motorist, the fear, if it appeared on street versions, is that of explosion. Racing accidents tend to happen at very high speeds and can be devastating. Let us hope that this system has been tested and re-tested for full race conditions. The car is capable of 190mph and does the traffic light sprint in just under five seconds.

Both Aston Martin and the company responsible for developing the system hope to demonstrate clearly the safety and reliability of hydrogen power. The system is designed to be an important step on the road to providing a viable hydrogen automotive economy. It’s clean and it’s green and it is not inconceivable that we may well see hydrogen systems of this type appearing in premium sectors of the industry in the medium term future.

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