For those who’ve been following alternative and renewable energy sources for a while, the hydrogen car may seem like one of those great ideas that’s still nowhere near reality–as opposed to, say, the electric car, which is expected to hit the nation’s roads in real numbers for the first time next year.
It’s not that hydrogen cars don’t exist. In fact, if you live in the right area, you can lease Honda’s limited-production FCX Clarity hydrogen sedan right now (or other models, by GM, Toyota and Mercedes). The real problem is refueling–a factor that has given electric vehicles the edge. After all, the option to plug in and refuel at home turns everyone’s house into a gas-station, so to speak; hydrogen fuel stations, by contrast, are few and far between.
Now it would appear that hydrogen fuel station technology has finally started to catch up with the development of hydrogen cars. The LA Times reports that Honda has developed a prototype of a residential hydrogen refueler at their Torrance, California, R & D facility (which we first mentioned in February). The system uses solar panels, in the form of a 6-kilowatt array of thin-film cells, to power a machine the size of a mini-refrigerator that sips in H2O and breaks it apart into hydrogen and oxygen gases. The hydrogen is then pumped directly into the car, which uses the gas to generate electricity for the car’s electric motor.
This is good news, as hydrogen-powered cars reportedly are likely to hit the market sometime in 2015.