hydrogen-powered Honda FCX is the first fuel cell vehicle certified by
the U.S. EPA for every day commercial use. It is one of many
alternative fuel vehicles manufactures around the world are
Honda plans to lease approximately
30 fuel-cell cars in California and Japan during the next several
years. So there will be even more instances where this
groundbreaking technology will see everyday use.
In principle, a fuel cell
operates like a battery. Unlike a battery, a fuel cell does not run
down or require recharging. It will produce energy in the form of
electricity and heat as long as fuel is supplied. The type of fuel
cell used in the Honda FCX is called a Polymer electrolyte
fuel cell. Powered by Hydrogen gas the fuel cell provides power to
the FCX's AC synchronous electric motor to give the FCX a top speed
of around 93 mph. with engine output at around 60kW Honda claim the
clean FCX has similar performance to the its petrol drinking brother
the Honda Civic.
The first practical use of a Fuel Cell
was in the 1960s with the Apollo Space Program, for years fuel cell
technology has been seen as too hard and too costly, but now as
development continues we may see more cars like the FCX but the question
often remains were does one fill up with fuel.
All the Honda FCX's made for the US
have been sold to Californian government, the cost of the cars are too
expensive for the average buyer and California is using them not only as
city runabouts but as a publicity stunt to promote green cars.
If cars like the FCX ever become
popular then petrol stations will have to start supplying hydrogen as
well as regular petroleum products but currently there are only a
handful of Honda FCXs around.
Honda has been working on ways to
refill the FCX and has established an experimental Home Energy Station (HES)
that generates hydrogen from natural gas for use in fuel cell vehicles
while supplying electricity and hot water to the home.
The new HES system that has been jointly developed with strategic fuel
cell partner Plug Power Inc. is located on the grounds of Honda R&D
Americas in Torrance, California, and will undergo experiments in
hydrogen production, storage and fueling, as part of ongoing research
into hydrogen energy sources.
The new HES system, which can currently produce enough hydrogen to
refill the tank of a Honda FCX hydrogen fuel cell vehicle taking just a
few minutes once a day.