When will we be driving hydrogen cars?

16th Mar, 2020

Electric cars have had the press buzzing for the last few years, but for some reason hydrogen cars haven’t been able to enjoy the same level of spotlight. That’s a little strange in itself, because on paper there are plenty of benefits to hydrogen cars – it’s one of the most abundant elements in the universe, and offers zero emissions, and a reliably decent range. In fact, in the years to come you may well be the owner of a hydrogen vehicle when the time comes to scrap your car! So, where’s the market at now, and how soon can we expect to get behind the wheel of a hydrogen car?

How does a hydrogen car work?

We’ll spare you the detailed physics explanation, and give you the simple version instead. Basically, all hydrogen cars have a hydrogen fuel cell at their core – this mixes hydrogen and oxygen to create an electric current that powers the car. These hydrogen fuel cells share some benefits with electric car engines in the sense that they don’t have any moving parts, which immediately makes them more reliable and efficient than traditional combustion engines like we’re all used to (and makes the cars faster and quieter, too). As we touched on above, they also don’t generate any harmful waste products – in fact, the only byproduct is water!

Now, in many ways this technology is well within reach for consumer cars. In fact, a small firm in Wales is currently building its own hydrogen cars, which it plans to lease locally. In fact it’s already got two on the roads already, with numbers three and four under construction in its workshop. They’ll do 60mph with a respectable range of 300 miles on a single 1.5kg hydrogen tank. This works out to about 250 miles to the gallon – not too shabby, all things considered!

So, why aren’t we all driving them already? Well, one good reason is that while the cars themselves don’t produce harmful waste products, it does take a lot of energy to separate hydrogen from water – energy that’s often produced by burning fossil fuels. Unfortunately, that puts a bit of a dent in hydrogen’s green credentials. Plus, creating usable hydrogen is quite expensive, which may possibly reflected in the price of consumer cars when they go out to market.

That’s not the only hurdle, either.

Grey Car SCN

The challenges facing hydrogen cars

We’ve touched on one of the biggest ones already; at the moment, hydrogen cars aren’t quite as green and clean as they seem. If hydrogen cars are going to be viable transport solutions in the long term, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed at the source!

Here’s another big problem, and quite a pivotal one – in short, hydrogen goes boom. It’s a notoriously explosive element, and manufacturers are already having to work quite hard to convince consumers that they’re installing necessary safeguards. The Toyota Mira, for example, has triple layer hydrogen tanks that are capable of absorbing up to five times as much crash energy as a regular steel petrol tank. But even so, there will probably be limits on how and where hydrogen cars can travel, at least at first. The Eurotunnel, for example, is quite firm on its policy of forbidding potentially explosive substances on its service – which is a policy we’re sure that everyone’s on board with.

Finally, one of the most significant problems facing the rollout of hydrogen cars is the same one that’s currently affecting the rollout of electric vehicles, namely the lack of refuelling stations. Really, it’s a bit of a circular issue. The public understandably won’t be too enthusiastic about the technology if there’s any uncertainty about their ability to refill, while companies will be wary of risking any investment in refuelling points if it turns out that nobody will use them.

They’re not issues with any simple answers right now, but it’ll be interesting to see how the technology develops! Whatever the case – whether you’re driving a vehicle powered by electricity, hydrogen or hopes and dreams, you can always count on us to scrap your car here at Scrap Car Network. All you need to do is enter your registration number and postcode into the fields on our site, and from there it’s a simple matter to finalise the details. Happy scrapping!

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