Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hydrogen Fuel - the possibilities from the Chinese perspective

This month, Horizon, a chinese company, will begin sales of a tiny hydrogen fuel-cell car, complete with its own miniature solar-powered refueling station.

The toy is a clever method of introducing the technology to the public and making it commercially viable.

Many companies around the world have the goal of mass-producing affordable hydrogen-powered cars that spurt water from their tailpipes.

So Shanghai's Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies decided to start small by producing the toy cars.

The cost and challenge of building fuel cells that convert hydrogen to electricity, and the question of how to cleanly generate the gas and distribute it to specialized fueling stations need to be addressed. Prototype hydrogen cars already exist but they are far from practical or affordable.

The toy car, Horizon's H-Racer, and its fueling station solve those problems on a very small scale. At a cost of approximately £45 for the set they might become the toy for Christmas.

The toy's fuel cell, like those envisioned for real cars, relies on an electrochemical reaction to generate the current that powers the electric motor in the car. Unlike a gas-powered internal combustion engine, the only byproducts are electricity, heat and water.

The fuel is supplied by its small refueling station. A small electric current, generated by the solar cells, extracts hydrogen from water. (A battery backup is available for cloudy days.)
When the vehicle is hooked up to the refueling station, a balloon inside the 6-inch long car slowly fills.The car runs for 4 minutes on a full tank.

Horizon has said it is working on ways to make fuel cells more efficient, so that they can be used to power cell phones and laptop computers, and eventually vehicles and households.

Maybe hydrogen fuelled cars are not just a distant dream.


At Monday, August 14, 2006 8:47:00 am, Blogger The Editor said...

Trouble with hydrogen it takes 5 times the energy in the hydrogen to make the hydrogen in the first place. So its down to what that energy source is.


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