March 2, 2021

Hydrogen wants to run | Innovation

Hydrogen wants to run | Innovation


It happened in September and it was a historical fact: the hydrogen car was reborn in Spain. Hyundai enrolled the first unit of the Nexus and brought to the highway a model that represents the evolution of the perfect technology for the automobile. Clean as the most, because it does not produce polluting emissions, and capable of providing sufficient autonomy for long trips. At first glance it is impossible to reproach hydrogen. Even refueling is almost as fast as gasoline or diesel: no more than five minutes.

Several manufacturers are investigating in this field and in Honda they do it with optimism. Its head of corporate communication, John Kingston, predicts that electric cars will be used "to move around the city and surroundings, while hydrogen will be used for long-distance road trips."

The bet of the Japanese brand is the Clarity Fuell, a saloon of almost five meters in length and futuristic aesthetics, available in the US and Japan and scheduled in Europe by 2020. Hyundai already sells in Spain the aforementioned Nexo, a SUV somewhat larger than the Tucson (4.67 meters) of great power and remarkable performance, and Toyota markets the Mirai in several European countries. Silent models and respectful with the environment.

Fuel cell cars are so efficient because they produce their own electricity. In specific cells, the reaction between the oxygen in the air and the hydrogen in the tank (stored at 700 bars of pressure) occurs, and the resulting energy feeds the electric motors of the car. The only residue is water vapor. Since the late 90's, it is the most exciting clean technology, but, known this fact, draws attention that the development has not been as fast as could be expected.

BMW introduced the 750 hL in 2000, but only produced 15 units of the prototype. Later it manufactured the Hydrogen 7 (2005-2007), although it was a bifuel model (hydrogen-gasoline). Also Mazda tested with a version of the RX8 that did not reach production.

Actually, there are reproaches to be made to hydrogen. Although they offer more autonomy (668 kilometers the Nexus and 1,000 kilometers the prototype Toyota Fine-Comfort Ride Concept), the models developed so far (like the Hyundai IX35 FC, of ​​2013) have lost their advantage over the electric ones for several reasons Its main problem is the technical complexity of the fuel cells, to which is added the need to resort to precious metals such as platinum for its construction, and that makes them too expensive.

The prices, to date, are prohibitive: a Nexus costs € 69,000; A Hyundai Tucson diesel or gasoline can be purchased from 19,000. In Honda, they calculate that the rates between the fuel cell and electric models will be equal by 2025. Audi expects to present the H-Tron Quattro in 2020, and Mercedes has just put the GLC Fuell Cell on sale (only in Germany).

Meanwhile, the fuel cell cars can be put to other problems: the hydrogen tank is much more bulky than a gas tank (which harms the habitability and the trunk) and the weight of the vehicles is greater, so that benefits are impaired. But the biggest problem is the last one: whoever buys a hydrogen car in Spain will not be able to move it much. There are only six hydrogenera to be refueled throughout the country.

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