Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Honda's Solar-Hydrogen Powered Future

Honda is using sunlight to enhance its role as the hydrogen power leader. Earlier this year Honda announced its intention to pursue a solar-hydrogen refueling station project. Honda is betting on the clean combination of solar and hydrogen as the fuel of choice for zero emission cars.

Many automakers have spent billions of dollars in researching hydrogen powered fuel cells without producing a hydrogen powered vehicle for public consumption. Honda's production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles demonstrate the company's commitment to hydrogen. The company also debuted a hydrogen refueling breakthrough that it claims will eventually allow for the development of a home station.

With the exception of a handful in Southern California, there is very little hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the US. This is one of the big barriers to hydrogen car deployment, which is why Honda expects its vehicles to use a combination of public stations and a home option.

Honda's home option is a solar powered hydrogen refueling station. A six-kilowatt solar array powers an electrolyzer that splits water molecules into hydrogen atoms. Home refueling takes eight hours of charging for an average commute (30 miles or 50 km). At a "fast-fill" public station, five-minutes of refueling enables a vehicle to travel 240 miles.

A solar hydrogen refueling system could move beyond the research stage and into the market-ready phase as soon as 2015.

One of the things that makes hydrogen so desirable is its small size and low weight. Honda's current electricity generator known as a hydrogen "stack", is around the size of a briefcase.

Hybrids and battery powered fully electric vehicles appear to be dominating the greener car marketplace, but as energy prices rise, hydrogen powered vehicles will become increasingly attractive.

Once hydrogen vehicles approximate price parity, the allure of a car that is powered by sunlight and emits only water vapor, will prove irresistible.

Next: Honda's Hydrogen Powered FCX Clarity FCEV

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