The automobile is one of the most notable inventions of all humankind. Forever changing the landscape of how we live, cars were first mass-produced by Henry Ford in the early 1900s. Since then, the technology available has steadily increased and made cars perform better and better. However, we are still using the same fuel to power them as we did in 1920. Until recent years, electric cars were a thing of science-fiction. With the current knowledge of what our oil consumption is doing to the planet and the inherent risks involved with global warming, the transition to electric vehicles has begun. Potentially a breakthrough in the electric vehicle landscape, hydrogen fuel cell cars offer a clean alternative to our oil addiction.
What Is a Fuel Cell Car Kit?
Fuel cell cars have the potential to be the future mode of transportation adopted by a planet at risk with its current system. What is becoming more known around the globe is that our current use of oil is unsustainable and extremely dangerous to the future health and safety of humans and the planet. This has sparked scientists and intellects alike to explore alternative options to power our cars and trucks that we rely on for daily life. Starting with hybrid cars that can utilize the power of electricity to increase fuel efficiency and continuing with the more recent battery electric vehicles that run off an electric motor and battery, we have made some big strides in the right direction. Possibly the next big breakthrough is fuel cell cars which combine the benefits of both battery electric vehicles and conventional oil-powered vehicles.
Fuel cell cars use hydrogen gas to power an electric motor. The fuel cell generates flammable hydrogen by splitting apart the oxygen and hydrogen atoms in water molecules in a process called electrolysis. Since they are fully electric, fuel cell cars are considered electric vehicles (EV's). But unlike other EV's their range and refueling processes are similar to that of a conventional oil-powered vehicle.
Refueling a fuel cell car is a lot like filling your current car with gas (assuming you don't already own an EV). Pressurized hydrogen is sold at hydrogen refueling stations, and current models take less than 10 minutes to fill. Some current leases may cover the cost of refueling entirely. Once filled, the driving ranges of fuel cell cars vary, but are very similar to that of a conventional gas-powered car (200-300 miles). This combination of fast, centralized refueling with long-distance driving ranges make fuel cell cars an easy transition from gas-powered vehicles, holding all else constant. Compared with battery-electric vehicles, which recharge their batteries by plugging in for long periods of time, the fuel cell model is superior. In certain driving modes, regenerative braking is used to capture lost energy and charge the battery, furthering the power efficiency.
Is There a Need for Fuel Cell Car Kits?
Unfortunately, there is a desperate need for change regarding the way we are powering our global society. Human-induced climate change is a complicated topic and there are a lot of factors at play, but the transportation sector is near the top. Of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, transportation accounts for about 33 percent, a staggeringly high number that, if reduced, could go a long way to helping us achieve energy independence and stabilize human-induced climate change. Combining the power of natural energy like wind and solar with the technology of electric vehicles is the end goal of many climate scientists and activists alike.
Fuel cell cars fall in line with a string of technological advancements moving us towards sustainability. The main complaint about battery electric vehicles is that they take a long time to charge and they won't take you as far on one tank (or charge rather) than a traditional oil-powered vehicle. Hybrids have better mileage, but they still burn fossil fuels and can only go short distances with electric power.
Hydrogen fuel cell cars combine the range of a traditional oil-powered vehicle with the much-needed environmental benefit of an EV. It's the next step in our clean transportation transformation.
An important note to make is that not all electric energy is inherently clean or "green". Electric vehicles can be powered by electricity produced from multiple energy sources. Electricity can come from wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, bio-fuel, and fossil fuel sources including natural gas, oil, and coal. All but one of those sources (fossil fuels) is considered clean. Also, they are all made almost entirely within the U.S. from local natural resources. So electric vehicles have the potential to support the U.S. economy and reduce our dependence on imported oil.
The Advantages of Fuel Cell Cars
So far we've touched on the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell cars and why they are needed in our world. Here we will cover some main advantages of harnessing the power of hydrogen to move us forward.
The Most Abundant Element in the Universe
Perhaps obviously, the main advantage of hydrogen fuel cell cars is that they don't require oil. The days of fracking and deep-water drilling and oil spills can (and should) be a thing of the past. For far too long we have exploited our planet's limited supply of natural resources for the greed and power of big, multinational oil companies. We have the technology right now to switch to a more sustainable and responsible system of global transportation.
Hydrogen is an unlimited resource. Hydrogen makes up more than 90 percent of all of the atoms, which equals three-quarters of the mass of the universe, according to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The fuel cells in the hydrogen-powered cars do not need conventional fuels such as oil or gas. Among other things, this reduces economic dependence on oil-producing countries, which creates greater energy security worldwide.
Reduce Air Pollution
If you've ever been to Los Angeles, then you know that pollution is real, and its effects are visible. The smog layer in some major metropolitan areas across the world is a direct result of the emissions from oil-burning vehicles. Hydrogen from the electrolysis of water is driven by renewable electricity, which means fuel cell cars eliminate greenhouse gases completely. Pollution reduction is another giant reason hydrogen is the clean transportation fuel we need to adopt as soon as possible.
Reduce Noise Pollution
Another plus for fuel cell cars is that they are silent. Traditional oil-powered cars combust when you rev the engine, which may excite you if you are a street racer, but for most people, this just equates to noise pollution in our major cities. Studies have shown noise pollution contributes to negative mental health effects and can be a major player in the onset of depression in some cases.
The fuel cell process creates electricity chemically rather than through combustion. While this reaction creates some heat, no noise is heard, making for a quiet commute. An added bonus, waste heat can be used to heat the cab and boost efficiency even further.
No More Money Spent on Gas
That's right, that weekly (sometimes more often) trip to the gas station is no more with a fuel cell car. Over time, these savings can add up to something special. Maybe you'd like to start a fund of some sort by putting your weekly gas money away and at the end of the year, you'll be able to buy yourself (or someone else) something nice!
Cars have been around for a while, and one way or another, they probably aren't going anywhere soon. With what we know about what burning fossil fuels is doing to our planet - increasing CO2 emissions and contributing to global warming - the time is now to make a change on a broad scale. There have been an increasing amount of electric vehicles on the roads in recent years, which is a step in the right direction. The next step is making electric cars as practical as gas-powered cars so the transition will be smoother for the masses. Fuel cell cars might be just that.
In this crucial time in history, it is so important to find the alternatives that will allow us to keep living our best lives and be environmentally and socially responsible. Once we find these alternatives, we need to provide people with the resources they need to most effectively integrate the new system into our daily lives. This also requires that the average citizen be conscious of his or her place in all of this and how they can best help. Transitioning away from fossil fuels is a project that will require everybody. The fossil fuel giants won't back down, they want to keep making money by taking from the planet without responsibly giving back (some are better than others). And while more and more people are waking up to the dangers of the road we are headed down, the real change only happens through action. There are fuel cell cars and other EV's already available at most major dealerships. Stop by and take one for a spin. It might just be the best decision you can make for the future health of the planet and the people living in it.