Owning a solar-powered car that burns hydrogen fuel is a dream for the environmentally-conscious driver. Unfortunately, there have been barriers to solar-powered vehicles entering the market. Now, the latest car news indicates that new technology may make hydrogen fuel a real possibility in the near future.
A team at UCLA has developed a device that converts solar power into storable power that could be used in a hydrogen fuel cell to operate a car. The car would be eco-friendly and even affordable.
The research team, led by UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry Richard Kaner, recently published their findings in a paper featured in Energy Storage and Materials. The device is as of yet unnamed, but is referred to as “an integrated electrochemical device based on earth-abundant metals.”
The team’s device functions by using nickel, cobalt and iron to create energy that can be stored in a chemical form or in a battery or a supercapacitor in an electrochemical form. The device not only produces energy, but can also store it, using a third electrode which works with the other two electrodes to harness the energy of the sun to power the device.
In car news, the most exciting task that the device performs is its ability to produce hydrogen fuel. While gasoline burns hydrogen and oxygen to produce heat and power a car, it’s not good for the environment. By contrast, hydrogen fuel is made up of molecules of hydrogen that, when combined with atmospheric oxygen, creates an electrical current.
That electrical current can power just about anything. It’s a clean fuel, it’s cheap and it only puts water into the air. There are no pollutants from hydrogen fuel, so it’s a good choice for the environmentally conscious and can help reduce the pollution as more consumers embrace the technology.
The idea of using hydrogen fuel is not new, but the expense of producing hydrogen fuel has always been cost-prohibitive. Generating hydrogen fuel requires expensive metals, including platinum. This new device indicates that hydrogen fuel could be a possibility in the future, and at a cost that puts the technology into the hands of the average consumer.
Keep an eye on car news to find out when the first hydrogen fuel cars will hit the market. They may be out sooner and be more affordable than you expected.