Combustion from fuel is one of the largest anthropogenic sources of CO2 emissions in the world today. At present fossil fuel emissions account for the most impact towards climate change and the repercussions we face as a result. It should come as no surprise then that the vehicles we drive in droves on the streets every day are in fact one of the biggest contributors. The transportation sector accounts for roughly 23% of total energy-related CO2 emissions (IPCC AR5, 2014) and our gasoline-powered vehicles comprise a large fraction of that. So what can we do to reduce our carbon car-print? Well, driving less is the obvious answer, but additionally – getting rid of our cars, joining the car sharing economy, using public transport, or bicycling, are other great alternatives. However, for those that still intend to use cars or simply can’t afford to avail of these alternatives, driving electric cars or the more recent hydrogen fuel cell cars are change-worthy solutions as well. Japanese car manufacturers see this as the future of road transportation and Honda’s FCX Clarity rolled out in 2016 as a major player in this segment.
FCV and the Honda FCX Clarity
Hydrogen fuel vehicles are electric automobiles that use a fuel cell instead of a battery. The fuel cell vehicle generates electricity using oxygen from the air in combination with compressed hydrogen fuel, only giving off water vapour and heat as emissions. Their zero-emission capability has made them a highly attractive alternative to basic electric vehicles due to their short refuel times and greater drive distances.
(Source: Vehicle image courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc)
Honda has already commenced the engineering R&D and manufacturing of the FCV with its Honda FCX Clarity which was rolled out last year. Japan leads the way in Hydrogen fuel cell technology (as with most things automobile related) and the government has pledged to help support hydrogen car innovation and infrastructure in the coming decades; the Japanese government under Shinzo Abe has been the most bullish and envisions hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as part of a larger ‘hydrogen society’ with widespread hydrogen fuel stations and even fuel cell-powered buildings. The Global Market for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles report even argues that by 2050 FCVs will be the “fastest growing segment of the auto market”.
While hydrogen fuel cell vehicles still have a way to go before becoming anything close to the status quo, their importance to the environment and our future could not be underestimated. FCV’s still need to overcome the challenges of infrastructure before they can compete with mainstream automobiles, but the potential benefits of the technology are paramount.