Driving on hydrogen, if only for a little while

June 18, 2008

rtx6uox.jpgAs part of my job covering the world of alternative fuels, General Motors last week gave me the keys to a hydrogen-powered SUV, the Chevrolet Equinox.  You won’t find the Equinox in any showrooms, and in fact, the car I drove for four days is one of just 100 such vehicles in the United States.

Despite their small numbers, GM and others hope hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles will be critical to reducing greenhouse gases and our dependence on ever-costlier gasoline. Hydrogen can be produced by breaking apart water molecules, and it is also made by stripping hydrogen from fossil fuel natural gas. To see an animation of how a fuel cell works, click here.

I had fun driving emissions-free for a few days, but refueling once I had run low on hydrogen wasn’t so fun. That’s because there are just four places in the L.A. area where you can refuel a hydrogen car, and the lack of that infrastructure is one of the biggest impediments to getting them in the mass market.

Below is a brief video of my few days driving on hydrogen.

Video produced and edited by Syantani Chatterjee


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Try a Rav4EV. Batteries are better than fuel cells because the refueling station is almost anywhere there is aan electric plug. Sure it takes longer, but it beats the cost of hydrogen.

Posted by William Dryden | Report as abusive

[…] Check out this first person account of driving one! […]

Posted by Oh, the Hydrogen-ity? « Living the American Green | Report as abusive

The only difference is the emission, engine and dashboard? Both the article and video didn’t report more than what seemed obvious already.

Posted by Paul Kang | Report as abusive

This story’s author seeks to find every reason why “not” to consider Hydrogen Fuel Cells….So GM sucks…what’s new….oh, there is something better?http://www.reuters.com/article/en vironmentNews/idUST31284420080606?virtua lBrandChannel=10179Surprise, surprise…GM workers are not the problem with GM…its the executives who tell the engineers make it “slow” or build in “planned obsolescence”…(break in a year to support parts industry)

Posted by Mark Kowalski | Report as abusive

The hydrogen car is NOT the future unless a way is found to produce hydrogen without the use of other valuable resources or energy.WHEN are you going to test drive the WATER powered vehicle ????????????????????????????????????????  ?????Now that DOES show REAL promise.

Posted by skez | Report as abusive

Hydrogen seems to have raised many questions…the most important being its affordability to a common citizen.Other question is whether the vehicle is as eficient in every aspect using hydrogen needs solid experimenting.

Posted by maximus | Report as abusive

You can actually run a fuel cell with ethanol. So, the question of efficiency becomes moot. Of course, there are already cars built that run with only water. (check it out in You Tube).The problem lies in the cost of replacing all the fossil fuel vehicles on the road right now. Not many are able to buy a new car just right now. So, it becomes a problem of government subsidies. Much like they’re doing with digital TV, but a lot costlier.The quickest solution is to adapt current vehicles to run on renewable, non-polluting fuels. I have been using ethyl ether in my gas for 15 years and getting almost 50% more mpg in my old SUV. It has run for 215K miles and it still going strong. Haven’t had a tuneup in 150K miles, since I started using the ether mixed with the gasoline.

Posted by elipicayo | Report as abusive

The refueling problem will soon be solved with the use of solid/liquid fuel chemical hydrides that will generate the hydrogen required to feed the fuel cell. The refueling process will be a mere replacement of a cartridge,and the need for refueling stations will vanish. We will be able to purchase our cartridges at places like Walmart etc, and store a few extra ones either in our car or at home. So much for the death grip of the oil companies on us consumers!

Posted by Windsor Cornwall | Report as abusive