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Will hydrogen power our future vehicles?

Posting in Transportation

New technology developed in Japan could be the milestone needed to promote hydrogen's use as a fuel for our future vehicles.

Japan's biggest petroleum wholesaler, JX Holdings, says it has created new technologies and methods to transport hydrogen safely in liquid form. Currently, transporting and storing hydrogen in gas form requires expensive investment for special carbon-fiber trailers that keep the gas at the right pressure to prevent explosions. 

This cost has scuppered efforts to use the eco-friendly resource in fuel cell vehicles.

However, new methods to transport large volumes of hydrogen safely through liquid have been created. JX says that by transporting hydrogen in liquid form -- by dissolving it in toluene, a component of crude oil -- the need to purchase special containers vanishes. In liquid form, the energy resource can be transported at regular temperatures and pressure. Once it arrives at its destination, the gas can be revaporized at the pump.

The new method cuts hydrogen cost by over a third, which could make fuel cell vehicles viable commercially. Some automakers, such as Honda and Toyota, plan to begin manufacturing these types of vehicles next year.

In terms of distance traveled using hydrogen versus gas, hydrogen is double the price. However, as it emits no greenhouse gases, the use of hydrogen and oxygen in fuel cell vehicles is one of the better solutions on the table to keep our cars running, especially as fossil fuels begin to run out.

Via: Nikkei 

Image credit: Flickr 

— By on January 17, 2014, 5:48 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure