Currently reading: Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell long-term test review: refuelling is child's play
Hydrogen as a fuel has an image problem, but it’s unjustified
Jim Holder
News
2 mins read
3 April 2017

"Get it wrong and you won’t be around to worry about it,” laughed the man showing me how to use a hydrogen refuelling station.

He was joking, I think, but it seems to be a default setting for anyone discussing the use of hydrogen as a fuel to have a mental image of the Hindenburg disaster pop into their head and feel the need to say something negative.

It’s illogical, of course. For starters, it is worth remembering that conventional engines rely on explosive combustion to generate power, whereas fuel cell vehicles create energy through a combustion-free chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Then there’s the fact that using a hydrogen refuelling station is scarcely more complicated than using a regular fuel station. And, of course, the hydrogen tank is better protected than any petrol or diesel tank – albeit because it needs to be because the consequences of a leak are greater.

And, yes, things can go wrong. A quick search on YouTube highlights several hydrogen-powered buses alight in various locations around the world, although it’s reassuring to see that the passengers usually seem to emerge unscathed. When hydrogen burns, it tends to do so furiously but quickly. But it is not a frequent occurrence.

The point is that the tanks and fuel cell structures – just like regular fuel tanks – have all undergone extensive safety testing, including multiple crash test procedures, and there are multiple cut-offs designed to shut off the hydrogen and protect you in the event of an accident. I’ve watched videos of the hydrogen-filled tanks used in cars being dropped into a burning pit and having bullets and then shells of various calibres being fired at them, and the result has been that precisely nothing at all has happened. These things are tough.

Consequently, I suspect that I’m as safe in a hydrogen-powered car as in a petrol or diesel one. And while I’d rather not test the theory, I suspect there is a half-truth in the opening comment, because the chances are that by the time the hydrogen tank has exploded, there’s not going to be much left of the car or me anyway.

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HYUNDAI IX35 FUEL CELL

Price £53,105 (after £4500 gov’t grant) Price as tested £53,105 Economy na Faults None Expenses None Last seen 23.11.16

Read our first report here

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scotty5 3 April 2017

Slight issue...

Childs play? According to the Hydrogen filling station map, there are FOUR fuel stations north of Birmingham. Those small quaint remote fishing villages of Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh etc?

coolboy 3 April 2017

not yet, I`m afraid

It might be a child`s play, at least in Britain, but in forward advocate Japan, it requires 2 people, both of them not the driver.

So, when is this technology going to be "free" from the adverstising gimnick, so it can become considered as an option for the real punter?

How many leases from TOYOTA and Hyundai in Britain up to now?
10, 12, 15?

Yeah, and hydrogen is "free", imagine if it was required to pay
£7/kg. How is that translating to £/100Km?

How are the prospects for used car prices after 4 to 5 years? How is that the depreciation?
Who will run the Hydrogen tanks inspections after 10 and 15 years of road use, the typical MOT station?

How is that supposed punter man will get a benefit from using hydrogen cars in place of battery electric cars or petrol cars or diesel cars?

Child`s play

xxxx 3 April 2017

MPG

Is missing surprize, surprize. Reason: Hyundia don't want the public to know it works out to around 27mpg at todays prices. Hydrogen, epic fail
Straff 3 April 2017

Warm glow

xxxx wrote:

Is missing surprize, surprize. Reason: Hyundia don't want the public to know it works out to around 27mpg at todays prices. Hydrogen, epic fail

Yes but you get that lovely warm glow from the zero emissions and no need to charge the batteries.

Oh no, sorry. That's because your car's on fire.

(Psst; no z in surprise)

xxxx 13 November 2019

No fire here

Straff wrote:
xxxx wrote:

Is missing surprize, surprize. Reason: Hyundia don't want the public to know it works out to around 27mpg at todays prices. Hydrogen, epic fail

Yes but you get that lovely warm glow from the zero emissions and no need to charge the batteries. Oh no, sorry. That's because your car's on fire. (Psst; no z in surprise)

3 * 20 seconds a week plugging a BEV on your drive followed by sleep, compared to 15 minutes finding an open hydrogen station and then waiting in all weathers for it to fill (if you can find one in the first place that is)