Following the success of hybrid and electric cars, it appears that the time has come for vehicles powered by fuel cells or hydrogen cells, the other kind of sustainable propulsion.
It’s possible to purchase kits on the internet that claim to “reconvert” our gasoline and diesel automobiles into hydrogen vehicles, claiming fuel savings of up to 30%.
What is the operation of a hydrogen-powered vehicle?
The fuel cell turns hydrogen and oxygen in the air into water, and it is this chemical process that generates the energy that powers the 100% electric motor.
For more than two decades, hydrogen fuel cell technology for automobiles has existed, but it has not been properly developed, therefore no such car has been offered on the market.
Things have changed with Toyota’s new fuel cell Mirai, and it’s likely that, as with hybrid vehicles, this presentation will serve as a signal for other manufacturers to follow in Toyota’s footsteps.
Is it possible to convert a conventional vehicle to a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle?
Yes, but any mechanical engineer would tell you that the technique is far too costly to justify the effort.
It is also true that to convert an automobile from gasoline or diesel to hydrogen, the engine, the complete fuel supply, and distribution system, the transmission, and the gearbox must all be replaced. To put it another way, the overall cost of the surgery will be larger than the vehicle itself.
Large and high-cost combustion vehicles, such as buses or long-distance trucks, are the only circumstances in which conversion would make sense, although each case would still need to be assessed individually.
What exactly are “hydrogen conversion kits”?
The conversion kits available for purchase on the internet have nothing to do with the chemical process of producing energy that we have described. These are devices that exclusively utilize hydrogen from the air to make modifications in a diesel or gasoline engine’s combustion system, with the ultimate purpose of lowering consumption.
To put it another way, if one of these kits is installed, we will continue to have theoretically optimum gasoline or diesel vehicle. For the following reasons, we say theoretically:
- Modifications to some engine components are required.
- The electrical components of mixing and emission control must be replaced.
- Engine running temperatures will almost certainly be greater than they were before the package was installed.
- The vehicle will fail the inspection if the kit or changes are found in the ITV.
Furthermore, it is preferable not to consider what may happen if we were in an accident and the engine caught fire because the issue that arises is: would the insurance take over if it is discovered that the engine has been modified without the necessary homologation…