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Hydrogen has been proven to be a reliable source of fuel, which can be used to power cars with top speeds of over 100mph Hydrogen cars in crash tests have been proven to be as safe as conventionally fuelled cars How suitable is hydrogen as a fuel

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Hydrogen has been proven to be a reliable source of fuel, which can be used to power cars with top speeds of over 100mph

Hydrogen cars in crash tests have been proven to be as safe as conventionally fuelled cars

How suitable is hydrogen as a fuel

So far hydrogen cars have reached a maximum range of 217 miles per tank of fuel

Hydrogen fuel cells are around a third the size of a average conventional engine


Hydrogen filling stations currently only exist in an extremely limited number of places currently, however there are plans for there to be 1 in every European capital by 2005

Hydrogen cars are expected to cost under £20 000 when they first go on sale to the general public

Availability and cost

Maintenance cost of hydrogen fuelled cars are very low as the fuel cell itself contains no moving parts

Hydrogen cars could cost as little as 1p per mile to run if water is used as the hydrogen source


Hydrogen is burnt in fuel cells producing water and heat. It is practically useful because it produces no other waste products so does no damage to the environment.

Hydrogen is also the most plentiful substance in the universe. A major source on earth is water which is nearly inexhaustible unlike many traditional fuels.

Practicality and Range

Hydrogen cells have an efficiency of around 60% in comparison to the 20% of combustion engines.

The most common hydrogen cells (the PEM) can be used in cold weather conditions as well as in extremes heats.

Hydrogen can simply be obtained through electrolysis of water.


New methods of storing hydrogen allow up to 7 gallons of hydrogen to be stored in a single gram of material.

Hydrogen fuel cells are compact and light weight. Hydrogen cars can be filled in as little as 5 minutes.

Engine Technology

Refrigerated and pressurized tanks could allow hydrogen powered cars to go 5000 miles on a single tank. (weighing less than 200lb)

Although it would be difficult to adapt existing cars to used hydrogen systems many major car companies are investing heavily in the development of hydrogen cars.


New methods of storing the hydrogen and more advanced fuel cells are reducing the need for the fuel to be held at such low temperatures.

Hydrogen Has to be stored at low temperature and under high pressure for use in cars.

Storage and Distribution

Many Hydrogen filling stations are already in existence although these are mostly in remote areas it is hoped that this technology could easily be adapted for larger scale use.

It is hoped that within Twenty years there will be hydrogen filling stations in all major cities and car companies will be producing affordable and efficient hydrogen powered cars.



  • Most people think of the Hindenburg when thinking about the safety of Hydrogen.
  • This German passenger airship, kept aloft by hydrogen, crashed in flames as it came in to land at Lakehurst, New Jersey, USA in May 1937. Thirty-five people died.
  • Hydrogen is highly flammable, but recent research has indicated that the airship’s fabric, not hydrogen, was the culprit in the Hindenburg disaster.


  • Recent technological advances, particularly in fuel cell design, have made hydrogen-powered cars a practical proposition.
  • Properly handled, there’s no reason to think hydrogen is any more dangerous as a fuel than petrol, the explosive liquid now carried safely in the tanks of millions of motor vehicles.


  • Hydrogen has a high combustion energy per pound relative to any other fuel, but you would expect any fuel to behave like this
  • It is flammable over a wider range of concentrations than either gasoline or natural gas but due to its buoyancy, it dissipates more rapidly than either of these fuels in a spill. Hydrogen gas, like other gases used today, should be used in areas that can be ventilated.


  • Hydrogen can be as safe as any other fuel which we use today if it is handled properly
  • NASA has been using hydrogen to power it’s spacecraft for years and has never had a serious accident.


  • Put simply, using hydrogen as a fuel consists of putting oxygen and hydrogen in and getting pure water out.
  • This removes pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and greenhouse gases from the equation.

But where will the hydrogen come from?

  • There’s no risk that we’ll ever run out of hydrogen, it's by far the most plentiful element in the universe.
  • On Earth, however, it exists naturally only in chemical compounds, not as hydrogen gas. Water and the main components of coal, oil and natural gas are prime examples of these compounds.

Environmentally friendly hydrogen can only be achieved if the production of the hydrogen does not involve the emission of greenhouse gases.

  • Water is the only potentially pollution-free source of hydrogen.
  • Researchers are looking at new ways of producing hydrogen – using algae, bacteria or photovoltaic cells to absorb sunlight and split water into hydrogen and oxygen. But the technology most likely to be adopted on a large scale is electrolysis, which uses an electric current to split water into oxygen and hydrogen.