Print 16 comment(s) - last by axeman1957.. on May 27 at 11:06 AM

Kia Borrego fuel cell prototype
Meanwhile, still working out hydrogen-related problems

Just when fully electric vehicles have become a mainstream reality and will be available before the year is up,  new advancements in hydrogen fuel cell technology are following closely behind. This is triggering Kia to declare their hopes of becoming the world leader in hydrogen vehicles as soon as 2015.

Later this year, Kia plans to sell their first hydrogen vehicles to research institutions and government fleets. As early as 2012, they hope to release these vehicles to the public, and by 2015 would like to have 10,000 fuel cell vehicles sold to consumers. Kia aims to reach these goals by continuing progress on vehicles like the Kia Borrego FCEV, a hydrogen SUV that can reach 60 mph in 12 seconds and has a top speed of 106 mph.  The vehicle is capable of covering 375 miles before needing to refuel. 

While this mission looks promising, considering the staff of just 150 engineers at Kia's Eco Tech Research Institute in Mabuk, Korea, there are still some issues that need to be ironed out before hydrogen vehicles can hit the market.

One major concern is the relatively nonexistent refueling infrastructure. Fuel companies are skeptical about investing in hydrogen fill stations when there are so few vehicles on the road. Although global demand for oil is expected to increase over the coming years and the cost of hydrogen will fall, making fuel cell vehicles that much more alluring to consumers. Also, SunHydro, the world's first chain of privately funded fueling stations that provide hydrogen, plans to transform Interstate 95 into a hydrogen highway.

Fortunately, some earlier hydrogen vehicle problems concerning cold starting and safety issues have been resolved. Kia ran several tests with varied temperatures from minus 40 degrees up to 70 degrees on water left in the fuel stack and front, side and rear impact tests as well as a vehicle fire test have been successfully conducted on hydrogen vehicles. 

Other issues still remain, though, including concerns about price and insurance. Kia has admitted that getting insurance on these vehicles would be "impossible" because so much about hydrogen vehicles are new and unknown. This is expected to change over the next few years as more technological advancements are made. Also, the cost of hydrogen vehicles would be high because fuel stacks are so expensive.

The year 2015 is a ways off and Kia plans to fix these hydrogen-related problems along the way, but it looks as though test drivers are already impressed with the hydrogen vehicles saying the Kia Borrego FCEV is "above all, a smooth, smooth ride."

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Spookster on 5/26/2010 1:05:29 PM , Rating: 5
Hyrodgen Tank + Impact = Kia (Killed In Accident)

By xler8r on 5/26/2010 1:23:47 PM , Rating: 2
*Remembers the Terminator chick throwing away her fuel cel battery and a baby mushroom cloud is produced* = Epic Win :D

By B3an on 5/26/2010 6:52:24 PM , Rating: 2
Terminator chick

I wasn't aware Arnie had a sex change (as this happens in T3 and he does it).

By wiz220 on 5/26/2010 5:47:01 PM , Rating: 2
Certainly no more dangerous than gasoline. I believe with the right safety measures it can be made far safer than gas. They did say after all that they have DONE the crash testing and fire testing.

By JediJeb on 5/26/2010 5:52:09 PM , Rating: 2
Anything that would rupture the fuel tank would probably cause enough damage that you would have other things to worry about before the ruptured fuel cell. One nasty thing about gasoline when a tank ruptures is that the fuel spills and runs below the vehicle, and when set on fire will slowly roast you if it doesn't explode. Hydrogen will quickly rise above you and disperse into the air when a tank is ruptured, at worse you have a fire above you if it does not explode. If either explodes then you are in pretty much the same shape regardless of the fuel, which is very bad.

By S3anister on 5/26/2010 6:13:49 PM , Rating: 3
KIA jokes aside, if they can produce a decent hydrogen vehicle for me to possibly consider buying, I say bring it on! We need more hydrogen vehicles so we get more competition, better adoption, lower prices.

By martinrichards23 on 5/27/2010 4:41:31 AM , Rating: 2
Petrol is almost certainly more dangerous.

I have a thought,..
By axeman1957 on 5/26/2010 3:00:13 PM , Rating: 4
... Before anyone points out the obvious, I know there would be issues with efficiency.

That said, I think hydrogen cars are the best of all the current options. They are electric cars but their "battery storage" are tanks of hydrogen, much "greener" to produce than lithium ion or nickel cadmium batteries. And as far as the lack of fuel stations, hydrogen cars could come with a relatively inexpensive home fuel station that breaks down water through electrolysis (inefficient, I know, but stick with me) and stores it, in essence you are making your hydrogen car a plug-in EV but your fueling station can be making fuel for several days while you are driving, and you can refuel in a matter of minutes, rather than hours. And as for the efficiency, it is inefficient to charge batteries too... not as inefficient, but it is a trade off.

I would honestly like to hear some intelligent responses.

RE: I have a thought,..
By JediJeb on 5/26/2010 5:48:13 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. The thing is nothing will replace gasoline cars until someone starts to do it. Also hydrogen is not as unsafe as so many try to make it out to be. Hydrogen suffers from the Hindenburg just as Nuclear suffers from Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. In the lab where I work we handle cylinders of compressed hydrogen every day without any problems, been doing it for 20 years now. I also know the fear of hydrogen embritlement is not as big a deal as some say either because we have had cylinders that have been in use for several years, the company refills them and recycles them many many times with no problems. Design a self sealing break away connector for a cylinder and you would have no problems, unless you drive off a cliff or get hit by a semi, but then you are going to have other problems than a fire to worry about.

I personally would have no fear of driving a hydrogen powered vehicle, or even refueling one. I would be more worried about driving an EV with lithium batteries actually since so many of those have caught fire in cellphones and laptops. Probably just as unreal for me to fear that as most others to fear hydrogen though.

One thing that could eventually make the hydrogen cars better in the long run would be the ability to have a way to do a quick refuel on the road if you run out of fuel. Service trucks could carry cylinders just like welding tanks to give you a quick shot of fuel. That would be really hard to do for full electric vehicles. Of course it would probably be a long time before car nuts would be able to do much modifications on these, but it would happen eventually :)

RE: I have a thought,..
By Paj on 5/27/2010 8:37:15 AM , Rating: 2
Ive always thought of hydrogen as being more of a viable solution than electric in the long term. I remember the trial of hydrogen buses in my home city, it felt very much like the future had arrived, the steam exhaust and the unique sound it made were very memorable.

Is hydrogen obtained through electrolysis a much more energy intensive process than obtaining it from other sources (ie refined from oil/hydrocarbons)? Are there other ways of getting it besides those two?

RE: I have a thought,..
By Micronite on 5/27/2010 10:52:04 AM , Rating: 2
These guys are a little slow rolling it out, but I think this idea awesome.

RE: I have a thought,..
By axeman1957 on 5/27/2010 11:06:41 AM , Rating: 2
They have the generation system i was imagining, but they seem to be modifying combustion engines. If i remember right, a fuel cell and an electric motor are far more efficent. but of course with this, you dont have to buy a new car.

By vtohthree on 5/26/2010 4:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
Regardless of whether or not Hydrogen will be a feasible in the near future, at least somebody is making them available. This is the first step, then you have consumers buying them, then power companies get more serious about finding ways to supply the market demand.

So I don't see it as a bad thing that one company is starting to give some attention to the hydrogen market. If it fails, then it's Kia/Hyundai's loss, but still an attempt at being progressive in the future of automobiles.

P.S. Hyundai is the parent company of Kia, they took over several years back, and thats when Kia's basically became re badged clones of Hyundai Optima=Sonata in different sheet metal.

By mellomonk on 5/26/2010 6:06:18 PM , Rating: 2
The newer Kias are not exactly rebadgings of Hyundai products. They are both based on common platforms and technology, but Hyundai has made an effort to keep to quite unique and distinct in design and feel. Plus each has some unique packages, such as Kia's Soul and Borrego, and Hyudai's Genesis and Genesis Coupe.

Kia has come a long way in recent years

Diversify your bonds, B**ches!
By The Raven on 5/26/2010 1:22:45 PM , Rating: 2
Well for what it is worth, I think that we should jump on this as much as we should with hybrids, EVs, diesel, 'corn burners', and 'rice burners'. Throw some solar panels on the roof for the heck of it.

I think there are a lot of people out there who are waiting for the next ONE 'sure' thing that will replace gasoline powered cars. We should be smarter than that with the history that we have with oil. (And any "2B2F" companies for that matter)

Embrace new tech like this, not as a mindless treehugger, but do some research and make a choice on the matter of reducing our oil consumption.

Do it for whatever reason you want, too. Do it for cleaner air or long-term cost savings (and I mean LONG term). Do it to get off the teat that is foreign oil or to reduce the chance of anything like the gulf oil mess will ever happen again. Do it to reduce your carbon footprint... oh who am I kidding. That one is a joke. Do people still believe that switching to electric cars will stop climate change?

Look, lets just do it to try to save money, keep/get the air clean and get off the foreign teat and work out the other problems from there.

And don't forget other ways to be more efficient like just driving less period.

RE: Diversify your bonds, B**ches!
By Kurz on 5/26/2010 2:16:41 PM , Rating: 1
And Hypermiling. stop on by our friendly forums will help you make the necessary driving habit changes to eek out that extra 50%. (Best tank was 36mpg compared to my 27mpg highway) Typically I get 33~34 mpg.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki