the star is the hydrogen car

Mondial de l’auto, which opens on Monday in Paris, will be characterized by the presentation of several models of cars that run on hydrogen.

In the midst of a fuel crisis, the Paris Motor Show is held this week, where all the cars of tomorrow will be revealed. Between gasoline shortages and exploding prices, the solution of the future may be found in hydrogen. There are pros and cons, because no solution is perfect or magical. What is certain is that there are a lot of innovations in this field, presented at this World Cup. And especially French innovations with several models presented. The car of the future is a concept of the mythical Renault Alpine reunion with hydrogen sauce, called Alpenglow (Glow of the Alps), which looks like it came out of a video game or a movie. science fiction (we are between the K2000 and the Batmobile), with totally futuristic lines and which runs on hydrogen. The engine emits only a little water vapor. Then we can mention Hopium (with an H), which already sees itself as the Tesla of the hydrogen car. Its creator, Olivier Lombard, is a former winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. An ultra-luxurious, ultra-sleek, doorless sedan. It opens automatically when you approach, there is a huge roll-up screen inside as a dashboard. And it runs on a fuel cell.

There is also an SUV from a French brand called NamX, designed by Pininfarina, with a system of removable hydrogen capsules that could be changed very easily at a station, like a large Nespresso capsule, which would give it a range of 800 km. This is one of the advantages of hydrogen on paper: solving two of the major problems of conventional electricity, that of autonomy (to cross France in one go) and that of recharging. Four minutes to recharge! There is no need to plug in the car like with electric, just fill the hydrogen tank, just like filling up with gas, and it doesn’t take longer.

Except that here we are talking about luxury cars. Before Mr. and Mrs. Everyday have access to this kind of technology, it will take years… As often, to be appetizing, we are shown this technology on exceptional models, from 80,000 to more than 100,000 euros depending on the model. .. But in parallel, manufacturers are also working on models that are less sexy, but more practical and close to our lives, especially vans and utility vehicles, which are also presented at the fair. But also taxis, buses and even… bicycles! An alternative to electric bikes, which go much longer and recharge in less than a minute. Without talking about airplanes at all, because hydrogen will also be a potential revolution to replace petroleum.

Still many technological challenges

Some researchers are also working on new types of engines that can switch a gasoline car to hydrogen, which would accelerate democratization. The other crucial question is: how much will it cost to top up? If we take the example of the Toyota Mirai, which is already on the way, it costs around 50-60 euros for a full 650 km. So much cheaper than a full tank of fuel today. And we are close to exploding electricity prices (unless we recharge at home or at our business).

It sells dreams, but there are still many technological challenges to be solved. At first they say it’s clean energy, but actually it’s a little more complicated than that… This hydrogen has to be produced. It may be the most abundant element in the universe (92% of the atoms in the universe are hydrogen atoms), but on Earth there is very little of it naturally present, so it must be made. Today, 95% of hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels, which generates a lot of CO2… Therefore, it is important to develop carbon-free hydrogen (“green hydrogen”), by electrolysis of water, using renewable energies such as nuclear power, wind energy , hydropower… Then there is a need for special filling stations, which are more difficult to install than simple electric charging stations. Today there are only about thirty in France. Nothing insurmountable, but these are technological challenges that must be solved in the coming years.

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