Hop in. We’re going to take a ride in a car some experts say could be the car of the future, today on Engineering Works!
The first thing you’ll notice about our ride is that it’s quiet. All you hear is the tires on the pavement and â€¦ nothing. It’s quiet. No engine noise. That’s because the motor turning our wheels is electric. Not a gas tank or fuel injector in sight. The power comes from something called a fuel cell that uses hydrogen, a gas that’s the most abundant fuel in the universe, to produce electricity. No fossil fuels; no gasoline shortages; no smelly exhaust.
The idea behind fuel cells has been around for a long time. Since 1839, long before gasoline and long before automobiles. Fuel cells helped power NASA’s missions to the moon, but engineers have only recently begun to think about using hydrogen and fuel cells to power cars and provide electricity for our homes.
Here’s how they work. Hydrogen enters the fuel cell, a sort of gas-tight can, and a chemical reaction takes the atom apart. One part actually becomes an electric current that’ll run an electric motor. Dump what’s left into the atmosphere and you end up with good old H2O, water. No noxious exhaust fumes.
We might have fuel cells in our future. We’ve got a long way to go before they’re really practical: where to get hydrogen cheaply and easily; building a network of hydrogen filling stations; what to do with the leftover water. But engineers are working on it.
Well, gotta go.