HYUNDAI is preparing to launch a new hydrogen fuel cell car that not only emits nothing but water from the tailpipe, but is also claimed to “clean” the air as it drives.
Ahead of the Hyundai NEXO’s launch next year, the car has had its particulate filtration system put to the test on some of London’s “dirtiest” streets.
Standard hydrogen fuel cell cars combine oxygen from the air from outside the vehicle with hydrogen gas, which is stored in a tank within the vehicle), to create electricity, which in turn drives an electric motor.
But the NEXO also uses air filters to ‘decontaminate’ the exterior air before it reaches the fuel cell stack.
Following a course plotted by researchers at University College London, the NEXO was driven down some of the capital’s most polluted roads to ascertain how well the filters could remove harmful toxins air.
Hyundai claims the NEXO was able to filter out 99.9% of the fine dust and particulates that passed through, with the fuel cell SUV able to clean up to 26.9kg of air for every hour of driving.
Hyundai reckons 10,000 NEXOs on the road would have a carbon reduction effect equivalent to planting 60,000 trees.
Hyundai also says the regenerative braking system has been engineered to reduce as much as possible the amount of brake dust that’s produced.
Because it’s zero emission “at the tailpipe”, the Hyundai NEXO will still be eligible to drive in central London from 2025, assuming proposals to ban petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from that part of the city go ahead.
Though prospective buyers may find fuel cell cars appealing on paper, they may be put off vehicles like the Hundai NEXO by the lack of infrastructure: according to the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles, there are only 15 hydrogen refuelling sites across the UK. By comparison, there were 8,407 petrol stations nationwide as of November 2017, and 16,500 electric car charging points as of May 2018.
To help combat this, the UK Government launched a £20m “Hydrogen Supply programme” in May this year. Though the funding boost isn’t aimed directly at building more hydrogen filling stations, it is in place to help bring down the costs of producing and transporting hydrogen — thereby, in theory, making it a more economically viable alternative fuel.