Monday, June 16, 2008

Driving on Zero

Today's Globe & Mail has an account of Honda's new, zero emissions car, the FXC Clarity.

The new Honda runs on hydrogen and electricity, in other words a fuel cell, and emits only water.

It's a start.

The great thing about the Clarity and other fuel cell vehicles is that the break the dependency on fossil fuels, but only on their end. They still depend on power generation to produce electricity or generate hydrogen and that is typically fossil fuel powered.

Now we know how to generate electricity, lots of it, without burning fossil fuels. We have hydro-electric, solar, wind, tidal and geo-thermal generation. There's also nuclear power as a stopgap. What we have to do is tap into these renewable sources of essentially free energy. Use that electricity to produce the fuel for our zero emission cars and get on with it.

With oil hovering at $140 a barrel, those nations which first implement successful renewable energy grids will be the winners in the coming decades.

New technologies are coming. One of them is the WES or Water Energy System now being tested by the Japanese developer, Genepax. Unlike the normal fuel cell vehicle, WES does its own hydrogen generation. You fill the tank from your garden hose and WES converts the water into fuel using an onboard membrane electrode assembly or MEA. Now, admittedly, the demonstration vehicle is a bit quirky but, who knows?

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