How Does the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Work?

2016-Hyundai-Tuscon-Fuel-CellAlthough fuel cell technology has been around for a while and has even been used by NASA in spaceships, it’s still a relatively new concept to consumers. As Hyundai introduces the first CUV with this type of power, the Hyundai Tucson, you may have a few questions about it.

What Makes It Go?

Hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity. The process begins by supplying hydrogen from the vehicle’s tank to the fuel cell stack, followed by some air. The hydrogen and air react with each other, forming electricity and water. That electricity is then used to power the vehicle.

Hyundai’s design improves upon the design of other companies by using near ambient air pressure instead of compressed air, which requires more energy. As a result, the Tucson has a higher fuel efficiency and lower power consumption.

Is It Safe?

Because of the infamous explosion of the hydrogen-powered Hindenburg airship, you might be a little leery of cars using that gas for power. However, just like any vehicle, the Hyundai Tucson has undergone extensive testing to ensure a safe design. Although hydrogen is more easily ignited than some other sources of fuel, the practical difference is less than you would expect. No fuel source is entirely safe, and static electricity can cause even traditional fuels to ignite.

With the proper safety precautions, hydrogen is as safe as gasoline or diesel. In fact, some of its properties are an improvement on conventional fuels. For instance, hydrogen is the lightest element on the planet, so if any spills, it will naturally rise and dissipate into the air. This substantially lowers the risk of explosions.

How Is It Better?

Hydrogen fuel cells are better for the environment than gasoline or diesel engines, all of which release varying amounts of pollution into the air. The only emission from hydrogen fuel cells is water. They also have an edge on other electric vehicles (EVs) when it comes to range and convenience. Other EVs must be plugged in for long periods time for charging and can only go a short distance before needing a recharge. The Hyundai Tucson can travel 256 miles on one fill-up and refills in under 10 minutes.

Where Can I Get It?

Because fuel cell vehicles require specialized fueling stations, the Hyundai Tucson won’t be available everywhere right away. For now, it is being leased only in Southern California, but Hyundai plans to expand into other regions as the fueling infrastructure develops. The best way to find out whether the Tucson is or will be available near you is to use the locator tool on the vehicle’s website.

As is the case with all new technology, a few adjustments need to be made before hydrogen fuel cells reach their full potential. Most importantly, the fledgling infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations must be expanded before most consumers will benefit. However, as stations become available in more places, hydrogen-fueled vehicles like the Hyundai Tucson will make a huge impact on environmental efforts and energy consumption.