Your Vehicle: Now With Hydrogen!

800px-chevolet_equinox_fuel_cell-2007washauto.jpgI ran into this little number at a busy Dupont Circle intersection the other day. This sighting turned out to be a perfect example of how my chemistry training affects how I see the world. (Read this Newscripts column by Faith Hayden for another example of this concept). It also reminded me that I really need to start carrying a camera so that I can be prepared for impromptu blogging opportunities. I was unaware that hydrogen-powered vehicles were already a reality. But what tipped me off to the fact that I was looking at a fuel-cell vehicle was not that the car clearly said "fuel cell" on it. No, I inferred that information from the paint job at the rear of the vehicle, where you'd normally pump gas into the tank. It's emblazoned with iconic-looking ball-and-stick drawings in a "bent" configuration, which immediately made me think of water. From there, I reasoned that a car that could emit water would have to be powered by hydrogen... and... that's when I saw the big "fuel cell" logo. Sigh. Apparently, I've been living under some sort of rock for the past year because General Motors has launched a test fleet of about 100 fuel-cell cars that people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Southern California can try out for three months at a time. An L.A. Times blogger took the car, called the Chevrolet Equinox, out for a spin last November. I can say, based on my quick sighting, that I agree with her initial impression-- it's a bigger car than I would've expected. I don't own a car, but maybe I should look into a test drive just for the fun of it. According to the L.A. Times, the sign-up list is pretty long. See this blog post for more particulars about GM's fuel-cell technology. But don't get too excited--the Equinox probably won't be on the market for quite some time. The purpose of the test fleet is to get data from real-life driving experiences so that engineers can look into any unforeseen problems cropping up on the road at an early stage. Image: Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

Author: Carmen Drahl

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