This new Hyundai car has a very interesting fuel source

| March 25, 2014

Imagine pulling into your local gas station and seeing the following fuel options: Unleaded, Unleaded Premium, Diesel, Poop.

Er, what?!

Please forgive the rather indelicate nature of this discussion, but it’s simply too fascinating to pass up.

A new car manufactured by Hyundai has been designed to accept a fuel source that stems from human excrement. Now, you’re probably picturing something rather unpleasant, so let’s be clear: they’re not actually suggesting that we hook the vehicle up to a toilet. In truth, the fuel source is actually hydrogen that has been created from sewage. (There, aren’t you breathing a sigh of relief?)

fuel source

The Hyundai Tucson. From Co.Exist.

The hydrogen currently comes from a waste treatment plant in Orange County, California. That hydrogen “will power fuel cells in the Hyundai Tuscon, available for leasing later this spring in a limited area around Los Angeles,” according to a recent article by Adele Peters in Fast Company’s Co.Exist

As Peters points out, this fuel is in practically unlimited supply, and it will be around as long as humans are around. As another bonus, using human waste is a much cheaper method of creating hydrogen than previous alternatives.

Here’s how it works: after solid waste has been processed, this treatment plant introduces microbes that convert the waste into methane. That methane can undergo steam reforming to turn it into hydrogen. (If you don’t have methane, you can produce hydrogen using steam reforming of natural gas — but, of course, that requires a supply of natural gas.)

This isn’t the first time that hydrogen fuel has been available, but this is completely different. Currently, there around 10 total hydrogen fuel pumps in the state of California. They are all supplied with hydrogen that was made from natural gas. This new, methane-produced hydrogen fuel will be cheaper and more renewable.

Of course, there’s still the issue of the limited number of hydrogen fuel pumps. A spokesperson for Hyundai calls it a “chicken and egg” problem: people won’t buy the new Tuscon if there aren’t enough hydrogen fuel pumps to keep the car running, but there’s no point in building new hydrogen fuel pumps unless enough people are driving a hydrogen-fueled vehicle.

Hyundai decided to risk it, but customers know that — for the time being — they’ll only be able to fuel the new vehicle at a limited number of stations in a very localized area.

You might think that these limitations would spell disaster for this new technology, but Hyundai reports that “over 90,000 people” have already expressed interest in the new car.

Perhaps that’s because Hyundai has made the rather unconventional move of offering to pay for all the fuel costs for the first customers.

In addition to free fuel, new customers benefit from a reasonable, 300-mile driving range on one tank as well as the knowledge that “they’ll never contribute to LA-area smog: The only exhaust is water vapor,” reports Peters. That’s about as eco-friendly as it gets!

The hydrogen-fueled Tuscon is expected to be available for lease at $499 per month.

Tags: ,

Category: Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

Comments are closed.