The future of hydrogen in our world seems both, incredible and a bit weirdby Josh Conturo, on LISTEN 04:10
Hyundai said they had a big announcement about the future of Hydrogen. But we did NOT see this coming.
Hydrogen is like the scrappy, feisty, background character in a cartoon, always taking occasional big swings that only land occasionally. But, it is constantly overshadowed by the bigger, stronger, more advanced character in the story. That stronger character being electricity, and the story being the ever-changing auto industry.
The "Hydrogen Wave" announcement
The Korean car manufacturer announced on September 7th, 2021, that they would not only offer every commercial vehicle model with the option of a hydrogen fuel cell by 2028, but also that they would achieve carbon neutrality by 2040.
All these announcements came through an event and forum called "Hydrogen Wave," meant to symbolize a new wave of hydrogen power, only this time, it is not restricted to personal cars.
Since Hyundai makes more than just cheap hatchbacks, it plans on implementing hydrogen technology into various industries, saying, "The Group aims to make hydrogen energy available to Everyone, Everything and Everywhere."
And, How Do They Plan To Do This Exactly?
They plan to do this by starting with the commercial vehicle market, specifically, buses and heavy-duty trucks.
Hyundai is already off to a decent start as they have been producing the XCIENT fuel-cell semi-truck. In addition, it is planning on promoting the use of hydrogen in Korea’s public transportation network. However, it has not said what this "promoting" will look like exactly.
Hyundai also released a new generation of fuel cell systems. Offered in 100 kW, meant for cars similar to the ones the company currently makes, and 200 kW, which is designed for commercial use.
The main headlines here are that the 100 kW system shrunk by 30-percent, the new 200 kW system is the same size as the current system, called "NEXO," but now it is significantly more powerful.
In theory, several of these systems could be stacked and jerry-rigged together to power much bigger machines, like cargo ships or backup generators. The shape itself is also new, they can be more efficiently packaged to fit in different kinds of vehicles.
This Got Real Weird, Real Quick
Hyundai seemed to be a bit off its rocker, announcing plans for some...interesting stuff. The beginning of the end started with something called the "Trailer Drone." This seems to be a system that allows shipping containers can be autonomously transported through the magic of hydrogen up to 1,000 miles.
Along with this is something called the "Fuel Cell e-Bogie." The idea here is that the "e-Bogie" will act as an axle of a train car and house everything needed to make the thing move. In terms of what it will look like on the road; think of those San Francisco cable cars, only powered by hydrogen and driving themselves.
Following these was the "Rescue Drone," a sort of ambulance that can crab-walk and fly to get to remote places with injured or sick people (This is real, I cannot make this stuff up.)
There’s also something that Hyundai is calling "HydroVILLE," which is essentially a science exhibit to show off what all these things may look like and their plans for a potential hydrogen-powered society. Or, in other words, a real-life episode of the Twilight Zone.
The Bit We Can Actually Hope To See In Real Life
It was not all fairy tales, though. One thing seems genuinely interesting AND feasible; the Vision FK, a sports car with up to 670 horsepower, the capability to go 0-60mph in under four seconds, and 370 miles of range.
We would love to see some of these things become a reality, but a lot of it seems more than a bit far-fetched. The Vision FK, does not seem too crazy, neither do the new fuel-cell systems themselves, but all that about flying shipping containers, and crab-walking ambulances, we’ll believe it when we see it.