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Are the new hydrogen cars as clean as they claim?

Monday, November 20, 2006

BMW has announced the introduction of the first hydrogen powered luxury car. Rather than C02, pure water vapor drips from its exhaust pipe. While the hydrogen tank’s range is limited to 200 kilometers (124 miles), a button on the steering wheel can switch the car from hydrogen to allow the car to use gas, allowing up to 500 additional kilometers (310 miles).

Sounds like a great idea, but like any new toy, a hydrogen car has its downsides. Besides the high price, there are a few other kinks in this seemingly smog-free ride. Producing hydrogen with fossil fuels can outweigh the benefits of using it as a fuel. BMW says they'd prefer to use hydrogen produced by wind or solar power, but for now, the fuel is generated by burning petroleum. Then there's the problem that only five hydrogen-fueling stations exist in the whole world. Still, BMW hopes that this high-profile model will spur other companies to produce hydrogen vehicles, which in turn means a bigger market for hydrogen produced with renewable energy and refueling stations.

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