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Japanese hydrogen cars in the works

Posted: 30 Jan 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Japan hydrogen car? fuel cell? global warming?

Addressing the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to stop global warming, Japanese automakers and energy suppliers are pushing the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles, according to the JCN Network.

Honda Motor Co. is expected to start leasing advanced hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles in Japan and the United States before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Mazda Motor Corp. is set to deliver hydrogen rotary engine-powered vehicles to Norway in Q3. The Norwegian government the vehicles for its HyNor national project to test drive hydrogen-fueled automobiles along a 580km route between Oslo and Stavanger.

The most abundant element on Earth, hydrogen does not release carbon dioxide when burned, and its use as a replacement for fossil fuels is considered a key to halting global warming. However, delays in establishing a hydrogen supply network are becoming a hindrance to the wider use of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The Japanese government has so far built 12 hydrogen stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area as part of a test project but a Mazda official said the efforts are not enough to support the wider use of hydrogen vehicles.

On of the main reasons behind the delays in setting up hydrogen stations is the lack of cost-efficient and safe methods to transport and store hydrogen, which is highly combustible. The good news is innovative technologies are on their way.

Tokyo Gas Co., one the Japan's largest gas supplier, is developing a technology to synthesize hydrogen from city gas. With this development, suppliers would not have to worry about transporting and storing hydrogen since it can be made where needed. Tokyo Gas disclosed the technology may be put into practical use by around 2014.

Another technology being developed by Nippon Oil and Hitachi Ltd is for synthesizing hydrogen from a liquid of chemical compounds containing hydrogen and toluene. The technology would allow hydrogen suppliers to use conventional gas station facilities and tank trucks, the companies said.

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