Fuel Cell Safety: Why hydrogen cars like Honda’s Clarity are safe

“Will it explode?” isn’t the question Honda dealers want to be answering about the 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell, but hydrogen’s tricky history means they’ll probably hear it more than once. Fuel cell engines are faintly magical in science terms, taking hydrogen, converting it into electricity, and then emitting nothing but water as a waste product. Problem is, say “hydrogen” and many people hear “Hindenburg”.

The idea of changing hydrogen into electricity isn’t a new one, but it’s taken a long time to reach the road in any meaningful numbers. Honda’s work on fuel cells, the technology at the heart of hydrogen powertrains, began in the 1980s, though its first experimental vehicle – based on the Odyssey minivan, but so stuffed with its “laboratory on wheels” hardware that there was only room, the engineers say, for one and a half people – didn’t arrive until 1998. The following year, Honda developed two cars, FCX-V1 and FCX-V2, with different types of fuel cell architecture.

Since then, like others in the automotive space, Honda has trialled different fuel cell vehicles with both commercial and individual customers. The cars themselves have been a few steps removed from the early prototypes, though one key priority has carried through. If fuel cells are ever going to make it to the public roads at scale, the hydrogen needs not only to be safe, but to be perceived as safe.

See for the whole article: Slash Gear 20/03/17