While fuel cells will likely power many future clean vehicles, they are still several years away from mass production. Most of today’s internal combustion engine vehicles can be modified to run on hydrogen. Cars can then continue to use gasoline, or switch to hydrogen at the flip of a switch, making it possible to have uninterrupted travel when you are unable to find a hydrogen fueling station.
The most expensive part of a hydrogen conversion is the carbon fiber tank. A 5,000 psi tank can add $5,000-10,000 to the cost of a vehicle. The 10,000 psi tanks are still done one at a time, and can cost several times as much as a 5,000 psi tank. However, when enough hydrogen cars are being built, mass production will reduce component costs tremendously.
Compared to a fuel cell, the cost is still very close to that of a gasoline-powered automobile. For a comparison of HICEs (Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine) and Fuel Cells read the H2Nation article, The Hydrogen Fuel Cell vs. the Internal Combustion Engine Debate (pdf).
The following companies modify automobiles to run on hydrogen:
Hydrogen Vehicle Systems
The Hydrogen Car Company
Quantum Technologies converts new Toyota Priuses to run on hydrogen.
For the Do It Yourselfer
Congratulations on your decision to convert your car to hydrogen. You are to be commended for your efforts to clean the air and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Bear in mind that it is a complex endeavor, and for safety concerns, we do not endorse or recommend that you undertake such a conversion.
However, if you are serious about investigating doing your own conversion, we suggest attending the American Hydrogen Association Hydrogen Conversion Workshop. It is really essential to get this basic education about hydrogen before attempting a conversion. It is an excellent class, and will help to prepare you for converting all types of internal combustion engines to run on hydrogen, as well as provide very important training on hydrogen safety. You will receive two books that are full of information about car conversions: "The Philosopher Mechanic" and "Fuel From Water". There is also some useful information on the AHA web site, where they answer the question, Where do I buy a kit to convert my car to hydrogen?
One of our favorite books on hydrogen tells the history of some of the first automobile conversions in the U.S. "The World Hydrogen View", by Dr. Roger E. Billings, chronicles the trials and tribulations of his efforts at converting a number of vehicles. It is very insightful, and a pleasure to read..
Links of Interest
EERE Advanced Vehicle Testing: Hydrogen ICE Fuel Blended Vehicles
Ford Motor Company to Display Hydrogen Technology at 2005 GSE Expo -- I-Newswire -- Mar 3, 2005
Ford Power Products Introduces Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engines to the Industrial Marketplace -- Ford -- Feb 24, 2005