Will The Hydro Powered Engine Make A Cleaner World?
By Matthew Barr
Image a world in which the highways are full of cars but the choking smell of sulfur and carbon monoxide don’t penetrate your lungs and kill you slowly. Imagine a trip of a thousand miles where the gas costs just a few cents. Imagine an engine that never has to be cleaned... and making a hot cup of coffee from the sterilized water coming out of the exhaust. Imagine that the gas station is in your own home, where you prepare as much fuel as you need for your trip, or buying a box of energy in the supermarket. This is the world of the hydrogen powered spark-ignited internal combustion engine... and the technology is already here.
The motor industry has been testing prototypes, and manufacturers like General Motors, BMW, Mercedes, Mazda, Honda and Toyota are all looking at putting these cars on the roads without sacrificing any of the values of dynamism and driving pleasure. BMW even make a sports car that runs on hydrogen that easily goes over 230 MpH. Mazda’s RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles are being leased to Japanese companies.
The advantages are clear. Hydrogen is the only known fuel that leaves no pollutants when combusted and is far more powerful than oil. The by-product is water instead of poison gas. But while the technology is here, the cars are not; manufacturers are sitting on the fence waiting to see in which commercial direction the wind will blow.
In the meantime, they’ve taken an intermediate step in the reduction of oil consumption by producing hybrid cars powered by a dual system of electricity and fossil fuels. These use a lot less gas than traditional engines and also reduce pollutant emissions, but they aren’t pretty and they’ve proven to have all the sex appeal of a Star Trek convention. The hydro-engine though is structurally close to the traditional gasoline engines, with just a few modifications. Drivers report that they’re a joy to handle and there’s no need to sacrifice design.
With a bit of luck then, it won’t be too long before we can drive to work, still look cool and enjoy a nice cup of Espresso straight from the exhaust pipe!
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