The future of hydrogen-powered transportation may be blossoming in Aiken County, South Carolina. A number of buses equipped with internal combustion engines running on hydrogen have emerged from the Savannah National Laboratory at SRS. The facility that birthed the fleet of buses is relatively new, but its scientists have very ambitious aims. Led by Dr. Ted Motyka, researchers have been experimenting with ways to incorporate hydrogen into conventional technologies.
The buses uses an internal combustion engine that has been tweaked to make use of hydrogen rather than gasoline. The vehicle runs without emitting any harmful gases and Dr. Motyka claims that the engine is just as powerful as a fuel cell. The buses are equipped with massive storage tanks – which are reinforced to protect against collisions – that allow the vehicles to travel nearly 200 miles before needing to be refueled.
Scientists at SRS are also fashioning a more efficient fuel cell that promises to be less expensive than its contemporaries. In its current incarnation, the fuel cell is to be used for forklifts, offering the same power garnered from a rechargeable battery. However, the fuel cell can be “recharged” in as little as two hours, whereas a conventional battery would take in excess of ten hours.
Dr. Motyka believes that hydrogen is, indeed, the fuel of the future and that adapting existing technology to make use of the fuel is far more prudent than trying to fabricate new systems that may or may not work well with hydrogen.