Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

Honda bailed on the Readability — its solely hydrogen-powered automotive within the U.S. — however the automaker hasn’t stop on gas cells.

That’s the message Honda despatched with a peculiar announcement at the moment: It’s placing some outdated Readability gas cells again to work, combining them right into a backup energy system for its knowledge heart simply south of Los Angeles.

That is only a “proof of idea,” Honda informed TechCrunch, but it surely goals to commercialize the tech and sees potential functions past serving to knowledge facilities preserve the lights on.

The used gas cell methods in Honda’s backup-power demonstration as soon as powered leased Clarities (through an electrochemical response that mixes hydrogen and oxygen to generate electrical energy). Honda retired these used gas cells for transport, however they apparently nonetheless work nicely sufficient to drive its server farm in case of an influence failure. Beforehand, Honda relied on diesel for backup energy on the facility. (Honda stated it makes use of this explicit knowledge heart to “securely preserve and entry its proprietary knowledge,” as a result of “automotive design is knowledge intensive.”)

It’s good to listen to that Honda discovered a use for its outdated gas cells, however crucially, this demonstration isn’t as environmentally pleasant because it may very well be. The corporate informed TechCrunch that it isn’t completely utilizing inexperienced hydrogen within the pilot, which suggests at the least a few of it was generated through fossil fuels.

That is the difficulty with utilizing hydrogen to generate electrical energy: Gas cells accomplish that whereas spitting out solely water and warmth as exhaust, however they’re nonetheless not directly pollutive if that hydrogen comes from soiled sources (as most hydrogen gas does). Correcting this calls for a complete lot extra inexperienced hydrogen manufacturing, on prime of no matter infrastructure is required to ship the hydrogen. This is the reason some automakers don’t imagine in the way forward for hydrogen-powered vehicles; they argue it’s merely an excessive amount of work to go that route.

However! Honda nonetheless believes in hydrogen-powered vehicles. In truth, this demonstration can be type of an advert for Honda’s next-generation gas cells, which the corporate developed with Normal Motors.

As Honda tells it, the next-gen gas cell methods will energy its upcoming hydrogen-powered car, which is “based mostly on the Honda CR-V” and is due in 2024.

Honda additionally plans to make use of these new gas cell methods for backup energy because it scales the tech. Which means this effort received’t be as round, if in any respect, when it’s commercialized. But, on the upside, Honda stated it intends to completely use inexperienced hydrogen when it commercializes the backup-power models.

Past knowledge facilities, Honda added that it’s contemplating different functions, together with “peak shaving.” This implies Honda thinks industrial clients may use its turbines at peak occasions, when electrical energy is priciest and grids are strained.

Honda stated it goals to develop its proof of idea right into a “new enterprise mannequin.” But, the pilot can be a handy approach for the corporate to speak up its new gas cells. As battery-electric vehicles permeate the U.S. market, Honda has an curiosity in retaining hydrogen in headlines.

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