Frequently Asked Questions
Where does the hydrogen come from?
Two-thirds of True Zero’s hydrogen comes from fossil fuels, and one-third from renewables. There are a few common ways today to process hydrogen for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and other applications. Steam reforming of methane is the most common method today. Methane, most of which comes from natural gas, is combined with high-temperature steam to separate the hydrogen. The hydrogen that comes from renewables comes from landfills and waste treatment facilities.
How does the hydrogen work to power the vehicle?
A hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle, such as the Toyota Mirai, is powered by a cluster of individual fuel cells, known as a fuel-cell stack. The stack contains enough cells to provide the necessary power for the vehicle. A fuel-cell stack produces power as long as there is hydrogen in the tank. The electricity generated by the fuel-cell stack powers the electric motor in the vehicle that moves the vehicle down the road.
How does the hydrogen come from bio-mass?
Hydrogen is derived from organic materials like crops and crop waste, as well as livestock waste by placing the organic material under high temperatures, which separates the hydrogen.
Hydrogen is in water. Can’t we get it from water instead of fossil fuels?
Yes. But the widespread application of this process isn’t here yet. Hydrogen is extracted from water through electrolysis–an electric current passing through water to separate the hydrogen. The electricity can be sourced from clean, renewable energy such as wind, hydro-electric power or solar. The clean nature of this process is why building out a hydrogen infrastructure and putting hydrogen cars on the road is so important.
Is Hydrogen fuel-cell technology new?
No. It has been around for decades. The first hydrogen fuel-cell powered generators were developed in 1939. NASA put hydrogen fuel cells into spacecrafts in the 1950s and 60s to power on-board electronics and also to produce water for the astronauts. Industrial vehicles such as fork-lifts have been powered in some cases by fuel cells since the 1960s. The German Navy launched a fuel-cell powered submarine in 2002.
What are advantages of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over electric vehicles powered by batteries?
The range and fill-up time for a start. The Toyota Mirai, for example, has a range of about 300 miles, and the tank takes just a few minutes to re-fill. Most electric vehicles take hours to recharge and have much shorter ranges.
Is hydrogen safe?
According to the Department of Energy, Hydrogen is transported safely through 700 miles of US pipelines and 70 million gallons of liquid hydrogen is transported annually by truck over US highways without major incident. Hydrogen powered vehicles carry compressed hydrogen on board in very strong tanks. These high-pressure tanks have routinely survived simulated rear-end crashes at speeds up to 52 mph without leaking. The same cannot be said about gasoline tanks.
How do I put hydrogen into my vehicle at the pump? Is it complicated?
No. You will find that the process is really no different than filling up a car with gasoline. The pump is designed to be very simple. See our video on filling up.
If hydrogen is chiefly derived from fossil fuels like natural gas and in conjunction with oil production, how is it cleaner than burning gasoline?
Consuming hydrogen is much cleaner than burning gasoline to power our cars. FCEV vehicles are twice as energy efficient as internal-combustion-engine (ICE) powered vehicles. And of course, there is nothing but water vapor coming out of the tailpipe. Where we get hydrogen from is the variable on how clean and green we can be. To get hydrogen vehicles on the road and in consumer driveways, we have to use the hydrogen we have. But in time, as the technology and infrastructure develops, we can keep increasing the hydrogen we produce from renewable energy.
Why is it important to build up a hydrogen economy?
Oil, the source of gasoline, is only found in some parts of the world. It has to be shipped and trucked, which is expensive and energy intensive. Hydrogen is found everywhere, and, given the availability of technology, can be produced and used for both transportation and stationary energy to power buildings without the same level of carbon dioxide.
What happens if I am running out of hydrogen and I am too far from a hydrogen dispenser?
The hydrogen vehicles sold today are supported by roadside assistance from the company that sold it. With careful planning, though, which TrueZero helps with, you shouldn’t run out of hydrogen.
Do hydrogen vehicles perform and accelerate like gasoline-powered vehicles?
Yes. In fact, hydrogen vehicles arguably have better acceleration than most gasoline-powered vehicles. The energy that propels the vehicle down the road has fewer moving parts to power or travel through. Hydrogen fuel-cell and electric vehicles powered by batteries are a lot of fun to drive.