Honda readies sleek hydrogen car for sale next year

With the new FCX, Honda will take the next step in taking hydrogen powered cars beyond the laboratory.

Honda FCX
Honda FCX
The FCX is powered by a fuel cell. That means it doesn't compress and combust hydrogen inside a cylinder to make power the way a gasoline car uses gasoline. (BMW's Hydrogen 7, for example, uses hydrogen that way.)

Instead, the hydrogen is fed into a device in which it is combined with oxygen in a chemical reaction that makes water while also releasing a stream of electricity. That electricity is stored in a battery and used to run the FCX's electric motor.

In this way, the car itself produces no pollution. How much pollution its use ultimately creates depends on how the hydrogen is harvested. While hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it doesn't generally exist by itself. It must be separated out of other substances, a process that takes some power, usually electricity.

Regardless of how the electricity is produced, though, electricity generation is a more efficient way to make power from a fuel than exploding it to push pistons, a process in which most of the power is wasted as heat. So, even if the electricity to separate the hydrogen were to come from a coal-burning power plant, the FCX would still be cleaner than a gasoline-powered car.


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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.