Hydrogen fuel cell cars that run on human waste? This you’ve got to see.
Electric cars are all the rage right now, and with good reason. While they’re not entirely emission-free (most are still powered by electricity from fossil fuels) they’re a long-overdue step in the right direction when it comes to personal transportation.
Still, there are those who think we can do better. As EcoSalon reported previously, hydrogen fuel cell cars could make EVs obsolete before they even have a chance to go mainstream. Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. Instead of a big dirty engine, or heavy battery, hydrogen-powered vehicles have a fuel cell, which converts hydrogen to electricity, giving off only heat and water as byproducts.
Now, designers of fuel cell cars are looking to close the loop even tighter. California’s Orange County Sanitation District is testing out new technology that they claim will be able to power the forthcoming Hyundai Tucson–a fuel cell car–with nothing but the unmentionables human beings flush down the toilet every day. That’s right, we’re talking about poop.
The technology “can make hydrogen cheaply by processing solid waste and feeding it to microbes that turn it into methane. The fuel will be pumped to local stations, making it possible for Hyundai to put its car on the streets,” reports Fast Company. And if the initial stages of the project are successful, we could soon see poo-powered fuel cell cars popping up around the nation.
According to Hyundai, more than 90,000 people have expressed interest in the fuel cell cars, but for now, the poop-powered vehicles will only be available in a limited area around Los Angeles.
“We want to make sure with this car that customers have pretty easy access to hydrogen,”Jim Trainor, a spokesperson for Hyundai, told Fast Company. “If there were more hydrogen stations, we could have more customers. We’ll plan more when the infrastructure’s in place.”
For those lucky enough to live within driving distance of said infrastructure, buying or leasing one of Hyundai’s fuel cell cars will come with an extra perk: free poop. Well, you know, fuel made from poop.
“We want them to have a good experience. We don’t want them waiting for fuel, we don’t want them driving all over for fuel,” Trainor told Fast Company. “We’ll handle paying for the fuel, because there are also issues with what it costs–a lot of the hydrogen fuel cell stations right now just aren’t capable of charging what you’d pay for gas.”
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Image via Hyundai