New green hydrogen-fuelled cars coming to Britain soon

Caroline Cassidy

By as soon as next year, we will be seeing these new hydrogen-fuelled cars on the streets of England. The cars can deliver 300 miles per gallon and the only emission from its engine is water.

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These two-seater cars have a top speed of 50mph, they can travel up to 240 miles on a tank of hyrdogen and can accelerate from 0 - 30mph in 5.5 seconds.

Riversimple, the company making these cars, plan to make some available to guinea-pig drivers by 2012 and if the pilot run is successful, they hope to build 5,000 cars a year in a factory in Leicester, which will provide 250 new jobs. The cars will not be available to purchase, however. Instead, Riversimple plan to load out their cars in a similar scheme as a mobile phone plan. Drivers would have to pay £200 a month plus 15p per mile.

The car has so far cost £3 million in developing the technology and a further £20 million is needed to put the car into full production.

Hydrogen is a highly explosive material, but in the cars the fuel will not be burned. Instead, there is a special fuel cell which allows the gas to flow over a membrane, causing a chemical reaction which produces electricity. The only emission from the process being water and a little heat.

Hugo Spowers, the founder of Riversimple, said: "The age of fossil-fuelled cars may not be over yet but it is surely dying. Contrary to what we usually hear, sustainable, near pollution-free transport is possible, here and now, using existing technology."

The car is very light, only 350kg, and it uses its own motion energy when braking to provide 80% of the power it needs to accelerate. Riversimple want to create 4 person cars in the future which can be used safely on motorways. They believe they will have many thousands of cars on English roads by 2020.

They have the backing of the new coalition government who are keen to be seen providing new green forms of transport.

Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: "We need to harness cutting edge technology to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels if we are to tackle climate change.

"Nowhere is this more important than with passenger cars, which are responsible for almost 60per cent of domestic transport emissions.

"A radical transformation of our transport network is needed in the next 40 years and this is another great example of British innovation developing low carbon solutions to bring that about."

Will you be driving a hydrogen-fuelled car in the next few years? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.