Fuel cell cars could become clean power plants, researchers say

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In an experiment meant to promote fuel cell technology, researchers transformed Hyundai’s hydrogen SUV into a power plant.

Researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands converted a zero-emission fuel cell electric vehicle into a power plant on wheels, as they successfully engineered and installed a socket on a Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell that serves as an electrical outlet. The experiment is meant to promote hydrogen-powered vehicles as a cleaner source of energy. The idea behind this also links into car owners’ possibility to use their vehicles for transportation only 5 percent of the time, researchers say. Unlike a fossil fuel powered car, a fuel cell vehicle can produce electricity from hydrogen when parked. It is cleaner and more efficiently than the current electricity system and with useful ‘waste’ products such as heat and fresh water which can alternatively be used in homes, schools and offices.

The converted Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell has a capacity of ten kilowatt (kW), sufficient to power on average ten homes. With the socket in place the scientists managed to modify the car in such a way that it can distribute its electricity to the grid or directly to a house, for instance to complement the available wind and solar power.

Hyundai has tried to push the fuel-cell tech forward for a long time, as the ix35 is already the fourth generation of automaker’s FCEV, following the Santa Fe FCEV in 2000, the Tucson FCEV in 2004 and the ix35 FCEV in 2012. There are currently more than 250 ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles on European roads in 13 countries, according to Hyundai.