Elon Musk and Tesla Inc. continue to lead the revolution in electric vehicles (EVs). Alongside an expanding range of cars, the company has more than 50,000 Superchargers across the country.
While Tesla is standing on solid ground, there is a competitor on the horizon known as the unitized regenerative fuel cell (URFC) system. A URFC system is a hydrogen-based energy storage system.
Automakers are actively working on integrating URFC technology. At the moment, Honda appears to be in the lead.
This groundbreaking technology will initially recharge a battery and then produce hydrogen through electrolyzing the water generated during vehicle operation. This effectively refills the hydrogen tank.
Why the URFC system could be revolutionary
A car equipped with a URFC system offers a more convenient and cost-effective alternative to a battery electric vehicle (BEV). A URFC car can be refueled more quickly than a BEV, while still being easily re-energized at home.
Moreover, with the increasing availability of affordable off-peak electricity, it makes financial sense to have sufficient onboard energy capacity.
By using large hydrogen tanks, URFC systems will be much more affordable and much lighter than conventional batteries. The hydrogen tanks also have the advantage of maintaining capacity over time and extending the vehicle’s lifespan.
These advancements in hydrogen technology may potentially replace conventional batteries in most large cars by the year 2030.
By refilling URFC cars with hydrogen using inexpensive overnight electricity, drivers can minimize visits to filling stations and significantly reduce operating costs.
Additionally, for occasional long trips, URFC cars can be refueled with compressed hydrogen in less than five minutes at a filling station.
Why Honda is in the driver’s seat
Honda has the edge in developing URFC technology because it’s prioritizing hydrogen technology the most of any automaker.
According to Yahoo, Honda is preparing to launch a new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, which incorporates a plug-in feature. Scheduled for release in 2024, Honda’s fuel cell car will be based on the existing CR-V “self-charging” SUV model.
It’s worth mentioning that this vehicle solely recharges the battery and does not refill the hydrogen tank. Nevertheless, the new fuel cell car is an important first step toward URFC cars.
Honda’s URFC technology won’t be available for a couple of years at the earliest. But when URFC cars do arrive, Honda will have the opportunity to snatch the EV crown away from Tesla.