The launch on June 16 of the Riversimple sustainable hydrogen powered city car is very significant. It’s significant for environmental reasons, for technological reasons and for economic reasons. This company has turned conventional wisdom on its head. Providing the source of power used to produce the hydrogen is clean and sustainable, we are on the verge of having personal transportation without pollution.
Oil based combustion engines have been the power plant of choice for personal transport. Despite pollution problems, their compelling advantage was that they used fuels with a high energy density. So does Hydrogen. Allied to the use of an efficient fuel cell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell) to produce electricity, high power capacitors for storage and motors at each wheel on the car to recapture energy during breaking this is a wining combination.
If all this wasn’t enough, Riversimple have thrown out the traditional business model. We won’t buy this car, but lease it, with maintenance and servicing rolled into the monthly fee. The cars will be built for a 20 year life. And the manufacturer wants to make the technology open source – so other manufacturers can take and adapt the idea and produce different configurations of the vehicle.