Hyundai Motor Group, an offset of the Hyundai Motor Company, released a new commercial featuring the world's first hydrogen-fueled garbage truck.
The news comes as the automobile industry undergoes a drastic shift toward alternative energy, high efficiency, and innovative design.
Hydrogen fuel has grown in notoriety as a key player in the move away from fossil fuels. Hydrogen acts as an energy carrier, is highly abundant in nature, and can be found almost anywhere worldwide - one of the most common sources being water.
Developers are working to supplement hydrogen for power in homes, vehicles, ships, even planes. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have gained significant attention.
How Hydrogen Powers Vehicles
FCEVs and electric vehicles (EVs) are somewhat comparable as they both utilize batteries to generate power. Where they differ is in battery recharge.
In traditional EVs, dead batteries must be recharged, usually at a vehicle charging station. With FCEVs, hydrogen helps maintain battery charge onboard the vehicle. The system generates electricity by utilizing a fuel cell to combine hydrogen taken from the car's fuel tank with oxygen taken from the air. The process results in zero emissions, producing water and heat as by-products.
According to the US Department of Energy, combining "a fuel cell with an electric motor is two to three times more efficient than an internal combustion engine running on gasoline."
Further, hydrogen is less dense than gas, taking up less space and boosting efficiency. Two pounds of hydrogen store the same energy as one gallon of gasoline.
Despite their advantageous nature, FCEVs still need to stop at hydrogen fueling stations. But the stop won't be a long one. Smaller vehicles can refuel in roughly five minutes. Larger hydrogen busses take up to 15 minutes.
The World's First
Hyundai recognizes hydrogen's potential and has implemented it into its newest garbage truck design. The truck will contain fuel cells and utilize hydrogen to generate electricity.
The garbage truck will also have a storage container to capture the water by-product and redirect it to a sink for employee clean-up.
Hyundai states that their hydrogen truck has a 40% reduction in noise pollution, reducing long-term effects on employee hearing and the surrounding environment. Likewise, zero emissions during operations make the truck more eco-friendly and safer for workers.
The automobile manufacturer completed this project in conjunction with the "Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology, Korea Automotive Technology Institute, and Changwon City."
As of the announcement, the garbage truck has hit South Korea's streets and will undoubtedly be put to the test on efficiency, effectiveness, and usability.
A History of Innovation
Founded in 1967, Hyundai has grown to become one of the industry's leaders in ingenuity and design. Since its incorporation, Hyundai has reached copious milestones, launching the first Korean passenger car, developing the first engine created in Korea, and developing Korea's first vehicle fuel cell battery.
Additionally, reports state Hyundai has officially shut down their engine development department as the company vows to no longer produce internal combustion engines.
This information is massive not only for the manufacturer but for the entirety of the climate change remediation movement. With big names such as Hyundai showing that alternatives are possible - to the extent that they are moving away from combustion engines - the age of sustainable development is genuinely underway.
Since the concept of FCEVs is still relatively new, they are only available in select locations worldwide. In the US, California is home to most of these vehicles, currently leading the nation in hydrogen fueling stations.
As demand for hydrogen power grows, there will undoubtedly be a larger market for fueling cells. This will result in a plethora of growth surrounding the FCEV market that can ultimately aid in decarbonizing the automobile industry.