The desire for personal land travel has seen substantial growth throughout the centuries - from horses, buggies, trains, and finally vehicles.
Ford's Model T was a turning point for transportation around the globe. And today, private transport has evolved to unimaginable realms, with varying fueling technologies, sizes, models, even color-changing exteriors - giving individuals true freedom of movement.
And simpler forms of transport like bicycles, scooters, and mopeds continue to grow in popularity. In the United States, this trend is prompted by various motives, including lack of funds for personal vehicles, environmental consciousness, and the desire to avoid traffic and travel to a destination with comparative ease.
Western Europe is also big on the private transportation trend. Infrastructure, densely populated cities, and a growing awareness of climate change have shifted the focus from automobiles to public transport and scooters.
The European Union (EU) has set specific targets for greenhouse gas reduction in the transportation industry. Each member country must pursue incentive programs, reduction goals, and strategies to help achieve the EU's desired outcome.
Endeavors have yielded various approaches. For example, France is investing money into researching hydrogen technologies.
But governments aren't the only ones pushing to make a difference. Individuals and companies are investigating alternative options and working to make their vision a reality.
The growing shift toward hydrogen sources has prompted the reinvention of familiar designs, like the AM1 hydrogen-powered scooter. The startup, Mob-ion, incorporated STOR-H's hydrogen technology to create a unique and efficient scooter design able to cover 150 miles without a recharge.
The collaboration began in early 2020 and was presented in November of that same year at the China International Import Expo. The design includes many aspects of Mob-ion's traditional scooters combined with a removable and rechargeable hydrogen cartridge to power the 3kW motor - resulting in a quiet, efficient, zero-emissions transportation method.
According to STOR-H's website, the cartridges are "mated to a "buffer" battery that ensures the cells are operating as efficiently as possible. The cartridges take up less space and weight than the existing li-on set up, meaning a lighter ride and more storage space. The stored gas is stable and safe; by reacting with the oxygen in the air, electricity is produced."
By utilizing hydrogen, the AM1 will no longer need to recharge at a power station. Instead, users will just replace the cartridges. The design offers added mobility within city centers and over long trips, eliminating worry about the next refill station.
The idea is currently in its prototype stage, with a production model forecasted to be released in France in early 2023. Since STOR-H is behind the technology of hydrogen cartridges, they plan to eventually offer an exchange program at local storefronts, similar to companies selling propane.
Improvement and Innovation
The AM1 aims to replace the need for electric scooters, which may leave some wondering, what's wrong with batteries?
The answer to that is nuanced. Electric-powered transportation was all the rage as an eco-friendly alternative after its emergence in the market in the early 1990s. This is still true, to an extent. For the most part, electric vehicles have a lower total environmental footprint than combustion vehicles.
But battery power still poses challenges that leave room for improvement. Some of these challenges include the hefty resources needed for battery production and implementation stages, weight, and cost - though the price has decreased substantially over the past two decades.
Further exploring the possibilities for lithium-ion batteries could yield a lower drop in price, higher efficiency, and improved safety. But researchers and engineers are still exploring alternative energy realms like hydrogen.
Hydrogen has stolen the spotlight over recent years due to its high efficiency, zero emissions, low noise, and low weight. Some are still hesitant about its potential, but like the French government, many are eager to improve hydrogen technology and aid in its continued development.
Contrary to other forms of alternative fuel, hydrogen is an energy carrier, not power itself. Therefore, it needs to work in conjunction with other forms of energy, like solar, wind, even batteries. For instance, when coupling a hydrogen fuel cell with an electric motor, the mix can result in two to three times greater efficiency than traditional combustion engines.
With that considered, it is essential to understand that there is always room for improvement and growth. Further streamlining in the hydrogen industry could improve the world of battery power to be more efficient and greener than ever before.