I want to convert my car to hydrogen. Where can I buy a kit?
This is a question we frequently encounter at trade shows or through our website. The short answer is that there is no single "conversion kit" that fits all vehicles or purposes. Conversion projects could be anything from lawn mowers, farm equipment, family cars, to high performance dragsters. It is evident that any of these applications would require an individual design approach using different sets of components. Because of the diversity of personal interests in hydrogen conversions, we have offered conversion courses in the past which explored all the pertinent subjects and addressed specific application questions.
Although these courses proved very popular for many years, our training demands changed such that they are now being booked in advance by businesses wishing to provide training to employees. Until we can again find time to provide public workshops you might want to check out some books mentioned at the bottom of the page.
So lets talk about hydrogen conversions. The reality is that hydrogen conversions are very much like natural gas (CNG) conversions. Many of the components may be rated for either fuel selection. However, there are essential differences and opportunities gained by using hydrogen. Correctly engineered, a hydrogen engine can produce more power than similar displacement gasoline engine. A hydrogen engine is even less polluting than a natural gas vehicle, which is already very low compared a gasoline or diesel engine. There are many considerations in doing a conversion to hydrogen; choosing a fuel delivery system (direct injection is best), selection of tanks, and placement of safety devices.
Project costs at special shops that provide conversions for fleet owners and individuals range from $2,500-$50,000 depending on the vehicle range and desired performance. Dragsters and other racecars might cost $150,000 or more depending upon the performance specifications! A good FAQ to read to get an idea regarding costs and cost recovery is Natural Gas Conversions.
Just as engines are designed around a specific fuel such as gasoline or diesel, engines can also be designed for hydrogen in order to extract its maximum power potential. Ceramics could be used to contain heat energy in the combustion chamber, direct injection and supercharging or turbo charging are other enhancements that will be found in future hydrogen engine designs. Today any vehicle that has an engine capable of burning natural gas can burn hydrogen with a few optimizing adjustments. Furthermore Natural gas vehicles can often be purchased from municipalities and car rental facilities that cycle them out for public sale with relatively low mileage.
Where to Gas Up?
Converting a car to run on hydrogen is just one of two shoes. Where to get the hydrogen and how address the question of hydrogen infrastructure will be the REAL challenge for persons wanting to become fuel independent. Here are your choices; 1) Build your own infrastructure 2) Wait for hydrogen stations to become available to the public or 3) Convert your vehicle to natural gas/hydrogen now (or buy one), use existing NG infrastructure and switch to hydrogen when it becomes available.
My Back Yard
Is it possible to build your own refueling station right now? Absolutely! With enough time and money you could buy solar panels, an industrial Electrolyzer and a FuelMaker and assemble a system for refueling in your garage! Will it be cheap to be the first one on your block with a solar-hydrogen refueling fuel station? Not a chance. Our scientifically engineered Excel chart showing the cost benefit-relationship for such a project indicates you'd have to put about 1,567,291.03 miles, (your mileage may vary) on a vehicle to break even on the refueling station costs! Seriously though, hydrogen refueling stations, or any other kind of fuel stations as a matter of fact, are designed for large numbers of vehicles. Someday, hang out at a busy gas station and count the number of cars serviced by one gasoline pump in a day. I think you get the point. One attractive concept advocated by AHA and others is for a Hydrogen refueling station to be incorporated into a Renewable Energy Industrial Park or Community Energy Center where it is treated as a common resource, perhaps in a shared membership arrangement. Such an installation would not only support a small fleet of vehicles, but could also be integrated into the local power grid. In the immediate future there is no "turn-key" small-scale solar-electrolyzer- fuelmaker system available for an individuals home, but recent news stories featured on the American Hydrogen website and others hint at such a future. As with most technologies, miniaturization of hydrogen refueling components, perhaps using nano-technologies, will make such appliances practically affordable. Maybe someone reading this very article may take it upon himself or herself to invent such an integrated device and make it available to the public.
Back to the project, if you are interested in converting a car to hydrogen, one of the first things to do is become knowledgeable before investing your time and money.
We recommend reading as many reference materials as you can or contacting a business in your area that specializes in CNG or hydrogen conversions There are a few hydrogen conversion companies out there. Utility companies usually have natural gas powered vehicles in their fleets and progressive municipalities often run CNG vehicles. Any of these may have resource people you can go to for questions. Some Community Colleges in California have courses on gaseous fuel conversions and maintenance. In California, as in other states, there are transit agencies and school districts that have natural gas busses. Canada has numerous CNG vehicle fleets and a strong hydrogen community. Buying a natural gas vehicle might be a good first step since the gaseous fuel system is already in place and hydrogen and natural gas can be mixed in the same tank. Read up on studies that have been done - available through NREL. Here are a few other links to get you started.
Purchase Natural Gas Vehicles
You may be interested to acquire these books. "The Philosopher Mechanic" by Roy McAlister (President of AHA), "Fuel From Water" by Michael Peavy and "Solar Hydrogen Civilization" by Roy McAlister. These books offer many insights into conversions. AHA offers these books for sale through the American Hydrogen Website but can also be purchased through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.