The Straight Poop on Hyundai's Hydrogen Car

Hyundai Tuscon
We've previously told you about local research (at UC Irvine) into a fuel produced by a local source (your pee and poop, dear readers) that is collected by a local supplier (Orange County Sanitation District).

But did you know there is a local connection to some of the actual test cars?

5 Things to Dread About UC Irvine's Cars That Run on Hydrogen Made from Human Waste

Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America (the South Korean automaker's U.S. headquarters) is this spring leasing Hyundai Tuscons powered by fuel cells energized by hydrogen created by sewage that comes from the nearby waste treatment plant. It's the circle of life, Simba. reports the Tuscons will only be available in Southern California. (No, they won't contribute to our region's smog problems because they only emit water vapor.)

The customer area is currently limited to this area because of the sparse number of hydrogen refueling stations, but the university, which is home to the National Fuel Cell Research Center, is working with the sanitation district and commercial entities to provide more fueling locations. At least with human waste a lack of fuel source material is not an issue.

Hyundai tells FastCoexist 90,000 people have expressed interest in the cars. The cost will be $499 a month, but if that sounds too steep consider drivers will have their fuel costs picked up by the company, at least initially.

They can travel around 300 miles before needing to fill up, which takes about three minutes. As you can see by the opener photo, they look like typical SUVs, although inside there is less room behind the rear seats due to the size of the fuel tank.

No need to fret about your ride going all Ford Pinto on you if you're rear-ended as the fuel tank is an inch thick and wrapped in carbon fiber.

"In testing, we tried to penetrate it with a high-powered rifle, we set in on fire, we crash-tested it," Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor tells FastCoexist. "The thing's impenetrable."

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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If this is an H2 'Fuel Cell' charging a battery which then powers the vehicle, wouldn't it be better to just cut out the middle man and go all-electric, with energy furnished by renewable sources?  At some point Hydrogen is simply being converted into electricity.

Honestly, I don't see all the hype with Hydrogen, just another complicated step in transferring power to the ground.


Hey Matt, is there any more information on the how they make hydrogen from human waste? I know it may be proprietary information but an overview of the concept would be really awesome!

whateveryousay topcommenter

@bandiniarturo04  The problem with all electric is the charging time.  We have a Leaf and it takes hours to recharge it.  The hydrogen can be replaced in minutes and makes it a plausible platform for normal use.

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