Fuel Cells from Honda's Retired Hydrogen Vehicle Could be Repurposed for Data Center

Fuel Cells from Honda's Retired Hydrogen Vehicle Could be Repurposed for Data Center

Fuel Cells from Honda's Retired Hydrogen Vehicle, Seen Here, Could be Repurposed for Data Center

­Honda fuel cells are about to get a new lease on life.

While hydrogen won’t be taking over the automotive world anytime soon, the Japanese automaker has found an interesting way to repurpose the only retail example of a hydrogen fuel cell car. They’ll be using the car’s fuel cells backup power for their own data centers in LA.

The car in question is the retired Honda FCX Clarity – “Clarity” being their catchall name for alternative energy vehicles. The FCX Clarity was based on the 2006 Honda FCX Concept and was an honest-to-goodness hydrogen fuel cell vehicle available to the masses.

Unfortunately, those “masses” were extremely limited in scope. While the tech was decent – it featured a 100 kW Honda Vertical Flow (V Flow) hydrogen fuel cell stack – the simple fact is that hydrogen refuel stations are scarce.

Thus, it was only available in South California, and from 2008-2015, Honda leased a grand total of 48 FCX units in the US, after which it was retired.

But then, there may have been mitigating factors -- many feel that the very notion of hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles is a dead end.

While hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produce zero carbon emissions and can be refilled as fast as internal combustion engine vehicles, the former may be intrinsically handicapped.

For one, hydrogen vehicles are more expensive than electric vehicles, and we’re already building out the electric infrastructure, making EVs even more accessible (and viable).

Hydrogen fuel cells are also fairly inefficient.

A site called The Conversation noted that “hydrogen is inefficient…because the energy must move from wire to gas to wire in order to power a car.”

“To power an FCEV, that energy has to be converted into hydrogen, possibly by passing it through water (the electrolysis process). This is around 75% energy-efficient, so around one-quarter of the electricity is automatically lost.”

Hydrogen fuel cells could be useful on the industrial side, where efficiency isn’t quite as important, but as fuel for consumer vehicles, it faces an uphill battle.

As backup power for data centers, hydrogen fuel cells could definitely work, and while it’s still in the concept stages, it could definitely replace the current backup source, diesel fuel, in the future.