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DIY Car Conversion: How to Convert Your Car to Hydrogen

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are the future of automotive transportation. Toyota has already released its 2019 Mirai, which runs on nothing but hydrogen fuel. The future is now, and hydrogen is leading the way for the automotive industry.

Learn how your car can run on nothing but water with a hydrogen fuel cell DIY car conversion. Find out how this technology works and why your car prefers hydrogen fuel.

DIY Car Hydrogen Hybrid Conversion: Can Cars Run on Water?

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and it is two-thirds of the most abundant element on earth–water. It is no surprise that hydrogen fuel technology is gaining recognition as the greenest fuel of them all.

In fact, your car can run on hydrogen better than it does with gas.

Why Should You Do a Hydrogen DIY Car Conversion?

The first question you need answering is why to convert your car to run on hydrogen? Because, it is better for your car, better for the environment, and saves you a lot of money on gasoline or diesel fuel.

Hydrogen cars use distilled water and an electrolyte to separate the hydrogen atoms from the oxygen. The pure hydrogen is combustible for your car’s engine, just the same as gasoline. But, unlike gasoline, hydrogen fuel omits nothing but water vapor out of your tailpipe.

Hydrogen fuel cells clean out your engine of the gunk and sediment that builds up from refined petroleum combustion. This results in a longer life for your cars engine and better performance.    

Is Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology New?

The history of hydrogen fuel cell technology stretches back to the early 20th century. In 1939, the first hydrogen fuel cell generator was invented by Francis Thomas Bacon. The generator produced 5kW of power.

During America’s space race with Russia to the moon, NASA integrated the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft with hydrogen fuel cells in order to power the ships onboard computer. The hydrogen fuel cells on NASA’s spacecraft also functioned to create fresh drinkable water onboard.

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In the late 1960s, the industrial manufacturing industry began to test the waters, by implementing hydrogen fuel cells to power warehouse forklifts. Most recently, in 2002 the German Navy made a hydrogen fuel cell conversion for powering their U31 submarine.

It’s been a long road, but, today we finally see hydrogen fuel cell technology being commercialized.

What is a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV)?

An FCV is a car which is powered by hydrogen gas. Since cars typically run on liquid gasoline or diesel fuel, FCV’s produce an entirely different system of propulsion. The means of operation for your engine, however, are very similar.

Hydrogen gas stored in high-pressure tanks. Gasoline is also stored in a tank, however, it does not need pressurization. When pressurized hydrogen passes through the fuel intake of your car, it combusts just like gasoline or diesel. So–with a few modifications–your car can run on hydrogen better than it runs on gasoline.

How Does a Fuel Cell Car Work?

A hydrogen fuel cell can provide power to a car in two ways. It can, either: Feed directly into the fuel line, or; Power an electric motor. The former, however, is a much more volatile method.

Since the engine of your car can run on hydrogen just as well as gasoline, you can feed the hydrogen gas directly into the fuel intake line. This means that you have an onboard fuel cell that is creating and storing pressurized hydrogen, which the engine draws on as needed.

The problem is the safety concerns with having a combustible fuel source inside the cabin. After all, the Hindenburg was hydrogen-powered as well, and that didn’t end well.

The far more commercially viable method for running a car on hydrogen is fully electric. Commercial hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), like the Toyota Mirai, do not create hydrogen onboard. Instead, you fill the fuel tank with hydrogen in the same manner as you would at a gas station.

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The hydrogen gas goes past a fuel cell, where it converts into energy powering the cars electric motor. At that point, the power of the car comes wholly from the motor–which is charged by the hydrogen fuel.

This method of powering cars with hydrogen does not require the fuel to combust at all. In fact, it is the opposite. The fuel cell works to chemically fuse hydrogen and water, creating the electricity used by the motor.

The key difference between electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles is the means of energy storage and consumption. A fully-electric vehicle charges an onboard battery, before deleting it and recharging, again. Fuel cell vehicles run steadily, by recharging the battery continuously via the hydrogen fuel cell.  

When the chemical process is complete, the only byproduct is water vapor. Theoretically, you can shop now for a trailer large enough for a hydrogen fuel cell that will power an entire house–with zero harmful emissions.  

Can I Do My Own FCV DIY Car Conversion?

The biggest obstacle is knowing how to access and modify the settings in the onboard computer of your car. Specifically, any car with an onboard computer is pre-set to only accept gasoline fuel. It is only a question of switching the setting, from ‘Gasoline’ to ‘Continuous’ and your car will run like a champion.

By changing the fuel intake setting, your computer will continuously search for a viable fuel. Otherwise–even though the parts in your car want to run fine–the computer will not recognize hydrogen as viable. So, the engine will expend far more fuel than it needs to.

Final Thoughts

Your best chance is to find a mechanic who has experience working with cars onboard computers. Once the computer is set to continuous, the hydrogen fuel will work as good as gas. With a few hardware modifications–of course.

If you like this article about DIY car conversions, share it with friends on social media. And check out the blog for more information on alternative fuels!