If you’re a car enthusiast nothing should surprise you these days. Behold the latest out-of-the-blue California car manufacturer: Hyperion. Around since 2011, and with a staff of 150, it plans on making 300 of its hydrogen-powered supercar; the XP-1. What you see is not a realistic rendering but an actual, running car. So the Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen supercar is real, but is it real?
Hyperion is an Orange, California, based company that specializes in hydrogen generation, storage, and propulsion. In the works for four years the tech behind it has been under development for a decade. How it works is hydrogen is stored in tanks with oxygen fed to them to create energy. The energy is stored in supercapacitors that power electric motors like a conventional EV.
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Super capacitors are smaller, lighter, and more efficient than batteries
In many ways the system is like an EV except the batteries are replaced with fuel cell stacks. While supercapacitors don’t hold the same amount of energy as a battery they’re smaller, lighter, and more efficient. So it’s kind of a wash.
With supercapacitors, they take the same amount of energy to charge as they can store. In a system like this there is no wasted kinetic energy. Plus, they can handle a lot more charge and discharge cycles. Power comes on quickly. It’s so good Lamborghini is using the technology in their Sian supercar.
Besides the benefits above, fuel cells are not affected by ambient temperatures. One of the downsides to battery-powered EVs is they become less efficient the colder it gets. Continuous full-throttle runs are now consistent, whereas batteries overheat and then reduce power until they cool off.
The Hyperion XP-1 top speed is said to be over 220 mph
Performance is claimed to be zero to 60 in 2.2 seconds. The top speed is said to be over 220 mph. Besides the hydrogen system, the advantage with the XP-1 is its weight. With a curb weight of 2,275 lbs, it takes less energy to light the car off. And braking is also enhanced with lighter weight as you already know.
With one fill of hydrogen and average speed, the XP-1 will get around 1,000 miles range. In a statement on its website founder Angelo Kafantaris says, “The XP-1 was partially designed as an educational tool for the masses. Aerospace engineers have long understood the advantages of hydrogen as the most abundant, lightest element in the universe. Now with this vehicle consumers will experience its extraordinary value proposition.”
So you may be wondering what the downside is to the glorious hydrogen onslaught. There are a few. The main issue is that there are few fueling sites. Hyperion says it is moving forward with providing sites in a separate division but who knows how long that might take.
Currently, hydrogen is more expensive than gasoline
Currently, hydrogen is more expensive than gasoline. That may change if its popularity increases. Another problem with infrastructure is the moving and storage of hydrogen. Let’s not forget the Hindenburg Zeppelin. That massive ball of flames and complete disintegration of the Zep in seconds says all you need to know about hydrogen’s flammability.
Finally, it is not necessarily environmentally friendly. It takes coal, oil, or natural gas to separate hydrogen from oxygen. So while the end product is clean as a whistle, the process of getting it to that stage causes lots of greenhouse gasses.
You know the old saying about the pioneers getting the arrows in their backs first? Well, that’s how hydrogen transportation is looking at the moment. But it’s an interesting source and worth the development to see if it can be a better form of propulsion.