What do Los Angeles-based dancer Sascha Escandon, comedian Ryan O’Flanagan and musician Leddie Garcia have in common? They’ve all been given hydrogen fuel cell electric cars (FCEVs) to drive and will be documenting their experiences online.
It’s all part of an initiative to accelerate adoption of hydrogen FCEVs, aptly named AccelerateH2.
The three ambassadors have each been given different hydrogen-powered car – a Hyundai Nexo, Honda Clarity or Toyora Mirai – and H2 View can’t wait to follow their journeys via AccelerateH2’s social media pages and find out what they’ve learned about hydrogen, fuel cells and more.
A lot of people who aren’t familiar with hydrogen FCEVs ask the safety question. Are FCEVs and hydrogen safe?
The short (and long) answer is yes. FCEVs are as safe as any vehicle on the road.
California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) vehicle manufacturer members subject fuel cell electric vehicle models to extensive safety testing prior to releasing them on public roads, as they do for all vehicles.
Current testing employs both destructive and non-destructive evaluations and occurs at the component, system, and vehicle level.
For a more thorough answer about hydrogen safety (cars, hydrogen and stations), our colleagues at the Center for Hydrogen Safety (of which CaFCP is a member) developed this fact sheet about safety and vehicles, fuel and stations.
H2 View asked Jackie Birdsall, Senior Engineer at Toyota, the safety question too when we interviewed her in March 2020.
“Hydrogen’s a new fuel and most people’s experience with hydrogen is using it as a volatile gas or related to different types of hydrogen like hydrogen isotypes that were used in nuclear warfare,” Birdsall explained to H2 View.
“What would I say to someone who has concerns over the safety of a hydrogen car and believes it might explode?”
“Firstly, I would say safety is a top priority for Toyota and we would never launch a vehicle without having it properly tested or demonstrating to ourselves that this vehicle is as safe, if not safer, than a traditional vehicle.”
“I’m guessing the explosion concern would be related to the hydrogen tanks, to which I would say this is actually the strongest part of the vehicle!”
“If you can imagine putting a rock in a soda can and crushing the soda can around the rock, that’s kind of what a crash test looks like with these vehicles.”
“Not only that, but the tanks are designed to do what’s called ‘leak before burst’. So even in the event of something penetrating the tank, the tank must safely vent the hydrogen and not rupture.”
“I think that’s actually a phenomenal property of hydrogen – that it safely vents to the atmosphere – that a lot of people don’t understand.”
Read the rest of that interview with Birdsall here.