The Hyperion XP-1 will be able to drive up to 1,000 miles on a tank of compressed hydrogen and its electric motor will generate more than 1,000 horsepower, according to the company. The all-wheel-drive car can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a little over two seconds, the company says.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles that use hydrogen to generate energy inside the vehicle rather than using batteries to store energy. The XP-1 does not burn hydrogen, but uses it in a fuel cell that combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air to create water, the vehicle’s only exhaust gas and an electric current to power the vehicle.
The XP-1 has a much longer range than battery-powered electric cars because the compressed hydrogen has more power per liter than batteries, explains Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris. Also, because hydrogen gas is so light, overall a car is much lighter in weight than one equipped with many heavy batteries. That makes the car more energy efficient so it can go farther and faster.
Hydrogen is the first and simplest element on the periodic table. Colorless and odorless, it has only a single proton centered with an electron surrounding it.
Although the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen does not naturally exist. Before it can be used as a fuel, hydrogen must be separated from molecules of water, natural gas or other substances. This is usually done by using electricity to separate those larger molecules. Energy is then released inside the car as the hydrogen recombines with oxygen.
The main advantage of hydrogen is that pumping a full tank of hydrogen takes much less time than charging the battery. It only takes three to five minutes to refill the tank on the XP-1 for a 1,000-mile ride, For example.
Kafantaris says hydrogen gas doesn’t wear out and degrade like batteries, especially when it charges quickly. The XP-1 has a battery pack that acts as a buffer to store the electricity generated by the fuel cell, but it’s much smaller than the battery packs used in electric cars.
Kafantaris says Hyperion already has a number of prototype cars in service. The first production cars are expected to be delivered to customers by the end of next year. Kafantaris did not reveal details of the car’s price tag, but did say that the price will vary depending on the level of performance. The highest-performance versions, those capable of producing 1,000 horsepower, can cost in the millions. The company is capping production at 300 units.
The company is hoping to produce XP-1 in somewhere the Midwest, says Kafantaris. After the XP-1, the company hopes to make hydrogen-fueled cars more practical for a wider audience.
The company also hopes to popularize the idea of hydrogen as an energy vehicle for vehicles, as well Other uses, he said. Hyperion has been working with NASA to commercialize the various hydrogen technologies the space agency is currently using and to develop new applications, he said.
The space agency confirmed to CNN Business that Hyperion has licensing agreements for certain NASA technologies.
“Part of what we aim to do is bring a sense of pride in what America has done in the past, through NASA technology and to bring people together around what everyone can. look at it and say ‘It’s American, I’m proud of it,’ says Kafantaris.