Fuel cell farms: grow food as you drive?

Scientists just keep coming up with smarter ways to use water. This month, London’s Design Museum hosted the first exhibition of a truly innovative collaboration between carmaker Hyundai and sustainable design firm Something & Son: a fuel cell car that serves as the engine driving a miniature farm.

The Fuel Cell Farm, described as the “world’s first working aquaponics system”, uses the water vapour emitted by the hydrogen-powered Hyundai ix35 FCEV. This vapour is condensed into water, which is then filtered into a fish tank. Minerals and waste from the fish are extracted from the tank and used as fertiliser to grow vegetables.

Speaking at the demonstration of the technology, deputy mayor of London for business Kit Malthouse said the installation illustrates the potential of hydrogen technology. “We are getting London ready for this massive step forward in propulsion technology by supporting businesses to put fuel on the ground, and consumers to buy zero emission vehicles. London has been at the forefront of mobility advances through the centuries and that’s where we want to stay,” he said.

Hyundai isn’t the only one that’s moving hydrogen-powered vehicles forward: home-grown British firm Acal Energy, based in Runcorn in Cheshire, recently unveiled a new chemical technique that it says could make hydrogen fuel cells cheaper to produce and last much longer than is currently possible. Acal Energy believes its technique, which replaces the platinum catalyst usually used in fuel cells, could pave the way for hydrogen-powered cars to be sold in large volumes in as little as a decade.

Even the most fuel-efficient petrol and diesel engines release large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but the only waste product from hydrogen cells are heat and harmless water – you can pour it onto your plants or even run it through a water filter and drink it yourself!

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