A few decades ago, there was hype around hydrogen because of how one day it may replace gasoline and diesel as the fuel most use to fill up their tanks. And while the use of hydrogen is still in its infancy, it's growing in Canada.
The potential is significant for how the most abundant element in the universe could change the country's transportation, electricity and energy sectors.
The interest in hydrogen vehicles is largely because they are considered emission-free, with only water vapour coming out of the tailpipe.
Toyota began investing in hydrogen back in the 1990s, and in 2014, unveiled its first fuel cell vehicle: the Mirai. The Quebec government will have 50 of those cars by the end of this year. Hyundai, meanwhile, will start selling its fuel cell SUV, the Nexo, in 2019.
In Canada, the vehicles face the same obstacle confronting electric cars — the need to build refuelling stations. That's why automotive experts say conventional gasoline-fuelled vehicles will dominate the Trans-Canada Highway for years to come.
The first such retail hydrogen-fuelling station opened in June in Vancouver, but many more are needed to allow for normal commuting, let alone a summer road trip.
Under the hood of one of these hydrogen vehicles, electricity is produced from the chemical reaction when hydrogen combines with oxygen. The electricity powers the engine and the only tailpipe emissions are water vapour.
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