Fuel Cell Emissions Safe To Drink?
Toyota is telling the world that the water emissions from their fuel cell vehicles are safe to drink. Could it really be that fuel cell vehicles offer potable exhaust?
As the Japanese automaker showcases it’s new Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car, it’s raising some eyebrows. Toyota says that not only is the Mirai good for the planet, but that it’s only by-products are heat and water, with no carbon dioxide.
Of course, water quality can range from pure mountain spring water to the sludge found in a canal that you wouldn’t get near without a hazmat suit.
“We tested the health impact of drinking the water in a special lab,” said Seiji Mizuno, general manager in charge of designing the car’s fuel stack power generator. “They said that compared to drinking milk, this drainage water has much fewer organic impurities.”
Yes, he said that the exhaust water from the Mirai is safer than milk. At least under controlled conditions. Toyota isn’t actually recommending that anyone drink the water. The exhaust water is created when oxygen is sucked in from the surrounding air, and bonded to the hydrogen from the fuel tank. If the car is being operated in conditions that are less than optimal, hazardous organisms such as E.coli could end up in the air intake. “You never know what the quality of the air intake is,” Mizuno added. The high tech system neither sterilizes of distils the water vapour. Metals and chemicals from the drive train don’t seem to leach into the water either, except in extreme circumstances, such as during a large volcanic eruption.
Drinking water generated from fuel cells is not new. Astronauts have been doing it for decades.
The Mirai emits 37 litres of water over the course of it’s 650 km range, or 0.05 litres per km, about the same as conventional gasoline engines. Water vapour from a fuel cell vehicle is cooler, however. The car also generates electrical power, allowing it to generate enough power to run a household in a blackout during an emergency situation. It doesn’t expel enough water to really be helpful in providing an emergency water source though.
No one at Toyota has actually tasted the water emissions from the Mirai. They do know that it is slightly acidic and has a PH of around 5 or 6, making it less acidic than rain or beer, but probably not as sweet as milk.
By Linda Aylesworth – car-news.ca