Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies is developing a drop-in, hydrogen-powered fuel-cell unit to replace a standard battery pack in a popular line of 1/10th-scale remote-control cars.
The Chinese fuel-cell supplier is developing a drop-in replacement for the popular Tamiya TT-01 remote-control car chassis as well as other "bathtub" 1/10th car chasses, the company disclosed on its Web site.
Hobbyists interested in replacing a conventional 7.2-volt battery with the "H-cell" 30-watt fuel-cell option can sign up on the company's waiting list, which allows a customer to be notified when the unit is ready to ship.
Horizon promises that the R/C cars will be able to reach speeds of 35 kilometers per hour, and run for between 30 to 45 minutes on a single tank of fuel.
According to a company spokesman, however, the unit won't come cheap; although final pricing has yet to be determined, the H-Cell will be priced at around $1,500 for the fuel-cell unit alone. It will ship sometime in early 2007, the spokesman said.
Horizon, which manufactures Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells for portable power supplies and peripherals, previously manufactured the $115 H-racer, a standalone car, that lacked steering and could only travel in a straight line for several hundred feet. The H-racer nevertheless was named as one of Time Magazine's top inventions of 2006, in part because refueling it was as simple as adding water to the refueling station, which in turn converted it into hydrogen gas that could be pumped into the H-racer's reservoir.
Fuel cells have been seen as a replacement for the internal combustion engine, as they provide a clean alternative to petroleum fuels. A PEM cell uses hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to create electricity, which powers the car. Water is the only byproduct.
While other types of fuel cells can use liquid hydrogen, methanol, or some other type of anode to create the same reaction, PEM cells have received presidential support as well as the formation of the H-Prize, a contest to sponsor work in hydrogen-based fuel cells. BMW, meanwhile, has said it will offer a fuel-cell powered car in 2007.
In the H-cell's case, Horizon will only provide the fuel-cell apparatus, which will include two integrated air cooling fans with LEDs for racing at night, a hydrogen storage system, and an electronic control unit, the spokesman said.
Hobbyists will need to provide their own car chassis. Although the popular TT-01 chassis was used as a testbed, any 1/10th "bathtub" chassis can be used, the spokesman said.
"In the first stage, refilling of hydrogen storage media will be provided via Horizon's specialist partners as a service to customers," the spokesman said in an email. "Later in 2007, Horizon will supply miniature canister filling units based on similar approach to its hydrogen station found in today's H-racer, a device that would need distilled water and an external power source that could include grid power or even renewable solar power for the purists."
The unit will be able to hold 20 to 40 liters of solid-state hydrogen, according to Horizon's Web site.