The well-known car manufacturer Honda wants to turn old fuel cells for electric vehicles from its production into backup power sources for data centers. While the company has retired its hydrogen fuel cell Clarity machines, some of the old fuel cells from Clarity’s hydrogen fuel cell machines are now back in service, now at a data center south of Los Angeles. So far we are only talking about a “proof of concept”, but in the future the company wants to find technologies for commercial use, and such “green” batteries are used not only in data centers.
Used hydrogen cells, which generate electricity through an electrochemical reaction, are known to still work to power servers in the company’s own data center. Previously, Honda relied on diesel backup generators.
However, as reported TechCrunch, the technology wasn’t as safe as it could be. The company admitted it doesn’t use “green” hydrogen, meaning at least some of the gas was derived from fossil fuels. Although hydrogen fuel cells themselves are relatively environmentally friendly, only emitting water and heat in addition to electricity, they are also indirectly involved in pollution, as most of the hydrogen today comes from “dirty” sources and requires special infrastructure to deliver hydrogen to the field – this is why many car manufacturers do not believe in hydrogen technology for the automotive industry.
However, Honda does not intend to give up hydrogen transportation completely, and on the contrary, the use of fuel cells in the data center serves as a kind of promotion of hydrogen technologies in anticipation of the appearance of a new generation of fuel cells developed jointly with General Motors. According to the automaker, the next generation of its fuel cells will be used in a model based on the Honda CR-V and will be ready by 2024.
The company plans to use the new cells as backup power generators as well, but they are said to only use “green” hydrogen made with renewable energy. In addition to use in data centers, generators can also be used by industrial companies as an additional energy source during peak load times of the power grid.
Proof-of-Concept is set to evolve into a new business model as the pilot project is a good opportunity to talk to the media about hydrogen technology in general. Although the auto market is embracing electric cars, Honda seems keen to keep hydrogen on the agenda. In January it was reported that Honda Motors had created an electric vehicle division for both battery and hydrogen fuel cells.