We've previously told you about local research (at UC Irvine) into a fuel produced by a local source (your pee and poop, dear readers) that is collected by a local supplier (Orange County Sanitation District).
But did you know there is a local connection to some of the actual test cars?
Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America (the South Korean automaker's U.S. headquarters) is this spring leasing Hyundai Tuscons powered by fuel cells energized by hydrogen created by sewage that comes from the nearby waste treatment plant. It's the circle of life, Simba.
FastCoexist.com reports the Tuscons will only be available in Southern California. (No, they won't contribute to our region's smog problems because they only emit water vapor.)
The customer area is currently limited to this area because of the sparse number of hydrogen refueling stations, but the university, which is home to the National Fuel Cell Research Center, is working with the sanitation district and commercial entities to provide more fueling locations. At least with human waste a lack of fuel source material is not an issue.
Hyundai tells FastCoexist 90,000 people have expressed interest in the cars. The cost will be $499 a month, but if that sounds too steep consider drivers will have their fuel costs picked up by the company, at least initially.
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They can travel around 300 miles before needing to fill up, which takes about three minutes. As you can see by the opener photo, they look like typical SUVs, although inside there is less room behind the rear seats due to the size of the fuel tank.
No need to fret about your ride going all Ford Pinto on you if you're rear-ended as the fuel tank is an inch thick and wrapped in carbon fiber.
"In testing, we tried to penetrate it with a high-powered rifle, we set in on fire, we crash-tested it," Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor tells FastCoexist. "The thing's impenetrable."