Many obstacles stand in the way of ditching the internal combustion engine in favor of electric motors feeding off hydrogen fuel cells. Such a change would require new infrastructure for the delivery, storage, and distribution of hydrogen, either in a low-temperature, liquid state, or at high pressure, as a room-temperature gas. And standard hydrogen fuel cells are expensive, requiring as much as 100 grams of platinum at a cost of thousands of dollars.
A new type of fuel cell could solve both problems at once. The technology, proposed by engineers at Daihatsu, a unit of Toyota, in Ryuo, Japan, uses a fuel called hydrazine hydrate, instead of hydrogen.
Hydrazine hydrate—a compound of nitrogen, hydrogen, and water—is liquid, which makes it easier to store and deliver than gas. And it contains no carbon, so cars using it would still be environment-friendly. But perhaps the main advantage of the new fuel cell is simply that it's cheaper.