Slideshow

Horizon's Hydrocar goes for a spin

We take a hydrogen-powered car out for a spin.

  • And it's off... slowly. The Hydrocar is somewhat erratic when it finally kicks into gear, moving slowly and constantly turning depending on what its sensors pick up.

  • Horizon specifies the use of distilled water in the car, but we found ordinary tap water did the trick.

  • The reversible fuel cell — a thing of beauty.

  • The reversible fuel cell is the action-packed heart of the Hydrocar; it's the brain behind the fuel. The cell uses electrolysis to separate oxygen and hydrogen, allowing the cell to fuel the car using hydrogen.

  • The Hydrocar has a fairly simple design, and set up is pretty easy — put the parts together, add water and charge the cells.

  • Unlike that robot kit every kid and his dog got in on in years past, the Hydrocar isn't quite as intuitive when it comes to obstacles. Thankfully, it does recognise edges.

  • Turns out that dopey friend of yours was right — they can make a car that runs on water. Unfortunately, the cars that possess this technology aren't exactly big enough to fit a human; in 2008, anyway. Still, there's nothing to stop you from having fun with the technology, particularly when fuel-cell maker Horizon gives you access to it through its Hydrocar kit. We took it out for a test drive to see if it’s a suitable replacement for your guinea pig's Ferrari replica.

  • Be sure to check out our in-depth review of the Hydrocar in the next couple of days.

  • Solar panel is the other obvious choice for a power source, but we had less luck kick-starting the car with this. Clearly the sun in North Sydney simply isn't bright enough.

  • The idea behind hydrogen power is to create a carbon-neutral fuel, and the dream is only semi-realised here. In order to kick off the electrolysis process, the car needs an external power source; in this instance, a battery pack of two AAs.

  • The Hydrocar may not be the most fun Christmas present — it has no remote control and only robotic sensors to guide it. Of course, it isn't the car itself that attracts interest: it is the technology behind it.

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