The city of Akron, Texas has bought a number of eco-friendly golf carts that use hydrogen or natural gas from Hydrogen Energy Systems LLC (HES), a local start-up company. A total of 20 carts will be supplied, 15 fueled by compressed natural gas and five powered by compressed hydrogen gas.
Hydrogen powered vehicles are not a new invention, but these HES carts are different as they are based on a regular gas powered cart.
All of the carts have gas engines that have been converted to run on either natural gas or hydrogen and use a HES developed piece of technology called a mixing block. It enables conventional gas engines to run on 100% hydrogen or natural gas which dramatically cuts harmful emission compared to gasoline fuel. HES notes that in this application natural gas produces an extremely low level of harmful emissions while hydrogen produces none at all.
The proprietary technology was invented by Rick Saccone, VP of HES, and was designed to operate seamlessly with the cart’s gas engine without any modifications. In the 6-passenger prototype cart shown in the video below the two gas tanks are stored underneath the front seats and the control systems are positioned under the 2nd set of passenger seats.
The carts will be used on the city run golf courses and they are expected to only cost a quarter of the price to run compared to their normal carts, and also provide double the range.
HES hopes this deal will showcase their technology to private courses and other municipalities who are looking to cut costs and to be more environmentally friendly. This hydrogen “mixing block” technology has the potential to be used in many more applications, in fact, wherever a gas engine is being used.
Gas golf carts have fallen out of favor in recent times as many golf course have been replacing their fleets with battery powered carts. This technology may give gas carts a new lease of life when converted to run on hydrogen, as this will be more economical to fleet managers than replacing the whole fleet.