Skip to main content

Texas Startup Says It Will Be Offering A Hydrogen Exotic Sports Car This Fall


Austin (Texas) - BMW’s Hydrogen 7 sedan may still be a few years away, but if you just can’t wait and have the necessary cash on hand, you may be able to buy a hydrogen car later this year. Ronn Motors has begun accepting orders for its Scorpion sports car, which, according to its manufacturer, will be able produce hydrogen on-demand from an on-board water tank.

If the Tesla Roadster and the Fisker Karma are too generic for you, there may be another choice this fall: Texas startup Ronn Motors unveiled its Scorpion yesterday.

The sports car does not follow the current hybrid/electric trend, but will use hydrogen as a fuel source. According to its manufacturer, the Scorpion is powered by a gasoline/hydrogen fuel blend, with 30-40% of the mix consisting of hydrogen. What makes this car especially interesting is the fact that you don’t need to fin hydrogen on the side of the road, water is enough.

Ronn Motors said that the Scorpion can produce hydrogen on demand by fracturing water molecules drawn from a small on board water tank. As a result, the car will not need a high pressure, on board hydrogen storage tank. The manufacturer promises that the car will hit about 40 mpg.

The engine used in the Scorpion is based on the unit used by Acura in its 2008 Acura TL-S sedan, rated at 289 hp in the Scorpion. Ronn Motors will offer a twin-turbo option of the powerplant offering about 450 hp. The car will be initially available with a 6-speed manual, with a 6-speed automatic following in 2009, the company said.

Since it is described as an exotic sports car, yes it has a limited production run (no numbers mentioned yet) and it comes with a hefty price tag: $150,000.

  • Ummm...where is it getting the energy to make the H2?!!
  • According to their website:

    "Produces hydrogen during vehicle operation through electrolysis of water using the power generated from the vehicles electrical system. A small amount of hydrogen added to the vehicles intake air/fuel mixture allows the engine to operate with less fossil fuel. "

    ====> Totally bogus. The electrical system is powered by the gasoline!!!

    convert gas and hydrogen to mechanical energy (~37% efficiency)
    convert mechanical energy to electric energy (
  • The comment box should convert html codes....

    convert mechanical energy to electric energy ( < 100% efficiency)
    convert electric energy to chemical energy ( < 100% efficiency)

  • pixelpusher220
    This isn't totally bogus. Canada is doing this already, albeit with big rig trucks. The concept is that for the small amount of extra energy to produce the hydrogen, you get much better combustion of the fossil fuel. This gives you a fairly significant increase in actual energy production of the fossil fuel.

    It's sort of same with regenerative braking on hybrid cars. It costs a little more energy to drag around the weight of the system, but the car itself weighs 6-7 times more itself. So when capturing energy from the brakes you get to reap 6-7x more energy back since the entire vehicle mass is being used, not just the regen brake system.

    but calling this a 'hybrid' is a bit much.
  • @pixelpusher220

    Do you have a link anywhere detailing better burn efficiency with H2? It seems rather unlikely, as the H2 would be competing for O2.
  • @Me

    Found a link. I'd like to see some efficiency comparisons, though, when the hydrogen is self-generated. In any case, it doesn't make the vehicle hydrogen powered, by any stretch.
  • waffle911
    A quick search on YouTube shows many people who are doing it, some exclusively on hydrogen. With some technical and mechanical ingenuity, you can build your own add-in system for less than $1000 USD, depending on how you go about doing it. I'm in the planning stages of such a system right now, taking what is already used and taking it a step further. The key is to be able to create an electronic pulse frequency tuned to the resonance of the entire electrical circuit, including the electrolysis chamber which basically acts as a giant capacitor. Cut down on the amperage and maximize voltage and you can create a lot of hydroxy gas (really hydroxy is H20 water, but in this case people use it to refer to a de-molecularized mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gases) with little energy (input from the engine). It only becomes incredibly inefficient and expensive when you try to extract pure hydrogen, which is a cost barrier to the common manufacture of hydrogen fuel. But since the hydrogen is only going to need oxygen to burn anyway, why bother isolating it completely from its already included stoichiometrically-balanced oxygen supply? In low volumes at least, it won't bond until it's ignited.

    There is a catch, though. Of course.

    Hydroxy (gas) burns much more quickly, completely, and efficiently than gasoline (injected as a fine mist mixed with air to simulate gaseous properties). Too much hydroxy can lead to detonation, or a premature explosion within a cylinder due to compression, known as "knocking" or "dieseling", similar to an engine struggling to continue to run below its idle RPM's. It can destroy a regular gas engine from the inside out, and it's why high-performance engines require high-octane fuel, which has a much higher compression tolerance than low-grade fuel. Second, hydroxy gas, both before and after combustion, oxidizes the metals inside the engine. This is solved by applying a thin coating of ceramic, but this can easily add tremendous cost as it usually requires completely rebuilding the engine, though there are additives you can put in your fuel an motor oil that pretty much accomplish the same protective coating. You also need to upgrade to an all 304 stainless-steel exhaust system for the same reason. Also, water freezes at a higher temperature than gasoline, so colder climates can pose a serious problem without an efficiency-robbing antifreeze additive. On top of all this, the electrolysis chamber needs to build up sufficient gas pressure before it can provide enough hydroxy gas to actually start the engine, so the system needs to be turned on a minute or two before the engine is started. Gasoline is still part of the process because it helps keep the hydroxy gas and water vapor hot enough to minimize oxidation, but also because there is limited space to put a hydrolysis chamber in a car, so unit size and consequently hydroxy output is limited; gasoline also helps retard the combustion in the cylinder enough to prevent detonation, as well as heat the engine enough so that it can run at its optimal temperature. Not to mention, if the hydroxy system fails, it's always good to have a reliable fall-back.

    But overall, water has a much denser concentration of hydrogen in it than pure compressed liquid hydrogen, and is safer since it is much less explosive. It is viable for future vehicles with little immediate complexity for adaptation into current technology. It works with Otto-cycle (conventional), Wankel (rotary), and diesel engines. But there are a few bugs to be worked out.

    It is a hybrid because it combines the use of both gasoline and hydrogen; it's just not a traditional gas-electric hybrid (hybrid just means mixed, traditionally mixed breeds or species, but in this case, it's mixed technologies or methods).

    Free plans (some falsities need to be sifted out, hence they are free, but the concept and overall method is fairly scientifically sound; but they are also free because you can't patent the basic concept because it was first conceived in the early 1910's, and the patent has long since expired; so its public domain. However, most of the rest of the hosting site is bogus claims for totally free energy and government conspiracy theories. I used this as a rough starting point because the original plans were real and shown to work by someone else.)

    Open forum devoted to such conversion projects (albeit hosted by someone who builds and sells ready-made solutions)

    If you want to just mess around with it, put two metal plates in a tank of water, spaced closely together (but not touching) and connect each plate to one terminal of a 12V camping lantern battery. You could also just wire a 9V battery to two paper clips and put them in one of those amber prescription drug bottles. Take it a step further and refine the system on an old (but still running) four-stroke lawnmower (or similar) engine. Making electric pulses isn't strictly necessary, but it allows better control of just how much gas is being created.

    P.S. Looking back on this I remembered that "hydroxy" gas as I mentioned is more correctly known as "Brown's Gas."
  • @waffle911

    "some exclusively on hydrogen"

    I'm hoping you just worded this poorly. Using hydrogen to produce hydrogen is an energy losing proposition.

    And no, I do not believe this is appropriate to refer to as a hybrid, any more than a NOS boosed engine would be. This is a way to *enhance* the efficiency of burning gasoline. Gasoline is the ****SOLE**** source of energy.