If you aren’t Walter White, or haven’t taken a chemistry class in decades, the idea of a hydrogen-powered fuel cell—like the one that’s stacked underneath the 2017 Clarity’s hood—may seem far too sci-fi to be real. Quite the contrary: hydrogen fuel cells have been in development since the 90s, and are just now finding their footing within the automotive industry. But how do they work, exactly?

Fuel-cell cars like the Honda Civic Clarity are essentially electric vehicles with one not-so-tiny distinction: they needn’t use a bulky battery to power the motor. In lieu of this battery is a fuel cell, which produces electricity in the niftiest way.

First, pressurized hydrogen gas is pulled from the “fuel tank” and into the cell’s anode where its protons (ions) and electrons separate in spectacular fashion—at least on a molecular level. This is when the magic happens.

Next, the hydrogen electrons flow into and through an electric circuit and motor to power the vehicle’s wheels, very similar to how a battery functions. With their job complete, they then make their way into the oxygen-rich cathode. The hydrogen ions, in the meantime, travel through the layered polymer membrane and into that same cathode to reunite with their electron counterparts.

Voila! The final product, as you might expect, is H2O—or water—that’s clean enough to drink straight from the exhaust.

Sound like a foreign language? Check out Honda’s video to visualize the process.

The 2017 Clarity: A True Difference Maker

Honda fuel-cell technology

The 2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell is stacked in such a way as to improve stability and cooling, while also reducing bulk. This breakthrough in fuel-cell technology, which has been named the V-Flow Stack, allows Honda to miraculously manufacture a car that seats five comfortably.

Approximately 10-percent more resourceful than its previous FCX model, the 2017 Clarity is also quieter, less weight-challenged, and more fuel-efficient with a range of over 300 miles to one fill-up. Two storage tanks for compressed hydrogen are located within the subframe of the car’s trunk and rear seats, along with a small lithium battery that stores extra energy relinquished by the braking system. Producing over 170 horsepower in its electric traction motor, the Clarity is no slouch in the performance department, either, with an estimated 0-to-60 mark of nine seconds.

The Skinny on Release Dates & Other 2017 Honda Models

The 2017 Clarity will be available in select California markets later this year—California has embraced the hydrogen-powered market thanks to several fueling stations throughout the state—but Honda has also announced two additions to the Clarity lineup. A pure-battery EV and a plug-in hybrid, neither of which have been unveiled or given release dates, seem likely to be 2018 models once our Miami and Ft. Lauderdale Honda dealers begin to sell them to the public.

To stay up to date on the Clarity lineup, sign up to receive news on Honda’s website. We’re as excited as anyone to begin selling the newest Honda Clarity cars in our dealerships, so be sure to check with your nearby Honda car dealership in South Florida about the availability of these and other 2017 Honda models. Until then, take advantage of our numerous offers on new cars for sale and request a quote for a particular Honda model.