Hydrogen vehicles: A new era of locomotion?

Technology Contributor
Today's Focus
hydrogen vehicles

For quite some time now, the discussion regarding hydrogen vehicles has been prominent in both the scientific and public domains. But what can we expect in the future? Might we transition to hydrogen cars in a few years and what of electric cars…

Well to direct the discussion a little, multiple successful models of hydrogen cars, more specifically called hydrogen fuel electric cell vehicles (FCEV), are already roaming various roads worldwide. But why have scientists committed to using hydrogen batteries instead of electric ones? We were just starting to get used to electric cars.

Batteries of hydrogen vehicles

The answer is revealed by making a relevant distinction between electric vehicles and FCEVs, notably their primary difference in carbon emission. Through the process of conceiving the average electric car battery, around 18 tons of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere.

On the other hand, a Hydrogen battery is made by converting natural gases into hydrogen & CO2 fluid without any exterior CO2 emission. Moreover, through the process of locomotion FCEVs produce significantly less CO2 than their electricity-fuelled counterparts, approximately 40% less on average.

Environment and hydrogen vehicles

In support of global sustainability, transitioning to hydrogen vehicles is a formidable perspective for preserving our Ozone layer and other planetary treasures. This did not fail to slip by ecological organizations like GreenPeace and others, who undoubtedly support this direction of science.

Nevertheless, despite their distinct and indisputable pros, hydrogen vehicles downtrend when it comes to the efficiency of their battery. The process of producing electricity in this battery is relatively complicated and is completed throughout a set of multiple stages. The disadvantage to this, however, is that each of these energy-conversion steps between the hydrogen station and the vehicle motor isn’t very efficient.

If you were to drive by a Hydrogen station with your FCEV to load up on a given quantity of hydrogen, say with the initial energetic potential of 100 watts, by the time you start your engine your battery would only have 38 of the initial 100 watts. The severe loss of energy throughout these stages has often been undermined by certain experts and thus a skewed vision is formed.

Advantage of these vehicles

Electric cars on the other hand only lose around 20% of their initial charge, leaving them with 80 watts in the batter given a similar situation. This amounts to more than twice the energy efficiency of the hydrogen vehicle. As such, the prevalence of electric cars in the global market isn’t likely to dwindle in the nearest time.

Although fans of the FCEV project point out a noticeable advantage of hydrogen vehicles over electric ones, namely that the recharging process is significantly faster and one can drive further with one refuel, this doesn’t mean that electric cars will disappear from the market.

Most probably, though currently stalled by the COVID-19 prevalence, electric and hydrogen batteries will slowly but steadily begin to replace their classic, fuel-based predecessors. Albeit, the future of hydrogen in locomotion is still under question.

What’s important to consider in this equation, however, is which of these cars will be self-driving? Will this evolution finally be stripped of our ability to govern our own vehicle? Stay tuned for more on SalamWebToday!

 

(Written by Hussein Al-Bahir)