Do you know what are the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells? Here are the answers. Let’s find out!
Almost any machine that requires energy can be powered by hydrogen, which is a safe substitute for fossil fuels. The fuel cell, which is the energy conversion device that can capture and use the power of hydrogen effectively is the key to making this happen.
Future vehicle fueling strategies could be altered by hydrogen fuel cell technology. There are a few significant difficulties, though. The benefits and drawbacks of hydrogen fuel cells are listed below.
Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen fuel cell technology presents several advantages over other power sources, including:
Renewable and Readily Available
The most plentiful element in the universe, hydrogen, is a renewable energy source that is ideal for our future zero-carbon needs for combined heat and power supplies. Despite the difficulties involved in extracting hydrogen from water, hydrogen is a particularly abundant energy source.
Hydrogen is a Clean and Flexible Energy Source to Support Zero-Carbon Energy Strategies
Since the only byproducts of hydrogen fuel cells’ operation are heat and water, they are naturally clean sources of energy with no negative effects on the environment. Unlike biofuel or hydropower, hydrogen doesn’t require large areas of land to produce.
Production, storage, and use of hydrogen will play an important role in driving further development of renewable energy, by balancing their intermittent supply modalities with the challenging end-user demands, avoiding the need for significant early investment to upgrade grid infrastructure.
More Powerful and Energy Efficient Than Fossil Fuels
A high-density energy source with good energy efficiency is provided by hydrogen fuel cell technology. Of all the common fuels, hydrogen has the highest energy content per unit of mass.
High-pressure gaseous and liquid hydrogen have around three times the gravimetric energy density (around 120MJ/kg) of diesel and LNG and a similar volumetric energy density to natural gas. These
Highly Efficient When Compared to Other Energy Sources
In comparison to many other energy sources, including many green energy options, hydrogen fuel cells are more effective. This fuel efficiency allows for the production of more energy per pound of fuel.
For example, a conventional combustion-based power plant generates electricity at 33-35% efficiency compared to up to 65% for hydrogen fuel cells. The same is true for automobiles, where hydrogen fuel cells offer a 50% reduction in fuel consumption while utilizing 40–60% of the fuel’s energy.
Almost Zero Emissions
Due to the absence of greenhouse gas emissions from hydrogen fuel cells compared to fossil fuel sources, pollution is decreased and air quality is improved.
Reduces Carbon Footprints
Hydrogen fuel cells produce almost no emissions, so they don’t emit greenhouse gases when in use, negating their carbon footprint.
Fast Charging Times
The charge time for hydrogen fuel cell power units is extremely rapid, similar to that for conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and markedly quicker in comparison to battery-powered electric vehicles.
Hydrogen fuel cells can be recharged in under five minutes, in contrast to electric vehicles, which can take anywhere from 30 to several hours to do so. This fast charging time means that hydrogen-powered vehicles provide the same flexibility as conventional cars.
No Noise Pollution
Unlike other renewable energy sources like wind energy, hydrogen fuel cells do not pollute the environment through the noise. This also means that, similar to electric cars, vehicles powered by hydrogen are much quieter than those powered by traditional internal combustion engines.
No Visual Pollution
Although some low-carbon energy sources, such as wind and biofuel power plants, can be unsightly, hydrogen fuel cells do not have the same space requirements, so there is also less visual pollution.
Long Usage Times
When it comes to usage times, hydrogen fuel cells are more efficient. The driving range of a hydrogen vehicle is comparable to that of a fossil-fuel vehicle (about 300 miles). This is better than what is currently provided by electric vehicles (EVs), which are being developed with fuel cell power units as “range-extenders” more and more.
Unlike EVs, hydrogen fuel cells are not significantly affected by the outside temperature and do not degrade in cold weather. When this benefit is combined with the quick charging times, it is further enhanced.
Ideal for Use in Remote Areas
Where conditions permit, the availability of hydrogen through local production and storage may prove to be a viable substitute for remote areas’ reliance on diesel-based power and heating.
Providing a non-polluting fuel derived from a readily accessible natural resource, will not only lessen the need to transport fuels but also improve the lives of people living in remote areas.
Versatility of Use
With the development of technology, hydrogen fuel cells will be able to supply power for a variety of stationary and mobile applications. One application for hydrogen is in the form of hydrogen-powered cars, but it can also be used in smaller-scale heating systems and household goods. Read More: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars: Here’s What You Need to Know
ICE powerplants’ functions of energy storage capacity (i.e. the fuel tank) and engine size are decoupled, in contrast to battery-based power (ie. for which power scales linearly with mass), thus providing great flexibility in design.
Democratization of Power Supply
Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to reduce the dependency of a nation on fossil fuels, which will help democratize energy and power supplies around the world. Many nations that are currently dependent on the supply of fossil fuels will benefit from this increased independence.
Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Sadly, there are some drawbacks to using this energy source.
Fuel made of hydrogen is significantly more expensive than gasoline. The high cost is primarily caused by a lack of distribution and storage infrastructure, which makes it challenging for hydrogen fuel to be cost-competitive with less expensive forms of fossil fuel energy.
Partially because of its cost, hydrogen fuel is not widely available. In spite of the possibility that it will one day be a viable substitute for gasoline-powered vehicles, it does not yet have the production capacity to do so.
Despite the fact that hydrogen fuel is non-toxic, there are still environmental risks. The fact that this fuel type is extremely flammable and demands a higher voltage than conventional gas engines are the two main issues with it.
Difficult to Store
Storage is one of hydrogen fuel cells’ most notable attributes but also carries the greatest potential for failure. It is typically kept in liquid form or as compressed gas, but storage can be challenging due to its many condition requirements, including temperature.
Similar problems arise when moving hydrogen fuel. Trucks, pipelines, compressors, and dispensers are examples of transportation vehicles. Along with preserving purity levels and avoiding unintentional leakage, delivery costs pose the biggest obstacle to transportation.
Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda are the top three auto companies investing in hydrogen fuel cell technology and infrastructure. However, the infrastructure for hydrogen is not as developed as it is for other alternative fuels. Installation on a large scale is challenging due to a lack of support and expensive delivery for low volumes.
Since it is new to the market and has not advanced as much as other energy sources, hydrogen fuel cells are not as efficient. Although there are many opportunities for innovation as a result, there may still be problems because of a lack of research. There is still much work to be done, particularly with regard to using hydrogen fuel in automobiles.
Hydrogen fuel cells may be zero-emission technology, but that does not necessarily make them a renewable source of energy. One aspect of hydrogen’s viability as an energy source is its abundance in the atmosphere.
As of now, producing hydrogen in a form that can be used requires the use of fossil fuels. Despite being cleaner than gasoline, it still requires a lot of carbon to produce.
Although some operations produce hydrogen fuel using renewable energy, most of the supply is dependent on fossil fuels for its production. In addition, the infrastructure needed to use hydrogen fuel must be significantly upgraded, and carbon-intensive systems must be used.
The various elements involved in manufacturing a hydrogen-powered vehicle are dependent on energy-intensive resources like natural gas.
The flammability of hydrogen fuel cell technology is arguably the most infamous issue. If mishandled or stored improperly, hydrogen gas has the potential to explode. In contrast to earlier technologies, new research indicates that hydrogen-powered vehicles pose a low risk of explosion.
HFCEVs’ safety is arguably one of the most common misconceptions. The risks are very low, despite the fact that having large tanks of pressurized hydrogen in a car might seem unsettling and bring to mind the Hindenburg disaster.
Contrary to popular belief, hydrogen isn’t actually all that dangerous. It’s significantly lighter than air (hence its use in airships and blimps), which means it quickly disperses if there are leaks.
The way hydrogen gas is stored in HFCEVs—in robust, lightweight carbon composite cylinders—is another factor contributing to their safety. These long-life cylinders are built to outlast the vehicle itself and are incredibly strong.
Capabilities of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Here’s an overview of what fuel cells are capable of:
- Stationary fuel cells can be used to generate power for remote locations, backup power, distributed power generation, and co-generation.
- From hand-held devices to portable generators, fuel cells have the ability to power any portable application that relies on batteries.
- Fuel cells power transportation such as personal vehicles, trucks, buses, and marine vessels; they can also provide auxiliary power to traditional transportation technologies.
As a result, hydrogen will play a significant role in the future as a substitute for the imported petroleum that is currently used in cars and trucks. In fact, a number of automakers have created cars that use hydrogen fuel instead of gasoline or diesel.
Basic earth elements include hydrogen. A single proton and a single electron make up an atom. Although it is extremely abundant, it cannot exist as a distinct form of matter. Instead, it is incorporated with other components.
Hydrogen fuel cells have advantages and disadvantages, but the technology has great potential to transform how we power cars and support a cleaner energy system.
Hydrogen vehicles simply lack the refueling infrastructure necessary to become a widely used substitute for fossil fuels at this time. At the same time, battery-powered electric vehicles have a big advantage in terms of adoption and the availability of charging infrastructure.