Electric and hybrid cars are gaining in popularity, in part because they help lower the amount of carbon emissions that are released into the atmosphere. But they’re not the only option for more environmentally friendly driving.
And hydrogen cars? They certainly have their role in the future.
Hydrogen cars are a type of electric vehicle that use fuel cells to power the motor instead of relying primarily on a lithium-ion battery pack; they don’t burn fuel like gasoline cars. As with EVs, hydrogen cars don’t generate harmful emissions — the only by-product is water vapor.
How do hydrogen cars work?
Being electric vehicles, the engines that drive these cars are powered by electricity, as in BEV (battery electric vehicles). What distinguishes the two types of automobiles is the way in which this energy is produced and reaches the engine.
While in conventional electric vehicles the electricity comes from the grid connection and is stored in batteries, usually lithium, in the FCEV (Full Cell Electric Vehicle technology) the energy is produced internally, in fuel cells, using hydrogen.
The gas is stored in a tank, almost like a fuel tank, which also makes it possible to fill up as quickly as in a diesel or gasoline car. The hydrogen passes from the tank to the fuel cells, where it splits into electrons – which create the electrical current to power the engine – and protons, which join oxygen and generate water steam.
Advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen cars
- Greater autonomy
- Fast supply
- No emissions and noise
- Less weight
- Speed does not affect fuel consumption much.
- Better cold operation
- Good for remote areas
- Limited supply of cars at high prices
- Supply network almost does not exist
- More complex and expensive hydrogen transport and storage
- Production costs still high
- Green hydrogen with reduced production
- Hydrogen without being green pollutes a lot
Why aren’t more hydrogen cars?
As with battery electric cars, the development of hydrogen vehicles depends heavily on availability and encouragement from manufacturers, governments and international public institutions. If BEVs have faced resistance from a part of society and businesses for years, hydrogen vehicles also take time to convince the same sectors. There is still little supply and high prices.