Fuel cells work like batteries, but they don't run out or need to be recharged. They produce electricity and heat whenever fuel is supplied to them. Fuel cells work like batteries, but they don't run out of energy or need to be recharged, according to the DOE. They produce electricity and heat whenever they are supplied with fuel, such as hydrogen.
Hydrogen fuel cells do not generate greenhouse gas emissions like fossil fuel sources, so they reduce pollution and, as a result, improve air quality. The same goes for vehicles, where hydrogen fuel cells use between 40 and 60% of fuel energy and, at the same time, offer a 50% reduction in fuel consumption. The company began as a natural gas truck company, then moved to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, then to a mixture of fuel cell hydrogen and battery electricity, and today the company's first truck to hit the market is a truck with an electric battery, years before its FCEV programs. With almost zero emissions, hydrogen fuel cells release no greenhouse gases, meaning they don't have a carbon footprint while in use.
However, it doesn't work as well as platinum, especially because it lacks the durability needed to withstand the highly corrosive and oxidative environments inside fuel cells. Technical and economic advances in battery and fast charging technologies could soon make fuel-cell electric vehicles, which run on hydrogen, unnecessary in road transport. Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to reduce a nation's dependence on fossil fuels, which will help democratize energy and energy supplies around the world. Unlike batteries, fuel cells don't run out or need to be recharged as long as there is a constant source of fuel and oxygen.
The large-scale adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology for automotive applications will require a new refueling infrastructure to support it, although for long-range applications, such as those of heavy vehicles and delivery trucks, refueling is likely to be used from start to finish. Fuel cells are attractive because, in theory, they overcome the efficiency limitations associated with traditional internal combustion engines. Because fuel cells can be independent of the grid, they are also an attractive option for critical charging functions, such as data centers, telecommunications towers, hospitals, emergency response systems and even military applications for national defense. Compared to conventional gasoline vehicles, fuel cell vehicles can even reduce carbon dioxide by up to half if hydrogen is produced with natural gas and by 90% if hydrogen is produced using renewable energy, such as wind and solar.
As technology advances, hydrogen fuel cells will be able to provide power for a range of fixed and mobile applications. Several truck manufacturers, as well as fuel cell and infrastructure suppliers, have joined forces and announced a target of 100,000 fuel cell trucks on European roads by 2030. Hydrogen fuel cells need investments to develop to the point of becoming a truly viable source of energy. Debates continue about the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells, but despite current limitations, hydrogen remains an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels and can be used to provide flexible, high-density energy and propulsion to a wide range of industrial plants and modes of transportation using hydrogen fuel cell technology.