What is the biggest problem with using hydrogen in a fuel cell?

Total cost The cost of a unit of energy from hydrogen fuel cells is currently higher than that of other energy sources, including solar panels. This may change as technology advances, but currently this cost is an obstacle to the widespread use of hydrogen, although it is more efficient once produced. Currently, approximately 95% of hydrogen is produced in situ. For example, refineries will hire a hydrogen supplier to build a hydrogen production plant at the refining site, in order to produce so-called hydrogen “on purpose”.

Japan's initiative to send hydrogen over a considerable distance provides an idea of how the market could evolve and could spur efforts by global oil and gas companies to open their maritime trade routes to hydrogen. As more and more hydrogen demonstrations take place, hydrogen's safety record can grow and build confidence that hydrogen can be as safe as today's widely used fuels. The energy densities of hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries are very similar, making them great options for busy operations that need equipment that lasts a full shift. While it is true that hydrogen fuel cells do not emit harmful gases during operation, the same is not the case with the production process for producing hydrogen fuel.

The Japanese company Kawasaki Heavy Industries launched last week the world's first liquid hydrogen ocean vessel, symbolizing the emergence of hydrogen as a potentially transformative fuel, at a time when the world is looking for cleaner energy. Because of its relatively simple chemical structure, hydrogen can power vehicles equipped with fuel cell technology, emitting only water. Organizations must work with the local government and the fire department to obtain approval, in addition to worrying about the costs involved in supplying hydrogen gas or building an on-site plant to generate hydrogen gas. Hydrogen produced by SMR without CCS is sometimes referred to as “gray hydrogen”, while hydrogen produced with CCS is known as “blue hydrogen”.

As many companies seek an emission-free alternative to internal combustion engines in their forklifts, some are turning to hydrogen fuel cell technology. In addition, since hydrogen is much lighter than air, it dissipates quickly when released, allowing for a relatively rapid dispersion of fuel in the event of a leak. Hydrogen can be stored as a gas in high-pressure tanks or as a liquid at cryogenic temperatures, but it must be in the form of gas to be used in forklift fuel cells. When analyzing which energy source to integrate into material handling equipment, fleet managers must ensure that the costs of hydrogen fuel and infrastructure are offset by significant labor savings compared to lead acid.

Hydrogen fuel cells do not produce any CO2 emissions during operation, even if their production is not necessarily carbon-free.

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