It also provides motor power for aircraft, ships, cars and portable and stationary fuel cell applications. The downside of using hydrogen in cars is that it is practically difficult to store it in cryogenic or high-pressure tanks. The combustion engine, launched in the mid-19th century and never abandoned since then, allows the car to move thanks to combustion between fuel and air, which is converted into thermal energy and, in turn, into mechanical energy. In almost 200 years, this engine has achieved maximum performance and optimization and is currently no longer sustainable due to the strong environmental impact of the waste produced.
On the contrary, the hydrogen combustion engine uses technology that stands out for the absence of harmful emissions. However, its main use is not in the combustion engine but in a fuel cell, developed for space exploration since the 1960s, through which an electrochemical process combines hydrogen and oxygen to generate electrical energy, which in turn powers an efficient electric motor.
Hydrogen fuelcells do not produce any CO2 emissions during operation, even if their production is not necessarily carbon-free. Therefore, at the present time, hydrogen cars may be suitable for people who earn quite a lot of money, but they are rather unattractive to people with an average income, since the prices of hydrogen fuel are too expensive.
Hydrogen fuel cells are considered to be the greenest source of energy among the alternative energies currently known to mankind. Compared to refueling a forklift truck that runs on propane, the hydrogen fuel cell refueling process has an advantage. Hydrogen fuel cells offer better performance than lead-acid batteries, but they don't beat lithium-ion batteries in terms of efficiency, costs and safety. Another problem with hydrogen cars is that, apart from high purchase prices, the prices of hydrogen fuels are also much higher than those of conventional fuels, such as gas.
Hydrogen fuel cell cars are very promising vehicles and may have the potential to replace conventional cars at some point. However, since the market for hydrogen cars is quite small, it may not be possible at this time to draw valid conclusions about the real depreciation rate of hydrogen cars. Hydrogen fuel cells work through a chemical reaction of hydrogen gas with oxygen inside a fuel cell, which generates electricity and water as by-products. Therefore, the use of conventional gas that uses fossil fuels presents many problems that could be avoided by using hydrogen cars instead.
For hydrogen fuel cell cars to be environmentally friendly, the energy used to produce hydrogen fuel must be produced using environmentally friendly technologies. Organizations that currently use hydrogen energy can have hydrogen gas delivered to them through tube trailers for smaller quantities or, if they need a larger amount of fuel, they have to build an on-site plant to generate hydrogen gas. While from an objective point of view, hydrogen technology should not cause too many accidents, people may fear this type of technology and prefer to refrain from buying hydrogen cars, since they are simply not familiar with the technology and may feel unsafe with regard to safety regulations. In Paris, hydrogen is produced locally, allowing a taxi network to operate efficiently with the goal of having half the fleet run on hydrogen by 2024.