Why are we not using hydrogen fuel cells?

The need for hydrogen fuel tanks on board has created safety problems and has limited the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). Automakers such as Toyota have been quick to reprimand these concerns, stating that FCEVs are as safe as their gasoline and diesel counterparts. The reverse process of electrolysis, which produces “green” hydrogen and oxygen from water, can use a variety of renewable energy resources (wind, wind, solar) to produce hydrogen as fuel for generating renewable energy. 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 don't produce noise pollution like other sources of renewable energy, such as wind power. Precious metals, such as platinum and iridium, are often used as catalysts in fuel cells and in some types of water electrolyzers, meaning that the initial cost of fuel cells (and electrolyzers) can be high. This shows that hydrogen fuel cells are a non-toxic fuel source and are therefore superior in this regard to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy, all of which are potentially dangerous or difficult to obtain. On the positive side, hydrogen fuel cells could offer a clean, fully renewable source of energy for fixed and mobile applications in the near future.

Hydrogen fuel cells use hydrogen as fuel in an electrochemical process that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electrical energy and water. Then, another 26% of the remaining energy is lost when transporting hydrogen to the fuel station, meaning that a total of 48% of the energy has already been lost before the hydrogen reaches a vehicle. TWI is part of a consortium that has completed a two-year collaborative project that successfully developed a state monitoring technique to improve the safety of hydrogen fuel storage tanks. As technology advances, hydrogen fuel cells will be able to provide power for a range of fixed and mobile applications.

In addition, most electric vehicle charging takes place at home during the night, which is not the case with hydrogen fuel cells. Today, the vast majority of global hydrogen production comes from fossil fuel sources (methane gas reform) and will continue to do so for several decades. Most have opted for battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV), but some car manufacturers have insisted on trying to make hydrogen fuel cell powertrains work. 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.

Hydrogen fuel cells don't generate greenhouse gas emissions like fossil fuel sources, so they reduce pollution and, as a result, improve air quality.

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