Hydrogen fuel cell storage is much more complicated and expensive than other types of fuel. This increases overall product costs and increases prices for car manufacturers. The fuel cell can be hazardous due to its highly flammable nature. This makes it a dangerous fuel to have in a vehicle if it crashes.
Despite being light, energy dense, and readily available, hydrogen has not yet established itself as a widely used fuel source. It has enormous potential, although there are a handful of factors that have limited acceptance worldwide. So why don't we use hydrogen as fuel? Next, we take a closer look at some of the main challenges faced by hydrogen and how they are being addressed. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) combine hydrogen stored in a tank with oxygen in the air to produce electricity, with water vapor as a by-product.
Unlike the most common battery-powered electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles don't need to be plugged in, and all current models exceed 300 miles of range with a full tank. They fill up with a mouthpiece almost as quickly as traditional gasoline and diesel vehicles. While fuel cell vehicles themselves only emit water vapor through their exhaust pipes, the Union of Concerned Scientists points out that hydrogen production can cause pollution. While renewable sources of hydrogen, such as agricultural and waste sites, are increasing, most of the hydrogen obtained as fuel comes from traditional natural gas extraction.
However, the impact is still lower than that of their gasoline-powered counterparts. As with any new technology, fuel cell costs should decrease if the market grows and achieves economies of scale in manufacturing and infrastructure. An electrochemical process in the fuel cell catalyst divides hydrogen molecules into protons and electrons. There is an entire industry that must be dedicated to hydrogen fuel pumps; the system is much simpler and more practical for battery-powered vehicles.
The need for hydrogen fuel tanks on board has created safety concerns and has limited the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). Hydrogen fuel prices are expected to fall dramatically in the near future, making fuel cell cars more attractive to the general public. The cost of platinum in the fuel cell would make it possible to buy a fleet of handivans, and at that time there was no practical hydrogen infrastructure. According to the National Fire Protection Association, alternative fuel vehicles, a category that includes both hydrogen fuel cells and battery-powered electric vehicles, are no more dangerous than traditional internal combustion engines.
Each hydrogen fuel cell car can hold 5 to 6 kilograms of hydrogen and can travel up to 400 miles per refill. It then has to mix with oxygen in a fuel cell stack to generate electricity to power the car's engines. Ford has experimented with fuel cell variants of its Focus and Fusion cars, as well as the Edge crossover, but doesn't offer any of those vehicles for sale. According to recent research published in the journal Nature, hydrogen fuel cell cars will never catch up with battery-powered electric vehicles, not even commercial trucks.
The key to encouraging hydrogen vehicles is to make them part of a larger “hydrogen economy”: building refueling stations only for hydrogen cars would be inefficient. .