Ever noticed how vehicles have played their part in converting our shared air into a gigantic trash bin? Undoubtedly, each one of us wants to live in a greener environment and breathe pure air free of toxins.
One solution to this global problem is the idea of zero-emission cars, where two technologies have gained the spotlight: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen cars. For decades experts have presumed hydrogen as the fuel of the future, but is it true?
2020 has turned out to be a big year for BEVs development, raising questions like, do fuel cell cars still have a future? Or “why hydrogen will never be the future of electric cars?”
Why Hydrogen Appeared a Convenient Option?
Hydrogen cars (also called FCVs or Fuel Cell Vehicles) have always been associated with claims like they are greener than BEVs or are outstanding mobility alternatives in the automotive industry.
The principal component of hydrogen cars is fuel cells. They convert the stored hydrogen gas into electricity that powers the electric motor and propels the car. The worth-noting feature of the entire process is zero toxic emissions, with by-products as heat and water.
Hydrogen cars are a big winner when it comes to fueling time. The electric car’s battery recharging time is more than hydrogen cars, where the pumping tank with hydrogen takes just five to ten minutes.
Although factors such as charging station and charging connector type dominate BEV’s recharging time, the hydrogen car is still a clear winner. The reason is 1 kg of hydrogen stores 236 times the energy offered by 1kg of lithium-ion batteries.
Moreover, hydrogen cars are capable of achieving longer distances. With densely-packed energy, hydrogen cars can cover up to 300 miles or even more than BEVs that can reach 100 to 200 miles target with a single charge.
With all the wonderful features discussed above, skeptics consider the hydrogen tech revolution, just hype, and negate the concept of hydrogen car dominance over EVs in the coming years.
Why Hydrogen Will Never Be the Future Of Electric Cars?
Despite more than half a century of existence, beginning with GM’s Electrovan in 1966, hydrogen cars stand less popular among users. They are expensive due to high manufacturing costs, stay low in volume, and face sales restrictions in regions with no hydrogen fueling stations.
The following top 3 reasons indicate hydrogen’s incompetency to become the fuel of the future.
1. Hydrogen’s Inefficiency
Starting with power generation to propulsion, hydrogen cars have proved less energy efficient than electric cars.
In a hydrogen fuel cell, electricity converts into hydrogen through electrolysis, with 75% efficiency. The gas’s compression and transportation lose a further 10%. The reversal process turning hydrogen back to electricity is just 60% efficient.
Overall, there is a 62% loss of energy, including a 5% loss when you drive your car. In contrast, the total energy loss in BEVs is only 20%. The power initiated from the source runs on wires, and ultimately reaches the car.
Considering the inefficiency factor, the hydrogen car is not an option if you dream of a greener and cleaner planet.
2. Environmental Cost as a Fuel
Since hydrogen isn’t available in pure form, its production from natural gas, water, and biomass leads to environmental pollution.
Today, most of the hydrogen is obtained from natural gas. Whilst the process is inexpensive, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are released as by-products.
This contributes to global warming, and severe environmental impacts, like disturbed ecosystems, water contamination, biodiversity, and earthquakes.
Likewise, the extraction of natural gas often results in methane leakage. These molecules are 86 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Thus, they have proved responsible for approximately 25% of the global GHG emissions.
3. Explosive Nature
Hydrogen is a highly explosive gas. Using it as fuel can be extremely dangerous. For example, the explosion of a hydrogen-producing plant in Santa Clara is one proof.
The event happened in June 2019 that made car manufacturers alert and highly concerned about the hydrogen car users’ safety. Likewise, it badly affected the reputation of hydrogen cars, and so people are reluctant to invest in these cars.
Other Important Facts to Consider
Some important facts that convince that battery-electric cars have already won the battle of future green transportation are described below:
Hydrogen Cars: Less in Number
As the year 2019 ended, the number of hydrogen cars sold reached 7500 only all over the world. Whereas, by the end of 2018, more than 5 million PEVs (plug-in electric vehicles) were already present globally. Since then, sales are increasing continuously
In the UK, BEVs hold a 4.3% share of the total car market in the first quarter of 2020. This represents an increase of 131.8% since last year.
To establish and support hydrogen fueling stations network that offers an extremely explosive gas, has become a complex and challenging task. Additionally, the process is expensive and unsafe, as well.
Considering all the issues and drawbacks of fossil fuel vehicles, we believe that they are at risk of being left behind, and battery electric vehicles will rule the automotive world.
Unlike hydrogen cars, the BEVs are highly efficient, safe, reliable, sustainable, economical, and environmental-friendly.