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The Rise of Greener Vehicles: Hydrogen Electric Cars

July 22, 2022 - Emily Newton

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As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, alternative fuel sources and greener vehicles are becoming increasingly popular. Hydrogen electric cars are one option gaining traction. In this blog post, we look at what hydrogen electric vehicles are, how they work and how they compare to traditional electric vehicles.

What Is a Hydrogen Electric Vehicle?

A hydrogen electric vehicle is a car that uses hydrogen fuel cells to power an electric motor. The hydrogen is stored in tanks on board the vehicle and is fed into the fuel cells, where it reacts with oxygen from the air to create electricity. This electricity then powers the electric motor, which drives the car’s wheels.

How Does the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Work?

Hydrogen fuel cells are essentially batteries that use hydrogen as their fuel source. The hydrogen and oxygen react to create electricity, which powers an electric motor.

The main advantage of using a hydrogen fuel cell over a traditional battery is that hydrogen fuel cells can generate more power per unit of weight than batteries.

When Did Hydrogen Fuel Cells Emerge?

Hydrogen fuel cells were first developed in the early 19th century, but it was not until the mid-20th century that they began to have practical use.

General Motors built the first hydrogen fuel cell car in 1967. However, it wasn’t until the late 90s and early 2000s that hydrogen fuel cell cars began to be mass-produced.

How Do Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Compare to Electric Vehicles?

There are several similarities and differences between electric vehicles and those that use hydrogen fuel cells:

1. Power Source

Hydrogen-powered vehicles generate their own electricity onboard using hydrogen fuel cells, while traditional electric cars rely on batteries that need to be plugged into an external power source.

2. Efficiency

These cars are more efficient than traditional electric vehicles. Why? This is because hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity more efficiently than batteries convert chemical energy.

3. Cost

Hydrogen-powered vehicles are currently more expensive than traditional electric vehicles because hydrogen fuel cells and the infrastructure to support them are still in the early stages of development. However, as hydrogen fuel cell technology becomes more advanced and cheaper to produce, experts predict the cost of these cars will decrease.

4. Emissions

Additonally, these vehicles produce zero emissions when they are running on hydrogen. Traditional electric vehicles also produce zero emissions. However, because traditional electric vehicles must be plugged into a secondary power source, they may produce emissions based on the mix of energy sources used to generate electricity. They may be emission-free if they are plugged into a renewable energy source such as solar or wind.

Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have several advantages over traditional electric vehicles.

1. Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Hydrogen electric vehicles are emission-free, meaning they have a smaller environmental impact than traditional electric cars, which can produce secondary emissions when they are plugged into the grid. Those secondary emissions could become more of a concern, particularly with efforts underway to increase the number of charging stations available to drivers of electric cars.

2. Less Air Pollution

Because hydrogen-powered vehicles produce zero emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, they create less air pollution than traditional gasoline or diesel cars.

3. Reduced Dependence on Oil

Hydrogen electric vehicles can help to reduce a country’s dependence on oil since hydrogen can be produced from various sources, including renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles also have some disadvantages compared to traditional electric vehicles.

1. Lack of Hydrogen Infrastructure

Minimal infrastructure exists to support these vehicles, such as hydrogen fueling stations and hydrogen production facilities. Therefore, it difficult to use these cars for long-distance travel.

2. Less Durability and Reliability

Hydrogen fuel cells for electric vehicles are still in development, so they are not as durable or reliable as traditional gasoline or diesel engines.

3. Increased Vehicle Costs

Hydrogen-powered vehicles are currently more expensive than traditional electric vehicles because hydrogen fuel cells and the infrastructure to support them are still in the early stages of development.

Weighing the Benefits

Hydrogen electric cars have many advantages over traditional electric vehicles, including fewer greenhouse gas emissions, less air pollution and reduced dependence on oil.

However, hydrogen-powered vehicles also have a few disadvantages, including the lack of infrastructure to support them and higher costs. Despite these challenges, experts expect hydrogen electric vehicles will become more popular in the coming years as hydrogen fuel cell technology becomes more advanced and cheaper to produce.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.

Author

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She enjoys reading and writing about how technology is changing the world around us.

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