Does something make hydrogen cars different from electric cars? Are the former greener and do not contribute to the global? But how efficient are these cars as future alternatives? Here’s one article to your endless questions. Give a read.
Working Of Electric And Hydrogen Cars
There’s a hydrogen tank in a car that runs on hydrogen fuel cells. This cell consumes hydrogen gas (under high pressures) that mixes with oxygen. Thus, an electrochemical reaction occurs, producing electricity, and the electric motor gets power. It implies that a hydrogen economy car has the characteristics of both conventional cars and electric cars. The former because there’s a tank and the latter due to the motor and electric energy. Regardless, they are a unique kind of transportation.
In a hydrogen-powered car, fuel cells are essential components. A vehicle has the energy to move only because of these processes happening in it. So, in short, the stored hydrogen is mixed with oxygen and turns into electricity in these fuel cells. The vehicle propels or moves forward because of this generated electricity, thanks to the electric motors. With no CO2 emissions, it’s all good. Is it? Surprisingly, the only two byproducts of the process are heat and water.
The oxygen and hydrogen atoms combine to form water, and that gets expelled. The case with EV or electric vehicles is different. These get power from electric motors. The motor pulls current from portable electricity sources or a battery. When these electric cars move, no chemical reaction occurs. But which one would be more sustainable and ecological? Hydrogen cars or electric cars? Here are the characteristics of both types of vehicles.
Electric Cars V/s Hydrogen Cars
A hydrogen-powered Hyundai Nexo can travel around 550 km or 330 miles. It is almost the same as the electric car Tesla Model S. Yet, the driving range of both is hard to determine.
The passengers in a car and whether there’s traffic on the road may give an idea. Mostly, there’s a mix of these. The fueling and powering time of hydrogen cars are lesser compared to electric cars. One kg of hydrogen can store two hundred and thirty-six times more energy than lithium batteries.
Benefits Of Hydrogen Cars
Hydrogen fuel cars are better than lithium-ion batteries in terms of a lot. Gas cars are also more attractive than others because of the life cycle of lithium batteries. Hydrogen cars are useful since there’s uncertainty about batteries and when they’d stop serving their purpose. Hydrogen production is, however, not an easy task. Not only do cars run on batteries, but even cellphones and solar panels also need it. The batteries are hard to recycle, but experts are finding ways to reuse them.
With hydrogen cars, there are no polluting emissions like carbon dioxide with hydrogen. Decarbonization increases renewable energy all across the globe. Refueling is also possible in 5-10 minutes. On the other hand, electric cars require 3-6 hours of charging. Hydrogen mobility is certainly unquestionable. Hydrogen economy can decrease the global emissions of carbon dioxide by 27 percent.
Hydrogen Production: The Only Issue
Hydrogen isn’t found in a pure form, even if it’s the most common element here. We can use elements like natural gas, fossil fuels, water, and biomass for hydrogen production for cars. But, the economic and environmental costs enter the production equation of hydrogen. When you reverse the water electrolysis process, we can undoubtedly make hydrogen.
However, the problem of separating water molecules to get hydrogen isn’t trivial. The process turns expensive because a high amount of energy is required. But the good part is if we can generate hydrogen using wind or solar power, it’s economical. The process becomes environment-friendly, and the carbon content emitted is very low. Unfortunately, the efficiency process is only around 75 percent, and 25 percent of electricity is lost.
So, What’s The Solution?
Today, hydrogen fuel is largely from the reformation of natural gas. It is less expensive, especially when compared to electrolysis. The issue is that carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are the resulting byproducts. And greenhouse gas emissions lead to global warming. While extracting natural gas, methane leaks are very natural.
Over time, it is becoming less frequent but still happening. These molecules are several times worse than carbon dioxide, contributing to the greenhouse effect. Around 25 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions are happening because of this released methane. The natural gas extraction process is known as fracking. It significantly impacts our environment, ecosystems, contaminates water, and adversely affects biodiversity.
What Does Global Warming Lead To?
These gases are always there in the atmosphere. But, when their level rises beyond a fixed percent, it’s called the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse gas emissions create an invisible layer around the earth. And this effect causes global warming when the global average temperatures rise. Experts say that even a rise of two-degree Celcius can hugely impact our planet.
But already, the effects of climate change are apparent with the ice sheets melting, resulting in sea-level rise. Excessive carbon dioxide is a major issue where the hydrogen economy comes to the rescue. Also, fossil fuels are reaching their extinction every day. So, a convenient renewable energy source is the need of the hour.
Since oceans absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, an increasing level is dangerous. Ocean temperatures are rising for the same reason. Almost 95 percent of the hydrogen production in the US is through methane reforming. So, the possibility of hydrogen-powered cars to stand against climate change has been torn apart.
Hydrogen Fuel’s Fight Against Climate Change
A considerable amount of carbon dioxide and monoxide are produced. Also, natural gas is a fossil fuel that might escape during transportation. It isn’t convincing. The methane cracking system is also not a long-term solution. Yet, electrolysis seems a hopeful method of producing hydrogen.
The only argument in favor of electric cars is that they absorb energy directly from the grid. Inevitably, hydrogen cars need double this energy, first for making hydrogen and then for running the vehicle. If we convert electricity into hydrogen and then vice-versa happens, we waste 45 percent of the energy. So, this again is a compromising process.
Despite the setbacks, there’s still a ray of light. The hydrogen economy is in itself a way towards a cleaner future. New methods like proton exchange membranes are being developed for hydrogen production. An 86 percent efficiency is expected. A hybrid version of lithium and hydrogen batteries is also a picture in the plan. But, there’s still doubt if we should produce hydrogen of surplus energy. It goes without saying dams are in the queue too.
If one talks of the present times, electric cars are more accessible both in matters of charging and types. The processes are more efficient (compared to hydrogen), and lithium-ion batteries, when reused, become less harmful. Nevertheless, the bigger questions are always about if polar bears would be left with any ice to live. Can hydrogen cars be a more eco-friendly and economical option, both at once? Well, that’s still something for the future to tell.