June 28, 2022

Hydrogen Car | The Sustainable Fuel for Cars

 Hydrogen has been praised as a fuel of the future that could enable the end of the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and benefit change to net-zero emissions. But for this hydrogen revolution to take place, some big barriers need to be overcome. So is the hype about hydrogen justified?

Hydrogen Fuel | Hydrogen cars | Sustainable Energy

The most plentiful element in the universe is Hydrogen. It’s necessary for life, the sun is specially made of it and it’s present in almost all alive things. But on earth pure hydrogen is very inadequate. Instead, it mainly exists integrated with oxygen in the form of water. So how does this ample element get turned into a fuel that could help preserve the planet?

Advantages of using hydrogen fuel

One of the advantages of hydrogen in a hydrogen vehicle is the only emission that comes out of the tailpipe is undiluted, drinkable water. In contrast, the internal-combustion engine puts out loads of harmful chemicals and carcinogens. This signifies that as long as the energy used to produce it is sustainable hydrogen can be a certainly green fuel.

How hydrogen fuel is Generated?

Generation of Hydrogen fuel | Hydrogen Molecules

The first hydrogen needs to be obtained. This is done by splitting molecules. Hydrogen is a power carrier unlike, petroleum which is a primary power source. To make hydrogen from something requires an input of energy. Methane can be used via a process called steam reforming or a source of electricity through electrolysis. Once you have some hydrogen you can either burn it directly or mix it with oxygen in a fuel cell, which is somewhat like a battery. The reaction in the fuel cell creates electricity and heat. And the mere waste is water.

How hydrogen fuel could be used?

NASA began using hydrogen fuel cells to develop electricity in its space capsules in the 1960s. Today it’s not only considered rocket fuel in space but also for planes, trains, and automobiles. As well as the industrial sector. The most potential early applications are going to be in heavy industry, for example, steel- and cement-making. These are heavy, heavy greenhouse-gas polluters and they ingest tons of energy, a lot of coal in respect. And it’s very challenging to substitute that with electricity which is probably how most of the decarbonization of the global economy will occur.

Why hasn't hydrogen fuel been accepted in past?

This isn’t the foremost time hydrogen has been called the energy of the future. So the question is why has it never taken off? Until renewables existed at scale producing hydrogen required extensive quantities of fossil fuel, or nuclear energy which caused hydrogen both more expensive and less efficient than other ways of storing and delivering energy until climate change moved up the political agenda. Hydrogen simply wasn’t worth it. The existing fossil-fuel infrastructure has been in place for decades. It’s trillions of dollars of invested legacy equipment and the companies that built it defend their assets. And so it makes it very difficult for governments to force that legacy equipment to be pushed aside in favor of radically new rival equipment like hydrogen infrastructure or for that matter, renewable energy.

Is hydrogen fuel safe?

The passengers look down to see the east coast of America gliding by beneath them. There has also been a battle against public perception of hydrogen safety sparked by the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. Within moments there was a tremendous outburst and sharp orange flames formed the backdrop for a tableau of death. Hydrogen gas is very combustible and does need to be stored in a precise way. But fears about its protection are overblown. The Hindenburg did not burst because of the hydrogen it's been authenticated. That’s a misperception and what’s more, the industry has shown that hydrogen vehicles can be safer than internal-combustion vehicle cars that use gasoline which, of course, is an explosive product. Every day hydrogen across the world is used by industry quite safely. 

Advantages of Hydrogen over batteries

One advantage hydrogen has over batteries is that it’s much more energy-dense which means that with a very high-pressure storage system it takes much less space to make a vehicle go any distance. If you have a hydrogen tank on board you can refuel a vehicle quickly compared to batteries and electric cars. But we do have issues with the cost we have issues with refueling stations and fuelling infrastructure that has to be built out. So that’s another obstacle that stands in the way of hydrogen.

Is hydrogen sustainable?

There’s also a question over how sustainable hydrogen is despite some advances in the technology to generate it still requires energy-intensive processes that are fuelled largely by fossil fuels or lots of electricity. The only method to make truly green hydrogen is to produce it using sustainable energy. At the moment, a lot of the hydrogen that’s used in the world is made from natural gas but that does produce some greenhouse-gas emissions. Some people see this as terrible. And other people say this could be a bridge. It can help build a market until there’s enough renewable energy and electrolyzers become more efficient and more cost-effective.

But even if renewable energy is used in the electrolysis process the energy content that comes out is less than what goes in. Which leads some to argue that hydrogen is just a waste of renewable energy. They have a point that there are a bunch of applications in which electricity is the most promising thing to use and more efficient. Whereas there are other applications in the hefty industry especially long-distance transportation, for example where hydrogen could find a niche quite a big niche.

Unlike earlier waves of enthusiasm, hydrogen fuel could be here to stay this time. Technological advancements are causing hydrogen production more efficient and cheaper and this along with the government’s affirmation of decarbonizing is helping push a new hydrogen economy. We see huge improvements in the vehicles or the processes that use hydrogen and we see much more sophistication among the companies that are using it 

According to a study by McKinsey, there are more than 350 large-scale global projects underway right now. The whole investment projected in the hydrogen sector amounts to an evaluated $500billon. Scientific advancements, driving from the laboratories to pilot plants and eventually fetching towards a marketplace because they know a market that will pay for low-carbon techniques or green hydrogen is arriving. 

Germany has declared a €7billon program and the Chinese government wants to include 1 million fuel-cell-powered vehicles on its roadways by 2030.

Will there be a hydrogen revolution in the future years?

When we think about the tools that are needed to get to a net-zero carbon world There’s no doubt that hydrogen will play a role. In the short term, electrification is going to lead to the decarbonization charge. Still longer-term, I think there is great potential for a real hydrogen revolution that would play a big role in a decarbonized society.

Are hydrogen cars possible?

As of 2022, there exist two models of hydrogen cars publicly available in select markets: the Toyota Mirai (2014), which is the world's foremost mass-produced reliable fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), and the Hyundai Nexo (2018).

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