August 28, 2022

FCEV | How HYDROGEN cars will take over Electric?

 Electric vehicles have spread their charisma all over the world. Tesla and Elon Musk fans are enthusiastic about EVs on various social media platforms. And now the Indian car makers are also shifting towards electric vehicles.

FCEV | Hydrogen car | Electric car |

In the era of EVs, our Road and Transport Minister has introduced Hydrogen cars. He presented these in Parliament and became part of many headlines. So, what are these Hydrogen cars? Before the mass utilization of EVs, can Hydrogen cars replace them? Let's explore this together in today's article.

History of Hydrogen Fuel

It is not the first time that Hydrogen has been used as a fuel. In the year 1937, Hydrogen was used as a fuel in the Hindenburg Aircraft. But unfortunately, it got ruptured in its flight and 35 people out of 100 died due to the arson. The aircraft was eradicated, but Hydrogen continued as a fuel NASA also uses hydrogen gas as a fuel to shift its crew and cargo from one place to another. In the year 1960, General Motors invented an Electro Van which was an FCEV. The car in which Mr. Gadkari went to the parliament was Toyota Mirai was also an FCEV. FCEV stands for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle.

How does a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car work?

It is very simple Hydrogen is filled in its tank and Oxygen is obtained from the surrounding air. So, there exists a fuel cell where Hydrogen and Oxygen interact and produces water, heat, and electricity. Heat escapes into the atmosphere, and water gets evaporated. And the electricity generated drives the electric motor and accelerates the car.

Benefits of Hydrogen Cars

If you think this type of EV has advantages over both normal fuel-based vehicles and electric vehicles.

It does not need to be recharged via electricity, Fill the hydrogen tank of the vehicle and travel anywhere. The advantage of FCEVs is the use of electric motors, which don't cause any type of pollution. These FCEVs don't even have the issues of Range and Charging.

A range of 250-300 Km in an electric vehicle and the charging time ranges from 6-8 hours. In FCEVs, the range is around 600 Km for this, you only have to get your hydrogen tank full which takes nearly 5 minutes There is one more problem with the EVs which is less spoken.

There is a weight-to-range ratio suppose you have an EV, a battery is installed in it, and it has a range of 100 Km. Now you want your EV to run for 200 Km then how many batteries would be required? You might be thinking of 2 but this is wrong. The battery itself has some weight that will make the EV heavier. So, two batteries won't provide a doubled range you can reach somewhere around 180 Km. The more range one thinks to increase more batteries are required It will become impossible after a certain time to install more batteries.

Hydrogen-based cars are free from all this. Just Increase the size of the tank fill more H2 gas and increase the range. Exactly like conventional fuel-based vehicles. So, the benefit of the Weight to Range ratio is provided in Hydrogen based vehicles.

One more problem with Electric Vehicles is less taken care of is the optimum temperature for an Electric Vehicle to perform better is 21 degrees The batteries of EVs exhaust rapidly in colder regions similar to your smartphones. But there is no such issue in hydrogen-based vehicles. There are no special batteries used in FCEV to drive the car. FCEVs use hydrogen gas, and acceleration depends on the burning of Hydrogen gas. If there are so many benefits, you might be thinking that these vehicles should be having a good market share.

Market Size of Hydrogen Cars?

Not at all, In the year 2021, a total of 6 Million electric vehicles were sold, but only 15000 Hydrogen based vehicles were sold. Now there are more than 1000 charging stations for electric vehicles, but there is only 1 hydrogen station in our country. Elon Musk makes a mockery of these FCEVs in Public he terms these infeasible and told them they have no future.

What are the problems with hydrogen-based vehicles which prohibit their growth?

The first problem is that these are very expensive. A normal car is available for Rs 10 Lacs, and a similar vehicle under the EVs is available at 12-13 Lacs. But the Hydrogen cars would cost you around 24 Lacs. The charging stations of electric vehicles, if cost around $50000 for their development. Then the development of a hydrogen station requires $20 Lacs. The reason is the storage if the hydrogen is stored at a high pressure a lot of expertise is required and that's why it is not at all cost-effective.

The second reason is the issue of Psychological Safety. Everybody has watched the videos of the Hindenburg Disaster. But Toyota Company is determined They declare that these vehicles are safe, and they even fired a bullet at the car to show that it does not catch fire.

But Psychologically many people doubt the safety of FCEVs. So, Safety is a major concern. If we keep the cost and safety aside but still, FCEVs have many technical disadvantages.

Hydrogen Cars vs Electric Vehicles

There is no point in comparing these with conventional fuel-based vehicles. As they are already less in demand. So, EVs which are the replacement for conventional cars must be compared with the FCEVs. To know the limitations of FCEVs. 

The first one is low energy efficiency. This whole article has been published which explains this. Let me lucidly tell you, Hydrogen gas is required to run a Hydrogen based vehicle, It will be extracted from somewhere suppose you extract it from water for an instance, take 100 Watts of electricity and supplied it into the water. 25 Watts of electricity was consumed and Hydrogen was extracted. Now you would transport this hydrogen gas It would require compression 10 Watts of electricity will be used for this. When this Hydrogen will be filled in the Vehicle and then it will react with oxygen to produce electricity. 25 Watts will be consumed in this process. So your 60 Watts of electricity has already been consumed 40 Watts of electricity is left. This means the efficiency of Hydrogen based vehicles is around 40%. If we compare it with EVs, then EVs have an efficiency of around 80%. So this article mentions that Hydrogen should not be used in cars. Hydrogen can be used in Industries where natural gas is being used, but Hydrogen is not at all efficient for cars. 

The second one is Performance a car is picked based on good pick-up and acceleration and EVs are far ahead of FCEVs in this criterion. Also If we compare Toyota Mirai and Tesla Model 3 these two vehicles have similar costs Mirai takes around 9 seconds to reach 60 Kmph from 0 Kmph. But Tesla requires a meager 3 seconds. Mirai has a top speed of 170 Kmph And Tesla has a top speed of more than 230 Kmph. So the performance of Hydrogen cars is poor than the performance of EVs.

Environmental Concerns

The third one includes environmental concerns, Hear it carefully EVs and FCEVs seem to be environmentally friendly from the outside but Hydrogen Based vehicles emit water and EVs don't have any emissions as these have batteries. But the point is what is the primary source of energy? Cobalt which is used in the batteries of EVs comes from mining which causes environmental damage when EVs would be adopted on a large scale. Then where will the malfunctioning batteries be dumped? No one has any idea similar problems are present with the FCEVs All the Hydrogen which is made nowadays is made by burning Methane or Coal and the environmental damage caused by these is 3 times more than the damage caused by EVs.

Investments in Hydrogen Fuel

Despite all this Toyota, Hyundai, and BMW are manufacturing Hydrogen based vehicles. The reason behind this is all the issues that I have mentioned would be solved when the FCEVs would become efficient and more scalable. The Indian Government has set a target that by 2030. India will produce 5 million tons of green hydrogen every year. Gautam Adani and total energy have signed a deal of $ 50 Million to produce green hydrogen. Apart from this Tata and Ambani are also investing in green hydrogen.

What is this Green Hydrogen?

As I told you earlier, nowadays Hydrogen is produced from methane. Green hydrogen will replace this would be produced from renewable resources. And the vehicles using hydrogen emit water. So the environmental damage caused by vehicles based on green hydrogen would be very less when compared to the EVs. Hydrogen Fuel Cells can disrupt the market in two ways.

Where would Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles be used more?

The first is Industrial/commercial vehicles which require long ranges EVs would be ineffective as a lot of batteries would be required. Hydrogen-based vehicles can work exceptionally here. FCEV would be more powerful for heavy-duty commercial vehicles, polluting less. The second one is Industrial used cases where natural gas has been used. 

The use of hydrogen gas will make them more environmentally friendly and like today, Elon Musk makes a mockery of hydrogen-based vehicles. Similarly, people used to laugh at solar energy around 8-10 years back. But now it has developed a lot and India is not very far in solar energy.

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