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The Opportunities and Hurdles of Hydrogen-Fueled Vehicles

The Opportunities and Hurdles of Hydrogen-Fueled Vehicles

(Posted on 26/01/24)

Hydrogen cars, also referred to as hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, operate exclusively on hydrogen fuel. These vehicles utilise compressed hydrogen gas, which enters the fuel cell stack within the vehicle. Unlike traditional combustion engines, the fuel cell stack converts the chemical energy of hydrogen into electrical energy, subsequently powering the car's electric motor. Remarkably, the only byproduct generated through this process is water.

Achieving complete sustainability in hydrogen production is contingent on using 100% renewable energy sources. Despite its potential, concerns about the overall sustainability of hydrogen as a fuel source may contribute to its limited popularity.

Hydrogen cars present an alternative to electric vehicles, especially for individuals concerned about the future and durability of EVs. Toyota, a pioneer in fuel cell electric cars since 1992, introduced a fully hydrogen-powered car to the market in 2014.

As of now, only two hydrogen cars, the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo, are available in the Uk market. However, these vehicles come with a substantial price tag, starting at over £50,000.
Fuelling hydrogen cars is a simple process, similar to refuelling at a petrol or diesel pump, but with hydrogen. Hydrogen filling stations allow for a quick tank fill in a matter of minutes, addressing a common concern associated with the extended charging times of electric vehicles. More manufacture are getting in the market with hydrogen developments are underway, with BMW partnering with Toyota to introduce the Hydrogen iX5 to the market by 2030, offering a faster alternative to current hydrogen cars.

The cost of hydrogen per kilogram currently ranges between £10 and £15, with the Toyota Mirai's 5.6kg tank costing around £50 for a full tank. Notably, a full tank on the Mirai provides a range of up to 400 miles, making it a cost effective and viable option for long journeys.

Despite these advantages, the lack of hydrogen fuelling stations remains a significant hurdle, with some stations closing shortly after opening. Limited accessibility is a key factor contributing to the relatively low popularity of hydrogen cars. So, if you are looking at a hydrogen car making sure there is a station near be is key.

While hydrogen cars boast zero emissions, concerns linger about the sustainability of hydrogen production. The current production process produces 10kg of CO2 for every kilogram of hydrogen, highlighting the need for more sustainable production methods, albeit at a higher cost.

Looking ahead, investments in hydrogen infrastructure and increased accessibility are expected to drive the growth of hydrogen cars in the market. Moreover, advancements in more sustainable hydrogen production methods are anticipated in the coming years.

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