Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles fall under the same roof as electric vehicles (EVs). This is because hydrogen fuel cells actually power their vehicles with electricity. Unlike conventional vehicles which run on gasoline or diesel, fuel cell vehicles combine hydrogen and oxygen (through electrochemical reactions) to produce electricity. The energy that is created is then stored in fuel cells which can be used to power up a motor that drives the vehicle.
For a detailed explanation on how a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle works, watch the video below:
Features of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
Picture source: www.energy.gov
One of the features of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles lie within its practicality. The method of refueling a fuel cell vehicle is similar to refueling a conventional vehicle, taking less than 10 minutes to fill them up. The driving range of a fuel cell vehicle may vary but are almost the same compared to a conventional vehicle (approximately 320-480 kilometers). For example, the Toyota Mirai has the shortest range of a commercial fuel-cell sedan currently on the market. It can go up to approximately 480 kilometers on a full tank.
Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell cutout.
Picture source: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) – Wikipedia
The combination of fast refuelling and longer driving distances make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles a feasible alternative to an emission-free future. What makes it more interesting is that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit only pure water and therefore does not contribute to local pollution. Some even argue, the water emitted from this type of vehicles is clean enough to drink!
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology still a work in progress
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are relatively new in the industry. Continuous research and development initiatives are required before it can be used on a wide scale basis. Currently, the production hydrogen fuel cells are still costly. Moreover, the process of producing hydrogen energy is still dependent on the availability of fossil fuels such as methane. Adding on to that, since the demand for hydrogen fuel cells is still low, infrastructures such as gas stations are very limited.
Implementation in the near future
Faurecia, an international automotive parts manufacturer, claims that by 2030, it is estimated that at least 2 million new vehicles and well over 350,000 trucks will be equipped with fuel cell technology. Faurecia has been drawing on its extensive experience in systems integration and its partnerships with other industry players, to combine fuel tank and fuel cell stack technologies into a comprehensive solution for both light and commercial vehicles. Faurecia has been developing a range of battery top covers and full battery housing solutions for Electric and Plug-in Hybrid vehicles, and is extending its offer to include battery thermal management integration and battery modules.
In the next few years, as technological advancements are made within this area of the automotive industry, we can see it becoming more practical to own a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The price point of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will reduce and the demands will rise. This will spur the growth of hydrogen fuel based infrastructure, increasing the ownership of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.