After many advances over the past several decades, the age of electric vehicles has finally arrived. Battery electric cars and hydrogen fuel cells (hydrogen cars) are fighting to take over the future of the automotive industry; Just as gasoline and diesel cars competed with each other in the early days of automobile invention. Battery-powered cars have taken over the market, thanks in large part to Tesla, the Tesla Roadster, and the Tesla Model S. But electric cars are still in their infancy. The name of the electric car has not yet become a standard known to everyone. Currently, car manufacturers are researching batteries, including solid state batteries and hydrogen cars. Hydrogen has many advantages that car manufacturers have only recently realized.
Hydrogen cars never need to be charged
The most obvious advantage of hydrogen is that you never have to wait for the car to charge. You can quickly fill the car’s hydrogen tank like a gas tank. The ability to quickly refuel in long-term driving is an important advantage for hydrogen cars over electric cars. This makes them easier to own and maintain, as you don’t have to set aside a specific time each day to charge a hydrogen car.
In comparison, an electric car currently needs at least 20 minutes to charge at a fast charging station. If you plug the car into a regular household outlet, it may take a few hours to recharge. While this may not be a problem for short-term city driving, it becomes a problem for those who cover long distances.
Hydrogen vehicles offer greater range
Hydrogen cars have a longer range than electric cars. Of course, there is a big difference between different models in terms of efficiency and fuel capacity; But in general, hydrogen cars will travel about 300 to 400 miles on a full tank. Among electric vehicles, popular models such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt have a range of 226 and 247 miles, respectively, per charge. Only 14 electric cars can travel more than 300 miles per charge. For people who commute in big cities, this difference in navigation range can play an important role in buying a car.
Hydrogen cars are more efficient, lighter and faster
The heaviest part of an electric car is its battery. On the other hand, a hydrogen fuel cell system (including the hydrogen tank) weighs much less than the battery. This means that the electric motor of a hydrogen car uses less power to move the car. If you put the same engine in a battery electric car and a hydrogen car, the hydrogen car will have more acceleration and speed due to its lower weight.
Reducing vehicle weight by removing the battery enables automakers to do whatever they want with the extra power available to them. By eliminating a large battery, it is easier to produce a light and fast car. Because hydrogen fuel cells power an electric motor, a hydrogen vehicle will have the same instantaneous torque as a battery electric vehicle. But since the engine does not need to move a heavy battery, all this torque can be used to increase the car’s acceleration.
This improved power-to-weight ratio is also an advantage in sedans. In luxury cars, the engine can move all the wood and leather and equipment without having to use more power to move the battery. Similarly, in SUVs and pickups, the engine does not need to move the battery in addition to carrying the weight of passengers and additional load. This allows the engine to carry more people, a heavier load, or whatever.
Hydrogen can replace gasoline in internal combustion engines
Ford has invented an internal combustion engine that burns hydrogen instead of gasoline. Toyota has also developed a hydrogen engine for the Corolla Sport H2 concept, which has already been tested in races. These inventions are still in research stages. A hydrogen engine will take advantage of all the advances in engine design throughout automotive history, while burning clean fuel. This will also be nice for those who like to hear the engine while driving. Like fuel cell hydrogen cars, only water vapor comes out of the exhaust pipe. This simplifies the design of the exhaust system and eliminates the need for catalytic converters and other pollution reduction systems.
While a hydrogen internal combustion engine has many disadvantages for use in passenger cars (such as the need for very large tanks that take up interior space), Cummins is researching the use of hydrogen engines in SUVs, construction equipment, and other commercial applications. The company says the transportation industry will only need a few hydrogen stations along transportation routes, which will accelerate the global adoption of hydrogen. Interestingly, hydrogen internal combustion supercars can be more practical than a hydrogen minivan. People who drive supercars often don’t care about limited passenger space (so a large fuel tank isn’t a problem), they certainly don’t care about fuel economy, and they often don’t care about cruising range.
With hydrogen cars, you will not need a charging station
Simply put, you don’t need charging stations for hydrogen cars. Also, there is no need to retrofit parking spaces for hydrogen cars; Because they never need to be charged. While electric cars require cities to adapt by adding charging stations to parking lots, hydrogen cars do not. A hydrogen car is suitable for driving anywhere there is a road. Of course, it is worth noting that hydrogen cars (both with electric fuel cells and with internal combustion engines) are still in the early stages of their development. Early gasoline cars suffered from similar limitations in range, making them impractical for almost anyone other than the car’s owners.
How do hydrogen cars work?
Hydrogen cars do not consume fuel like internal combustion engines; Instead, the vehicle’s electrical system pumps hydrogen from the tank into a charged fuel cell, which separates the hydrogen atoms’ electrons from protons. This car basically generates electricity from hydrogen. This provides power to the electric motor and drives the car. As a result, hydrogen cars work cleanly and quietly. Only steam comes out of the exhaust pipe and the sound of the engine is not heard.
How a fuel cell works is surprisingly simple. A fuel cell consists of an electrolyte membrane filled with free floating protons sandwiched between two oppositely charged electrodes. The electrode with positive charge is called cathode and the electrode with negative charge is called anode. The vehicle’s fuel system pumps hydrogen to the anode. A catalyst splits incoming hydrogen atoms into electrons and protons. Electrons and neutrons want to pass through the electrolytic membrane to the opposite cathode, but the membrane only allows protons to pass through.
Negative charges, or electrons, have to travel a longer path to reach the cathode through the wires coming out of the fuel cell, which happens to pass through the car’s engine. After the engine is turned on, the electrons finally combine with protons at the cathode, around which air flows. The oxygen in the air reacts with the electrons and protons of the hydrogen atoms to form water that comes out of the exhaust pipe.
Hydrogen cars are better than battery electric cars
We live in an exciting time for electric car lovers. Electric motors are quickly replacing internal combustion engines; Although today, only a few electric cars are seen among gasoline and diesel cars on the road. Currently, electric cars equipped with batteries have the majority of the market, while hydrogen cars are limited to a few selected cities with hydrogen fuel stations; But hydrogen cars are better than battery electric cars in many ways.