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Hydrogen Fuel Cell: All about fuel cell vehicles

I never really thought about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles too much before but there are plenty of people putting time and money into them at the moment so there has to be a pretty good reason right?


Most people seem to argue for either battery electric vehicles or fuel cell vehicles but are they really that different?


A while ago most manufacturers seemed to be focused solely on fuel cell vehicles and battery electric vehicles (BEV) seemed to take a back seat. But these days BEVís seem to be all anyone hears about and fuel cells have been largely forgotten about by the media.


Hydrogen Fuel Cell

So what are these hydrogen fuel cells all about?

Cars can run on hydrogen as if it was just like petrol, with a few tweaks of the engine. Hydrogen fuel cells are different though. They act like a battery because they produce electricity from hydrogen and oxygen mixing which then turns the electric motor.


So instead of recharging the battery in a wall you just top it up with more hydrogen. The problem is finding a place to fill up your tank with hydrogen!


Hydrogen Fuel Cell
The great thing is that just like a BEV, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle produces no emissions as thereís no combustion going on in a fuel cell. There is the trouble of producing the hydrogen in the first place though which requires electricity. This electricity can come from renewable sources though and overall has a much lower impact than any internal combustion engine (ICE).


What type of Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are out there now?

Well there are buses, scooters, planes, boats and basically any type of transport you can think of, but the cars are always going to get the most attention.


The Honda FCX Clarity is one that is on trial in California at the moment and is a great looking family sized car which can travel a pretty good distance and speed. Fuelcells.org has some great info on what fuel cell vehicles are out there and the prototypes made already by manufacturers.


Hydrogen Fuel CellWhen you see all the prototypes made you would think that there has to be at least one made it to market but most of these are experiments and each car usually represents a big step forward in the technology.


It seems that the one big problem with them is the price. BEVs are pretty expensive too but compared to the fuel cell vehicles they pocket change. This is partly because itís such a new technology and most fuel cell vehicles are only prototypes at the moment.


Mainly though it's because the platinum which is used in the fuel cells is ridiculously expensive. There are people working to come up with new materials to use in fuel cells though so don't despair!


Hydrogen Fuel CellIt seems like fuel cell vehicles are where electric cars were a few years ago with all manufacturers promising something that they keep putting off. The difference is that fuel cell cars donít have a DIY movement like BEVís do so people who follow fuel cell vehicles are at the mercy of the manufacturers at the moment.



Hopefully manufacturers can build on their hydrogen fuel cell vehicles alongside the battery electric cars in the future and not have one always put to the side while the other is in the spotlight.




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