About Hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicles
|Hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)
|Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are categorized as e-cars since they are propelled by an electric motor.The common abbreviation is FCEV, short for “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle,” in contrast to a BEV or “Battery Electric Vehicle.”
|One significant distinction separates hydrogen fuel cell cars from other electric vehicles: hydrogen automobiles generate their own electricity. This means that, unlike fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, the car doesn’t have an internal battery that can be charged by an outside power source. Instead, the fuel cell inside hydrogen automobiles functions as a vehicle’s own reliable power source.
How does a hydrogen engine work?
In the fuel cell of an FCEV, hydrogen and oxygen generate electrical energy. This energy is directed into the electric motor and/or the battery, as needed.
In fuel cell technology, a process known as reverse electrolysis takes place, in which hydrogen reacts with oxygen in the fuel cell. The hydrogen comes from one or more tanks built into the FCEV, while the oxygen comes from the ambient air. The only results of this reaction are electrical energy, heat and water, which is emitted through the exhaust as water vapor. So hydrogen-powered cars are locally emission-free.
The electricity generated in the fuel cell of a hydrogen engine can take two routes, depending on the demands of the specific driving situation. It either flows to the electric motor and powers the FCEV directly or it charges a battery, which stores the energy until it’s needed for the engine. This battery, known as a Peak Power Battery, is significantly smaller and therefore lighter than the battery of a fully electric car, as it’s being constantly recharged by the fuel cell.
Like other e-cars, hydrogen vehicles can also recover or “recuperate” braking energy. The electric motor converts the car’s kinetic energy back into electrical energy and feeds it into the back-up battery.
The pros and cons of hydrogen-powered cars for users
•Eliminate vehicle tailpipe emissions – greenhouse gases and urban smog.
• Allow for highly efficient use of energy.
• Enable a number of low-carbon-intensity transportation fuel supply pathways.
• Virtually no engine noise and a lively start, because electric motors provide full torque even at low speeds.
• Quick charging time. Depending on the charging station and battery capacity, fully electric vehicles currently require between 30 minutes and several hours for a full charge.
• The hydrogen tanks of fuel cell cars, on the other hand, are full and ready to go again in less than five minutes.
For users, this brings vehicle availability and flexibility into line with those of a conventional car.
• Hydrogen cars have a longer range than purely electric cars. A full hydrogen tank will last around 300 miles (approx. 480 kilometers). Battery-powered cars need match this with very large batteries – which in turn will lead to an increase in both vehicle weight and charging times.
• The range of fuel cell vehicles is not dependent on the outside temperature. In other words, it does not deteriorate in cold weather.
|Current disadvantages for users:
|Currently, the biggest shortcoming of hydrogen fuel cell cars is the sparsity of options for refueling. A hydrogen engine is refueled at special fuel pumps, which in the future will probably find their way into ordinary service stations. As things stand, however, there are still very few refueling stations for hydrogen-powered cars. At the end of 2019 there are only around 40 in the U.S., as compared to approx. 80 in Germany.
Where does hydrogen come from?