Hydrogen vehicles: the next big player in emission-free driving?
The clock’s ticking. By 2030, many European countries will have ICE phase-out bans in place. Luckily, there’s a wide range of impressive battery-fuelled EVs coming onto the market at a variety of price points. But what about that other environmentally friendly alternative: the hydrogen fuel cell car? Here’s our take on the pros and cons:
What is hydrogen?
Hydrogen is the smallest and lightest element, consisting of only one proton (a small positively charged particle) and one electron (a small negatively charged particle). As a gas, hydrogen is colourless, odourless, non-corrosive, non-oxidizing, non-radioactive, non-carcinogenic and non-toxic. Hydrogen is produced when you use electricity to split water into oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H2). Because this process is also reversible, hydrogen can be converted into electricity by adding oxygen, releasing water as a by-product. Hydrogen is thus completely CO2-free and therefore an optimal emission-free driving alternative.
How does a hydrogen fuel cell work?
Just like an “ordinary” electric car is equipped with a battery, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle has electric motors. The only difference is that a hydrogen car has just a small battery and one or more hydrogen tanks, as well as a fuel cell. By adding oxygen, this fuel cell converts hydrogen into electricity and water via an electrochemical process. The electricity is used to provide the car battery with the necessary energy and the clean water is discharged in the form of water vapour.