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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

9 Facts about Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) are comparable to electric vehicles (EVs) such that they power the wheels with an electric motor rather than an internal combustion engine. Unlike EVs, which must be recharged by plugging them in, FCVs create their own power. A fuel cell generates electricity by combining hydrogen gas out from vehicle’s fuel tank with oxygen from air, with only heat and water as byproducts. Hydrogen interacts electrochemically in a fuel cell to create energy to power the vehicle.

How do they function?

Hydrogen Fuel cell vehicles are propelled by compressed hydrogen gas, which is fed into an inbuilt fuel cell “stack” that does not burn that gas but rather turns its chemical energy directly to electrical energy. The electricity is then used to power the electric motors of the car.

There are no shortages of hydrogen because it is the most abundant element on the world. However, free hydrogen is extremely rare. It is typically linked to something else, such as natural gas or hydrogen in water.  Most hydrogen fuel for the fuel cell vehicles is drawn straight from a pipeline feeding one of these oil refineries. It’s close to the Toyota Motor Sales USA and American Honda headquarters in Torrance, California.

Some hydrogen is produced on-site in a few filling stations by electrolysis, which separates hydrogen ions from water. That procedure can be powered by either on-site solar cells or the nearby electrical grid. The majority of hydrogen for fuel, on the other hand, is produced in big hydrogen processing facilities. After that, the hydrogen is transported by truck to the station and then stored in massive above-ground tanks. This hydrogen must always be compressed before it can be used as fuel in fuel-cell automobiles.

What kinds of transportation make use of hydrogen fuel cells?

  • Bicycles and motorcycles

Intelligent Energy, a British company, created the first operational hydrogen-powered motorbike, the ENV, in 2005. (Emission Neutral Vehicle). The motorbike has enough gasoline to ride for four hours and cover 160 kilometers (100 miles) in an urban environment at a peak speed of 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph). Honda created a fuel-cell motorbike using the Honda FC Stack in 2004. There are more instances of hydrogen fuel cell motorcycles and bicycles.

  • Buses

There have been over a hundred hydrogen fuel cell buses in 2011 distributed all around the world Toyota , UTC Power, Hydrogenics, Proton Motor, and Ballard built the majority of these buses. UTC buses had driven nearly 970,000 kilometers (600,000 miles). Hydrogen  Fuel cell buses consume 30-141% less fuel than diesel and fossil fuels buses. Hydrogen  Fuel cell buses have indeed been deployed in cities across the world, while a project in Whistler, British Columbia, was canceled in 2015.

  • Automobiles

Honda leased 45 FCX vehicles in the United States between 2008 and 2014. During that time, over 20 more Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle prototypes and demonstration vehicles were released, including that of the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell and GM HydroGen4. From 2014 until 2018, the Hyundai ix35 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle was offered for leasing, with 54 units leased. Hyundai debuted the Nexo in 2018. Honda Clarity Fuel Cell car was manufactured from 2016 to 2021. Also t he 2017 Clarity received the greatest combination and city gas mileage ratings of any hydrogen fuel cell vehicle assessed more by EPA that same year, with just a mixed city/highway certification of 67 mpg gasoline equivalent (MPGe) and a city fuel economy rating of 68 MPGe.

  • Airplanes

Boeing researchers and business partners from across Europe completed experimental test flights of a manned airplane operated only by a hydrogen fuel cell and light batteries in February 2008. The Fuel Cell Demonstrator Airplane was powered by a Proton-Exchange Membrane (PEM) lithium-ion battery mixed system, which was linked to a conventional propeller. The world’s first propeller-driven airplane fueled solely by a hydrogen fuel cell took to the skies in 2003. The fuel cell had a one-of-a-kind FlatStack stack design that allowed it to be blended with the plane’s aerodynamic surfaces.

  • Trains

China South Rail Corporation (CSR) displayed the world’s initial hydrogen fuel cell-powered tramcar in March 2015 at a Qingdao assembly site. In seven Chinese cities, 83 miles of track for the newer car were developed. In the next five years, China intends to invest 200b yuan ($32b) to expand tram lines to further than 1,200 kilometers. Alstom introduced a Coradia iLint, a local train fueled by hydrogen fuel cells, in 2016. It was supposed to attain 140 km/h (87 mph) and cover 600-800 km (370-500 mi) on a single tank of hydrogen fuel. The train began operation in Germany around 2018 and was scheduled to begin testing in the Netherlands in 2019.

Stadler Rail, a Swiss firm, obtained an agreement in California to provide a fuel cell-powered train, the FLIRT H2, in the United States in 2024 as component of such Arrow rail project.

Facts about Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

  • Emissions

Fuel Cell Vehicles, like electric cars, have no exhaust emissions that contribute to pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Only watervapor and hot air are emitted by fuel cell electric cars. Emissions are only produced during the manufacturing and transportation of hydrogen fuel. Since there is no carbon dioxide emissions, this addresses important climate problems. There are also no air contaminants at the place of operation that create health risks.

  • Time for refueling/fueling

Fueling of hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles is analogous to filling up your gas tank. Fill the tank by attaching a nozzle from an approved hydrogen filling station in a public station. The refueling timeframes are similarly comparable: Fuel Cell Vehicles may be refueled within as few as 5 minutes, as opposed to electric cars that have rapid chargers (with 120 volts) giving only 80% power within half hour while the other models taking around 4 to 8 hrs to be charged fully.

  • Availability

Several automakers are leasing or selling Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles in limited markets, particularly California, where hydrogen fuelling facilities are currently available. Hydrogen facilities is also appearing in other parts of the country. Major manufacturers sell or lease fuel cell vehicles in popular vehicle categories such as sedans and small SUVs.

As the number of drivers increases, stakeholders are pushing to make hydrogen more readily available. However, before the terminal increases, you should keep in mind that there are fewer recharging stations throughout the world, so you should ensure sure you live near a fueling station since it will be cumbersome to commute or use the car frequently.

  • Costs

Hydrogen Fuel cell Vehicles are extremely expensive due to their complexity and the usage of precious materials like platinum. While buying a fuel cell automobile is more expensive than buying a comparable sized conventional car, current leasing packages normally include fuel, service, and maintenance to compensate. With these incentives, the total ownership cost for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle can be equivalent to that of a conventional vehicle.

  • Performance

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are silent, incredibly energy efficient, generate no emissions, and have the same performance and range as gasoline vehicles. Drivers value vehicle qualities such as fueling time, emissions, performance, and power.

  • Production of Hydrogen

Large volumes of fossil fuels are used in the industrial production of hydrogen. There are renewable techniques, however they are more costly, and hydrogen is mostly created using CO2 exhaustive methods. The current standards are 10,000 pounds psi, often known as 700 bars. After that, it is refrigerated to prevent it from heating up and expanding when it is injected into the car. The fueling station includes that equipment.

  • Hydrogen’s safety

Hydrogen is indeed the lightest element, about 14 times light than air. Even though hydrogen is very combustible, it evaporates fast and often in a thin column going directly up into the air. Its fumes do not accumulate on the ground like gasoline does. As a result, for most circumstances, hydrogen does not pose a significant fire or explosive risk. To reduce the risk of an explosion, practically all hydrogen fueling stations store the gas above ground in well ventilated areas.

  • Life Span

Cars that use hydrogen fuel cells rather than traditional lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles provide an appealing value proposition that appears to solve the issue of the ending of the lithium battery life cycle. For the time being, this is a benefit, as there is still some question regarding the destiny of the battery (from automobiles, but also the solar panels, telephones, and other sources) once they no more fulfill their primary purpose. They are difficult to recycle, although some schemes are being explored to utilize them as backup generators in metropolitan structures such as hospitals.

  • Sustainability

As technology advances, the water electrolysis method for producing hydrogen may be enhanced and expanded as the process becomes more efficient. Because hydrogen fuel cell cars require the usage of energy twice (to produce hydrogen and then use it to power vehicles), but electric cars can utilize energy directly from the grid is a significant argument in support of electric vehicles ( EV)  All because transferring electricity to hydrogen and then back to electricity may result in energy losses. However, although new techniques of creating hydrogen are being researched, such as the protons exchange membrane, which experts believe has the potential to achieve an 86% efficiency, we must wait to see what happens.


Since 2020, assessments have shown that hydrogen cars remain only 38% efficient, whereas battery Electric Vehicles are between 80% and 95% efficient. While hydrogen fuel cell cars are significantly less effective than electric vehicles, the vast majority of gas generated is contaminating grey hydrogen, and trying to deliver hydrogen would necessitate the construction of vast and costly infrastructure upgrades, the two remaining “advantages of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – long distance and fast fueling times – are quickly being stripped away by enhancing battery and charging technology.

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