How do hydrogen cars work?
There are two types of hydrogen vehicles. The first is an internal combustion engine style which burns the hydrogen as it normally would with petrol or diesel. The second is the electric vehicle, which use a fuel cell powered by hydrogen.
What is the internal combustion engine (ICE) style?
The process is very similar to traditional ICE vehicles, where the fuel is turned to combustive energy by a chemical reaction and ignition of the fuel. The explosive power pushes the piston down which rotates the crankshaft. Then, the rotation torque is transferred to the gearbox and wheels.
What is the electric vehicle style?
Hydrogen is sorted in a tank, just like a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle stores petrol or diesel. The hydrogen is then supplied to the fuel cell where a chemical reaction takes place. Energy is supplied to the electric motor, which powers it to spin and turn the wheels.
How is hydrogen used as a fuel for cars?
Hydrogen is a replenishable fuel source which is held in a pressurised tank and supplied to the fuel cell when needed. The fuel cell has three main parts – an anode, a cathode, the electrolyte. Hydrogen from the tank is passed through the anode, whilst oxygen is passed through the cathode and the electrolyte sits in between the two. Chemical reactions happen between the three parts and the hydrogen is consumed in the reaction. This produces an electrical current which powers the electric motor.
Do hydrogen cars pollute?
No, the only emissions from the hydrogen fuel cell are from water. Hydrogen itself isn’t a renewable energy source, as its creation and harvesting still burns fossil fuels, but the pollution is moved from the roadside and into the manufacturing process.
Can I drive a hydrogen-powered car?
Globally, there are three hydrogen-powered vehicles available: the Toyota Mirai, the Honda Clarity or the Hyundai Nexo
, which you can lease now.
How much is it to fill a hydrogen car?
Hydrogen is supplied and measured in kilograms and priced between £10 and £15 per kg. This would mean the Hyundai Nexo would cost between £63 and £95 to fill its 6.33kg tank.
How safe are hydrogen cars?
Hydrogen cars are just as safe as petrol cars. In fact, the average petrol tank holds more explosive power than a hydrogen vehicle. The fuel cell and tank are built very strongly and form part of the vehicle’s structure. In the event of an accident or collision, the fuel tank is heavily protected. Plus, as hydrogen is one of the lightest elements, any escaping hydrogen will quickly dissipate into the atmosphere. On the other hand, petrol vapour will pool and collect just above the ground, as it’s a heavier element than air.
What is the future of hydrogen cars?
As electric vehicles become more popular, hydrogen cars will become more niche. Some manufacturers will keep developing the technology and others will abandon it. But those who continue with hydrogen will have an advantage. A great benefit of hydrogen as a fuel source is the ability to fill the tank in as little as five minutes, compared to longer electric battery charging times. This could be key to the future of hydrogen cars. To have a sustainable future in the automotive sector, hydrogen production must be cleaner and efficient, but this is growing all the time. Hydrogen cars on our roads aren’t as far away as you might think.