Everything about HYDROGEN CARS: Overview, Working, Benefit

Hydrogen Car

First and foremost, I, you, and everyone else are considering whether the hydrogen car is hype or a hope for the future. With major automotive companies like Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, etc. launching hydrogen cars, it is inevitably the start of something transformative.

What do you think?

Well, but with the Russia-Ukraine war impacting the prices of fuel and gas, I guess electric and hydrogen cars will be a comforting option for everyone. Let’s learn what a hydrogen car is, how it works, and which companies have already launched hydrogen cars or which are going to. This doesn’t end here, the article has much more than this. 

Scroll and keep reading!

Table of Contents

What is a Hydrogen Car?

The Hydrogen car is another fuel-based car using hydrogen fuel. But what makes the difference is the emission. There’s no emission at the tailpipe, just the water. Now, you will be thinking, what is hydrogen fuel, does it even exist?

Well, the answer is no. Hydrogen fuel is not something that can be found at any reservoir or deep down in the earth. It is to be produced from electrolyzed water, natural gas, or biomass. 

As stated by TWI, The chemical energy of hydrogen is converted into mechanical energy using a REDOX (reduction/oxidation) reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in a specially developed cell. Hence, you will find the term “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car” on the internet while searching for a hydrogen car.

The conclusion is that a hydrogen car is a vehicle that is not a fuel-based car or an EV (electric vehicle), it is a whole new concept for combating the current global pollution position. 

Hydrogen Car Future

Now, when we talk about a hydrogen car. The concept is new and many car companies are also developing hydrogen fuel-based cars. So, what is the hydrogen car future? Is it just hype or hope to reduce pollution and make the environment a better place without sacrificing the luxuries we have?

The answer to this question can be yes or no. Why? Well, every new invention has both positive and negative sides known as pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages. We will talk about that later on. But let’s look at the statistics and figures on the future of hydrogen cars.

The CarMagazine states the Hydrogen car future prediction by politicians in the UK as:

  • We will undertake a range of research and innovation activities that will focus on difficult-to-decarbonize transport modes, such as heavy road freight. 
  • As we demonstrate and understand these larger-scale applications we are likely to see more diversity in transport end uses in the late 2020s and early 2030s. 
  • By 2030, we envisage hydrogen to be in use across a range of transport modes, including HGVs, buses, and rail, along with early-stage uses in commercial shipping and aviation. 
  • Our analysis shows there could be up to 6TWh demand for low-carbon hydrogen from transport in 2030.

As of now, there are 11 hydrogen car fuel centers in the UK and more are yet to open. There are 39 hydrogen fuel stations in the USA and 3 in India. The highest hydrogen fuel stations are available in Japan, China, South Korea, Germany, and France. In total, the hydrogen fuel stations worldwide are numbered 154 as per Statista.

What are the benefits of Hydrogen Cars?

 There are many benefits of driving a hydrogen car. The very first is you can drive it worry-free. How? You won’t have to think about the rising fuel prices and pollution around you. So, let’s have a look at other benefits of hydrogen cars. 

  • Fast refueling (3-5 minutes)
  • Fun to drive
  • High-tech
  • Zero emissions
  • Attractive lease pricing often bundled with free fuel/maintenance
  • Instant torque and smooth, consistent power
  • Access to carpool lanes and other incentives
  • Low maintenance

Now, let’s move on to the working of hydrogen cars.

How Do Hydrogen Cars Work?

How Do Hydrogen Cars Work?
source: https://afdc.energy.gov

As we already read, hydrogen cars run on a hydrogen fuel cell. It is a cell where the hydrogen fuel reacts and converts into energy to keep the car running. Now, let’s see the details of how a hydrogen car works.

The fuel cell in the car takes in the hydrogen fuel, turns it into electricity, and provides power to the car. Yes, it is a hydrogen car but powdered with electricity.

You see, hydrogen is the only gas that is available abundantly on Earth. It has a lot of chemical energy which reacts with oxygen in the air and releases energy in the form of an explosion. But, to control and harness this explosion, the hydrogen fuel cell is placed in the car.

The hydrogen fuel stored in a tank in the car goes to the fuel cell, where it meets the air and releases electrons (through a chemical reaction) that are passed on to the electric batteries. The leftover protons then move across the cell and react with the oxygen in the air to form water.

Hence, the end product of the hydrogen car is only vaporized water or warm air. 

Hydrogen Car Fuel

What is hydrogen car fuel? Just like you put petrol or diesel in the car, the hydrogen fuel is filled in the storage tank in the hydrogen car. So, you can say hydrogen is a fuel just like petrol, diesel, or any other gas on which a vehicle runs.

Hydrogen is a clean fuel. It reacts only when it is in the fuel cell and produces water. You can extract hydrogen fuel from biomass, fossil fuels, natural gas, nuclear power, or renewable power like solar and wind energy. 

Hydrogen fuel can be stored both as gas and liquid; the difference is in the container required to store it. It is basically a gas at normal temperature and pressure. However, it converts into a liquid at minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit.

To store the hydrogen gas, high-pressure tanks are required to store hydrogen liquid. One will need the cryogenic temperatures.

Where to Fuel Hydrogen Cars?

The fueling of hydrogen cars is done at the fuel station just like the other cars. There are different hydrogen fuel stations in countries across the world. The numbers are 154 hydrogen stations only. So if you are planning to buy a hydrogen car, first check if you have a station nearby or in the city you live. 

Because without fuel, no car would run on the road, would it?

If you have a hydrogen fuel station in the city, look at the range the car is providing. If you feel it is worth it, then only go for the hydrogen car. If the range of your hydrogen car is around 300 miles and the hydrogen fuel station is also around the same distance, you will only be fueling and refueling the car.

Hydrogen Car Advantages and Disadvantages

As I said above, everything invented has pros as well as cons. So, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen cars. Make a final decision only after reading this section. 

Hydrogen Car Advantages

1. Cheaper tax: The government is supporting hydrogen fuel cell cars on the road just like electric cars. Hence, the taxes on these cars are much lower than on others. As the hydrogen car doesn’t emit any CO2 it also means that owners don’t have to pay the vehicle excise duty or you can say road duty.

2. Environment-friendly: Increasing environmental issues have made people aware of and understand the critical situation. The hydrogen car is another invention to lower emissions and keep the environment pure and a safe place to live. A hydrogen car’s only emission is water, vaporized water, or warm air.

3. Better range: Electric cars are already heavy on roads and are environmentally friendly too but the only drawback is the range it provides. When you are going for a hydrogen fuel car, the range is not the problem. The hydrogen car provides a range of 300 miles and you can refuel the car to continue your journey.

4. Fast fueling: Another revealing feature of the hydrogen car is fast fueling. It takes around 5 minutes to fuel the car. An electric car needs to be charged and it undoubtedly takes time. So, opting for a hydrogen car also cancels the hours of waiting time to get your car charged before you can get on the road.

5. Highly efficient: It is also among the highly efficient fuels as compared to others. The energy conversion in other green gasses is around 33 to 35% while hydrogen produces 65% of electricity. The hydrogen fuel cell uses 40 to 60% of fuel energy alongside reducing the fuel consumption to about 50%.

Hydrogen Car Disadvantages

  1. Hydrogen extraction: Even though hydrogen fuel is abundant on the Earth, its extraction is a lengthy process. It can be extracted through water via electrolysis or can be separated from carbon fossil fuels. The extraction process takes time and is quite expensive too. Hence, hydrogen fuel is also kind of expensive.
  2. Hydrogen storage: As said above in the hydrogen car fuel section, storage of hydrogen is very tricky. The reason behind that is its conversion at different temperatures. Also for the car, the hydrogen fuel tanks are to be made with thicker walls for safety reasons.
  3. Highly flammable: Another big disadvantage of hydrogen cars is the highly flammable fuel it holds. Hydrogen fuel is among the highly flammable fuels. The fuel cells stored in the car are robust enough to avoid heavy combustion. The reason behind the hydrogen fuel cell is the safety of the driver and people traveling in the car.
  4. Cost of raw material: The hydrogen fuel cell is the must-have component in the hydrogen car to convert the hydrogen into electricity and power the car. The raw materials needed to develop a fuel cell for the chemical reaction are high as it requires precious metals such as platinum and iridium (these metals act as the catalysts for electrolysis). Hence, to reduce the cost of hydrogen cars the cost of raw material is to be reduced without altering or degrading the fuel cell quality.

Above are the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen cars you should consider before buying one for yourself. The hydrogen car is booming or you can say developing technology, engineers are trying their best to combat all the disadvantages it has now and makes a feasible solution for everyone (regardless of their financial condition).

Best Hydrogen Car Available in the Market

Now when we talk about hydrogen cars, three hydrogen car companies have made their name to the top of the list Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda. Let’s have a look at the best hydrogen car. This list will also help you in deciding on a hydrogen car for you and your family.

FYI: The list includes hydrogen car price, hydrogen car range, and a little briefing about the car itself. 

1. Toyota Mirai

Toyota Mirai 2022

The hydrogen car Toyota Mirai is one of the best and very first hydrogen cars available on the market. Whether you want the features of a perfect luxury car or a basic car, the Toyota hydrogen car Mirai is the answer. The performance of the car, its exterior design, infotainment system, safety, reliability, and value for money are all excellent. It has Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, blind-spot monitoring, and rear traffic alert.

The only con of the hydrogen car by Toyota Mirai is it is only yet available in California. So, if you live in or nearby California, you might want to buy it.

Range of Toyota Mirai: Between 357 to 402 miles 

Price of Toyota Mirai: $49,500 (starting)

2. Hyundai NEXO

Hyundai NEXO

Hyundai brought a new and different concept for both EV and fuel cell cars. The hydrogen car Hyundai Nexo is an electric car with fuel cell technology. Confused? It uses the hydrogen fuel cell for combustion and produces electricity to run the car. So, you don’t need to plug in and charge your car every few miles. 

However, the exterior of the car is not as appealing as Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo is also not fun to drive. And the benefits are you can own the hydrogen car as it is available in most states, and you get a spacious cabin to fit the family.

Range of Hyundai Nexo: 354 miles

Price of Hyundai Nexo: $59,435 (starting)

3. Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Hona followed the path paved by Toyota and Hyundai for hydrogen cars. It also curated a hydrogen car named Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. The hydrogen car by Honda has both impressive range and better fuel consumption. The hydrogen is converted into water and electricity with the help of a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC), which powers an electric motor with 174 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque.

Even Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is available in California only, and the company is providing it on a lease, you cannot buy it. However, riding the Honda clarity is as smooth as butter with driver safety and assistance.

Range of Honda Clarity Fuel Cell: 360 Miles

Price of Honda Clarity Fuel Cell: $379 (for a 36-month lease)

Hydrogen Car Vs. Electric Car

We all know, that electric scooters and cars are the future of an environmentally-friendly transportation system and now hydrogen cars are also one of them. With two options available in the market, everyone is comparing both of them to get the exact answer. Let’s move ahead and read the hydrogen car vs electric car and its conclusion.

(a) Range:

While purchasing a car, the first thing we look at is the range. Hydrogen cars have a minimum of 300 miles of range while electric cars have a range between 100 to 200 miles. So, here the clear winner is the hydrogen car.

(b) Fueling or Charging Stations:

The second point to consider is the fueling or power stations, as without them both cars are useless. There are more than 20,000 charging stations available in the world, while only 154 hydrogen refueling stations. So, here the clear winner is electric cars

(c) Availability of cars:

Hydrogen cars are still in their early stages, they are not available worldwide and neither are their refueling stations. While electric cars are worldwide available and their charging stations too. It is expected that by 2025 to 2030, hydrogen cars will also be available worldwide. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Are hydrogen cars dangerous?

Hydrogen is dangerous as it is a highly flammable fuel. But, a hydrogen car is not dangerous because it has a special fuel cell that holds the combustion and increases safety.

2. Are hydrogen cars better than electric ones?

Both the cars have their benefits, one has better range while the other is easily available. Hydrogen fuel will be costly as well compared to charging an electric vehicle. 

3. What is a hydrogen fuel cell car?

The hydrogen fuel cell car or hydrogen car is an environment-friendly vehicle that runs on hydrogen fuel which is processed in the fuel cell to avoid combustion and releases water or its vapor from the tailpipe.

The Final Analysis of Hydrogen Car

To summarize the entire content, we would like to say electric cars have been with us for a long time, but hydrogen cars are going to make a place alongside the EV for a sustainable transportation system. This article helped you learn about what is hydrogen car, its benefits, advantages, and disadvantages, and which is the best hydrogen car. So, the final statement from our end is “Wait for the change, a better change.”

Stay tuned to BlackBuck Magazine for more information on anything you like. You can also suggest a topic via the contact us page.

Karuna Shah
With her huge experience in content writing, she has been a regular author at BlackBuck Magazine. She already has a story published in an anthology book and will be soon getting published her own book too. Apart from that, she is a businesswoman, exploring her business skills and managing work and household together!

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