Everybody knows that we cannot continue to use fossil fuels forever, so we need to come up with new ways to run our vehicles, factories and homes. One of the latest methods being trialled and tested by car manufacturers is using hydrogen.
The UK especially, has stepped up its game to make hydrogen vehicles a feasible alternative to petrol cars. It is a much cleaner type of fuel, that will make cities and entire countries a lot cleaner.
How does a hydrogen powered car work?
Well, it uses a fuel cell, which takes oxygen from the air, combining it with hydrogen from the tank. This mixture creates electricity, which is then used to power the vehicle via electric motors. The advantage of this method is that they have a longer range than a traditional electric car using batteries.
Professor Kendall, a fuel cell expert from Birmingham University, claims that the average electric battery car does 60 miles at full charge, whilst a hydrogen powered car can do 300 miles on one tank. It also refuels quicker than an electric battery car in a similar way to how we refuel now at a filling station.
It seems that a hydrogen car may be a better solution for the future, it has zero emissions and can run for long periods, but how do we refill our tanks? Is it going to be a big change? Are electric battery cars not a vehicle of the future?
The changes would be to the fuel industry, not to us as consumers. It would cost a considerable amount to create a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, but it may be cheaper than creating a battery recharging infrastructure for electric cars. Due to the time it takes to recharge an electric car, making more parking bays and charging stations would cost more than building hydrogen stations, which can refuel in 5 minutes.
According to Dr Zetsche, Chief Executive of Daimler (owner of Mercedes), in Germany they could create a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for around 1 billion Euros, although he believes the eventual cost could be half that.
However, BMW believes that although hydrogen fuelled cars can do the long mileage, most people do not travel that far, that often and the majority of the time they will recharge their electric cars at home.
In some recent consumer testing they found that the average driver covers 25 miles per day, which is well within range of modern day battery electric cars. The consumers were testing the new electric Mini, charging it only every 2 to 3 days, so maybe hydrogen powered cars are not essential for everybody?
Hydrogen cars and electric battery cars are not exactly rivals, just like there’s a place currently for petrol and diesel. They both have different benefits that are suited to their specific markets. I would probably need a hydrogen car because I tend to drive around a lot, but some of my colleagues could easily suffice with a battery based electric car, as they don’t have to travel far.
For the electric car trade to work better, inventors need to create a faster charging method, as most cars currently need a couple of hours to get enough charge to set off again.
There are also a few more issues to overcome. One being the price of batteries. The second being that to achieve a zero emissions car, should it’s production be carbon neutral too? If so, the factories need to use more economical methods of building these green cars. Thirdly there will need to be an organised and efficient process to recycle these vehicles at the end of their useful life.
Hopefully these issues will be resolved in the near future as we all need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels whilst trying to maintain the lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to.
For ideas on how you can do your bit for the environment today and save money too, visit the Anglian Home Improvements website for information on our solar panels, EcoGain windows and our other practical solutions to saving the environment.