In recent years “green” technology has taken over as the new marketing scam aimed at selling a product to environmentally conscious consumers. With gas prices continually increasing consumers are becoming more concerned about how “green” their car is. Among the many ways people are looking to cut back on costs is by driving battery-electric cars to save on gas money.
While battery-electric cars have been sold as far back as the early 90’s, none have seen any commercial success. This is because they are fundamentally different from traditional cars in both design and function, making the journey to wide-spread commercial success nearly impossible given the with current technology. The cost of the battery, its capacity, charge time, usable life, safety, production and disposal monetary/environmental cost, and consumer perception and ease of use are all issues faced by these cars. The reason the battery is at the root of the problem is that when people buy a battery-electric car they expect it to not only be “green” but also have the same range, cost, and method of use as they have come to expect from gasoline cars. Unfortunately with current battery technology you can only expect a range of around a hundred kilometres from a battery-electric car before it needs a multi-hour charge.
In my mind hydrogen cars are the only solution that deals with the need to replace fossil fuel vehicles while keeping cars similar enough in design and function to current cars so as to keep the current way people approach driving.
Hydrogen cars are the perfect replacement for fossil-fuel cars as they have almost none of the shortcomings of battery-electric cars while maintaining much of the of the driving functionality of current cars.
Just like fossil fuel cars fill up at the gas stations hydrogen cars fill up liquid hydrogen. This affords drivers the ability to fill up at traditional filling stations. Retrofitting filling stations has already been tested in California with the hydrogen functionality working alongside traditional refilling infrastructure without issue. With the ability to refill when your car needs a top up without having to wait hours for your car to charge is a profound advantage over battery-electric cars. Thus far no standard for battery-electric cars has emerged for connectors, charging methods, or future-proofing of batteries and faster charging methods. Hydrogen cars on the other hand would only need to standardize the filling nozzle and the receptor on the car, something with gasoline cars already do.
With hydrogen cars running off liquid hydrogen there is no need to drive around with a 500kg battery like in battery-electric cars. Adding to this environmental issue is the environmental disaster caused by the manufacturing and disposal of the battery. Not only is the battery filled with large amounts of harmful chemicals and heavy metals but also needs replacing about every 5 years, bringing with it the staggering environment clean-up and disposal costs needed for all the chemicals in the batteries. Hydrogen cars on the other hand have none of these problems as there is no large battery to drag around.
Hydrogen cars run by combining the stored hydrogen with oxygen from the atmosphere, creating an electric charge by which the car runs. Following the basic chemistry of this reaction the combination of hydrogen and oxygen creates only one output, water. Thus, while fossil fuel cars give off many nasty chemicals from incomplete combustion, and battery-electric cars harbour harmful chemicals in their batteries, hydrogen cars only give off water vapour. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are at an advantage again when it comes to sources of fuel as while fossil fuels are scarce and costly to extract, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe making it an ideal replacement fuel source.
With technology improving every day it is possible that in only a few short years we will see battery-electric cars with the range of current gasoline cars and charging that doesn’t take days. At the same time, there will be major advancements propelling hydrogen and gasoline car technology further toward efficiency. So while there will always be a place for battery-electric cars it’s only a matter of time before consumers and car manufacturers realize the overwhelming evidence in support of hydrogen cars.