Are hybrid hydrogen electric vehicles the way forward? Pure electric vehicles will need an extensive infrastructure of charging points – is this realistic? People with no off-road parking cannot realistically have a cable running across the footpath to charge their cars. Also, can our grid provide the necessary electricity-generating capacity.
Hydrogen-electric vehicles use the same propulsion system as conventional electric vehicles. But the energy is stored as hydrogen in a conventional fuel tank and is then converted to electricity by the fuel cell. One of the main advantages of HEVs is that they produce zero emissions. This is because the only by-product of the chemical reaction that occurs in the fuel cell is water vapour.
Benefits of hydrogen electric vehicles (HEVs)
- Zero Emissions: HEVs produce no harmful emissions, only water vapour, making them a cleaner and more environmentally friendly option. This is particularly important in the fight against climate change and in improving air quality in urban areas.
- High Efficiency: HEVs can convert up to 60% of the energy stored in hydrogen into usable electricity, compared to just 20-30% for gasoline-powered engines. This means that HEVs can travel further on the same amount of fuel, making them a more efficient option.
- Quieter: Since HEVs don’t have internal combustion engines, they are much quieter than traditional vehicles. This is especially important in urban areas where noise pollution is a problem.
- Flexible Fuel: Hydrogen is a versatile fuel source that can be produced from a variety of sources, including renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. This means that HEVs can potentially be powered by renewable energy, further reducing their environmental impact.
- Fast Refuelling: HEVs can be refuelled much faster than battery-electric vehicles. It takes only a few minutes to fill up a hydrogen tank, while charging a battery can take several hours.
- Longer Range: HEVs have a longer range than battery electric vehicles. Most HEVs can travel up to 300-400 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, compared to around 100-200 miles for most battery-electric vehicles.
These vehicles can be fuelled in a few minutes like a conventional car, but produce no harmful emissions. The only emissions are water vapour and warm air. No charging is needed!
Viritech is a UK company doing extensive R & D in this area, Electropak is working with them and supplying Busbars for some of their projects.