The Future of Fuel Cell Technology
September 16, 2014
Hydrogen is not a power source, but rather an energy carrier. In a fuel cell vehicle, a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen occurs in a fuel cell, which then generates electricity through a chemical reaction. Fuel cell vehicles contain a fuel cell stack in the interior, and the cell stack’s electricity production generates the electric motor. The 2015 Toyota FCV is to be one of the first commercially sold fuel cell vehicles, and will be available on the market in spring of next year. Some other vehicle companies that are exploring fuel cell use in their vehicles are the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell and the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell.
Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel
- Can be refueled like diesel or petrol via a hydrogen outlet
- Emits harmless water vapour
- Hydrogen fuel can be derived from seaweed and other renewable sources
- In colder climates, hydrogen can be produced through tidal or wind power.
- Hydrogen can be produced domestically
Fuel Cells Compared to Other Zero Emissions Technology
Just this week Toyota decided to end their contract with electric car company Tesla Motors in order to pursue the development of cars which use hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cells have been criticized as only a stop-gap (temporary) measure until electric powered vehicles become more cost-effective. It is said that by the time fuel celled cars like the 2015 Hyundai Tuscan Fuel Cell are released next year, there will already be over 200,000 plug-in cars on U.S. roads.
If your interest lies in auto mechanics, you may be interested in the breakdown of a fuel cell vehicle. Here are the components of the 2015 Toyota FCV:
- Engine starts up at temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius.
- Travel range of about 700km
- Hydrogen recharging time is around three minutes
- Supply capacity is 4-5 times that of an electric vehicle
Criticism for Fuel Cell Technology
If you’re a car salesperson or are going into car sales training, you may find the fuel cell vehicles a hard sell. While an electric car can reach a full charge in 3-6 hours, a hydrogen fuelling station can cost upwards of $1 million dollars. As of now, there are very few hydrogen fuel stations available. California is supposed to build forty stations in the next three years, but car experts and auto technicians believe that hydrogen will not even last that long. Instead of trying to find a hydrogen fuel station in the radius of their houses, electric car owners have the advantage of being able to plug in their car when they get home. It is the lower cost and ease of access with electric cars which makes many professionals believe that the hydrogen fuel cell does not have much of a future.
What capabilities of fuel cell technology do you believe will prevail within the next ten years?
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