Fuel cell vehicles are slowly gaining momentumFebruary 28, 2018
Report highlights the modest success that hydrogen-powered cars are beginning to see
Fuel cell vehicles are slowly beginning to gain traction in some parts of the world, but they have yet to find any mainstream success. According to a report from Information Trends, approximately 6,500 hydrogen-powered cars are in operation today. The majority of these vehicles are found in the United States, where California has become one of the world’s leading markets for clean vehicles. Approximately 38% of all fuel cell vehicles can be found in Japan, with 9% currently in operation in Europe.
Toyota accounts for the majority of fuel cell vehicles that have been delivered
Of the automakers that have developed and launched fuel cell vehicles, Toyota leads the way. The automaker delivered 75% of the hydrogen-powered cars that are currently in operation. The Japanese company is one of the few major automakers that has already released a fuel cell car, with the others being Honda and Hyundai. By 2021, the number of automakers that have released such vehicles is expected to reach 11. Many of the fuel cell vehicles that will be released in the coming years will likely find some success in China, where clean transportation has become a major priority for the government.
Automakers are working to overcome challenges they see in clean transportation
Automakers have been hard at work to make improvements to existing fuel cell technology in order to make these energy systems more efficient and less expensive. Toyota and Hyundai have made progress in this endeavor and hope that new fuel cell systems will be used in their future vehicles. The greatest challenge facing these companies, however, is the lack of infrastructure support. There are a very small number of hydrogen fueling stations open to the public, which has made fuel cell vehicles less attractive to consumers. To combat this, automakers have been investing heavily in the development of new fueling stations. Many of these stations are likely to come online within the next two years.
California has become the largest market for fuel cell cars
In the United States, California has established itself as a major clean transportation hub. The state has invested heavily in promoting the adoption of clean vehicles for several years. Now, California is working to ensure that fuel cell vehicles find the level of success that their battery-powered counterparts have experienced. The state’s efforts have made it the largest market for hydrogen-powered cars in the world.
Global Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Market Is Predicted To Grow At ~ 8.12% CAGR During The Forecast Period.
The global hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market is a very dynamic market and is expected to witness high growth over the forecast period. The growth of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market is influenced by the long-term air quality and climate goals. Hydrogen car accounts for lower global warming emissions than a comparable gasoline car. Hydrogen can connect different energy sectors with energy transmission & distribution, thus increasing the operational flexibility of future low-carbon energy systems. Hydrogen with a low-carbon footprint, has the potential to facilitate significant reductions in energy-related CO2 emissions for lower local air pollutants and noise emissions compared to direct fossil fuel combustion. However entirely new and expensive infrastructure system, acts as a major restraint for the growth of the market.
One of the attractive feature of the polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell ( PEM) fuel cell is that it operates at relatively low temperatures – 50 to 100 degrees C. A typical fuel cell running at 0.6 to 0.8 volts has an efficiency of about 50% (plus or minus 10%), which means 50% of the hydrogen energy is converted into electricity and 50% into heat. Compare this to the efficiency of a gasoline engine which is about 20%. PEM fuel cell stacks are generally compact and relatively light weight. A fuel cell stack may contain literally hundreds of individual cells. This makes fuel cells ideal for a wide range of applications from homes (1-5 Kw), to vehicles (50 to 125 Kw), to electrical generation plants (up to 250 MW or more).
I hate to burst anyone”s bubble on this but fuel cells have 2 major flaws. While the H+ (not H2) transport across a membrane to react with O2- is efficient, how are you going to produce enough H+. It comes from H2, but graphine is not a great H+ material. It does transport the the electrons well. You also need a platinum family catalyst to form the 2H+ from H2. The second more pressing issue which I do not think that you are going to fuel cell is that you need a huge amount of hydrogen gas. Where are you going to get it? The hydrolysis reaction to break water into hydrogen and oxygen AND back into water (via a fuel cell) is only about 10-15% efficient. The only places that we where we have enough energy to do that reaction on a large scale is nuclear power (where H2 is free) or solar power (where you have a large usable energy source that you need to store up regardless of the loss). To some this up, fuel cells have tremendous potential as an energy storage but and significant overall loss. It is not economic on an industrial scale and I do not see that changing in the near future.