Fuel cells may be losing the efficiency battle with batteries

Fuel cells may be losing the efficiency battle with batteries

October 6, 2017 1 By Stephen Vagus

Study suggests batteries are much more energy efficient than fuel cells

Fuel cells have come to establish a relatively strong position in the global auto industry, but they may soon lose their battle with battery technology. A new study from Transport & Environment, an environment organization in Europe, suggests that batteries will win the clean transportation fight. The study suggests that the overall efficiency of battery electric vehicles is significantly higher than vehicles equipped with fuel cells. Some automakers have recently been showing more interest in batteries because they are less expensive and more widely supporter than fuel cell systems.

Battery efficient ranks at 73% while fuel cell systems have a 22% efficiency rating

The study compared the efficiency of battery electric vehicles to those powered by fuel cells and internal combustion engines. According to the study battery electric vehicles have a 73% efficiency rating. By comparison, fuel cell vehicles have a 22% efficiency rating with internal combustion vehicles rated at 13% efficiency. One of the reasons fuel cells have such an energy efficiency problem has to do with how hydrogen is produced.

Hydrogen production is heavily reliant on fossil-fuels

Currently, hydrogen fuel production is a very energy intensive process. This process relies quite heavily on fossil-fuels and this hydrogen must be compressed into storage tanks and transported to an existing infrastructure. Batteries, however, can draw upon electricity directly, storing this power until it is needed at any given moment. This means that batteries can make more efficient use of electricity than fuel cell systems.

Automakers still have faith in fuel cell technology

While batteries may be more efficient than hydrogen fuel cells, major automakers are still heavily invested in fuel cell technology. These energy systems have won support because of their high performance capabilities. Batteries are likely to beat fuel cells when it comes to powering clean vehicles, but fuel cell cars will still become more common in the coming years, largely due to the efforts of major automakers and the convenience fuel cells offer to consumers.

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