Study highlights the benefits of battery electric vehicles over those with fuel cells

November 16, 2016 2 By Stephen Vagus

New study draws attention to the advantages of battery electric vehicles

A new study from researchers at Stanford University in the United States and the Technical University in Germany suggest that plug-in electric vehicles may be significantly more viable than their counterparts powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The study envisions a scenario approximately 30 years from now when new technology is more widely used and considerably more affordable. The study also envisions a future where a comprehensive infrastructure capable of supporting battery electrics and fuel cell vehicles comfortably.

Batteries may beat fuel cells in the coming years

The study suggests that investing completely in battery electric vehicles would be a more economic option than investing in vehicles equipped with fuel cells. This is largely due to their lower cost. When compared to hydrogen fuel cells, batteries are quite inexpensive. This is because fuel cells make use of platinum and other costly materials. The high cost of fuel cells translates directly into the price of the vehicles using them.

Conventional hydrogen production may be a problem for fuel cell vehicles

Electric Vehicles - StudyBoth fuel cell and battery electric vehicles produce no harmful emissions while operating. Their overall environmental output is heavily based on how their fuel, electricity or hydrogen, is produced. Conventional hydrogen production methods are heavily reliant on natural gas, which produces carbon dioxide when consumed for energy purposes. Some charging networks for electric vehicles draw energy from renewable resources, but most are reliant on conventional forms of power generation. Currently, hydrogen production produces more carbon emissions in terms of generating fuel for transportation purposes.

Batteries may continue to be the least expensive option in the future

While battery and fuel cell technology will advance to the point of becoming very similar in the next 30 years, their costs may always be different. Batteries are expected to remain the less expensive of the two technologies, but hydrogen fuel cells may soon become the more efficient option. This could be especially true if hydrogen production becomes more reliant on renewable energy, such as solar power.

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