The Good, the bad and the ugly about hydrogen fuel cells


Going green is a trend these days. People are becoming more and more concerned about their earth each passing day. For this very reason they are clinging onto the usage of sustainable and environment friendly products. Be it their small carry bag which is made of recycle-able paper instead of plastic or their everyday commuter which is fuel cell powered or electric powered instead of petroleum.

The general concept followed by all fuel cell is that all fuel cells consists of the three segments where anode snd cathode lies on either side of the electrolyte which reacts with both. Two chemical reactions result out in fuel consumption with the production of water and carbon dioxide. An electric current is also produced which is thus used by electric engines of the electric device for their working. The working of all fuel cells is the same but the only difference is the electrolyte used that determines the sort of reaction and the heat so produced. Fuel cells are a promising technology for use as an electrical power source for electric motors propelling vehicles. Out of many different fuel cells, Hydrogen fuel cell is in a considerable trend. Hydrogen is high in energy, yet an engine that burns pure hydrogen produces almost no pollution. These cells are more efficient than traditional combustion technologies.

The good

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Can Change the Future



Hydrogen is the most plentiful and simplest of all elements in the universe. Despite its simplicity and abundance, hydrogen doesn’t occur naturally as a gas on the Earth and is always combined with other elements. Hydrogen is the basic component of water and is also found in many organic compounds, notably the hydrocarbons that make up many of our fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas, methanol, and propane.
Hydrogen is not an energy source itself but can be called an energy carrier as it takes a great deal of energy to extract it from water and other hydrocarbons and is therefore used in fuel cells and batteries. The hydrogen fuel cells are just like traditional batteries. When a chemical reaction occurs between air and hydrogen, three things are produced namely electricity, which in turn propels the vehicle, a small amount of steam is emitted as a by product instead of pollution causing gases which are produced by other traditional fuels like coal, petroleum etc. and some heat.

Can this be better?

Many of the fuel cell producing companies are accelerating the research and development of hydrogen fuel cells production, storage, and delivery infrastructure technologies needed to support hydrogen fuel cells for use in vehicles and electricity generation. The usage of hydrogen fuel cell in everyday life would also least transportation costs and expensive wiring and may be even large power plants in near future.

The bad

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Bad for the Environment


Besides being cited as a non-polluting resource and the only emission is water vapour, hydrogen fuel cell has its disadvantages and obstacles to overcome before it can become widely available, and accepted.
• The foremost being its high cost. As the popularity of using hydrogen propelled vehicles is increasing the demand of hydrogen fuel is becoming higher than its production. And therefore the price of hydrogen fuel is quite high.
• Since hydrogen has to be produced using coal, natural gas and oil, it does not really solve the dependency issues and its storage and transportation may indirectly lead to pollution.

Can this be avoided?

Even after considering the disadvantages of Hydrogen fuel cells still offers a net reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions compared to gasoline. And this non polluting advantage is good for the environment and may be ranked above anything else in the long run.

The ugly

Hydrogen Fuel Cells ugly for the Environment


The storage and production of hydrogen are the ugliest aspects when talking about hydrogen fuel cells. Since hydrogen is highly volatile, special tanks that are huge and cumbersome, have to be used to hold it. Though the fuel cells are insulated but this is still not a perfect way out, as some amount of hydrogen evaporates out of the cell. Hydrogen doesn’t occur naturally in environment and has to be extracted either from water or other hydrogen compounds, that isn’t an easy process. It therefore requires a tremendous amount of energy for hydrogen production than the energy produced by hydrogen. Currently hydrogen is produced by natural gas and coal that are non-renewable sources of energy. Lastly, hydrogen is very powerful and has the dangers of being exploded.

Why are we so critical?

Hydrogen is though the best alternative fuel but when it comes to production of hydrogen, enough care is required as it is a very powerful explosive. However hydrogen fuel cell technologies are being developed and validated in parallel with complementary near-term energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.

The Bottom Line:

Hydrogen is much easier on the environment and safer to use than gasoline and diesel fuel. a key advantage of hydrogen is that when burned, carbon dioxide (CO2) is not produced and water vapour is the only by product. Hydrogen fuel engine has greater efficiency over an internal combustion engine. With many leading advancements in hydrogen fuel technologies, it can be considered as a fuel of the near future.

Via: ArticleSnatch/YouSayToo]