Hydrogen fuel cell technology promises to be a viable option for powering vehicles in the near future. With the ever rising concerns on environmental degradation and global warming, alternative fuels are taking center stage in national agendas. Two options that feature prominently in fuelling cars are regular gas and hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cells generate electric power from hydrogen and oxygen. The direct current is channeled to the vehicle’s electric motor. Natural gas fuelled vehicles utilize compressed natural gas. Below is a comparison of both.
Pros of Regular Gas Vehicles
Natural gas vehicles cost less than hydrogen powered vehicles. The fuel injection system for natural gas vehicles isn’t as complicated as that of hydrogen fuelled vehicles. This enables a smoother production process for vehicles as compared to hydrogen fuelled cars. This partly accounts for the more affordable price. Much more research has gone into natural gas vehicles than hydrogen powered cars. The information and knowledge base on the former far exceeds that of hydrogen powered vehicles. This makes natural gas vehicles a more accessible option in transport.
Supply of natural gas is often disrupted by weather or market fluctuations. Such disruptions can immobilize one, causing inconvenience. Although the vehicles cost less on initial purchase, running costs must be considered. The cost of natural gas exceeds that of hydrogen fuel by far. In the long run, fuel costs may add up considerably to the overall cost of a natural gas vehicle. Natural gas isn’t as much of an eco-friendly fuel as hydrogen. It is a fossil fuel and isn’t a renewable resource.
Pros of Hydrogen Fuelled Vehicles
Vehicles that run on a fuel cell system have a higher energy efficiency rate than natural gas vehicles. Fuel cell efficiency rests on the power drawn from it. If more direct current is drawn from the cell, it results in lower efficiency. Less power is therefore required to fuel the vehicle than is the case with a natural gas vehicle. Water molecules are the only emissions produced from hydrogen powered vehicles. This makes them more eco-friendly than natural gas vehicles. These vehicles are also more reliable. They have very few moving parts. The fuel cell system is also lightweight which makes for a more dependable system. Breakdowns are a rarity with hydrogen powered vehicles. As long as the established flows are maintained, a hydrogen powered vehicle can run uninterrupted for a long time.
The cost of production for hydrogen powered vehicles exceeds natural gas vehicles by far. The highly specific storage requirements and complex fuel delivery system partly explain why these vehicles are costly. Storage of hydrogen fuel is still beset by challenges. In its gaseous form, hydrogen has an extremely low density. In liquid form, hydrogen gets extremely cold. It can attain temperatures of minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The challenge is in how to pump it into the car’s fuel tank. Since it would have to be stored under very high pressures, safety concerns arise. Much more research is required on hydrogen cars before they can be more widely accepted as a safe option in transport.