Since 2013, Microsoft has been experimenting with hydrogen power fuel; it started testing solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), this extracts H2 from natural gas and run server racks in data centers. The SOFC technology is relatively expensive; it relies on fossil fuels and produces CO2; therefore, Microsoft decided to put the project on the back burner. We will discuss the pros and cons of hydrogen fuel cells.
Meanwhile, the price of the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell has decreased dramatically. The PEM fuel cell relies on purified H2 instead of hydrogen extract from natural gas. Furthermore, they operate at very low temperatures and are considered carbon-neutral, which makes them great alternatives to SOFCs.
There is no doubt that hydrogen power is the cleanest energy source we know. In an electric fuel cell, electricity is generated by combining oxygen and hydrogen. The best part is that there is no combustion involved, and the only byproducts are heath and water. Despite the fact that hydrogen can be produced from diverse renewable resources, the main challenge is cost. The cost of creating hydrogen through electrolysis often comes from buying power from the primary grid. Therefore, new research is ideal for future affordable hydrogen.
Producing hydrogen from renewable sources has never been an easy task, and one of the main methods of creating hydrogen is electrolysis. However, this process requires constant grip power. Hydrogen fuel features several advantages and disadvantages as a result, in this article, we shall be discussing the pros and cons of hydrogen fuel cells.
Hydrogen is a component that is the most fundamental on our planet. It is an excellent source of energy that exists with water. However, hydrogen is not available on earth, but it is produced using electrolysis, which separates it from water. Electrolysis is a relatively expensive process; it requires more energy in extracting hydrogen than the amount of energy produced by hydrogen fuel. However, when it is released from methane, it produces greenhouse gases hence resulting in global warming.
When hydrogen is combined with oxygen, it produces water, on the other hand, when combined with carbon, it produces coal and methane. With that said, hydrogen can help in powering different items, and as a result, it becomes more important in today’s word as alternative energy. The best part is that hydrogen is clean energy since it features water and heath as its byproducts.
Pros of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
1. Renewable and highly abundant.
There is no doubt that hydrogen is an extraordinary wellspring of energy due to numerous reasons; the greatest of all, being it is very much available. Despite the fact that it might take some work before getting it, hydrogen is the most inexhaustible component in the entire universe. This means that you will not have to worry about hydrogen running out, which is something common with most fuel we currently use.
2. The cleanest source of energy.
Hydrogen fuel cells are considered as the greenest source of energy currently known to us. Unlike the conventional energy generated from fossil fuels, hydrogen fuel cells do not have any negative or adverse impact on our environment, with one of its byproducts being water.
In addition to that, when compared to other sources of renewable energies such as biofuel or hydropower, which often require a large land surface area for energy production, hydrogen fuel cells do not require the use of the large land surface. This makes it a much greener source of energy since you will be protecting natural habitat.
NASA has actually designed a way in which when hydrogen is used, and it will produce clean water for astronauts to drink on the space station. This proves that hydrogen is non-toxic to the environment. The non-toxic nature of hydrogen makes it stand out from other sources of energy. Energy sources such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear are either dangerous or hard to get safely. This makes hydrogen ideal for use in several applications compared to other sources of energy.
3. Powerful than fossil energy.
Hydrogen fuel cells are highly influential and extremely proficient. This source of energy is powerful enough to drive spaceships, and it is very safe compared to other sources of energy. Furthermore, hydrogen is three times more powerful and useful than gas and fossil fuel; this means that you will be using much less hydrogen fuel cells to do more.
4. Highly efficient compared to other available sources of energy.
Hydrogen fuel cells are regarded as the most superior energy source when it comes to efficiency compared to other sources of energy available today. Particularly when compared to other green energy sources, hydrogen fuel cell features an incredible edge, and it tends to improve its advantage in efficiency as research and technology develop even further.
The hydrogen fuel cell is an exceptionally proficient source of energy since it delivers more energy for each pound of fuel. This implies that a car that runs on hydrogen fuel cells will cover a greater distance compared to a car that runs on the same amount of traditional gasoline.
5. Almost zero-emission.
Compared to the conventional sources of power, the uses of hydrogen fuel cells do not mean any significant emissions. As a result, this makes it superior when it comes to pollution in contrast to other sources of energy, including green energies such as wind and solar energy. With an excellent production of hydrogen, we could live in a world with a sufficient energy supply with zero pollution.
6. Curbs carbon footprint significantly.
In contrast with the conventional sources of energy, which are often associated with significant greenhouse gasses emissions, hydrogen fuel cells do not. Furthermore, hydrogen power is basically generated from water, and the energy production process has been set accordingly. This is an excellent way of curbing carbon footprint since there is literally no production of carbon dioxide emission when using hydrogen fuel cells.
7. Quick charge.
For cars that operate on fuel cells, the time taken to charge is often incredibly low, and it only takes very few minutes to fuel your car, which is similar to using the conventional fuel such as gasoline.
Therefore, the time taken to charge a car running on hydrogen fuel cells is much lower in contrast to the time taken to charge an electric-powered car. Since most modern society, individuals tend to be stressed and value their precious time more; hydrogen cars might end up becoming superior over electric cars at some point in the future.
8. Ideal for use in advance challenges.
Hydrogen fuel cells can as well be used in fueling spacecraft, allowing astronauts to explore and even conquer some of the remote stars and planets in the universe. If technology advancement of hydrogen fuel cells becomes more significant enough in the future, the probability is that it will be an ideal source of energy for powering spacecraft adventures; this is because it offers more advantages, unlike most fossil sources of energy.
9. Zero noise pollution.
Unlike other alternative sources of energy, such as wind, there is no noise pollution when using hydrogen fuel cells. When used in car engines, the noise level from traffic will significantly reduce, and the loud noises from the conventional car engines will be avoided, which is similar to using an electric car.
10. No visual pollution.
Some sources of energy, such as biofuel or wind energy, often indicate significant levels of visual pollution. When it comes to hydrogen fuel cells, there are no visual pollution effects since the power plant of hydrogen is extremely clean and also does not require plenty of space to operate. Therefore, in terms of visual pollution, the hydrogen fuel cell can as well be considered to be superior compared to other sources of energy.
11. Hydrogen fuel cells run for an extended period.
Vehicles that run on fossil fuels tend to make up to 300 miles before being refueled; nowadays, there are some vehicles that are capable of covering the same distance when running on hydrogen fuel cells just like a conventional car. In addition to that, fuel cells can as well be used in several other functions as the technology progresses; this makes it more attractive.
12. Hydrogen fuel cells are ideal for use in remote regions.
Remote areas that are not connected to the public electricity grid, hydrogen fuel cells might be a great alternative source of energy in the near future. Individuals living in remote areas will be capable of generating their own electricity with the use of hydrogen power cells. This will lead to an incredible improvement in our living conditions since it will significantly improve the living standards of individuals living in remote areas. Furthermore, they will have sufficient energy for their daily lives.
13. Ideal for use in several devices.
Despite the fact that hydrogen power is often associated with the use of cars, there are numerous fields of applications in which hydrogen fuel cells can be applied. The hydrogen fuel cell is a clean source of energy, and it can be sued in several parts of our daily activities once the technology sufficiently progresses. This means that, within a few years, hydrogen fuel cells will be used in running small devices such as hairdryers or bigger ones like the heating system.
14. Low costs of maintenance.
In contrast with the conventional sources of energy, the hydrogen fuel cell is well-known for its low maintenance cost. Following the initial installation, hydrogen fuel cells can run for an extended period of time without experience any issue. Furthermore, the maintenance efforts will be much more affordable in the near future as this technology progresses, and the processes related to hydrogen power become more sophisticated.
15. Low country dependence.
Several countries across the globe heavily rely on the supply of fossil fuel from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia. Nevertheless, this type of country dependence is quite unfortunate since it implies a significant reliance on political decisions. Therefore, by using hydrogen fuel cells instead of fossil fuels, countries will become more independent from the supply of fossil fuels from other countries, and it will also endure independence in their political status.
16. Lowers dependence of fossil fuel in today’s market.
By expanding hydrogen fuel cells as the primary source of power, it will significantly lower levels of the reliance on fossil fuel. In addition to that, the dependence of world market prices for fossil fuel such as oil will dramatically drop. As time progresses, oil, which is a fossil fuel, will become depleted, and the chances are that the world market price for oil will increase substantially in the next coming decades.
Therefore, to avoid being affected by an increase in oil prices, countries should consider expanding the use of alternative energy sources as soon as possible. Hydrogen fuel cells are considered as the best option in the future energy mix.
Cons of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
1. Sourcing hydrogen.
There is no doubt that hydrogen is the most abundant element in our universe. While this makes hydrogen fuel cells seem to be the perfect source of energy, the reality is a bit more complicated.
Despite being in abundance, hydrogen does not exist on its own. This means that you cannot pump hydrogen straight from the ground to be used as a fuel cell; you will need to extract it from the water via electrolysis or by separating hydrogen from carbon fossil fuels. These processes require a significant supply of energy.
A detractor of this technology says that they will need to use fossil fuel to power these processes, and when using hydrogen, they will be displacing carbon use. However, using electrolysis can be suitable for the environment; nevertheless, it is relatively expensive and tends to use more energy in producing hydrogen.
2. Hydrogen power isn’t mature.
Despite the fact that fuel cells are one of the most promising alternative sources of energy in the future, it has not yet fully matured. To improve the process and efficiency of hydrogen power, you will have to invest a large amount of money as well as political attitude will have to be channel towards fuel cells to help improve hydrogen fuel cell production.
3. Expensive raw materials.
To produce hydrogen, you will require platinum along with some precious materials that will be used, which makes the initial cost of a fuel cell to be high. It is due to this issue that most private individuals end up deterring to invest in this technology.
4. Currently, it is less reliable.
Since technology responsible for fuel cell production is not fully matured, it will not be considered as a constant source of energy as of now. Furthermore, there are fewer occasions and a loading station for hydrogen-powered devices, making it relatively challenging to solely rely on hydrogen fuel cells.
5. Relatively expensive form of fuel.
While this might change significantly as time progresses, for now, the unit for power produced from the fuel cell is relatively high compared to other sources of energy. Even green sources of energy, such as solar panels, are capable of producing energy that is much affordable compared to hydrogen power.
6. Hydrogen operated cars are expensive.
Just like an electric car, hydrogen operated vehicles are often costly, unlike conventional vehicles. Therefore, as an individual, switching from traditional to hydrogen-powered vehicles will be very expensive, particularly for individuals in the lower or middle-income groups.
When you keep in mind all the advantages mentioned above, there is no doubt that the hydrogen fuel cell is the most promising renewable energy source. As time progresses, hydrogen fuel cells might replace other renewable energy sources, including wind and solar energy, since it will be considered the greenest source of energy than other sources. Furthermore, due to extensive research carried out, fuel cells will become more efficient in the near future; this will help in lowering fuel prices significantly. Therefore, in the near future, hydrogen power will become cheaper and highly available than conventional fossil fuel; this will end up attracting the attention of the general public.
However, despite the fact that hydrogen fuel cell is a great and safest form of renewable energy, it features some downsides, including expensive to produce. Producing hydrogen fuel cell requires lots of energy from fossil fuel; this makes it relatively expensive. In addition to that, very few car companies are engaging in this technology. Cars that have been designed to run on hydrogen fuel cells are relatively expensive, which makes it challenging for individuals in the lower and middle class to afford it.
Despite having some downsides, hydrogen fuel cell still stands to be a better option for a renewable source of energy. As we conclude, we hope that this article has been of great help when it comes to understanding the pros and cons of hydrogen fuel cells.