Green Hydrogen Fuel Cells Versus Electric Batteries

Goals

To have a broad understanding of why it is better to use green hydrogen fuel cells instead of electric batteries.

Early Findings

Battery-electric is referred to as BEV and hydrogen fuel cells are referred to a FCV.

Negative Findings

  • "In the case of the passenger car, everything speaks in favor of the battery and practically nothing speaks in favor of hydrogen", according to Volkswagen, and the several studies they cite in this post. When comparing the BEVs with FCVs, Volkswagen refers to studies, which say that "hydrogen fuels (as well as synthetic fuels) will remain more expensive than driving all-electric (BEV). The reason for that is simple: more energy is required to produce them (compared to electricity and charging)."
  • "The only light in the tunnel for FCVs is maybe long-distance heavy-duty vehicles, as well as in rail, air and sea transport - but it's not yet proven commercially. Battery electric trucks are also coming."
  • According to studies, "all-electric cars can achieve an outstanding overall Well-to-Wheel efficiency of 70-90%, depending on a particular example. The hydrogen fuel cell requires 2-3 times more energy to drive the same distance, as the overall Well-to-Wheel efficiency is from 25-35%. "

Positive Findings

  • However, in direct contrast to the above three bullet points, Bloomberg News pointed out toward the end of 2019, "that the stock prices of companies closely associated with hydrogen fuel cells are making a comeback."
  • "Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) have seen only modest improvements in two critical areas lowering battery pack costs and raising energy and power density. In contrast, the costs for fuel cell components are falling much faster, and an economy of scale in manufacturing greater volumes positions them as more attractive to powertrain planners for both commercial and passenger vehicles."
  • "Despite the enormous efficiency advantage BEVs have over conventional vehicles lithium-ion batteries the best batteries in high-volume production today only store 1/100th, or 1 percent, the energy density of gasoline. Hydrogen also has higher energy storage density than lithium ion batteries, both in terms of energy stored per unit weight and energy stored per unit volume."
  • In the still “new world” of charging BEVs at public stations, researchers have found that "well over half of the time that BEVs park in spaces used for public charging they aren’t being charged. So even with faster charging, owners want to park and leave, thereby preventing someone else from refueling. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles don’t share this issue with BEVs, as FCEVs fill up–like their gasoline equivalents in about five minutes. This short refilling time means that drivers aren’t inclined to walk away during a refill, unlike BEVs."

Pluses to FCVs

  • According to Arval, the pluses to FCVs are: "faster refueling compared with charging an electric car 3 to 5 minutes just like a gasoline vehicle, no harmful emissions; only water, an impressive range of around 300 miles which is on a par with conventional vehicles, good efficiency levels; fuel cell powertrains are much more efficient at getting energy out of hydrogen than traditional cars are at getting energy out of gasoline or diesel."

Minuses to FCVs

  • Again, according to Arval, the negatives to FCVs are: "refueling locations are sparse, although the cost of fueling a hydrogen car would be similar to traditional fuels, developing the technology isn’t cheap, nor is storing or moving hydrogen itself, and the perceived safety risk: hydrogen is flammable but then again, so is gasoline, and that hasn’t stopped anyone from driving."

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our initial hour of research found data that supported both positions re: green hydrogen fuel cells are the best to use and electric batteries are the best to use. We surmised that the former was desired over the latter, so that is where we focused our research. However, if that was an incorrect assumption, that would clearly have to be communicated in any reply.
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