Hydrogen fuel cells are the wave of the future. At least that is what many would want you to believe. They have a point because a hydrogen fuel cell is a novel way to power a car. The car would require no gasoline, run on hydrogen and its only waste would be water, a natural and safe emission. However, it is not a perfect science by any means and too many times there is talk about all the great advantages without any discussion of the disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells.
With anything, there is going to be drawbacks. If it were such a perfect technology, don’t you think every car would have one by now? Besides being expensive, the hydrogen fuel cell creates certain problems that haven’t been completely tackled yet.
Here are the three main disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells:
1. It’s big and cumbersome. Your gas tank already uses a nice portion of your car, but a hydrogen fuel cell will be three times bigger than a gas tank. But that is not that all. The fuel cell has to be insulated to keep it safe and protected.
2. Safety issues. Liquid hydrogen has the ability to freeze air. There have also been reports of accidents with the fuel cell itself. Sometimes a valve will get plugged up when there is too much pressure in the cell. The only place to go is out, and the cell explodes. There is no way of knowing, yet, if this problem can be fixed, but there are many working on it. In a car accident, the tank might rupture, but the good news is the hydrogen will evaporate quickly. However, it is a more serious condition in a closed area such as a garage.
3. The hydrogen evaporates. Strange, but true. The insulation is not a perfect process and the hydrogen evaporates out of the cell at roughly 1.7 percent a day. This means that eventually cars are going to need a fill up. What? You thought you never had to use a pump again? The other problem with this is gas stations don’t sell hydrogen. You will have to find a customized fueling station or work something out with the manufacturer of the car. Cars that are blends with fuel cells and gasoline will never have to worry about being stranded.
General Motors Co., currently has the Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell, one of the first fuel cell vehicles of its kind. If you are thinking about purchasing a vehicle of this type, speak to the manufacturer of the disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells. By having the technology, they are aware of the pitfalls of hydrogen fuel cells and have begun work on how to make it better.
The good news is that automobile companies are working at ways to make this a safer environment by creating less emissions and the more we learn about alternative methods, the better the Earth will be for it. Just don’t go blindly in one direction without asking questions. Learn about the disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells before you agree to use it.