Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars

Could this be the car of the future? What are the pros, and cons?

It could be, but storing hydrogen in a car is problematic, you need a cheap source of hydrogen (yea you can make it from water but that takes more energy than the hydrogen produced).  

For now it is a possible future fuel.   It has the advantage of minimal point source emissions. In other words it makes water not a lot of nasty stuff while on the road.   The nasty stuff comes from what made the electricity which was used to get the hydrogen.

I’m really adverse to any fuel whose manufacture and distribution is controlled by one industry. Hydrogen with it’s expensive production is now in the hands of only those can afford it (energy companies) and should reap a profit for those that make the investment. But if an alternative can be found where small businesses can prosper in this field, and competition reigns as a benefit to the consumer, I’d prefer it.
Getting car power from your own outlet, where you have the option of making electricity yourself, I feel is the ultimate transportation freedom from the energy industrial umbilical cord.
That’s where I’d like efforts made…that’s not in the interest of hydrogen proponents. There is nothing wrong with that. But single industry control has it’s price, as we’ve all seen with oil.

Pros - makes water for emissions
Cons - 1. Huge cost of fuel cells, also requires batteries
2. Can’t store a lot of H2 on a car (less range than gasoline)
3. No ready source of H2, would require all new distribution.

From a policy position, once they get the production and distribution issues taken care of (there’s nothing insurmountable I can see), hydrogen cell cars will have similar issues to electric cars, though the range, performance and refueling will be much more in line with conventional cars. Since you make hydrogen by running electricity through water, you have the same issue with electric cars where they’re only as “green” as the electric grid they’re using.

So there’s great potential for hydrogen cell cars to take advantage to large scale renewable energy projects, but that infrastructure needs to be built. If all of a sudden overnight every car turned into a hydrogen cell car, though, producing that much hydrogen would probably stretch power grids to their limits.

Hydrogen is not a “fuel” It does not exist in nature. It must be manufactured and becomes a storage medium for energy.

It’s FAR more efficient to use a battery powered electric car. The Chevy Volt will lead the way if they are able to get it into production before GM folds its tent…

Hydrogen fuel will only become viable if we can make it with renewable energy.

Good point; the main idea with hydrogen fuel cells is 1) to reduce air pollution and CO2 and 2)to reduce dependence on depleting fossil fuels.

Honda has a fuel cell hybrid, the ultimate car, but only if a hydrogen distribution network exists. Eventually that will come.

In the mean time hybrids and plug-in hybrids will be the first wave of eco-friendly cars.

Iceland has a small population and an abundance of geothermal and hydro-electric power. Both are carbon-free. It will be the first hydrogen based economy. Shell, BP, Mercedes and others are all testing vehicles and fueling systems there.

A hydrogen economy for the US is unthinkable in the near future; unless massive nuclear plants are built to make the hydrogen (very inefficient) If hydrogen is made from natural gas, it defeats the purpose of lowering greenhouse gasses. It will provide cleaner downtown air though.

Pros - makes water for emissions
Cons - 1. Huge cost of fuel cells, also requires batteries
2. Can’t store a lot of H2 on a car (less range than gasoline)
3. No ready source of H2, would require all new distribution.

Well once you have H? you can use it in an internal combustion engine, although that may not end up being the best solution. Personally I would like the fuel cell path myself, but so far we really don’t have the technology to know.

But if we make the electricity from renewables, why not just plug in an EV or a plugin hybrid? Why spend the extra money to convert it, ship it, store it, etc?

That my man is the important question that we aren’t suppose to think about…converting, shipping, storing gives Hydrogen additional access to our pockets. It’s down right subversive for you to ask a reasonable question like that. Why would you want to fill up at their station when you can fill up at home; for less.

I always thought that hydrogen was the most abundant element in the universe

IF the batteries could be large enough and cheap enough you would not need fuel cells. However, the concept of ENERGY DENSITY, the amount of energy you can carry on board economically, has been the limiting factor. Even Lithium Ion batteries (the latest electric car has 6800 of them)take up quite a bit of weight if they are to provide a a decent operating range. Carrying the energy chemically, as in gasoline and hydrogen greatly increases the energy density, so you can go further on a given weight and volume of energy. And refueling is easy.

The federal government is financing research in all these areas, because the final product will likely have both; rechargeable batteries and an on-board fuel cell.

High energy density of diesel is one reason why a diesel car has such a very long range per tank.

I question the viability of any fuel that cannot be easily transported to the car. What I mean by this is not a pump at a station, but a can. If I had a hydrogen powered can and, for some reason, I ran out of fuel I can’t walk the mile to the gas station and come back with a can of hydrogen to pour into the tank.

The mind set we have to overcome…is the need for 300 miles per charge. 60 to 80 plug in miles is enough when 80% quick charge is now a possibility with a small ICE for extending range use and used as second car. This should be available very soon w/o hydrogen.

Great point…


Advanced storage batteries have better energy density then compressed hydrogen gas. NASA can use liquid hydrogen which provides GREAT energy density. But automotive consumers will have to settle for high-pressure storage tanks full of compressed hydrogen. “Gas Stations” will need large liquid hydrogen storage tanks. It’s simply not going to happen. Fuel-cell cars are a laboratory curiosity, nothing more…

“Fuel-cell cars are a laboratory curiosity, nothing more…”

Well it may well prove more practical to use hydrogen as an intermediate storage media eliminating the rechargeable batteries and possibly giving more range and faster refueling. Advances in the technology will decide.

 This is much the same as the early auto days when we had gasoline, electric and steam powered cars.  In time gasoline proved to be the most practical.