HomeTechnologyEnergyHydrogen Fuel Cells and Its Future as a Source of Energy

Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Its Future as a Source of Energy

The world plans to go fossil fuel-free by 2050. Engineers understand the climate change and global warming issues, but the truth is that with existing technology, variable renewable energy sources are too dependent on the weather to overturn fossil fuel needs, and we will need backup power generation sources for any such conditions. That is where the hydrogen fuel cell comes, a future energy backup that generates clean electricity in any emergency conditions by replacing fossil fuels.

How it works

Instead of burning fossil fuel, hydrogen fuel cells generate electric energy through a chemical reaction produced from water and heat. It is much more sustainable than using fossil fuels, and it doesn’t emit greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in fewer carbon footprints. Since hydrogen is said to be the most abundant element in the Universe, which makes it highly favorable to make a fuel out of it for our transportation needs.

Since hydrogen fuel cells can be renewable, considering electrolyzing and compression are happening through renewable power sources, this makes them a perfect energy source for any backup or emergency energy needed. Aside from that, huge cargo freights such as aircraft and ships that are not viable to run on batteries are responsible for inducing 4.6% of total human enforced CO2 emissions in the world, so having these vehicles transition to using this alternative power source would help.

Is hydrogen fuel cell a better replacement for batteries in EVs?

The process of making hydrogen fuel starts from electrolyzing water, which requires electrical energy. That fuel gets compressed into a tank, making it 35% efficient, which is almost the same as car engine efficiency.

In comparison, batteries are almost 90% efficient, which is probably why hydrogen fuel cells aren’t the go-to fuel in the automotive market. The cost of generating the same quantity of electric energy from a solar-powered battery system is 2.5 times less than that of hydrogen fuel cells.

Despite this setback, hydrogen fuel cells are gradually growing in their potential market. Samsung Heavy Industries, which is among the largest shipping industries in the world, has collaborated with Bloom Energy and built the world’s first fuel cell-based LNG carrier ship in 2021. Apple also uses Bloom Energy manufactured fuel cells for its data centers’ energy backup. Meanwhile, Microsoft did the same with Caterpillar and Ballard power systems.

In conclusion, hydrogen fuel cells are not here to replace batteries in EVs as some suggest, but they can be a perfect energy backup source for power generation and fuel source for heavy transportation.

Photo credits: The feature image has been taken by Eelco Böhtlingk.
Sources: IEA / ATAG / UKRI / AAA / Bloom Energy / Martin LaMonica (CNET) / PR Newswire

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Ahsan Ahmed
Ahsan Ahmed
Hello, This is Ahsan Ahmed. I am an Electrical Engineer and technology enthusiast who loves writing. You would see me posting on electric power-related stories.

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