Hydrogen Fuel Cell: Pros and Cons

Green Technologies

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Although the hydrogen fuel cells had been discovered in 1838, people started using them only in the middle of the 20th century. The development of this technology helped different companies to improve their products and services. Right now, this source of green energy is used to power vehicles, provide electricity for buildings, etc.

HowStuffWorks magazine informs that this technology has impressive potential for further development. Even now it’s considered as one of the safest sources of energy. It produces electricity due to the combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Although this process includes combustion, heath and water are the only byproducts.

On the other hand, it’s impossible not to recollect the main drawbacks of hydrogen fuel cells. For example, the eco-friendly production of hydrogen requires a lot of funds and resources. And this article will help you to discover even more benefits and disadvantages of this technology. Besides, you’ll find out the information about the hydrogen fuel cells environmental impact and the growth prospects of this amazing technology.

Major Pros and Cons of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

As well as the majority of the sources of alternative energy, this one has both pros and cons. First, you’ll get acquainted with its main advantages and, after it, you’ll discover the most significant drawbacks.

Main Pros of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

The statistics show that every year only the US produces nearly nine million metric tons of hydrogen. As a rule, it’s used for food processing and to refine or treat different metals. Besides, NASA uses fuel cells in space programs. It also consumes a part of produced hydrogen for the development of different technologies. Space shuttle fuel cells are used to bring to the sky even heavy spaceships.

What is more, some companies use this technology to develop alternative fuels for cars. Due to them, the vehicles don’t produce harmful emissions. Consider that hydrogen ensures impressive driving distances and low fuel consumption.

Plus, this technology is relatively safe for the environment. And, as it has been already mentioned, hydrogen fuel cells release only water vapor and heat. The experts have already proved that hydrogen fuel is nearly three times more efficient than gasoline. Moreover, this technology has other significant advantages including:

  • Impressively high efficiency. The US Department of Energy informs that hydrogen fuel cells can ensure a 60% efficiency increase of a vehicle performance;
  • Robust reliability. The technology has been already tested in tough conditions including -40 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, the vehicles using hydrogen fuel cells managed to deal with such extreme weather events as hurricanes, winter storms, and sand whirls;
  • Low operational costs. Hydrogen fuel cell technology ensures near 80% lower operational expenses as compared to combustion engines;
  • Total renewability. Unlike the general non-renewable sources of energy, hydrogen fuel cells can be produced again and again. Such a possibility provides our civilization with a limitless and efficient fuel source. 

Main Cons of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

The benefits of fuel cells and the opportunities they provide are truly amazing. Unfortunately, there are some problems and challenges related to its usage:

  • Hydrogen energy is expensive. Although this resource is widely available, it still requires a lot of costs. Plus, the production of hydrogen fuel cells is a very time-consuming and labor-intensive process. And, for example, drivers need to pay nearly three times more money if they want to get a car provided with this technology;
  • Problems with transportation. The great news is that the price for transportation of hydrogen has decreased by 90% since the 1990s. Nonetheless, the companies need to spend a good deal of money for the installation of infrastructure necessary for this technology. The magazine FutureOfWorking states that it costs nearly $200,000 per mile to build the network for the transportation of hydrogen fuel cells;
  • Stockpile issues. Probably this is one of the most serious disadvantages of fuel cells. The problem is that hydrogen is extremely difficult to store. Besides, it’s a very expensive process. But still, the good news is that the costs for the storage of hydrogen fuel cells have significantly decreased since the end of the last decade;
  • Flammability. It’s a no-brainer that hydrogen is one of the most powerful energy sources. However, the power results in such dangerous drawbacks as flammability. It can burn in the air at concentrations between 4% and up to 75%.

Conclusion

It goes without saying that this technology may become a perfect alternative energy resource able to power almost any industry. Nonetheless, there are still many issues that require advanced solutions and efficient improvements.

The hydrogen fuel cell pros and cons show us that as soon as the scientists find out an affordable way to split off hydrogen from water, we’ll be able to save our planet. It’ll definitely help to solve the problems related to greenhouse gases and the protection of the environment. Such impressive improvement will also help to stop global warming.

Environmental consultant

Kate is an environmental consultant specializing on green technologies and nature preservation techniques. She has more than 3 years of experience and worked with several non-profit organizations to save our nature from disruptive influence of people.

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