Hydrogen is the simplest factor in the universe we know of today. One atom comprises an electron and a single proton. Which means it’s also the most abundant item that we have access to today. Given this abundance, it doesn’t naturally exist as a gas on our planet. Thanks to its interaction with oxygen it is always mixed with other elements, such as H20 forming water.
What’s interesting about hydrogen is that in most organic compounds, you will find it too. Hydrocarbons form many of our fuels including propane, natural gas, and petrol. To build the capacity for a high-energy fuel cell, hydrogen can be extracted from other hydrocarbons using the heat application cycle called reforming.
Hydrogen is an alternative to fossil fuels that is environmentally friendly and can be used to power just about any computer that requires electricity. The key to making this possible is the fuel cell, which is the energy conversion system that can easily absorb and use the power of hydrogen. This could be useful for buildings as a source of electricity or heat. There are 15 key advantages and disadvantages to consider for the hydrogen fuel cells.
15 Advantages & Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen fuel cells provide us with healthy technology to use in almost any case.
Compared to combustibles and other energy resources in this area, hydrogen fuel cell technologies give people negligible exposure risks. The only problem with human exposure is that the gas will prevent anyone from obtaining adequate oxygen from each breath. You have to maintain a 19.5 percent oxygen level for sufficient respiration to remain healthy.
Hydrogen fuel cells can be generated at an expense of neutral emissions.
Once we create a regular hydrogen fuel cell, we create a carbon liability that can last up to five years, depending on how much the energy system is used. When we burn this renewable fuel tool, we pay on the debt before we achieve net savings relative to conventional fossil fuel.
A hydrogen fuel cell gives us versatility on electricity.
Right now you can buy a hydrogen fuel cell to suit your home or vehicle’s energy needs. When you buy or lease a car that comes fitted with this technology as a fuel tool, then automobile manufacturers in this industry today offer 3 years of hydrogen as part of your purchase kit.
With hydrogen fuel cells, we get a greater degree of efficiency.
You can obtain a consistent level of output in virtually every case, no matter what size the device is. The gain applies to the fuel’s overall consumption profile. When you use a battery or a similar power source, you have access to less power than the ages of the commodity or low energy levels, decreasing the user-friendly output you get. Even when the supplies are small, hydrogen fuel cells continue to work without a drop off and you can supply the energy required immediately if you have a fuel source available.
Using hydrogen-fuel cells may reduce the risk of chemical exposure.
Were you aware that the average home today contains more than 150 different chemical compounds? In certain cases some of the hydrocarbon-based products can also become a possible carcinogen. You may cause extreme headache, start feeling dizzy, and induce nausea if you were to breathe in fuel vapors from gasoline or other agent. Switching to hydrogen fuel cells helps to reduce the risk of exposure, as the same energy is useful in a number of applications.
Emissions from a fuel cell with hydrogen are nearly null.
When we absorb the energy stored in a fuel cell with hydrogen, then the vast majority of the pollutants we produce from this process include water vapor and hot air. The primary cost we pay in terms of greenhouse gas emissions comes from the fossil fuels that are required first to create the fuel cell. As a net saving, each vehicle conversion from petrol to this technology takes five metric tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere. The water that comes from drinking hydrogen fuel cells can be potable as an added bonus here, which means you can turn the heating and cooling needs into something to drink.
This system offers high energy efficiency requirements.
When they work as expected, most internal combustion engines operate at an efficiency level of about 25 per cent. Looking at the average power plant output, you can achieve a 35 percent efficiency level. According to the Connecticut Hydrogen-Fuel Cell Alliance, a stationary fuel cell can have an efficiency approaching 80 per cent when combined for heating and power systems. Because of the performance benefits available with hydrogen fuel cells, DaimlerChrysler has invested more than $1 billion in this technology because it could be a potential energy option that will drive the next generation of vehicles.
It offers an effective method for storing resources.
As energy is stored in the form of a gas-liquid as hydrogen, it does not dissipate until it is used when the fuel cell is properly built. That means this technology is useful as an energy resource for mission-critical needs, emergency generators, and long-term storage applications because with this technology, there is less energy loss. A similar argument can not be made by capacitors, batteries, and even hydrocarbon-based fuels, which is why they need to be recharged even though they are not used.
Vehicles that use a hydrogen fuel cell receive a better fuel economy rating.
Harlan Ellison was a science fiction author, prolific as well as influential in his work. He allegedly once claimed that “the two most popular elements in the universe are hydrogen and ignorance.” It would be foolish to ignore hydrogen fuel cell technology since the possibilities for fuel efficiency are amazing. With a similar amount of gasoline, the average vehicle will be able to double its range without producing tons of potentially harmful pollution in its path.
Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
To optimize their use, you have to control the temperature of a hydrogen fuel cell.
If you want to run a hydrogen fuel cell at its maximum efficiency rate, then you must always keep the temperature at below 212 ° F. When temperatures rise above that point, you won’t obtain the same fuel efficiency levels while driving. The polymer exchange membranes which are part of the fuel cell composition do not work well when exposed to high heat rates, which is why a conversion from gasoline to hydrogen normally does not occur. The typical internal combustion engine produces excessive heat.
Until now, hydrogen fuel cells are not operating in any case.
Currently, we need to store our fuel resources so we can use them when they are needed. The only way to preserve hydrogen is to use up to 700 bar of pressure or keep it at a low temperature as a liquid. That means you have to use extra energy to hold the resource before you decide to use it. Since this requires compression, this fuel may not be combustible higher, reducing its upper flammability limits by up to 75%. This drawback can also be felt through a slow leak from the fuel cell itself.
It is not a complete renewable energy option at this time.
We have the option of generating hydrogen from renewable resources, but at the moment there is not enough infrastructure in place to make it a viable alternative. That means we use fossil fuels to generate hydrogen, so it’s not as environmentally friendly as some proponents like to say. Overall, there are still fewer emissions as we do not produce a carbon dioxide charge during consumption, but that is the only gain right now. It is also paying the same greenhouse gas costs as every other hydrocarbon-based fuel we use for transportation or home heating and cooling until the point of consumer use.
This technology currently isn’t widely available.
The only way to take advantage of the hydrogen fuel cell technology right now is if you live in an region where cars are allowed to be sold with it. That means that Californians can buy a car with it, and so may some Hawaiian residents. In the United States, there are currently only eight car dealers allowed to sell vehicles fitted with those fuel cells. You must show your citizenship as the purchaser to go through with the purchase.
With hydrogen fuel cells there are still some environmental threats to consider.
If we were to release large amounts of hydrogen as a gas into our atmosphere, then we would produce a detrimental effect on the ozone layer that could be as extreme as what CFCs had done in the previous century. Although to overcome this drawback it would require an extensive hydrogen economy that included transportation, manufacturing and home heating, it is an problem that should not be ignored. If we want to continue working to change the atmosphere we can not allow the gas to accumulate. Adding hydrogen to our atmosphere, at a higher altitude, will produce more vapor. That means we could experience higher levels of radiation at ground level, see mutations in plants, and shifts in our weather patterns which could change our growing seasons.
It requires more hydrogen to transport than most other fuels do.
Although the installation costs of hydrogen pipeline building, shipping, and tanker transport have all dropped by up to 90 per cent since the 1990s when fuel cells first became available, there are still substantial expenses to be charged when constructing the infrastructure required for this technology. Recent estimates show that building a central network for transporting gas or liquid forms of the fuel costs around $200,000 per mile.
The cost of processing hydrogen is very expensive enough for most people to be prohibitive.
The cost estimates for storage of hydrogen fuel cells have decreased by more than 50 percent since 2006, but it is still at $53 per kilowatt when looking at the stacks required for a modern car. Such costs are much higher than what we experience with gasoline, particularly when you look at the cost of separating gas rather than refining by hydrocarbon. When looking at this drawback from an automobile point of view, the cost is still lower than electricity, but when you have a particular need to fix it, it is still easier to run on diesel, gasoline or propane at this moment.
The advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells give us access to an innovative new technology that could one day help us the amount of toxic greenhouse gas emissions that escape into our air. Moving into an economy of hydrogen isn’t without its fair share of risks. We need to find ways to reduce the escape of gas into our environment to avoid the possible issue of reducing ozone.
New technologies must be built to help us also produce affordable hydrogen. If we can reach these possible milestones, then our world of the future could look like a very different place – but feel very familiar.