With the dawn of the modern era, the demand for sustainable energy has witnessed a steep rise and has become an indisputable asset to mankind. Hydrogen fuel comes into the picture as an environmentally friendly option alternative to fossil fuels which can be used to power just about any machine that requires energy.
The fuel cell, which is the energy conversion device captures and use the power of hydrogen effectively which is the key to making this happen. Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies provide cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions to improving our energy needs.
BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS OF HYDROGEN FUEL
|Energy Efficient||Difficult to store|
|Readily available||Transportation is a challenge|
|Easily renewable||Highly flammable|
|Environmentally friendly||Dependent on fossil fuels|
|Can be used as rocket fuel||Does not work in every situation|
|Greater level of consistency||Not easy to replace existing infrastructure|
|Provides energy flexibility||Not a complete renewable energy source|
ADVANTAGES OF HYDROGEN FUEL
• Energy Storage
Hydrogen’s energy content by volume is low and hence can act as an energy storage medium. Energy stored in the form of a gas or a liquid, never dissipates until used, making it a good choice for emergency energy applications. This is more efficient compared to other storage options like batteries and capacitors which lose energy over time and needs to be periodically recharged.
• Energy Efficient
Nowadays. most internal combustion engines operate with an efficiency around 25% and power plants about a 35% efficiency. However, when a stationary fuel cell is used in a combined heat and power system, it can garner an efficiency levels of more than 80%.
• Readily available
Hydrogen is a basic earth element and is found in abundance. However, separating hydrogen gas from its companion substances takes a whole lot of time. Though it’s a bit time consuming, the results produce an extremely clean energy source.
• Easily renewable
Hydrogen can be produced repeatedly, unlike other non-renewable sources of energy. Basically, hydrogen energy can be produced on demand. The only thing needed to do is to break the water molecules and get it separated from oxygen. It’s without question a time-consuming process but the outcome is great.
• Environmentally friendly
Hydrogen is a non-toxic substance which is rare quality for a fuel source. Others elements like coal and gasoline are either toxic or found in hazardous environments. Due to the environmental friendly nature of hydrogen it can be used in ways that other fuels can’t even possibly match.
• Can be used as rocket fuel
Hydrogen is both powerful and efficient making it powerful enough to provide necessary energy to power machines such as spaceships. Also, it is a much safer choice compared to other fuel sources, given that it is environmentally friendly.
• Greater level of consistency
No matter what the size of the unit is, we get a consistent level of performance in virtually any situations. Hydrogen fuel cells continue operating without a drop-off, even when the reserves are low implying we can drive, heat without needing to worry about the stability of the product.
• Provides energy flexibility
One can purchase a hydrogen fuel cell right now to meet the energy needs of one’s home or vehicle. When one buys a car which uses hydrogen fuel technology as a fuel resource, automobile manufacturers in this industry today provide 3 years of hydrogen as part of purchasing package.
DISADVANTAGES OF HYDROGEN FUEL
Though widely available, hydrogen is expensive. A good reason for this is, it takes a lot of time to separate the element. If the process were really simple, then a lot could have been produced with relative ease. It’s still not a feasible source of fuel for everyone, although hydrogen cells are now being used to power hybrid cars.
• Difficult to store
Although the cost estimates for hydrogen fuel cell storage have decreased by more than 50%, but these expenses are far higher compared to gasoline and other fuels. Hydrogen is difficult to store because it has very low volumetric energy density. It is the simplest and lightest element–it’s lighter than helium.
• Transportation is a challenge
Oil can be transported safely through pipes and coal can conveniently be transported in dump trucks while it’s a daunting task to transport hydrogen due to its lightness. However, hydrogen, when considered moving in large quantities, presents its own challenges which is why it’s mostly transported in small batches.
• Highly flammable
One of the biggest disadvantages is that hydrogen is very flammable. In fact, it is on the news frequently for its many number of risks. Hydrogen gas burns in air at very wide bandwidth- between 4 and 75 percent.
• Dependent on fossil fuels
Although hydrogen energy is renewable and has minimal environmental impact, other non-renewable sources are still needed to separate it from oxygen. Although the point of switching to hydrogen is to get rid of using fossil fuels, they are still needed for the extraction process.
• Does not work in every situation
The only way to maintain hydrogen is to use up to 700 bars of pressure or keep it as liquid at a low temperature. That requires additional energy. Failing to do so can increase the combustibility of this fuel by up to 75%. One can even experience this with a slow leak from the fuel cell itself.
• Not easy to replace existing infrastructure
Till date there hasn’t been much development of infrastructure that can support hydrogen as fuel. This is why gasoline is still being widely used to this day and it becomes highly expensive to just think about replacing gasoline yet.
• Not a complete renewable energy source
We do have the option to produce hydrogen from renewable resources, but we’re mostly using fossil fuels to create hydrogen, so it isn’t as environmentally friendly as some proponents claim. Though the overall emissions are low since carbon dioxide is not created during consumption, but that is the only benefit right now.
Though hydrogen fuel currently is a bit expensive and the lack of proper infrastructure might limit
its scope now, but all in all, it is definitely a big thing for the future.