What is a Hydrogen Car?

Every day, we are getting closer and closer to a brighter, cleaner future. The rise of solar panels, the fall of fossil fuels, and the introduction of electric cars. But is there an even better way of protecting our fragile planet? Hydrogen cars might be the answer!

So, what is a Hydrogen Car?

Well, you’ve heard of diesel, petrol, hybrid, and electric, now hydrogen is starting to take the spotlight as the most eco-friendly fuel for our vehicles. Hydrogen cars are like other cars, the only difference is the fuel - which is generated by a series of chemical reactions between oxygen and hydrogen. At the moment, the idea of hydrogen cars is still an ‘idea’, so there are many different variations of how they work. Like battery-powered cars, all hydrogen cars are automatic.

There are currently only 3 types of hydrogen cars available in the UK that you can get your hands on (if you have about £60,000 spare). The Toyota Mirai, the Hyundai Nexo, and the Honda Clarity. The Batmobile is also hydrogen-powered, but it isn’t for sale, unfortunately. Other vehicles, like buses, trams, and trains are also experimenting with hydrogen!

Perhaps the most talked-about benefit of hydrogen cars is their ability to draw in and clean dirty air as they drive. In November 2018, Hyundai announced that the Nexo had cleaned more than 900KG of air on the London roads. That’s the same amount of air as one adult breathing for two months!

Advantages of Hydrogen Cars

Of course, there has got to be a good reason why hydrogen is a valid consideration as the future for our cars’ fuel. Here are a few examples that might drive you to pro-hydrogen:

Hydrogen is a renewable source of energy:

Renewable is probably an understatement because hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe! Not only is there plenty of it, but Hydrogen is also readily available, meaning there is no need to worry about it being a time-consuming, difficult process!

Good for the environment:

Our daily commute to work is a major factor in the rise of global warming, meaning it is incredibly important to change our way of living to protect our fragile planet. Hydrogen cars might be the solution! Hydrogen fuel cells do not emit greenhouse gases, thus reducing the carbon footprint. Whilst EV also helps towards this, Hydrogen cars may be more efficient than many other energy sources, including some green energy.

Fast charging times and long-range:

Do you think a 30-minute charge is fast? Well, hydrogen fuel-powered cells can be fully recharged in under five minutes! That’s the same amount of time as it takes to make a cuppa! And if you think that’s good in itself, then think again, because hydrogen vehicles have a range similar to that of petrol cars!

Disadvantages of Hydrogen Cars

Hydrogen fuel cells seem great, don’t they? So why aren’t there more on the road? Well, this wouldn’t be a fair debate if we didn’t throw in a few disadvantages:

High cost:

Perhaps the biggest issue when it comes to hydrogen fuel cells is the overall cost. Hydrogen extraction is an expensive process, and once it is extracted, the investment to develop and improve technology to sustain hydrogen energy could also leave a few empty wallets. Moreover, the storage of hydrogen would require additional costs. All of this money could go towards developing an already well-rounded idea, right? Like electric cars.

Safety concerns:

One of the benefits of electric vehicles is their improved safety and minimal risk of fire. This is not the case for hydrogen cars. Hydrogen is a highly flammable fuel and can ignite easier than petrol. 

Other issues:

To access, extract and store hydrogen requires mining (as hydrogen is often found in fossil fuels), building (to store hydrogen), and other challenges that contrast the positive environmental factors.

So with all of the above factors put into perspective, it is tricky to tell whether or not hydrogen cars will gain the popularity they need to become a common sight on the road. With the large investment being put into electric cars, it is unlikely that hydrogen cars will replace Ev’s, but they might be able to work side by side when petrol and diesel cars are banned in 2040.

Would you consider buying (or leasing) a hydrogen car if/when they are more accessible?