Convincing prospective customers of the many advantages of going to electric or fuel cell for their next vehicle purchase has never been easier. With all the different variants available on the market these days, from completely battery-powered, electric, to fuel cell, there’s something to suit practically everyone. Fuel cells as a power source for EVs (electric vehicles are a vital part of the alternate fuel coterie but have in recent years been relegated to the sidelines, due to the emergence and dominance of the lithium-ion battery. This quite unfortunate, as fuel cell vehicles have the potential to solve a whole host of shortcomings inherent in the current state of battery EV technology.
The Fuel Cell Vehicle Advantage
The main differences between a fuel cell vehicle and a conventional battery aren’t that vast and mostly relate to how the electricity is generated on board. The largest similarity is that currently, they both have to rely on coal or natural gas burning power plants for their source of recharging energy. There are, however, many distinct advantages of fuel cells over conventional battery power, several of which are as follows:
1. Battery electric cars have struggled with the problem of range since their inception more than 100 years ago, and still, do today. Fuel cell vehicles have no range issues, and can typically go for hundreds of miles before refueling – just like their gas/diesel counterparts. This feature is a perfect fit for large vehicles like trucks and vans with long-distance mileage requirements.
2. There is no long wait time for recharging batteries. The refueling process is very similar to regular cars and trucks, and just as quick; usually under 10 minutes. Once underway, the only emissions fuel cells produce are plain water and heat.
3. Compared to rivals like battery-electric and plug-in hybrids that must rely on charging stations that are not widespread across the country, the pressurized hydrogen that is currently used to power fuel cells is more immediately adaptable to the existing fossil fuel infrastructure. Eventually, this technology is bound to adopt the use of much safer metal hydride onboard storage tanks with carbon nanotube interior structures (https://eic.rsc.org). This type of tank is very compact, and would virtually eliminate the potential hazard that is present in pressurized hydrogen gas.
4. One of the more intriguing fuel cell electric car concepts recently proposed is to augment the existing gas station network with small, onsite hydrogen gas generator plants at every facility. The natural gas pipelines in practically every city and town could supply a readily available, cheap source of conversion fuel for these filling stations, with no need to truck or pipe the resulting gas produced over long distances.
Alternates Will Fuel The Future
Future developments of fuel cell vehicles look just as bright as battery EVs. Once fuel cell research is adequately funded, there will no doubt be a friendly rivalry between these two alternate fuel approaches for years to come, which will significantly benefit and reward the potential customer with a unique choice of technologies to fit their circumstances. If you, as a citizen or business owner, are ready to tap the abundant clean power that fuel cells represent, please don’t hesitate to contact the Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition for more information!