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Transportation hydrogen vs electric cars  a beginner s guide | Upload Battery

Hydrogen VS Electric Cars: A Beginner’s Guide

by: Sharai Hoekema
hydrogen vs electric cars  a beginner s guide | Upload

Just like so many concepts in sustainability, the terms ‘hydrogen’ and ‘electric’ in cars are often confused as being one and the same. Perhaps the similarity of ‘hybrid’ and ‘hydrogen’ does it, I honestly do not know. What I do know is this: they are definitely and decisively not the same. 

Hydrogen As Chemical Reaction

Let’s start with a quick look at hydrogen cars. These run on fuel cells that store hydrogen and oxygen. As these two ‘meet’, chemical reactions occur that result in the creation of water and energy. This chemical reaction is what powers the car. And the only by-product is water, let out through the exhaust pipes. While they need fuel, you might be happy to learn that this is hydrogen, a clean, renewable resource. No drop of petrol or diesel fuel is needed here. The range is not too bad either: on a single tank of hydrogen, the car can run some 320 to 400 kilometers.

Recommended: Green Hydrogen Power: The Enormous Potential Worldwide

Electric Drives On Batteries

Then, we move on to electric cars. These run on batteries, not fuel cells. Most of the ‘green’ cars driving down our highways are of this type: the Nissan Leaf, Teslas, or the BMW i3, just to name a few popular ones. Anyhow, these cars are equipped with a powerful battery that holds a charge in a way that closely resembles the way our smartphones store their power. Basically, you charge it and all activities from there on out will use some of the battery.

2 cars, BMW i3, hills, road
BMW i3

A small side-note, this comparison does not always hold true. There are some electric cars that are capable of (slightly) re-charging while driving, for instance, while braking, when the produced heat is converted back into electricity. Either way, these cars will eventually need to be charged as well, doing so at a mains electricity points. This needs to be done after anywhere between 160 and 500 kilometers - the range varies pretty heavily per car. 

Recommended: Electric Cars Are Low On CO2: Gas Is The Best. Forget SUVs

Instant Fuelling Vs Slow Charging

While the hydrogen-fuel stations are pretty much like the petrol stations today, fuel up and instant go, electric-fuel stations are not as accommodating. Getting the car fully charged can take up to 12 hours. No problem if you are at home for the night, but rather inconvenient if you are on a road trip and eager to make long stretches. There are some so-called rapid charge stations, however, these still require some 30 minutes to add 160 kilometers to your electric car’s range.

graph hydrogen, petrol, electric fuel

So, hydrogen cars would in this aspect effectively be a better substitute for petrol or diesel-powered cars, as they provide the convenience of instant fuel-up. Then why are there not more of them? Why are people continuously moving to electric cars instead? One of the main issues is that the development has quite literally taken a backseat to the gigantic success of electric cars.

The audience at large is not aware of the benefits offered by hydrogen: lighter cars that will not let you experience any real ‘down-time’. It definitely sounds like the better option for public transport and transportation businesses, to name a few. 

Deciding Factors Deciding Purchase

Purchase decisions are not made on the benefit of instant fuelling alone, though. There are more things to consider when comparing the two types. Like range, performance, convenience (availability) of refueling stations, and - probably most important - price.


                                            Hydrogen Fuel Cell vs. Battery Electric Cars – Which is Better?

Electric vehicles would arguably win 3 of those 4 criteria. Although the range is slightly better for hydrogen cars; the performance, availability of refueling stations and price will definitely have to go the electric car’s way. In particular the convenience of refueling, so the availability of hydrogen fuel stations is a problem. Hydrogen fuel stations are few and far between, while the costs of building more are pretty exorbitant. Compare this to the electric car’s quite literal ‘plug into the electricity net’ approach, and you can see why many people prefer those.

Recommended: Electric Cars: Truly Green Or A New Kind Of Liability?

Hydrogen Still Using Fossil Fuels

The ‘dream’ as provided by electric cars is real. You do not have to provide any sort of fuel, just plug it in. At your home, at your office, anywhere you like. This has drawn many people to the technology. Then, looking at the climate impact, there are more emissions associated with hydrogen cars as well. Hydrogen is largely generated using fossil fuels. So, we are not really solving the issue for good here.

If all of those downsides to hydrogen aren’t enough, the price point is sure to chase the last of those interested away. The cars themselves are pretty pricey, while refueling is equally detrimental to your bank account. The cost may fall as the technology becomes more wide-spread, but with several tens of thousands of hydrogen cars out there, it is not likely to happen anytime soon. Not like it has happened for electric cars, at least, that are driving around by the millions.

Recommended: Buzz-Greening The World’s Fleets: Hydrogen

Taking Bets On The Future

This is not to say that we should not continue to invest in this technology, though. Some companies, like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai are certainly trying. Perhaps they can foster a breakthrough, although the odds seem to be against them at this time. Electric vehicles appear more sustainable, responsible, scalable, and ecological. As technology progresses, charging time is sure to go down over the next decades, effectively eliminating its only weakness. Hydrogen cars, on the other hand, still have a rather long and complicated way to go.

For now, my money is on electric cars.  

Before you go!

Recommended: Tesla Model S Converted: Meet The Hydrogen Hesla

Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
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Roland - TODAY
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Hydrogen Still Using Fossil Fuels as does Batteries...considering that batteries do not grow on trees, it takes fossil fuels to manufacture the battery, charge the battery and dispose the battery. Electricity to charge the battery is generated by fossil fuel. The only downside of hydrogen is refueling station network.
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Hydrogen VS Electric Cars: A Beginner’s Guide

Just like so many concepts in sustainability, the terms ‘hydrogen’ and ‘electric’ in cars are often confused as being one and the same. Perhaps the similarity of ‘hybrid’ and ‘hydrogen’ does it, I honestly do not know. What I do know is this: they are definitely and decisively not the same.   Hydrogen As Chemical Reaction Let’s start with a quick look at hydrogen cars. These run on fuel cells that store hydrogen and oxygen. As these two ‘meet’, chemical reactions occur that result in the creation of water and energy. This chemical reaction is what powers the car. And the only by-product is water, let out through the exhaust pipes. While they need fuel, you might be happy to learn that this is hydrogen, a clean, renewable resource. No drop of petrol or diesel fuel is needed here. The range is not too bad either: on a single tank of hydrogen, the car can run some 320 to 400 kilometers. Recommended:  Green Hydrogen Power: The Enormous Potential Worldwide Electric Drives On Batteries Then, we move on to electric cars. These run on batteries, not fuel cells. Most of the ‘green’ cars driving down our highways are of this type: the Nissan Leaf, Teslas, or the BMW i3, just to name a few popular ones. Anyhow, these cars are equipped with a powerful battery that holds a charge in a way that closely resembles the way our smartphones store their power. Basically, you charge it and all activities from there on out will use some of the battery. BMW i3 A small side-note, this comparison does not always hold true. There are some electric cars that are capable of (slightly) re-charging while driving, for instance, while braking, when the produced heat is converted back into electricity. Either way, these cars will eventually need to be charged as well, doing so at a mains electricity points. This needs to be done after anywhere between 160 and 500 kilometers - the range varies pretty heavily per car.   Recommended:  Electric Cars Are Low On CO2: Gas Is The Best. Forget SUVs Instant Fuelling Vs Slow Charging While the hydrogen-fuel stations are pretty much like the petrol stations today, fuel up and instant go, electric-fuel stations are not as accommodating. Getting the car fully charged can take up to 12 hours. No problem if you are at home for the night, but rather inconvenient if you are on a road trip and eager to make long stretches. There are some so-called rapid charge stations, however, these still require some 30 minutes to add 160 kilometers to your electric car’s range. So, hydrogen cars would in this aspect effectively be a better substitute for petrol or diesel-powered cars, as they provide the convenience of instant fuel-up. Then why are there not more of them? Why are people continuously moving to electric cars instead? One of the main issues is that the development has quite literally taken a backseat to the gigantic success of electric cars. The audience at large is not aware of the benefits offered by hydrogen: lighter cars that will not let you experience any real ‘down-time’. It definitely sounds like the better option for public transport and transportation businesses, to name a few.   Deciding Factors Deciding Purchase Purchase decisions are not made on the benefit of instant fuelling alone, though. There are more things to consider when comparing the two types. Like range, performance, convenience (availability) of refueling stations, and - probably most important - price. {youtube}                                             Hydrogen Fuel Cell vs. Battery Electric Cars – Which is Better? Electric vehicles would arguably win 3 of those 4 criteria. Although the range is slightly better for hydrogen cars; the performance, availability of refueling stations and price will definitely have to go the electric car’s way. In particular the convenience of refueling, so the availability of hydrogen fuel stations is a problem. Hydrogen fuel stations are few and far between, while the costs of building more are pretty exorbitant. Compare this to the electric car’s quite literal ‘plug into the electricity net’ approach, and you can see why many people prefer those. Recommended:  Electric Cars: Truly Green Or A New Kind Of Liability? Hydrogen Still Using Fossil Fuels The ‘dream’ as provided by electric cars is real. You do not have to provide any sort of fuel, just plug it in. At your home, at your office, anywhere you like. This has drawn many people to the technology. Then, looking at the climate impact, there are more emissions associated with hydrogen cars as well. Hydrogen is largely generated using fossil fuels. So, we are not really solving the issue for good here. If all of those downsides to hydrogen aren’t enough, the price point is sure to chase the last of those interested away. The cars themselves are pretty pricey, while refueling is equally detrimental to your bank account. The cost may fall as the technology becomes more wide-spread, but with several tens of thousands of hydrogen cars out there, it is not likely to happen anytime soon. Not like it has happened for electric cars, at least, that are driving around by the millions. Recommended:  Buzz-Greening The World’s Fleets: Hydrogen Taking Bets On The Future This is not to say that we should not continue to invest in this technology, though. Some companies, like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai are certainly trying. Perhaps they can foster a breakthrough, although the odds seem to be against them at this time. Electric vehicles appear more sustainable, responsible, scalable, and ecological. As technology progresses, charging time is sure to go down over the next decades, effectively eliminating its only weakness. Hydrogen cars, on the other hand, still have a rather long and complicated way to go. For now, my money is on electric cars.   Before you go! Recommended:  Tesla Model S Converted: Meet The Hydrogen Hesla Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about electric car conversion kits? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage.'
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