Despite the recent craze in electric vehicles (EVs), an alternative, but less popular, zero emission vehicle has been overshadowed. Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) are an alternative that are quite viable, yet mostly ignored.
The Hindenburg disaster has probably left a bad taste in people’s mouths with regard to hydrogen powered vehicles. However, this disaster (in which a zeppelin filled with hydrogen caught on fire) happened back in 1937, and the fire hazards associated with modern hydrogen vehicles are not so much greater than modern gasoline powered vehicles, since gasoline is also a very volatile substance. For example, in times as recent as the 1970s, Ford Pintos were exploding from a rear-impact accident due to the placement of its gas tank. In this sense, modern technology has come quite far since 1937, and we can reasonably assume that modern hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can also avoid similarly disastrous outcomes due to advancements in technology.
Although hydrogen is quite abundant, it requires an energy intensive process to be separated and converted to usable fuel. FCVs utilize H2 and combines with oxygen in the air to create electricity, with only water and heat as byproducts of the process. Furthermore, it does not require a battery.
Furthermore, FCVs are very similar to internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). According to the EPA: “Fueling a hydrogen FCV is similar to refilling your gas tank. Simply attach a nozzle from a designated hydrogen dispenser at a public station and fill up the tank. The refueling times are also similar: FCVs can be refueled in as little as 5 minutes.
Some FCVs can get over 300 miles on one tank of hydrogen fuel — greater than the distance from St. Louis to Chicago — and fuel economy close to 70 MPGe (miles per gasoline gallon equivalent).”
FCVs could prove to be a viable alternative to ICEVs that should be explored further. However, due to the complexities of regulation, legislation, and profitability, FCVs could be left behind due to a lack of funding.
Technology has made great progress since the Hindenburg disaster, and we should consider both EVs and FCVs as more sustainable alternatives to ICEVs.
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