Car drive: hydrogen and fuel cells as alternatives?

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However, many motorists in this country rely on hydrogen and fuel cells as the drive technology of the future – even more than on electromobility. This was proven again by a study published by at the end of February 2022. Of 2064 people interviewed, including 1755 with driver’s license, almost a third (32 percent) spoke out in favor of hydrogen propulsion. Not even half in comparison (14.8 percent) favored electric.
In a Civey survey for the magazine “Spiegel”, which drive should be promoted urgently, the ratio was even clearer at 39 to 14 percent. The advantage of the fuel cell: The handling would be similar to that of the combustion engine, only that is fuel cleaner.

Hydrogen a third more expensive

However, all hydrogen fans had to cope with a setback on June 7, 2022. H2 Mobility, the leading hydrogen filling station operator in Germany, increased the price for one kilogram of hydrogen by around a third from 9.50 euros to 12.85 euros. The reason is the general energy price trend, which does not stop at hydrogen (derived from methane).

Fuel cell drives electric motor

In the case of fuel cell technology, it is not about the internal combustion engine powered directly by hydrogen, but about the conversion of hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy – in the end, electric motors are also powered by the fuel cell. The system works in plant CO2-neutral; In addition, such vehicles can be refueled with hydrogen in a much shorter time than battery electric e-cars need for recharging.
Fuel cell Toyota truck

Many manufacturers are researching the fuel cell as a drive technology, but many questions are still unanswered.

Study: Fuel cells are also inferior in trucks

But what is desirable often does not coincide with the findings of researchers. According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute, the use of fuel cell technology is inferior to the battery-electric drive type in the vast majority of applications and also regions in commercial vehicle traffic. This expressly includes heavy truck traffic, on which the greatest hopes for the introduction of fuel cells rested.

Energy balance speaks against hydrogen

In fact, according to the study, the poor energy balance of the hydrogen fuel cell works against the type of drive. Only a quarter of the output energy is used for the drive, three quarters are lost when converting electrical energy into hydrogen, during transport, storage and finally in the fuel cell itself.

In addition, green hydrogen, i.e. hydrogen produced in a climate-neutral manner from renewable energy, will still be in short supply in the long term. In addition, there is the challenging infrastructure for storing and transporting the fuel. Therefore, there are many reasons why the hydrogen car is not coming any time soon.
Toyota Mirai hydrogen connector
Many motorists are hoping for hydrogen as an environmentally friendly fuel alternative, but hope is fading.

That is why many experts see hydrogen as an unsuitable raw material for private cars, and now also for trucks. Use in agricultural machinery, ships or airplanes remains a promising area of ​​application, because hydrogen could exploit its high energy density here.

What are the pros and cons of hydrogen cars?

What is the situation in the transport sector? What are the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen and fuel cells? How does the drive technology work? Here are answers to the most important questions about hydrogen cars!

All information about the hydrogen drive for cars

What are the advantages of hydrogen?


the theoretical advantages of hydrogen in the transport sector are the possible ones great coveragethe quick refueling and (under certain circumstances) his environmental friendliness. Unlike diesel or petrol engines, vehicles with fuel cell technology do not emit any fine dust, nitrogen oxides or CO during operation2 water (vapor) is the only waste product. hydrogen is a good source of energythe calorific value of one kilogram is 33 kilowatt hours, three times as high as the energy content of a liter of diesel or petrol. In addition, hydrogen can long stored become, his resources are basically infinite.

What are the disadvantages of hydrogen propulsion?


Since hydrogen does not exist unbound, it must first be be obtained with energy expenditure. Therefore, it is expensive and problematic to manufacture and transport; it is only really environmentally friendly if it is produced with regenerative energy. Fuel cell hydrogen propulsion in transport is developing, but is far from ready. Hydrogen is only at very few gas stations are available accordingly hardly any models with fuel cells on the market. It’s a bit like the hen and the egg: the volume manufacturers hesitate because the infrastructure is missing – and vice versa.

How many hydrogen filling stations are there?


According to the information page H2live, there was just one in February 2022 in Germany 92 H2 filling stations. Nine others were in the planning, approval or execution phase. For comparison: the filling station network for petrol and diesel has around 14,000 stations. Nonetheless Germany thus at the hydrogen filling stations by far Leader in Europe.

How does hydrogen fuel cell technology work?


A fuel cell vehicle is a electric carwhere the electrical power not stored in big, heavy batteries, but generated while driving becomes. For that are a hydrogen tank and a fuel cell on board. In simple words, react the hydrogen (chemical symbol H) and atmospheric oxygen (O) as in reverse electrolysis with each other. arise Heat and especially energywith which the electric motor is operated, as well as water (H2O) as harmless waste product. This is also called “cold combustion”.

Why do you need a fuel cell?


The fuel cell in vehicles is usually one Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Unit (PEM), into which the hydrogen stored in gaseous form in high-pressure tanks is fed. A single one cell consists two areasthat through a separator are separated from each other. At the anode Put simply, the hydrogen is divided into ions and electrons on. The ions migrate through the separator to the side of the cathode, where they combine with the oxygen to form water. The electrons also want to get to the cathode on the other side, but cannot get through the separator. Therefore, they have to make a detour via the Power line to the electric motor take. Arrived on the other side, the circuit is closed.

How clean is hydrogen?


Hydrogen is considered by many to be a beacon of hope for one climate-neutral energy production. But it’s not that easy. Because he is always just as clean as its production. The types of extraction are divided by color. Currently used for global industrial use to 99 percent gray hydrogen produced. In this process, natural gas – mostly from gas or coal – is split under heat, hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2). It is also controversial blue hydrogenin which the evolved CO2 is captured and stored in geological deposits (Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS). Also turquoise hydrogenin which instead of CO2 Fixed carbon produced as a by-product has many disadvantages.

Only completely greenhouse gas free is greener hydrogen, in the production of which the electrolyser uses electricity from renewable energies (wind, water, sun). It is already clear that green hydrogen only made to a small extent in Germany and the rest from regions like Australia, Chile or North Africa imported must become. Here are reasons why the hydrogen car isn’t coming anytime soon.

How much hydrogen is consumed in Germany?


Germany currently consumes around 1.65 million tons of hydrogen per year, but predominantly in the chemical and steel industries or as a coolant. The need will build up to for the year 2045 targeted climate neutrality still increase.

What does hydrogen cost?


hydrogen is untaxed, a kilo costs about 9.50 euros. This means that the price is roughly comparable to that of petrol and diesel, because one kilo is enough for approx. 100 kilometers. In view of the price development for fossil fuels, the ratio could shift in favor of hydrogen.

Which hydrogen-powered car models are there?


pioneer in hydrogen technology Toyota – the Japanese manufacturer has the last series Mirai relaunched. The tank of the five-door luxury sedan has a volume of 5.6 kilograms, which should be enough for 650 kilometers at a time. The basic Mirai costs 63,900 euros. Besides, there is the Hyundai Nexo (for the everyday test), successor to the iX35. Hyundai officially promises a range of up to 756 kilometers and a refueling time of five minutes. The base price is a stately 79,200 euros – no wonder that interest is limited. In 2020, a whopping 1000 copies were sold across Europe. BMW has announced a small-series hydrogen X5 for 2022. The also produced in small numbers Mercedes GLC F Cell has since disappeared from the market.
Tests in the truck area Daimler currently its Mercedes GenH2 truck, which will be presented in 2020. Goal: 1000 kilometers in one go. It should be delivered to customers by 2027 at the latest. MAN is also building a prototype with a range of 800 kilometers. Hydrogen combustion engines are also tested by the VW subsidiary.

Are hydrogen cars dangerous?


That is a myth. Although hydrogen is combined with oxygen at an H2-Proportion of 4 to 75 percent ignitable. Explosive However, the mixture is only from one Share of 18 percent as oxyhydrogen. And since hydrogen is 14 times lighter than air, evaporated he extreme quickly. Therefore, a vehicle with a hydrogen tank and fuel cell by no means explosive than one with a liquid tank.

What is a hydrogen engine?


in one hydrogen engine becomes H2 not converted into energy by fuel cells, but directly used as fuel. BMW built the first hydrogen four-cylinder as early as 1979, but discontinued development in 2012 with the Hydrogen 7 (E68).

In August 2021, the engine manufacturer Deutz presented a hydrogen six-cylinder for the so-called off-highway area, which it says is very quietly and low emission is and with 200 kW power attends. However, it should initially be used in generators and in rail transport; later use in commercial vehicles, agricultural and construction machinery is planned.

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