Electric Vehicle : to mitigate climate change, it is very prudent that decarbonization efforts be carried out across the various economic sectors that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. One of such sectors is the transportation sector.
Source of featured image: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualized-battery-vs-hydrogen-fuel-cell/
In 2010, this sector contributed about 14% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Within the US, it contributed about 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, the largest share by sector.
For this reason, a lot of car manufacturers are shifting steadily from the production of vehicles that use internal combustion engines (ICE’s) to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
But what are Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)?
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
Battery electric vehicles are pure electric vehicles, so they are sometimes abbreviated as EV in addition to the more specific BEV. This type of vehicle uses a rechargeable battery as a power source to run an electric motor. They can be charged slowly by an outlet at your house, or rapidly using a charging station – according to https://www.lifewire.com/ev-phev-fcev-hybrid-compared-5201137
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)
Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are powered by hydrogen. They are more efficient than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles and produce no tailpipe emissions—they only emit water vapor and warm air. FCEVs and the hydrogen infrastructure to fuel them are in the early stages of implementation – according to https://afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/fuel_cell.html#:~:text=FCEVs%20use%20a%20propulsion%20system,produce%20no%20harmful%20tailpipe%20emissions.
FCEVs have drawn criticism from many, notably amongst them are Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk and Volkswagen’s CEO Herbert Diess.
“Green hydrogen is needed for steel, chemical, aero,… and should not end up in cars. Far too expensive, inefficient, slow and difficult to rollout and transport” – Hebert Diess.
But which technology is winning?
Challenges to Fuel Cell Adoption
Several challenges are standing in the way of widespread FCEV adoption.
One is in-car performance, though the difference is minor. In terms of maximum range, the best FCEV (Toyota Mirai) was EPA-rated for 402 miles, while the best BEV (Lucid Air) received 505 miles.
Two greater issues are 1) hydrogen’s efficiency problem, and 2) a very limited number of refueling stations. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are just 48 hydrogen stations across the entire country, with 47 located in California, and 1 located in Hawaii.
On the contrary, BEVs have 49,210 charging stations nationwide (United States), and can also be charged at home. This number is sure to grow, as the Biden administration has allocated $5 billion for states to expand their charging networks – according to https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualized-battery-vs-hydrogen-fuel-cell/
Can hydrogen fuel cells become the EV technology of choice?
Several studies, including one by Argonne National Laboratory, have demonstrated that creating and using hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles is more environmentally friendly than using grid electricity to power battery electric vehicles (EVs). Hydrogen could be created using wind and solar energy, or by decomposing plant materials; however, these processes take longer and cost more money.
“Nothing worth having comes easy,” as President Theodore Roosevelt once said. The commercialization of FCEVs on the market is moving at a moderate pace at the moment.
So, who will win the electric vehicle (EV) battle? The answer: Battery and fuel cell technologies will coexist in the future because of their obvious similarities, with BEVs being more appropriate for short-range and small vehicles, and FCEVs the better choice for medium-to-large and long-range vehicles – according to https://www.greenbiz.com/article/battle-over-electric-vehicles-could-hydrogen-win
Some Pros and Cons of Both?
So, which of the two would you opt for and why? Let’s get talking!