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Hydrogen Batteries-Introduction, Replacement and Safety

Jan 21, 2021   Pageview:53

Hydrogen batteries are posing as the new future in the transportation industry. However, there are a couple of opposing factors in the use of hydrogen fuel cells when compared to batteries. A lot of investors are now targeting the use of hydrogen as a fuel.

What is a hydrogen battery?

Hydrogen batteries come in the form of nickel-hydrogen batteries (NiH2) and hydrogen fuel cells. A Nickel-hydrogen battery is a rechargeable battery whose power source is nickel and hydrogen. A hydrogen fuel cell is electromagnetic and uses hydrogen as its fuel source.

At 80% depth of discharge (DOD), NiH2 has a service life of up to 15 years or more as an electrolyte. It has a distinctive virtue of long life when compared to a lithium battery. This is because the cells can handle more than 20,000 battery recycles with an energy efficiency of 85%.

The future of hydrogen fuel cells is enormously bright as its technology is improving on a daily basis. It has such a great appeal since the only by-products needed are heat and water vapor. This makes the locomotive technology of hydrogen fuel cells emission-free.

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Will hydrogen fuel cells replace batteries?

There has been a controversy over the competition of electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells and battery-powered vehicles. However, in the long term, battery powered vehicles are on the verge of being kicked out of the market by hydrogen fuel cells. Experts of the fuel cells are positive that fuel cells will replace batteries. This is because of the environmentally friendly nature of transportation and the almost unlimited green energy capacity of hydrogen fuel cells.

According to data from Forbes, the future of batteries is brighter than that of hydrogen fuel cells. By 2032, there will be a higher production of battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) when compared to that of fuel cells electric vehicles (FCEV).

The extraction of cobalt, lithium, copper, and nickel that is used in battery production is known to cause environmental and worker rights problems. Apart from the recycling process causing carbon dioxide, heavy electric vehicles can emit rubber particles into the environment. This is a serious health hazard.

According to skeptics of hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen production causes carbon dioxide as much as the fuel cells save carbon dioxide. The renewable capacity of hydroelectricity, solar, and wind is not affordable. Their storage and distribution costs are said to be very high. Elon Musk, a strong skeptic of hydrogen fuel cells, terms the topic as being 'stupid cells, not fuel cells.'

Advantages

  • There are no harmful swings, only water.

  • It has a range of 300 miles when compared to conventional vehicles.

  • Better height at efficiency level. Powertrains of hydrogen fuel cells are more efficient at getting energy from hydrogen when compared to traditional cars getting energy from diesel or gasoline.

  • Faster refueling when compared to charging an electric vehicle. It takes up to 5 minutes, just like gasoline vehicles.

Disadvantages

  • Refueling stations being rare. This is because the storage and distribution of hydrogen is not a cheap technology.

  • The development of technology is not cheap.

  • The electricity is also supposed to be renewable for there to be a carbon dioxide gain.

The future of hydrogen batteries

There has been news of a breakthrough of 'bath sponge' technology, which is said to mitigate problems associated with hydrogen fuel cells. Bath sponge technology is onboard hydrogen storage. It can be able to hold and release an enormous hydrogen quantity at a lower pressure, which will end up incurring lesser costs.

According to BMW, hydrogen fuel cells come forth as an option after gasoline, diesel, and battery-electric. BMW had an original hydrogen plan that used the gas to burn and power the gasoline engines, which they abandoned. They have now embraced the fuel cell that produces onboard electricity to power an electric motor.

In a recent Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, there is a possibility of hydrogen power that would take a global subsidy fund of $150 billion taking place in over ten years. With the recent global pandemic of coronavirus, the project will have to be put on hold for another one or two years.

The European Union (EU) is foreseeing a hydrogen program that is aimed at heavy industry and aviation. Manufacturers in the EU are welcoming the idea of a carbon dioxide-free fuel.

Energy and Capital, the U.S investment researcher, reported that by 2050, there would be more than 400 million cars and SUVs, 5 million buses, and 20 million trucks powered by hydrogen worldwide. The general manager of Germany’s Wenger Engineering Gmbh, David Wenger, terms of fuel cells as being inevitable.

Many investors are turning to hydrogen fuel cells. Companies like Hyundai and Toyota are leading the way in embracing hydrogen by showing the world how the technology works. Professor Khalghatgi says that the use of hydrogen for transport is a niche development that exploits the excess renewable power that goes to waste.

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Are hydrogen batteries safe?

Everyone is talking about hydrogen fuel cells and the safety and hazards that come with them. The question is, are hydrogen fuel cells safe for the environment and the human race? Hydrogen is actually safer than other flammable fuels such as methane or gasoline. This is why;

?It is 14 times lighter than air and 57 times lighter than gasoline vapor. In any event of a leak, hydrogen will rapidly rise into the atmosphere since it is very light. In the event that there is a fire, it will burn very quickly instead of causing an explosion like gasoline.

?It is a non-pollutant. Hydrogen is a non-polluting way of storing nuclear and renewable energies. This is because its recombination with oxygen ends up producing pure water.

The dangers that are associated with hydrogen fuel cells can easily be mitigated. This includes the use of special flame detectors since flames from hydrogen is nearly invisible. A safe hydrogen system also needs adequate leak detection and proper ventilation elements in the design.

Final thoughts

Hydrogen fuel cells show a brighter future in the transportation industry. There are several advantages, and the disadvantages can easily be mitigated.

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