Imagine a world with lush green vegetation, plenty of forests, a world free of sound, light, and air pollution. That would be the ideal world for us and our future generations to live in. A world we should thrive towards to build. The first step to a pollution-free world is to reduce pollution. The automobile industry has for long been the main source of air pollution but lately, automakers have started looking for alternative ways to reduce pollution. Hydrogen and electric powered cars are two of the results produced because of this.
To put it simply, a car that uses hydrogen as its fuel source to generate motive energy is called a Hydrogen car. These Vehicles convert the chemical energy into mechanical energy thus powering the car and running it. Many companies have worked on and are working on making hydrogen cars. As of the year 2019, Only three models are publicly available which can be called hydrogen cars namely Toyota Mirai, Hyundai NEXO, and Honda Clarity.
Hydrogen is a clean energy fuel. When Hydrogen is consumed in a fuel cell it only produces water making it the most eco-friendly fuel. The process of acquiring hydrogen is also easy as it can be acquired through domestic resources like natural gases, biomass, and even through renewable sources like wind and solar energy fuel and it is also carbon-neutral, making it an ideal fuel for modern automobiles. Hydrogen fuel can be generated through various processes like the Thermal process, Electrolytic process, Solar driven process, and biological processes. Usually, a normal life span of a hydrogen fuel cell would be expected to be around 7,300 hours under cycling conditions. The hydrogen fuel cells also do well under freezing conditions. There are also cars that use Hydrogen Internal Combustion engines which are slightly modified versions of the hydrogen fuel cell cars. These hydrogen Internal Combustion engines burn fuel the same way as gasoline engines do except the main end product which is released through hydrogen internal combustion is water vapour.
A good car has good efficiency. A Hydrogen car has an efficiency of only about 60% which means there is a loss of 40% of the energy of the total energy consumed, which is a lot of wasted energy. The carbon footprint of Hydrogen fuel is only eco-friendly when the fuel is derived through renewable sources and not through non-renewable sources.
A Hydrogen fuel cell is relatively expensive to produce. Rare substances like platinum are required in the production of a hydrogen fuel cell thus making it expensive to produce especially on a large scale. Tho research is being made to find a cheaper catalyst it is yet to yield any significant results.
Extracting hydrogen is no easy task as it needs to be extracted from various sources through various processes as hydrogen doesn’t naturally exist in an independent state. The storage and transportation of hydrogen is a complex process when compared to other alternative sources.
If hydrogen fuel cells do come into use on a large scale then a proper supply and production chain needs to be produced to sustain this form of fuel usage.
Hydrogen like fossil fuels is highly flammable and should be handled with caution during its various stages.
NEXO, a car developed by the South Korean automaker Hyundai which runs on hydrogen as its main source of fuel. It was first displayed at auto expo 2020 and is expected to launch in the October of 2021. If released according to plans it will be the first hydrogen fuel cell-powered car launched in the Indian market. The main source of the power of the Hyundai NEXO is a fuel stack where chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen take place and generate electricity which is used to power NEXO’s electric motor.
The NEXO has three tanks which give a combined capacity of 156.6 litres which in theory translates to 666km in range. The impressive edge that NEXO has over other vehicles is that it can be refilled within 5 minutes. Hyundai also has made claims that its fuel cell does not deteriorate in cold weather conditions and is able to function at extreme temperatures even at -30C.
According to information provided by Hyundai, the NEXO has a Horsepower of 161 and a 395Nm of peak torque. Hyundai also claims that Nexon can go from 0-100km/hour in an impressive time of 9.2 seconds. It is expected to be priced at around INR 65 lakhs.
The NEXON is loaded with various features like autonomous driving tech, Lane following assist, highway driving assist, remote parking, etc.
The main drawback that Hyundai faces is the fact that there is only a hydrogen filling pump in India and that is in Delhi NCR which restricts the sale of NEXON to other parts of the country due to the non-availability of hydrogen refilling stations.
Competition from Alternative sources:
The need to go green has lead to the search for various other greener and eco-friendly choices like Electric cars. Any car which is propelled by one or more electric motor is said to be an electric car. Electric cars have already made entry to the automobile market in numerous countries and on a large scale in some countries as well thus probably pavings their way as a replacement to the traditional fuel sources.
Electric cars are to simply put more efficient, quieter, have no exhaust emissions, and are also more well known to the general public thus giving them an advantage over hydrogen cars. Electric cars are also faster than hydrogen cars on average.
Hydrogen cars have a long road ahead in both development and large-scale manufacturing. A lot of research is in progress and needs to be done before they can be seen as a reliable alternative to electric cars or traditional cars. With more breakthroughs and research Hydrogen cars may one day start to take over the car market but as of now the way to a cleaner future in the automobile industry is through electric vehicles.
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