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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle and Transport

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle and Transport

Japan is said to be the country that utilizes hydrogen the most in the world.

A hydrogen vehicle is a type of alternative fuel vehicle that uses hydrogen fuel for motive power.

Power is generated by converting the chemical energy of hydrogen to mechanical energy, either by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to power electric motors or, less commonly, by burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine. Fujikin valves can be widely found in Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV)

FCVs are equipped with a three-layer structured high-pressure hydrogen tank, it had been proven that no leakage despite repeated various collision and fire tests.

Bullet penetration tests were also conducted with a hydrogen tank. The tank did not explode after bullets penetrated the tank filled with hydrogen.

What are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cells?

Safety of Hydrogen
Advantages Disadvantages
  1. Renewable and Readily Available
    • Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe and despite the challenges associated with its extraction from water, it is a uniquely abundant and renewable source of energy, perfect for our future zero-carbon needs for combined heat and power supplies.
  2. Hydrogen is a Clean and Flexible Energy Source to support Zero-Carbon Energy Strategies
    • Hydrogen fuel cells provide an inherently clean source of energy, with no adverse environmental impact during operation as the by-products are simply heat and water. Unlike biofuel or hydropower, hydrogen does not require large areas of land to produce. In fact, NASA have even been working on using hydrogen as a resource with the water produced as a by-product being used as drinking water for astronauts. This shows that hydrogen fuel cells are a non-toxic fuel source and therefore superior in this way to coal, natural gas and nuclear power which are all either potentially dangerous or hard to obtain. Production, storage and use of hydrogen will play an important role in driving further development of renewable energy, by balancing their intermittent supply modalities with the challenging end-user demands, avoiding the need for significant early investment to upgrade grid infrastructure.
  3. More Powerful and Energy Efficient than Fossil Fuels
    • Hydrogen fuel cell technology provides a high-density source of energy with good energy efficiency. Hydrogen has the highest energy content of any common fuel by weight. High pressure gaseous and liquid hydrogen have around three times the gravimetric energy density (around 120MJ/kg) of diesel and LNG and a similar volumetric energy density to natural gas.
  4. Highly Efficient when Compared to Other Energy Sources
    • Hydrogen fuel cells are more efficient than many other energy sources, including many green energy solutions. This fuel efficiency allows for the production of more energy per pound of fuel. For example, a conventional combustion-based power plant generates electricity at 33-35% efficiency compared to up to 65% for hydrogen fuel cells. The same goes for vehicles, where hydrogen fuel cells use 40-60% of the fuel’s energy while also offering a 50% reduction in fuel consumption.
  5. Almost Zero Emissions
    • Hydrogen fuel cells do not generate greenhouse gas emissions as for fossil fuel sources, thus reducing pollution and improving air quality as a result.
  6. Reduces Carbon Footprints
    • With almost no emissions, hydrogen fuel cells do not release greenhouse gases, which means they do not have a carbon footprint while in use.
  7. Fast Charging Times
    • The charge time for hydrogen fuel cell power units is extremely rapid, similar to that for conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and markedly quicker in comparison to battery-powered electric vehicles. Where electric vehicles require between 30 minutes and several hours to charge, hydrogen fuel cells can be recharged in under five minutes. This fast-charging time means that hydrogen powered vehicles provide the same flexibility as conventional cars.
  8. No Noise Pollution
    • Hydrogen fuel cells do not produce noise pollution like other sources of renewable energy, such as wind power. This also means that, much like electric cars, hydrogen powered vehicles are much quieter than those that use conventional internal combustion engines.
  9. No Visual Pollution
    • Some low-carbon energy sources, including wind energy and biofuel power plants can be an eyesore, however, hydrogen fuel cells do not have the same space requirements, meaning that there is less visual pollution too.
  10. Long Usage Times
    • Hydrogen fuel cells offer greater efficiencies with regard to usage times. A hydrogen vehicle has the same range as those that use fossil fuels (around 300 miles). This is superior to that currently offered by electric vehicles (EVs), which are increasingly being developed with fuel cell power units as ‘range-extenders’. Hydrogen fuel cells are also not significantly impacted by the outside temperature and do not deteriorate in cold weather, unlike EVs. This advantage is increased further when coupled with the short charging times.
  11. Ideal for Use in Remote Areas
    • Where local conditions allow, the availability of hydrogen through local generation and storage could prove to be an alternative to diesel-based power and heating in remote areas. Not only will this reduce the need to transport fuels but will also improve the lives of those living in distant regions by offering a non-polluting fuel obtain from a readily-available natural resource.
  12. Versatility of Use
    • As the technology advances, hydrogen fuel cells will be able to provide energy for a range stationary and mobile applications. Hydrogen powered vehicles are just one example, but it could also be used in smaller applications such as domestic products as well as larger scale heating systems. Similar to ICE powerplants, the functions of energy storage capacity (i.e., the fuel tank) and engine size are decoupled, in contrast to battery-based power (i.e., for which power scales linearly with mass), thus providing great flexibility in design.
  13. Democratisation of Power Supply
    • Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to reduce the dependency of a nation on fossil fuels, which will help democratise energy and power supplies around the world. This increased independence will prove a benefit for many countries who are currently reliant on fossil fuel supply. Of course, this will also avoid the problem of rising fossil fuel prices as stocks reduce.
  1. Hydrogen Extraction
    • Despite being the most abundant element in the Universe, hydrogen does not exist on its own so needs to be extracted from water via electrolysis or separated from carbon fossil fuels. Both of these processes require a significant amount of energy to achieve. This energy can be more than that gained from the hydrogen itself as well as being expensive. In addition, this extraction typically requires the use of fossil fuels, which in the absence of CCS undermines the green credentials of hydrogen.
  2. Investment is Required
    • Hydrogen fuel cells need investment to be developed to the point where they become a genuinely viable energy source. This will also require the political will to invest the time and money into development in order to improve and mature the technology. Put simply, the global challenge for development of widespread and sustainable hydrogen energy is how best to incrementally build the 'supply and demand' chain in the most cost-effective manner.
  3. Cost of Raw Materials
    • Precious metals such as platinum and iridium are typically required as catalysts in fuel cells and some types of water electrolyser, which means that the initial cost of fuel cells (and electrolysers) can be high. This high cost has deterred some from investing in hydrogen fuel cell technology. Such costs need to be reduced in order to make hydrogen fuel cells a feasible fuel source for all.
  4. Regulatory Issues
    • There are also barriers around regulatory issues concerning the framework that defines commercial deployment models. Without clear regulatory frameworks to allow commercial projects to understand their cost and revenue basis, commercial projects can struggle to reach a financial investment decision (FID).
  5. Overall Cost
    • The cost for a unit of power from hydrogen fuel cells is currently greater than other energy sources, including solar panels. This may change as technology advances, but currently this cost is a barrier to widespread use of hydrogen even though it is more efficient once produced. This expense also impacts costs further down the line, such as with the price of hydrogen operated vehicles, making widespread adoption unlikely at the moment.
  6. Hydrogen Storage
    • Storage and transportation of hydrogen is more complex than that required for fossil fuels. This implies additional costs to consider for hydrogen fuel cells as a source of energy.
  7. Infrastructure
    • Because fossil fuels have been used for decades, the infrastructure for this power supply already exists. Large scale adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology for automotive applications will require new refuelling infrastructure to support it, although for long-range applications such as those for HGVs and delivery truck is it likely the start-to-end refuelling will be used.
  8. Highly Flammable
    • Hydrogen is a highly flammable fuel source, which brings understandable safety concerns. Hydrogen gas burns in air at concentrations ranging from 4 to 75%.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle and Transport

For transportation, the overarching technical challenge for hydrogen storage is how to store the amount of hydrogen required for a conventional driving range (>300 miles) within the vehicular constraints of weight, volume, efficiency, safety, and cost. Durability over the performance lifetime of these systems must also be verified and validated, and acceptable refuelling times must be achieved. Requirements for off-board bulk storage are generally less restrictive than on-board requirements; for example, there may be no or less restrictive weight requirements, but there may be volume or "footprint" requirements. The key challenges include:

Weight and Volume. The weight and volume of hydrogen storage systems are presently too high, resulting in inadequate vehicle range compared to conventional petroleum fuelled vehicles. Materials and components are needed that allow compact, lightweight, hydrogen storage systems while enabling mile range greater than 300 miles in all light-duty vehicle platforms.

Efficiency. Energy efficiency is a challenge for all hydrogen storage approaches. The energy required to get hydrogen in and out is an issue for reversible solid-state materials. Life-cycle energy efficiency is a challenge for chemical hydride storage in which the by-product is regenerated off-board. In addition, the energy associated with compression and liquefaction must be considered for compressed and liquid hydrogen technologies.

Durability. The durability of hydrogen storage systems is inadequate. Materials and components are needed that allow hydrogen storage systems with a lifetime of 1500 cycles.

Refuelling Time. Refuelling times are too long. There is a need to develop hydrogen storage systems with refuelling times of less than three minutes over the lifetime of the system.

Cost. The cost of on-board hydrogen storage systems is too high, particularly in comparison with conventional storage systems for petroleum fuels. Low-cost materials and components for hydrogen storage systems are needed, as well as low-cost, high-volume manufacturing methods.

Codes and Standards. Applicable codes and standards for hydrogen storage systems and interface technologies, which will facilitate implementation/commercialization and ensure safety and public acceptance, have not been established. Standardized hardware and operating procedures, and applicable codes and standards, are required.

Life-Cycle and Efficiency Analyses.There is a lack of analyses of the full life-cycle cost and efficiency of hydrogen storage systems.

In the supply chain, unused energy and natural energy from overseas had been imported to Japan to produce hydrogen.

These gases are shipped by liquefaction by cooling down to -253°C, changing from gas to liquid.

By liquefaction, its volume can decrease to 1/800, making it possible to ship in large quantities.

Fujikin low-temperature valve can be applied to tankers transporting liquefied hydrogen.

If you'd like to find out more and are looking for experienced professionals in the design and manufacturing industry, you may contact Fujikin Singapore at enquiry@fujikin.com.sg or at +65 6848 5760.

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