Although Electric and Hybrid vehicles are making a buzz all over the world for their better performance and mileage as compared to their regular combustion engine only counterparts, what about the fuel-cell vehicles? What are they and how do they work? Let’s find out today.
Honda FCV Clarity and Toyota Mirai are two well known Fuel-Cell cars as of now. Both Honda and Toyota have been working on these cars for over two decades now. And to be honest, it is quite a lot of time for any kind of car. Fuel-Cell cars store hydrogen inside the vehicle which then reacts with oxygen present in a cell. This process creates electricity which helps drive the electric motor for the wheels. The noticeable thing about such a car is that it actually has a by-product too. That by-product is water which isn’t anything near to something threatening like C02 from gasoline powered cars. This whole system consists of fuel cell stack, hydrogen, and air supply system and drives mechanism. Initially combining this whole setup was not easy and wasn’t small enough to fit inside the bonnet of a regular family car. However, now due to newer technology, this system is now the size of a V6 engine making it very easy to fit inside the cars of today. The lithium-ion batteries are present under the floor of Mirai, and FCV Clarity which are responsible for storing the generated electricity and the electric motors have a peak output of almost 177hp depending on the model.
Fuel Cells are a little noisier than electric vehicles but not by a huge margin. This noise usually due to the science experiments happening inside the car however since the car is being propelled with the help of electricity, so it doesn’t feel any different than a regular electric car. Massive torque at the start making fuel-cells cars very nippy and responsive but they do lose out their grunt at higher speeds. Though which is a common thing with such cars.
Why do we even need a fuel-cell vehicle?
To answer that question we first need to know the two very basic issues faced in fossil powered and electric cars. In fossil fuel powered cars, the by-products are usually threatening for the environment or the living organisms. Whereas electric car takes a lot of time to charge in fact a full day to be exact. On the other hand, Fast charging electric cars need a proper infrastructure and that is quite expensive making it tough to be globally available. This is where fuel-cell vehicles kick in. Filling takes on average 3 minutes and can go up to a range of 750km (Honda’s Claim) leaving nothing but water behind. So, in other words, it combines the best of both worlds.
while this all may sound very promising but currently fuel-cell vehicles are rather expensive to built and the separation of hydrogen from elements is also not an easy and cheap process by any means. Lack of Storage and distribution channels is another roadblock which is the reason why we haven’t seen or heard much on these fascinating engineerings.
It is safe to assume that once engineers make their way out of the hurdles fuel cell vehicles will do become quite common after 10-20 years and maybe we will have an excellent replacement to the cars of today. But as of now, we have to stick with petrol/diesel for most and hurt environment a little more till our scientists figure out cheaper ways to produce hydrogen.