Use of hydrogen in the automotive industry

Use of hydrogen in the automotive industry

Alternative Energy Sources


In this edition of our Greenbuddies Tips, we would like to follow up on the topic of using hydrogen as an alternative energy source with the topic of the potential use of hydrogen in the automotive industry. Although it is technologically possible for a car to burn hydrogen in the same way that models run on liquefied propane-butane (LPG) or liquefied or compressed natural gas (LNG, CNG) do, none of the mass-produced prototypes have achieved this.

There is no pure hydrogen car on the market today. Today's hydrogen cars are hybrids. They have fuel cells that produce electricity by combining hydrogen from a tank with oxygen in the air (the waste product is only water vapour), which is partially consumed to power the vehicle during light load periods and the rest is stored in a built-in battery; when more power is required (starting, overtaking), the missing energy is supplied by the battery. It is not worth installing more powerful fuel cells to cover even peak consumption due to their size and weight.

In passenger transport, hydrogen propulsion has not yet made much inroads, with German physicist Patrick Plötz of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems Research and Innovation even telling Nature Electronics magazine that hydrogen is too late for any road transport. The West's drive to rapidly achieve climate-neutral transport is leading to a preference for existing technologies that promise to achieve this goal within a few decades. In passenger transport, it no longer expects hydrogen technology to catch up with the lead held by electric cars if the Paris Agreement commitments are to be met. If hydrogen trucks are not in series production within a few years, he is also sceptical about freight transport.

Drawn cartoon hydrogen car

However, the situation is different in other sectors, aviation, industry or shipping. Japan's largest railway company, East Japan Railway, is testing its first hydrogen train, which is expected to head into commercial operation in 2030. Development is being carried out in collaboration with Toyota, which is to supply the fuel cells, and Hitachi, which will supply the propulsion system. Hydrogen trains are already running in Germany. In Lower Saxony, they have replaced fifteen diesel trains. Alstrom's Coradia iLint hydrogen trains have a range of 1,000 km and are capable of a top speed of 140 km/h.

September's UK DroneX trade fair outlined further possibilities. Israeli firm Gadfin unveiled a delivery drone using hydrogen fuel cells. With the higher energy density of hydrogen versus lithium-based batteries, it allows a range of up to 250 kilometres, and is expected to find use in linking hospitals in the Cambridge area and transporting vital medical supplies faster than cars, especially at peak times.

A kilogram of hydrogen contains approximately 66 kWh of energy, while lithium polymer batteries have a maximum energy density of 0.14 kWh/kg. ISS Aerospace, an English company that uses drones loaded with various sensors to collect cartographic and other data, reports that when using hydrogen cells, the drone can stay in the air two and three times longer and thus cover a larger area.

Zdroj: Video: Drony na vodík z výstavy novinek jsou lehčí, obratnější a doletí dále – Seznam Zprávy (
Dává vodíkový pohon smysl? Nebo je budoucností elektromobilita? |
Vodíkový pohon prohrál. Do aut ani náklaďáků se už neprosadí, tvrdí expert – Seznam Zprávy (
V Japonsku chtějí vyrábět vodík z použitého plastu (



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