The Difference Between Hydrogen Cars and Battery Electric Cars

In the world of electric vehicles, there are two main types: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. While both are environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional gasoline-powered cars, they operate on different principles.

A BEV relies on electricity stored in a battery, which is recharged by plugging into the electricity grid. On the other hand, a hydrogen car produces its own electricity through a chemical reaction in its fuel-cell stack, using hydrogen as its fuel source. This electricity then powers the car’s electric motor.

One of the key advantages of hydrogen cars is that they produce no emissions from the tailpipe. However, the production of hydrogen itself can have environmental implications, depending on the energy source used. It is important to ensure that the process of producing hydrogen is done in an environmentally sustainable way.

In Ireland, there are currently no hydrogen cars available for sale due to the lack of refueling infrastructure. While filling up with hydrogen takes only four minutes, the challenge lies in finding a refueling station. This is known as the “chicken-and-egg” problem, where the demand for hydrogen cars is hindered by the absence of refueling stations, and vice versa.

While Toyota and Hyundai have heavily invested in hydrogen technology, other car manufacturers have been more focused on battery electric vehicles. However, BMW has recently renewed its interest in hydrogen cars and sees a potential role for them alongside BEVs.

Fuel cells used in hydrogen cars have the advantage of requiring fewer critical raw materials compared to the batteries used in BEVs. This can help reduce dependency on these materials. However, challenges related to the lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, transportation of the fuel, and the higher energy requirements for hydrogen vehicles make battery electric vehicles the more feasible option for the foreseeable future.

In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for decarbonizing transportation. While hydrogen has a role to play in heavy industry, the jury is still out on whether it is the best option for passenger cars. The development of a hydrogen refueling infrastructure and addressing the challenges associated with hydrogen transportation will be crucial in determining its future in the automotive industry.

– Geraldine Herbert