Monday, 16 october 2017 | Brenda Rodríguez López
The main automobile firms are "pulling their socks up" in the development of vehicles that respect the environment and reduce the CO2 emissions so they can achieve the long-awaited zero figure. In the fight for a non-contamination, sustainable and ecologic future, the great leading roles are the hybrid and electric cars, but, in the starting line of this race, there is another driver that, although less good-looking and distinguished, also competes in this game. Have you ever heard about hydrogen cars? How do they differ and what are their particularities? Is hydrogen a promising and efficient fuel?
When we think up the automobile future, in our collective imagination appear outlines of self-driven cars, vehicles that book us a table in our favorite restaurant while we are driving, that elevates a palm from the ground and remain suspended in mid air and that, of course, respect the environment and do not pollute. But when we think about the tomorrow's sport-utility vehicles, those who visualize them as hydrogen cars that emit water vapor through their exhaust pipe are very few. However, this chemical element also has a gap between the great bets of some automotive brands.
Hydrogen is one of the most abundant, simplest and oldest elements of the universe. One of its particularities that represents it is that, when oxidizing, it produces water. That is the reason why Antoine Lavoisier decided to name it that way; "hydro", water, and "genos", generator. Its potential is such that some have come to qualify it as the stars fuel. Both our Sun and the rest of the stars burn hydrogen. It is an essential agent in their life cycle and the stellar evolution. If stars are fed on hydrogen, will cars also do it in the future?
It is a new fuel?
The use of hydrogen in cars is not as groundbreaking as it might seem at first sight. Some vehicles already used this gas in the process of the internal combustion. An explosion engine can use hydrogen, and not gasoline, in the development of its operation. If this is unusual, it is due to an efficiency problem. Obtaining hydrogen requires a lot of energy and, in this type of processes, its consumption is also very high. In short, this is too much expense for a similar result compared to other systems – this procedure also generates emissions–.
When we talk about sustainable hydrogen cars, we do not refer to the vehicles that use hydrogen in their internal combustion process, but to fuel cell electric vehicles –FCEV–. The name sounds stilted and that is the reason why we chose to use its short version. These gas-fueled cars are also electric –a paradox, when their main rivals are pure electric cars–. They generate the electricity that passes to the batteries and to the engine from the mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. In this process, water vapor and nitrogen are released.