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Hydrogen Fuel Disadvantages

It is a well-known fact by now that fossil fuel sources are rapidly decreasing and are in danger of total depletion very soon, and this realization has given rise to the development of alternative fuels that can be used to avert an energy crisis.

hydrogen fuel disadvantages
Among the many alternatives to fossil fuel that have been introduced, hydrogen fuel has proven to be one of the most promising ones owing to its many distinct advantages over carbon-based fuel sources.

However, the use of hydrogen fuel as an energy source is not without its own drawbacks and disadvantages, the solutions to which have still yet to be discovered. This article takes a look at some of the most significant disadvantages of hydrogen as a fuel source.

One of the main drawbacks to producing hydrogen fuel is its cost. This factor isn't actually due to the scarcity of hydrogen, since it is the most abundant element in the universe. Instead, the cost associated with hydrogen fuel use has more to do with the expense involved in generating, handling and storing hydrogen fuel, which requires bulky and heavy tanks such as those used to store compressed natural gas or CNG.

An alternative storage device that has been proposed is the insulating bottles used to store cryogenic liquids such as liquefied natural gas, although these are almost just as costly in addition to being quite complex to build and maintain. Still other storage devices considered for hydrogen fuel are metal-hydride absorber or carbon absorber tanks, although these too are quite expensive to produce.

One of the reasons why hydrogen fuel requires such expensive and complicated storage devices is that hydrogen is extremely volatile, which is a disadvantage that it shares with virtually all types of fuel.

Although it is possible (and a lot simpler) to store natural gas and methanol aboard a vehicle and re-form it to produce hydrogen fuel on the fly, this has the distinct disadvantage of making the drivetrain itself more costly and complicated, not to mention less energy-efficient. The disadvantage of hydrogen fuel's volatility also comes to the fore when used in an internal combustion engine, since hydrogen is quite prone to pre-ignition. The Mazda with its Wankel rotary engine is one exception to the pre-ignition problem.

Although numerous car companies such as BMW, Mazda, and Ford have done extensive research and testing in the use of hydrogen fuel in internal combustion engine equipped vehicles, the efficient use of such devices still seems to be a ways off into the future.

Finally, another notable drawback to using hydrogen fuel is the difficulty and cost associated with generating, transporting, and storing hydrogen, particularly when fossil fuels are the source. At present, it is still a lot more efficient and cost-effective to produce electricity from fossil fuel sources, and to transport it to the vehicle's engine in addition, a system of wires.

Engines that produce hydrogen fuel on-the-fly (such as the one described previously) can greatly mitigate these costs and difficulties, although an hydrogen engine that is small enough to fit in a car will produce a lot less energy than engines that utilize fossil fuels.

 
 
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