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.
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
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
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