Hydrogen Cell Technology & Its Significance
The hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) use hydrogen as source of fuel and an oxidant to create electricity via an electrochemical process.
It can be understood as the simple combination of hydrogen and oxygen to generate electric water with water being its only byproduct. Similar to conventional batteries, hydrogen fuel cells also convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
THE FCEV are looked upon as the vehicles of the future, as hydrogen is the most abundant resource in the universe. Portable fuel cells could find other applications beyond vehicles. They are a reliable source of power to hospitals, banks, airports and homes.
Advantages & Disadvantages of fuel cells
Fuel cells produce much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases and none of the air pollutants cause health problems. Also if pure hydrogen cells are use, fuel cells emit only heat and water as byproduct. They are more efficient than traditional combustion technologies. Like battery powered EVs, fuel cell vehicles do not need to be plugged in and can exceed 300 km range on a full tank. They are filled with help of a nozzle like in case of petrol or diesel.
However, there are questions of safety as hydrogen is explosive than petrol. The other major hurdle is that vehicles are expensive and there is lack of infrastructure with fuel dispensing pumps being scarce. This may get better with scale and distribution.
Progress in India
In India, hybrid EVs and hydrogen FCEVs attract the same tax as internal combustion vehicles at 43 percent.
Fourteen R&D projects on hydrogen and fuel cells are currently under implementation with the support of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The Ministry of Science & Technology supports two centres of hydrogen storage led by IIT Bombay.
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