Car makers like Toyota and start-up Nikola Motor Co. have been working hard on the idea of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In fact, Toyota has already released a fuel-cell passenger car in the U.S. and is working on their own truck project in the next few months. Nikola, on the other hand, has developed a semi-truck prototype called the One that it plans to put into production.
But will hydrogen fuel cell trucks really be a better fleet investment than gasoline, electric, or diesel trucks? Here are a few reasons why hydrogen may be beneficial:
When compared to electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles have the potential for a better distance range because hydrogen can be stored compact tanks. In addition, a fuel cell vehicle can be refilled quickly. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, take time to charge and may not offer a range that’s quite as long.
No Engine Mechanics
Lift up the hood of a fuel cell vehicle and you’ll find a “fuel cell stack” that powers the truck instead of an internal combustion engine. This fuel cell stack uses a simple electric current to charge hydrogen atoms that, when combined with oxygen, produce water for the vehicle’s fuel. Unlike an internal combustion engine, this fuel process requires no moving parts, which means you won’t have to worry about something breaking, jamming, or becoming damaged.
Fewer Greenhouse Gases
When you convert hydrogen cells into fuel, the exhaust that’s produced is simply water vapor. However, when you convert gasoline or diesel fuel, the exhaust is carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas that can pollute the environment; currently, trucks produce about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases from the transportation sector.
Unlike common components like oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, and more, hydrogen can be found anywhere, which means if you have a source of power, drivers will never have to worry about running out of fuel. In addition, they’ll decrease their dependence on oil and gas and therefore, create a stronger energy security.
*Photo courtesy of NBC News