Cars with hydrogen drive
Driving with hydrogen
While combustion engines emit harmful nitrogen oxides such as nitrogen monoxide and dioxide, a car with a hydrogen tank only emits harmless water vapour. The hydrogen fuel, in combination with oxygen, generates electrical energy to power the car. At the same time, the car is significantly lighter than an electric car, since the battery in the car is eliminated. Anyone who now thinks "that's the solution!" will unfortunately be disappointed. A hydrogen-powered car does indeed drive emission-free, but the production of hydrogen is costly, as is the distribution of the fuel to the various filling stations.
Filling up with hydrogen
Just head for the nearest filling station and fill up once? Unfortunately, that's not so easy. You can only fill up with hydrogen at selected filling stations. There are currently 100 of these filling stations in Germany (as of March 2021). Most of them are in western Germany and mostly in large cities. However, there are considerably fewer in neighbouring countries. In Austria and France, for example, there are only 5 filling stations where hydrogen can be refuelled. There are just 4 liquefaction plants in Europe, two of them in Germany. Therefore, the fuel has to be transported everywhere under difficult conditions such as pressure and cooling. Which contributes to the fact that the tank is not cheap. By comparison, a battery charge for an e-car is much cheaper. Here, the cost of a charge is around €11-21.
A kilo of hydrogen costs about 9.50 €. One kilo of hydrogen will take you about 100 km. As a rule, a tank holds 4-5 kilos. It takes about 3-5 minutes to fill up with 3 kg of hydrogen, which is about the same time as a tank of petrol or diesel. A tank of petrol or diesel is therefore about as expensive as a tank of hydrogen.
One advantage over conventional electric cars is the universal fuel plug. This means that different plug systems do not have to be used, as is the case with different electric cars. All hydrogen-powered vehicles can refuel with the same fuelling nozzle.
You don't get much choice when it comes to hydrogen-powered cars. The first mass-produced models are from Hyundai and Toyota. A new car therefore costs about 70,000 to 80,000 €. If the demand for hydrogen-powered cars were to increase, the price of the vehicles would also decrease.
The European safety standards apply to hydrogen cars as they do to all other vehicles. Hydrogen is highly flammable. However, if a fire occurs in a hydrogen-powered car, it is easy to extinguish and does not spread throughout the car.
By law, hydrogen cars are considered emission-free. Only water vapour, heat and very few nitrogen oxides are emitted when driving. The reason that nitrogen oxides are emitted is that the car uses the ambient air, which already contains nitrogen oxides from other vehicles. Then it depends on how the hydrogen is produced. If it is produced from natural gas, the environmental balance is poor. Therefore, hydrogen should only be produced from renewable energy sources.
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