Fuel Cell vs Battery – An Electric Vehicle Challenge
I’m a proponent of any zero emission alternative and both battery electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles have the potential to be just that.
Battery electrics are currently leading because there is already a viable product out there that works great as a commuter car or second vehicle. The infrastructure to provide an electric charge is largely already built as any building with electric lights has the potential to charge a battery EV, it’s mainly a matter of installing a charger at the point of use. Battery Electrics are capable of unmonitored charging, so drivers can go to work or sleep while the car charges. There’s some hand-waving and hopefulness on the part of battery EV advocates that one or more of the new battery chemistries will provide a cheap, lightweight and powerful batteries to increase range and decrease recharge times.
Fuel Cell electrics are still in the prototype phase and the cost to build a clean hydrogen infrastructure largely from scratch will probably prove prohibitive. The time to refuel and reduced weight could prove worthwhile though. The energy density of hydrogen fuel cells mean that they may lend themselves better to large vehicles such as trucks. The short refueling time is an advantage, especially for long haul trucking. Unfortunately, it seems that the fuel-cell advocates have some hand-waving and hopefulness too that someone’s going to foot the bill for a brand new infrastructure, start building multiple production level car models, and that the public will stop associating hydrogen with the Hindenburg’s catastrophic failure.
Pursuing both, especially as they can fill different niches, is worthwhile and should be put to the market test. If battery electrics take the commuter market and fuel cell vehicles take the trucking market, then these would become two good technologies to reduce the amount of gas burning vehicles on the road.