The Pros and Cons of Hydrogen Powered Cars

Published Wednesday, February 28, 2024     By CarsOMG Staff

The Pros and Cons of Hydrogen Powered Cars

Challenges and Considerations

Within the realm of hydrogen-powered vehicles, there are multiple layers of complexity. Economic and infrastructure factors, technical and safety issues, and environmental and societal impacts are all critical considerations that shape the future of hydrogen cars.


Economic and Infrastructural Aspects

Hydrogen cars necessitate a significant infrastructure overhaul. The current availability of refueling stations is limited compared to gasoline fuel stations, which poses a challenge for the widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel cell cars. Investments in hydrogen fuel production and the development of pipelines suitable for hydrogen are considerable. Moreover, the costs associated with advancing hydrogen technology and building this infrastructure are high. Manufacturers like Toyota with their Mirai and Hyundai with the Nexo are spearheading this technology, but the economic scale is yet to compare to that of electric vehicles and traditional combustion engine cars.


Technical and Safety Concerns

The technical aspects of hydrogen-powered vehicles involve a complex electrochemical process within their fuel cells, which requires expensive materials such as platinum and titanium to act as a catalyst. This adds to the cost of manufacturing fuel cell cars. The storing and handling of compressed hydrogen in high-pressure tanks raise safety concerns, as hydrogen is highly flammable compared to traditional hydrocarbons, further complicating the adoption of this technology.


Environmental and Societal Impacts

Hydrogen cars produce zero tailpipe emissions, which reduces air pollution and the carbon dioxide contributing to global warming. Yet, it’s not entirely without environmental cost; the majority of hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas, which still releases carbon emissions. The push for a cleaner process, such as electrolyzing water with renewable energy, has yet to be fully realized. From a societal perspective, the transition to hydrogen-powered vehicles could lead to a significant shift in the labor market, especially for those involved in industries tied to traditional diesel and gasoline vehicle manufacturing. The U.S. Department of Energy and other global entities are investing in research to mitigate these issues and promote hydrogen as a viable alternative for heavy-duty transport and beyond.