April 11, 2021

THE PROBLEM WITH HYDROGEN-POWERED VEHICLES: finding hydrogen. “Deals and incentives abound, but if you’re driving any of the 9000-plus fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) that call California home, you better be good with logistics. In a state that covers more than 163,000 square miles, there are currently only 45 hydrogen stations, and they don’t always have enough fuel for everyone who needs it.”

Related: Here’s How Hydrogen Engines Work.

I drove a GM hydrogen car for Popular Mechanics a few years back. I still have the same reservations about the hydrogen fuel cycle. To wit: “The car advertises itself as petroleum-free, which is true. But—and here’s my problem with hydrogen cars—it’s not really fossil fuel free. Most hydrogen is made by ‘steam reformation’ of natural gas, which is still a fossil fuel. You can also make it out of water, via electrolysis, but unless you’ve got a non-fossil source of electricity the hydrogen is really just functioning as an energy-storage medium, rather than a source of energy. Of course, build lots of nice, clean nuclear plants, or orbiting solar power plants, or whatever, and that problem goes away.”

Maybe the abundance of fracked natural gas changes this calculation a bit, but I’m not sure. But the people pushing hydrogen cars are generally anti-fracking.

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