The Blueprint of Fuel Cell Vehicles

Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic has launched a 5 kW pure hydrogen fuel cell generator for commercial applications, previously installed in several pilot projects in Japan, which achieves an electrical efficiency of 56% and can be connected with a hot water storage unit. The device was used by the Japanese conglomerate in a pilot hydrogen plant combined with photovoltaics and storage it built at its fuel cell factory in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, in central Japan.

Japan’s Honda Motor Co. announced that it will end production of hydrogen-fueled hydrogen fuel cell vehicles from August this year. Half year ago, Nissan announced it suspended the plan to work with Daimler and Ford to develop fuel cell vehicles.Two Japanese giant motor manufactures succeeded to give up the production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

So what is the hydrogen fuel cell? Does it have a blueprint?

A fuel cell, an electrochemical conversion device that uses the chemical energy by a continuous supply of fuel such as hydrogen, natural gas, or methanol and an oxidant such as oxygen, air, or hydrogen peroxide, cleanly and efficiently produces electricity.

Fuel cells are unique in terms of the variety of their potential applications; they can use a wide range of fuels and feedstocks and can provide power for systems as large as a utility power station and as small as a laptop computer.

What is the strength of fuel cells?

Fuel cells have several benefits over conventional combustion-based technologies currently used in many power plants and vehicles. Fuel cells can operate at higher efficiencies than combustion engines and can convert the chemical energy in the fuel directly to electrical energy with efficiencies capable of exceeding 60%. Fuel cells have lower or zero emissions compared to combustion engines. Hydrogen fuel cells emit only water, addressing critical climate challenges as there are no carbon dioxide emissions. There also are no air pollutants that create smog and cause health problems at the point of operation. Fuel cells are quiet during operation as they have few moving parts.

What is the future of fuel cells?

The potential of fuel cell depends on the China development.

One is the support of Chinese government. It suggest that every province carry out the plan of fuel cells vehicles involving the market, the hydrogen station.

Two is the abundant resource in China. The development of fuel cells is highly dependent on the development of hydrogen energy industry. Although hydrogen is a clean energy, hydrogen production process is not clean. Only the use of photovoltaics, wind power and other renewable energy generation hydrogen can achieve zero carbon emission where there is Chinese strength.  What’s more, China has the world’s leading ultra-high voltage transmission technology, which could achieve long-distance transmission, local hydrogen production in the future.

According to the research results of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, 10% of domestic waste power (de-wind, light, hydropower) can meet the domestic hydrogen demand for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2025, and 50% of the waste power can meet the hydrogen demand for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2035.

Fuel cell industry chain has emerged a number of outstanding enterprises. Foreign enterprises are also actively seeking cooperation with domestic enterprises. It takes time for popularity of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.