Air pollution is harmful to the health of humans, animals, and plants, and it can lead to climate changes which can become disastrous for the life on our planet. Acid rain, global warming, and the depletion of the ozone layer are just some examples of the consequences of pollution.
Vehicles are a major pollution contributor since they produce large amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, lead, hydrocarbon, and oxides of sulfur. Many types of alternative fuels have been taken into consideration as a solution for this issue. A water-powered car has been suggested, nevertheless, it hasn’t been built yet, due to the fact that splitting water into hydrogen (which is highly flammable) and oxygen by electrolysis takes too much energy. People are trying to find methods of reducing pollution and the pandemic has proven that working from home drastically reduces those toxic emissions, since people no longer use vehicles to get to work. Even if we reduce pollution by reducing the number of hours spent in traffic, if we work remotely, we will still need vehicles for other purposes than going to work. Therefore finding a fuel that does not pollute is a major issue for car manufacturers. Electric cars are considered to be an alternative to traditional cars and the sales of such cars have increased significantly.
Among the eco-friendly cars, besides electric cars, there are also 2 types of hydrogen cars available on the market, Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo. The main benefit of a hydrogen car is the fact that instead of exhaust gases, it produces water vapor, which is totally harmless to the environment. As compared to the electric car, it is much faster to refuel. The hydrogen car is a fuel cell vehicle, which chemically fuses hydrogen from a tank and oxygen taken from the air, to make water. This process produces electricity, which in turn is used to power the motor. Hydrogen is pumped into a high-pressure hydrogen fuel tank and this process takes just a few minutes. By comparison, charging an electric car battery takes several hours.
The fuel cell that produces electricity has 3 main parts, a positive electrode, a negative electrode, and in between the two, there is an electrolyte membrane. Hydrogen comes from the fuel tank and reaches the negative electrode (anode). Oxygen from the air comes to the positive electrode (cathode). The hydrogen molecules are separated into protons and electrons and they take different paths. The electrons, which are negatively charged go through an external circuit and create a flow of electricity that goes to the engine. The protons, which are positively charged go to the positive electrode where they unite with the oxygen to create water and heat.
This type of car can drive more than 300 miles on a single fuel tank. Although hydrogen is very flammable, it is very unlikely that the fuel tank could catch fire, because, as researchers have concluded after testing, that, even if a hydrogen tank was punctured, in case of a crash, it would release the hydrogen so fast that even in the presence of a flame, the gas would have already left the tank before the explosion could occur.
Hydrogen cars have about 180 hp and the only byproducts they make are water and heat, which are totally harmless to nature. The motor of an electric car is identical to that of an electric car because it also runs on electricity, and the only difference is the electricity source. In the case of hydrogen-fuelled cars, electricity comes from the fuel cell, not from a battery. Nevertheless, research has proven that hydrogen-fuelled cars are less energy-efficient than electric ones. It seems that in the future, hydrogen vehicles are likely to be used for large-scale long-distance transport, while electric cars will be used for short-distance and passenger cars.