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  • 작성자 사진Kim Ji-yeon

[Technology] Fueling a Greener Tomorrow with Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles

No.164 / Jun 12, 2023

Imagine cruising down the highway in a vehicle that emits nothing but water vapor. This vision may be closer to reality than you might think, thanks to the innovation of hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs). As transportation emissions pose increasingly pressing environmental challenges, the global priority has shifted toward clean and sustainable solutions. The urgency of climate change was recognized with the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, which came into effect on November 4, 2016. This agreement sets a goal to keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, while also pursuing efforts to limit this increase to 1.5°C. The ultimate objective is to achieve carbon neutrality, which involves balancing the carbon emissions released into the atmosphere with what can be absorbed. This goal has already been committed to by over 110 countries, aiming for achievement by 2050. In this pursuit of sustainable solutions, hydrogen holds immense promise for reducing emissions, particularly in the transportation sector.

Hydrogen FCVs have a rich history, dating back to the late 1990s when they emerged as contenders to replace internal combustion engines. Initially, they were overshadowed by the rising popularity of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), but recent technological advancements and unique advantages have reignited interest in hydrogen as a sustainable solution. The distinct technology of hydrogen vehicles directly generates electricity through fuel cells, offering significant benefits such as high fuel efficiency, quick refueling times, and extended driving ranges. Despite these advantages, hydrogen FCVs face challenges, including higher costs and limited refueling infrastructure. In contrast, BEVs excel in having lower fuel costs and more accessible charging infrastructure. However, they also have longer charging times and performance issues in extreme temperatures. Safety concerns have also affected the perception of hydrogen FCVs compared to BEVs, mainly owing to doubts about hydrogen’s viability as a fuel source given its flammability. Nevertheless, hydrogen FCVs are built to adhere to strict safety measures and precautions, making them as safe as other vehicle types. In fact, hydrogen in its gaseous state at normal pressure may be safer than traditional fuels like petrol or diesel. In the unlikely event of a fuel tank puncture, hydrogen disperses quickly into the air, reducing the risk of a major fire. Additionally, for a fire to occur, hydrogen would need to mix with a sufficient amount of oxygen outside the tank, further reducing the likelihood of an explosion.

Although hydrogen FCVs have made significant safety advancements, it is important to acknowledge that no vehicle can be considered 100% safe. While the development of hydrogen technology has reached a point where these vehicles can safely share the roads with BEVs, maintaining awareness of potential safety concerns is essential. Automakers are fully aware of these concerns and are continuously prioritizing advancements in this area. Similar to BEVs and traditional vehicles, each option has its own set of advantages, disadvantages, and potential weaknesses. The key is to sustain a focus on technological development to ensure vehicles remain safe while contributing to a sustainable future. Recognizing the unique advantages and challenges of both hydrogen FCVs and BEVs allows for more informed choices towards a greener transportation landscape that prioritizes safety, environmental preservation, and a future free from carbon emissions.


By Kim Ji-yeon, AG Reporter

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