This is the 1st installment in our In Transition series where we explore the role and benefits of fuel cells and hydrogen energy for sectors in transition to a more economically and environmentally sustainable future.
We are launching our first post on National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, observed on Monday, October 8, 2018. Future blog posts will be shared every Monday, so be sure to check back every week!
Across the planet, a revolution is underway in the efficiency of electricity production and consumption, and the relationship between energy suppliers and end-users. In the transportation sector, vehicle fuel efficiency is increasing, new powertrains are entering the marketplace, and infrastructure for battery electric and fuel cell vehicles is being deployed worldwide. Non-transportation sectors such as industrial power, material handling, data centers, and many more are also on the cusp of their energy transition.
For government and industry stakeholders, a variety of factors motivate the decision to seek out new, cleaner energy sources. These factors include: mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, improving cost-effectiveness and efficiency, enhancing energy security, and more. This clean energy transition poses many challenges, of which fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies provide can often provide solutions.
This series of blog posts will explore the role and benefits of fuel cells and hydrogen energy for commercial sectors in transition to a more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable future. Fuel cells and hydrogen energy are impacting and disrupting business-as-usual and present an opportunity for continued growth and development. The scalability, reliability, and durability of these technologies benefit a wide-range of applications for transportation, stationary, and portable uses.
Rather than relying on combustion and burning fuel, fuel cells use electrochemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity. This chemical reaction produces electrons and heat; the only byproduct is clean water vapor. To power a fuel cell, hydrogen can be supplied in compressed gas or liquid forms or sourced from other fuels such as biogas or natural gas.
Energy Security – hydrogen can be produced in the United States from entirely domestic energy sources, including both traditional and renewable. By reducing demand on foreign oil, fuel cells and hydrogen increase our nation’s energy security.
Supporting American Innovation – many of the world’s leading fuel cell manufacturers have are headquartered or have operations in the United States, supporting and creating high-quality American jobs. Further, the development of fuel cells and hydrogen energy directly benefits American jobs and innovation in the natural gas, agriculture, and electricity industries.
Reliability – fuel cells offer extremely reliable uptimes factors, particularly for stationary applications. So long as fuel is provided for the system, a fuel cell will continue running with ultra-high reliability.
Durability – fuel cells are very durable and offer a long life-cycle in a variety of climates and challenging environments.
High-efficiency – a typical fuel cell system for the transportation market operates between 40% – 60% efficiency, two to three times the efficiency of a fossil fuel-powered internal combustion engine vehicle, which typically operate around 20% efficient on average. In the stationary market sector, certain fuel cell systems can operate at overall energy efficiency over 90% when making use of waste heat. Hydrogen can also be used as an energy carrier to store energy efficiently for later use in powering stationary fuel cells, as fuel for vehicles, or in power-to-gas applications.
Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions – when using hydrogen to power a fuel cell, the only emission is water vapor. When using other fuel sources such as natural gas, greenhouse gas emissions are still significantly lower than combustion technologies.
These benefits are already being realized and transforming our transportation, power generation, material handling, and other power application sectors. Check back each week to learn more about how fuel cells and hydrogen are transitioning power application sectors forward.