The automotive world is going crazy over battery-powered electric cars. Many automakers deem it as the future, and the leading company in this segment is no other than Tesla. To put into perspective how important this tech is, China is preparing to make it easier for car makers to develop electric cars.
But there’s something else on the horizon most folks are not talking about, and it’s a shame because it has the potential to rival battery-powered electric cars in a big way around the world.
That something is hydrogen, and if done right, it could become the next best thing in a matter of years.
The technology as of right now is mainly being pushed by Toyota. If you look at the few hydrogen cars in the United States today, chances are all of them were built by Toyota.
Why is Hydrogen Losing to Battery-Powered EVs?
The simple answer is that it’s cheaper to build an all-electric car. The technology behind Hydrogen is quite expensive, therefore, cars with this technology inside will likely cost more than an all-electric vehicle.
What’s more interesting is the expense of building hydrogen refill stations. It’s not as simple as converting current gas stations into hydrogen refill stops by removing a few materials. A wholesale change is required, and not many are looking to go down that road.
Not to mention, it’s possible to have an all-electric car charging station built into your home, which ultimately removes the need for the constant visit to a charging station two miles away.
This Tech Could Make Hydrogen Cheaper
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have created an interesting device that can use solar energy to produce hydrogen in an inexpensive manner. If it works, it could be used to power electronic devices, which includes cars.
B3ecause it produces hydrogen with nickel, iron, and cobalt, the device would make it possible for many to afford to own a hydrogen-powered electric car in the future.
You see, nickel, iron, and cobalt are available in abundance, and less expensive when compare to platinum and other metals that are used to produce hydrogen fuel.
“Hydrogen is a great fuel for vehicles: It is the cleanest fuel known, it’s cheap and it puts no pollutants into the air — just water,” said Richard Kaner, the study’s senior author, and a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering.
“And this could dramatically lower the cost of hydrogen cars.”
“People need fuel to run their vehicles and electricity to run their devices,” Kaner said. “Now you can make both electricity and fuel with a single device.”
Different Than Traditional Supercapacitors and Hydrogen Fuel Cell
The report says the current supercapacitors and hydrogen fuel cells, rely on two electrodes to work. However, this new piece of technology requires three electrodes that not only acts as a supercapacitor but also as a product to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, a process known as water electrolysis.
Now, all three electrodes are then connected directly to a solar cell that takes the position as the device’s power source. We understand that the electricity provided can be stored by way of chemically as hydrogen, or electrochemically in the supercapacitor.
The hardware also tends to create hydrogen in a way that is friendly to the environment, so another win right there for the technology overall.
One needs to understand that producing hydrogen is not green unless produced from renewable sources, and that’s what this UCLA device intends to do.
If it all works out, we could be witnessing the rise of the very thing that could give hydrogen the boost it needs to help propel a new wave of electric cars.