Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, made the proclamation that the era of the electric vehicle (EV) revolution had begun in November 2021. This revolution was fueled by new rules and investment promises throughout all stages of the EV supply chain. In 2022, new projects will get underway all around the United Kingdom (UK), ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to new power plants. Hydrogen, however, is the one essential component that will revolutionize the credibility of the industry in terms of sustainability. In the following piece, Simone Bruckner, managing director of the resistor maker Cressall, discusses how hydrogen may make the electric vehicle revolution in the UK a reality.
It is becoming increasingly vital to encourage wider customer adoption of vehicle options that are more environmentally friendly as the prospect of prohibitions on the manufacturing of new cars fueled by diesel and gasoline looms. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that the demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) more than quadrupled between November 2020 and November 2021. This indicates that the number of people purchasing these cars is growing. But more work has to be done to make battery electric vehicles (BEVs) carbon neutral by the year 2050, which is the deadline for decarbonizing the transportation sector.
Shortcomings of BEVs in terms of sustainability
It is challenging to fully decarbonize BEVs. Because BEVs get their power from the National Grid, the environmental effect of these vehicles is directly influenced by the types of EV fuel used to generate electricity. The system is transitioning toward using more renewable energy sources, and its goal is to achieve net zero by the year 2050. However, there is an additional obstacle to overcome. The adoption of battery electric vehicles is expected to result in a rise in the demand for energy from its current level of 300 terawatt-hours (TWh) to 610 TWh by the year 2050, as stated by the Committee on Climate Change.
Therefore, the government is investing in dispatchable low-carbon sources in order to support variable weather-dependent renewables in the process of powering the grid during times when production falls short of demand in order to complete the dual task of increasing supply and decarbonizing electricity generation. In the meanwhile, the generation of power by means of fossil fuels is having a detrimental effect on the environmental friendliness of BEVs.
As a result of their reliance on lithium-ion batteries, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) raise several extra environmental problems. Cobalt, nickel, and manganese are just a few examples of the important rare earth metals that are used in lithium-ion batteries. The extraction of these resources may do significant damage to the surrounding environment, upsetting entire ecosystems, and the heavy gear that is employed in the process generates even more pollutants. Is there a solution that is less harmful to the environment?
Energy source of the future is hydrogen.
Hydrogen is an exciting new resource that will be essential to achieving a future free of carbon emissions in the transportation sector. The electrolysis of water, which involves the use of an electric current to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water molecules, is the standard method that is utilized in the industrial generation of hydrogen. The production of energy from a renewable source results in the creation of green hydrogen, which is a form of hydrogen fuel that does not contribute to the emission of any carbon dioxide.
The government has established a goal to produce five gigawatts (GW) of environmentally friendly hydrogen by the year 2030, and it has already announced plans to invest in projects such as the Whitelee Windfarm near Glasgow. This windfarm will use wind power to generate electricity for the production of hydrogen, and the government will use this electricity to meet its goal.
After being created in this manner, hydrogen has the potential to be utilized as a source of fuel for fuel cell electric cars, which are an alternative to BEVs (FCEVs). Proton exchange membrane fuel cells are what provide the electricity for FCEVs. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) generate energy from hydrogen by mixing the hydrogen fuel with air and then pumping the mixture into a fuel cell. As soon as this reaches the interior of the fuel cell, it sets off a chemical process, which ultimately leads to the removal of electrons from the hydrogen. After doing so, these electrons produce electricity, which is then stored in a relatively tiny battery before being utilized to power the vehicle.
Because they are derived from renewable sources, EV fuel cell electric vehicles that run on green hydrogen are totally free of carbon emissions. The only byproducts of the process that takes place in a fuel cell are electricity, water, and heat, and the only emissions that are produced are air and water vapor. This makes them a choice that is better aligned with net zero aims, which makes it possible to roll out carbon-neutral electric vehicles on a wider scale.
Even while the advantages of FCEVs are readily apparent, the technology that underpins them still has room for improvement. EV Fuel cells are unable to function under strong loads for extended periods of time, which might cause problems in situations involving sudden acceleration or deceleration.
Research into the operation of fuel cells has revealed that when a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) begins to accelerate, the fuel cell’s power output progressively grows to a point, but after that, it begins to fluctuate and decline despite the fact that the vehicle’s velocity remains constant. This unstable power output poses a dilemma for the manufacturers of automobiles.
In order to meet the increased need for electricity, the answer is to set up an installation of fuel cells. If an FCEV requires 100 kilowatts (kW) of electricity, for instance, installing a EV fuel cell with a capacity of 120 kW would guarantee that there is always 100 kW of power available, regardless of the fuel cell’s actual power production. If you decide to go with this option, you will need a resistor that can act as a “load bank” and take surplus energy from the system when it is not needed.
The Cressall EV2, which is cooled by water instead of air, was developed primarily for heavy-duty applications such as hydrogen-powered FCEVs. It does this by drawing extra energy from the system and releasing it in the form of heat, which may then be utilized to warm the passenger compartment of the car.
This safeguards the electrical system and enables FCEVs to be extremely reactive to high-power demands and accelerate and decelerate quickly without storing surplus energy in a battery. This is made possible by the FCEVs’ ability to fast accelerate and decelerate.
The introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) is well underway, and urgent deadlines for the phase-out of cars powered by fossil fuels are becoming closer and closer. Although BEVs are the primary participant in the effort to reduce carbon emissions from transportation, it is imperative that the specific advantages that FCEVs provide to the market not be overlooked. However, bringing the two together could be the answer to launching the electric vehicle revolution.