The Economist posed an interest proposition the other day. The race is heating up for distance efficiency between gasoline and lithium batteries. While Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai are hedging their bets with fuel cells. While these don’t have lithium’s long legs, they do charge faster and that could be the decisive factor. Hence, the Economist’s pondering could fuel calls match lithium someday.
Could Fuel Cells Match Lithium: The First Baby Steps
We already have proof of fuel cells’ potential in the Honda Clarity, Hyundai Tucson FC, and Toyota Mirai. Mercedes is developing its hybrid SUV with fuel cell generator and battery pack. While General Motors and Volkswagen are reconsidering the decision to drop fuel cell research in favor of lithium some 30 years ago. These baby steps are interrogating could fuel cells match lithium. These are the facts at our disposal:
- There will be no more gasoline or hybrid vehicles in Britain of France by 2040
- China has similar plans. In these three countries all vehicles will be electrical
- As the concept takes off, price will come down and other nations may join in.
- Fuel cell vehicles have large fuel tanks and are more costly than lithium ones
- Fuel cells are not durable: They do not like being below the freezing of water
- There are only 34 hydrogen filling station across the entire United States
- Fuel cells have a life span of 40% of that of average internal combustion engines
Strategically Speaking, the Picture Could Be Different
Hydrogen is abundant in the air around us. While there are large reserves of lithium, the main suppliers are Chile and China. Two thirds of cobalt, an essential ingredient of lithium batteries comes from the historically unstable Republic of the Congo. Until we can crack the code for delivering hydrogen gas to end users, fuel cells may prove impractical. At very best, our answer to the question could fuel cells match lithium is a resounding ‘not yet’.
Related: Hydrogen Fuel Stack