Hydrogen: Entering The Limelight, Or Still Not Ready Yet? Page 2

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2011 Mercedes-Benz F125! Concept

2011 Mercedes-Benz F125! Concept

Cons

However, infrastructure is still lacking. While you could level the same argument at full electric vehicles, it's also a whole lot easier to install an electric charging point than a hydrogen pump. GM struggled for two years at a cost of $2 million to get a single filling station at White Plains, NY. The cost for 15,000 stations needed for national coverage doesn't bear thinking about.

It's the same for home use, too. Consider the cost of recharging via a normal wall outlet, or even a fast-charging unit for a few thousand dollars, and it still seems low compared to having your own hydrogen generating station.

That brings us onto the other issue, which is the energy required to extract hydrogen in any meaningful quantity.

It can be extracted from the fuel production process, but as a byproduct of fossil-fuel production that's hardly very green - and as for electrolysis from water, you're making a large net energy loss. In either scenario, you put more energy into a fuel cell than you'd gain from it.

It seems then, despite the occasional spike of hype, that for the forseeable future we'll still be using just two things to power our cars - gasoline, and electricity, or a mix of the two. Longer range vehicles will still be better served by plug-in hybrid electric cars or range-extended electric cars, like the Chevrolet Volt.

We'd love to see clean hydrogen luxury sedans like the Mercedes-Benz F125! concept scudding quietly about our roads, but hydrogen still seems no closer to being a viable fuel than it ever has.

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