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What is Hydrogen fuel

What is Hydrogen fuel

Driving on hydrogen, it sounds like it will be used in the distant future, but it is not. It is already being extensively tested. The promotion has also started with races such as Formula Zero. There are two different uses. You only have the fuel cell and the ‘normal’ combustion engine on hydrogen.

Fuel cell

The principle behind the fuel cell is simple: hydrogen reacts with oxygen in the fuel cells and is converted into water. Electricity is released during this process, which can be used to power an electric motor. Of course the big advantage is that there are no harmful emissions from this process. 

However, with this principle there are still some barriers to be overcome in order to eventually apply it on a large scale. The fuel cells are very expensive because they use platinum. Hydrogen is much lighter than gasoline and therefore the hydrogen must be stored under pressure, which in turn can be dangerous. There must be an infrastructure to refuel with hydrogen.

Combustion engine

The operation of the combustion engine on hydrogen is the same as that of gasoline, the fuel enters the cylinder, the mixture is compressed, the fuel is ignited, then there is a working stroke and then the exhaust stroke follows. 

Only there are some disadvantages here. The combustion engine provides a lower efficiency than the fuel cell. Hydrogen also has properties that differ greatly from petrol. First of all, it takes up much more space in the combustion chamber of a gasoline engine. 

That makes for a worse filling. Moreover, it burns very quickly, so that the pressure build-up in the cylinder is much faster than with petrol. Not such a problem in itself, because hydrogen is very knock-resistant, but there is a risk of NOx production. This is the high pressure direct injection system. The second system is indirect cryogenic injection. 

Gaseous hydrogen is injected into the intake manifold at a temperature of 200 ° C below zero. This cools the intake air considerably. The energy needed to store the hydrogen ice-cold in the tank thus ensures proper cylinder filling. And so this system does not have the drawbacks of the direct injection system.

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