Fuel cell more climate-friendly than BEVs on long distances, says Fraunhofer

Fuel cell more climate-friendly than BEVs on long distances, says Fraunhofer

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

In a study, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE (Freiburg, Germany) investigated the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) generated during the manufacture, operation and disposal of battery and fuel cell vehicles with ranges of 300 kilometers and more for the periods 2020-2030 and 2030-2040 and compared them with those of battery electric vehicles. In addition, the scientists compared the values of diesel-powered passenger cars.

In their study, the researchers gave a detailed breakdown of how much material is required for the production of batteries, fuel cells and hydrogen tanks, and what emissions are produced during production and processing.

The result: The GHG footprint of the production and recycling of a fuel cell system including tank corresponds approximately to that of an electric drive with a battery capacity of 45 to 50 kWh. For cars with larger batteries, more GHG is emitted than for the fuel cell system in a comparable performance class.

In operation, the energy source for electricity and hydrogen is crucial. Following the assumptions of the study published by the Berlin think tank AGORA Verkehrswende, the Fraunhofer ISE has assumed solar power as the optimum for the battery car, whereby the battery vehicle is charged at a wall box at home. In the best case scenario for hydrogen, this is generated from 100% wind energy. However, emissions generated during charging were also compared with the electricity mix available in Germany and hydrogen production in the mixed case (50% natural gas and 50% wind power) or in the worst case 100% natural gas.

With a mileage of 150,000 kilometres, the fuel cell vehicle is convincing in all cases: Even in the worst case (100% H2 from natural gas), the GHG footprint over the entire life cycle is still below that of comparable battery vehicles for the next 10 years and is also lower than that of diesel vehicles.

The researchers regard the study as proof of the complementarity of battery and hydrogen. Vehicles with medium to small batteries (< 50 kWh storage capacity) and ranges of up to 250 kilometres reduce emissions in traffic. From the point of view of climate protection, fuel cell vehicles have increasing advantages for longer ranges. The following applies to both batteries and hydrogen: the greener the energy source, the better the environmental balance.


Related articles:

EU, Japan and U.S. bodies to collaborate on fuel cell development

Covalion, Hydrogenious jointly test innovative hydrogen storage technology

Scientists: Hundreds of Gigafactories needed for electromobility

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