FCEV or BEV – VHS or Betamax?

Fuel Cell Car - Toyota Mirai__  Electric Car - Nissan Leaf_.jpg

The battle for market share between Fuel-Cell Electric vehicles (FCEVs) and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) continues with BEVs taking an easy lead in car units sold to date – 300k+ units as opposed to 5k ! This competition for market share reminds me of the video format war between VHS and Betamax in the late 70s !

The pros & cons of FCEVs are that they are quick to refuel, but there are very few hydrogen fueling stations around. They tend to have a longer range before refueling is required than BEVs and there are no emissions except heat & water. One of the first FCEVs to recently go on sale to the general public was the Toyota Mirai – which means ‘future’. The energy density of this car is 5 times higher than current BEVs, so intuitively it seems a better solution. The diversity and scope of FCEVs now also includes passenger trains, buses, vans, and fork lift trucks.

BEVs on the other hand have a lower energy density than hydrogen or traditional petroleum fueled cars. Their range between charges has historically been a limiting factor. Although today’s BEVs have improved dramatically with increased energy densities and longer ranges due to rapid advances in battery technology. The re-charging time has also reduced considerably, but still much slower than fueling FCEVs.

Hydrogen as a commodity has also been used for long term energy storage in the renewable energy industry, and therefore helping with ‘grid balancing’. In addition Hydrogen is a ‘cleaner’ burning fuel reducing the carbon footprint for industry over and above traditional fossil fuels.

In summary FCEVs & BEVs both enjoy zero emissions, and FCEVs can refuel quickly but hydrogen fuel stations are few and far between ! Whereas BEVs take much longer to charge but electric points are comparatively numerous and convenient. Therefore at the moment, as they say in parliament, I think the BEVs “have it” !

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”.

– Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have”.

– Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike


About Mike Osborn CEng

A Chartered Engineer and member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers living in the UK with a passion for engineering design, technology and innovation, peppered with a little humour. Presently running a small engineering design & CAD drawing solutions business, serving mainly London and home counties. www.osborndesign.co.uk
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