What Are Hydrogen Fuel Cells?
Hydrogen fuel cells are units that facilitate a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. Hydrogen from a fuel tank is connected to a continuous source of oxygen, such as air, and run through the fuel cell, leading to a chemical reaction that produces electricity and water as a by-product. The electricity produced can be used for any electrical application, ranging from spacecraft to cars; the magnitude of which is dependant on the size of the fuel cell.
The fuel cell market is growing, with the power capability of fuel cells reaching 50 GW and the global fuel cell market valued at over $11 billion.
Are Hydrogen Fuel Cells Sustainable?
As the only by-product of the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen is water, hydrogen fuel cells are a zero-carbon technology, emitting no harmful pollutants while in operation. Researchers are working to primarily extract hydrogen from seawater, a sustainable resource, in order to transition to a clean hydrogen economy. However, the majority of hydrogen produced currently is still sourced through the steam reforming of fossil fuels, which produces greenhouse emissions.
How Do Hydrogen-Powered Cars Work?
Hydrogen-powered cars, or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCV), are automobiles that use hydrogen fuel cells, sometimes in combination with a battery, to drive their motor. Hydrogen cars differ from purely electric vehicles as they still rely on a chemical fuel source as well as their battery.
The global market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is estimated to reach $42 billion by 2026. In Australia, a $10 million budget was recently provided to Melbourne’s Hydrogen Hub, which will research hydrogen technologies and create over 300 jobs in the sector.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Hydrogen-Powered Cars
- Zero-carbon when in operation
- Can refuel in less than 4 minutes – faster than electric cars
- Driving range of over 300 miles on one tank
- More efficient than combustion engine cars
- Hydrogen can be sourced from reliable sources such as seawater
- Hydrogen fuel cells are durable
- Inspire innovation in sustainable technology
- The majority of hydrogen is currently obtained through fossil fuels
- Not as efficient as electric vehicle batteries
- Hydrogen is highly flammable and therefore potentially dangerous
- Hydrogen fuel can be expensive
Adhesives & Sealants for Hydrogen-Powered Cars
Adhesives and sealants provide various benefits when compared to traditional bonding techniques. Specific to new-generation hydrogen cars, these benefits include lower weight, greater flexibility, higher potential for automation, weather resistance and chemical resistance. Here we explore a few adhesives, sealants and encapsulation systems that could be used in the manufacture and maintenance of hydrogen-powered cars.
BETAMATE 2090 is a crash-resistant structural adhesive that can be used for bonding battery pack frames. It provides excellent corrosion resistance and impact peel strength; enhancing the structural integrity of battery packs. As a result, the safety and crash-resistance of the entire vehicle is increased.
BETAMATE 2810 is a structural adhesive that can be used to bond carbon fibre structures within cars. It can be used in the early stages of production to make the vehicle crash-resistant, lightweight and stiffer. It can also be used to bond SMC side panels to aluminium side frames or bond electronic control unit cases.
Araldite CW 5742 / Aradur HY 5726
Araldite CW 5742 / Aradur HY 5726 is an encapsulation system that can be used to provide high thermal (UL-94), chemical and dimensional stability to motors, ignition coils, rotors and stators in vehicles. It provides superior flow and gap-filling capabilities, facilitating fast processing times.
DOWSIL -1965 is a conformal coating that can be used to protect printed circuit boards, wiring boards and other sensitive electronic components. It provides extra durability of components by protecting against stress by curing to a soft elastomer. It is transparent, suitable for automation and provides easy adhesion to many substrates.
DOWSIL 3-6548 is a silicone RTV foam that can be used to prevent smoke or gas from penetrating through even complex shapes. It is designed specifically for penetrations containing pipes, cables or ductwork, such as those found in battery connectors. It’s resistant to extreme temperatures and UV-radiation.
DOWSIL 7091 is a silicone adhesive and sealant that can be used in battery assembly. It is suitable for use as a Formed-in-Place Gasket (FIPG) material and is stable from -55°C to +180°C. It cures to a tough, flexible rubber at room temperature (when exposed to air) and is easy to apply.