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Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV)

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Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV)

What to study?

For Prelims: What are EVs and FCEVs?

For Mains: Differences and significance.

Context: Supreme Court, last month, directed the government to look into the feasibility of introducing vehicles based on a hydrogen cell technology to deal with air pollution in the National Capital Region.

For Prelims:

How does the hydrogen fuel cell work in electric vehicles?

A fuel-cell electric vehicle is essentially a hybrid electric vehicle wherein, the internal combustion engine is replaced with a fuel-cell stack. The onboard sources of power include hydrogen as well as an advanced battery system.

The fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to generate an electric current, water being the only byproduct.

Fuel cells generate electricity through an electrochemical process.

And, there are no moving parts in the fuel cell, so they are more efficient and reliable by comparison.

How is it different from an electric vehicle (EV)?

Unlike a battery-electricity vehicle, it does not store energy and, instead, relies on a constant supply of fuel and oxygen — in the same way that an internal combustion engine relies on a constant supply of petrol or diesel, and oxygen.

Advantages of fuel cells:

  • They produce much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases and none of the air pollutants that cause health problems.
  • If pure hydrogen is used, fuel cells emit only heat and water as a byproduct.
  • They are also energy efficient than traditional combustion technologies.
  • Unlike battery-powered electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles do not need to be plugged in, and most models exceed 300 km of range on a full tank. They are filled up with a nozzle, just like in a petrol or diesel station.


  • The process of making hydrogen needs energy — often from fossil fuel sources. That has raised questions over hydrogen’s green credentials.
  • There are questions of safety hydrogen is more explosive than petrol.
  • Besides, the vehicles are expensive, and fuel dispensing pumps are scarce.

For Mains:


From a long-term viability perspective, FCEVs are billed as vehicles of the future, given that hydrogen is the most abundant resource in the universe.


Sources: the Hindu.