As A French Firm Launches Unique Hydrogen Powered Bicycle; Let’s Know The Environmental Advantages Of Hydrogen Energy


New Delhi: A French start-up has become the first company to start factory production of hydrogen-powered bicycles for use in corporate or municipal fleets.

Pragma Industries, which is based in Biarritz, France and makes fuel cells for military use, has sold some 60 hydrogen-powered bikes to French municipalities including Saint Lo, Cherbourg, Chambery and Bayonne.

“Many others have made hydrogen bike prototypes, but we are the first to move to series production,” said founder and chief executive Pierre Forte.

Pragma, now plans to manufacture 150 this year. It has received demand from Norway, the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany, said the chief executive.

At about 7,500 euros per bike, and at least 30,000 euros for a charging station, the bikes are too expensive for the consumer market, now the company is working to cut that to 5,000 euros, which would bring their price in line with premium electric bikes.

The firm's Alpha bike runs for about 100 km (62 miles) on a two-litre tank of hydrogen, a range similar to an electric bike, but a refill takes only minutes while e-bikes take hours to charge. 

It is different from those e-bikes in the way that, one kilo of hydrogen holds about 600 times more energy than a one-kilo lithium battery.

Meanwhile, the company also sells refuelling stations that produce hydrogen through the electrolysis of water as well cheaper tank-based stations.

The bikes, which look and ride the same as any normal bicycle, aimed at bike-rental operators, delivery companies, and municipal or corporate bicycle fleets with intensive usage.

With bike's range limited by the size of the hydrogen tank, Pragma is also working on a bike that will convert plain water into hydrogen aboard the bike, using a chemical reaction between water and aluminium or magnesium powder to produce hydrogen gas. As a gas, it can be used in fuel cells to power engines.

In today's society, many are talking about the advantages of hydrogen fuel and taking it into consideration as an alternative energy medium. Even, the National Hydrogen Association wants USA to reduce the dependence on imported fuels, improve the environment, and drive economic growth by becoming more hydrogen efficient.

What is Hydrogen Fuel/Energy?

Hydrogen does not occur free in nature in useful quantities, but it is manufactured in a number of ways. It can be made from natural gas or it can be made by passing electric current through water.

It is the most occurring component taking up 75% of the universe, and it plays a greater role in the sustainability of life. Apart from helping other different living species to survive, hydrogen can be utilized to generate energy.

Hydrogen exists in almost all plant matter and also occurs naturally in water. Though the sun has a greater percentage of hydrogen gas, the gas is too light that it virtually disappears from the surface of the earth when conveyed by the sun rays.

So, to effectively obtain hydrogen gas (which produces a powerful, nearly clean source of energy), it must be harnessed from water, natural gas or the biomass.

Environmental Advantages of Using Hydrogen Power:

It’s a renewable energy source and bountiful in supply

Forget the days of deep-sea drilling for oil and gas (or asteroid mining for raw materials). One of the biggest advantages of using hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles is that it’s an unlimited resource. Hydrogen is a rich source of energy; the fuel cells in the hydrogen-powered vehicles do not need conventional fuels such as oil or gas.

While it may take a lot of resources to harness it, no other energy source is infinite as hydrogen. That, essentially, means there is no possibility of it running out like other sources of energy. This reduces economic dependence on oil-producing countries, creating greater energy security.

It is renewable

Hydrogen can be produced again and again, unlike other non-renewable sources of energy. This means that with hydrogen, you get a fuel source that is limited. Basically, hydrogen energy can be produced on demand. Also, it is widely available – all that is needed is to break the water molecules so it gets separated from oxygen. It’s without question a time consuming process but the outcome is great.

Hydrogen energy is non-toxic

When hydrogen is burnt to produce fuel, the by-products are totally safe, which means, they have no known side effects. This means that it does not cause any harm or destruction to human health. This aspect makes it preferred compared to other sources of fuel like nuclear energy, natural gas, which are extremely hazardous or daunting to harness safely. It also allows hydrogen to be used in places where other forms of fuel may not be allowed.

It’s far more efficient than other sources of energy

Hydrogen-powered fuel cells have two or three times the efficiency of traditional combustion technologies. This categorically means that an automobile that utilizes hydrogen energy will travel more miles than one with an equal amount of gasoline.

For example, a conventional combustion-based power plant usually generates electricity between 33 to 35 percent efficiency. Hydrogen fuel cells are capable of generating electricity of up to 65 percent efficiency.

 Lastly, it is fuel efficient.

Compared to diesel or gas, hydrogen is much more fuel efficient as it can produce more energy per pound of fuel. This means that if a vehicle is fuelled by hydrogen, it can go farther than a vehicle loaded with the same amount of fuel but using a more traditional source of energy.

Many economists believe that although hydrogen powered vehicles may become more popular, but it may be another decade before we see these vehicles in mass quantities on the market place.

There is still more research to be done, and a number of hurdles to jump before hydrogen propelled vehicles are a common sight on all of our highways.




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