The Future of Energy Storage: Hydrogen VS Lithium
First of all, regardless of hydrogen energy or lithium energy, they are all energy storage solutions. They all just store green energy (solar energy, wind energy, etc.) or fossil energy. They are not “new energy sources”.
Why Hydrogen and Lithium
According to the periodic table of elements, hydrogen helium lithium beryllium boron or hydrogen lithium sodium potassium rubidium cesium francium are suitable for batteries. Why are lithium batteries or hydrogen fuel cells relatively famous so far?
Helium, beryllium, boron, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, and francium are not suitable for batteries because they lack the chemical properties necessary for the creation of an electrical charge through a reaction with an electrolyte. These elements are not electrically conductive, not reactive enough, and in some cases highly reactive and prone to combustion, making them unsuitable for use in batteries. On the other hand, hydrogen and lithium have the properties that make them suitable for use in batteries. Hydrogen can be used in fuel cells to produce electricity through a chemical reaction, while lithium is highly reactive and can easily transfer electrons, making it ideal for use in lithium-ion batteries.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of using hydrogen vs. lithium for energy storage?
The calorific value of hydrogen is the highest among common fuels, up to 142KJ/g, which is about 3 times that of petroleum and 4.5 times that of coal. If it is made into a battery, the energy density of hydrogen batteries will also be greater, about 40kWh/kg , much higher than the energy density of ordinary lithium-ion batteries of about 0.25kWh/kg and fuel oil of about 12kWh/kg.
How does the production of hydrogen and lithium impact the environment?
- Lithium extraction and processing can strain water resources in arid regions, where most lithium deposits are found.
- The processing of lithium ore can release toxic chemicals into the environment.
- The development of lithium mines can lead to land degradation and the destruction of wildlife habitats.
- The source of electrical energy for lithium energy depends on the current energy source.
- The majority of hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels, leading to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
- The production of hydrogen using electrolysis can be energy-intensive, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions if the electricity used is generated from non-renewable sources.
- Clean and renewable energy such as wind power and photovoltaics, combined with water electrolysis hydrogen production technology, produces green hydrogen. It can realize clean and low-carbon throughout the life cycle.
What are the potential applications for hydrogen and lithium in the transportation industry?
Hydrogen can be used as a fuel for fuel cell vehicles, where it reacts with oxygen to produce electricity, which powers an electric motor. Hydrogen is seen as a potential alternative to conventional gasoline and diesel because it produces only water when burned and can be produced from renewable energy sources.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are more suitable as commercial vehicles (trucks and buses, etc.).
- Because the number of hydrogen refueling stations in various countries is not enough, it is not convenient to refuel ordinary passenger cars (family cars).
- The routes of commercial vehicles are relatively fixed.
- The speed of hydrogenation can be completed in only 3-5 minutes, and the cruising range can reach 850km.
- Forklifts: The forklifts in Amazon’s warehouses use hydrogen fuel cell forklifts, which reduce exhaust emissions. It also reduces noise impact. Replacing the energy replenishment method of the hydrogen cylinder also greatly reduces the charging time.
Lithium is a key component in the batteries used to power electric vehicles (EVs). Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in EVs due to their high energy density and long cycle life, making them well suited for use in vehicles. Lithium is also used in the batteries of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Why are lithium batteries not suitable for use in commercial vehicles? To give a practical example, the model 3 battery weighs about 800 kilograms, and the battery life of the low-end version is ~450 kilometers, which should actually be about 400 kilometers. For commercial vehicles, take a certain electric commercial vehicle recently pushed by an OEM as an example. The battery life of 2.5t is 190km. Taking 9.6m as an example, the total weight of 19t is deducted by 7t of its own weight, and there is still a cargo weight of 12t, but the battery life is only 190km. , if you want to achieve 500km (the basic threshold), at least 3t of batteries are needed, which also means that 3t of goods will be less loaded, and the cost will not be calculated at all. Now everyone has proposed a solution to build a power station along the way. We think that the infrastructure of the power station is very similar to that of a gas station. It is still difficult to have a giant enterprise to do it. Therefore, battery commercial vehicles are basically not practical.
Lithium batteries have an energy density of about 220wh/kg. Only semi-solid batteries and solid-state batteries can achieve 500wh/kg. After the energy density is doubled, pure electric heavy-duty trucks will be useful, and they will not be seen within 5 years possibility.