Hydrogen Fuel Cell vs. Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine


While the whole world has been trying to leave less of a carbon footprint, many industries are making moves to lessen their waste and pollution. The construction industry is no exception. In an effort to use types of fuel that are low- or no-carbon options, hydrogen has become a popular trial choice. More and more construction companies are coming out with hydrogen-run trucks and equipment to push back on pollution.

An Overview

Hydrogen-powered vehicles are considered alternate fuel vehicles but are few and far between at this point in time. There is still work to be done in making hydrogen engines more accessible and affordable. Yet, hydrogen is readily available in the environment and should be easy to access. The only problem is that hydrogen can be difficult to draw from sources containing it.

If companies are looking to have cleaner emissions for their equipment, switching over to some sort of hydrogen-powered engine is the way to go. There are two main types of hydrogen engines. The first is the hydrogen fuel cell engine and the second is the hydrogen internal combustion engine. Both are better for the environment than their diesel and gasoline counterparts. Hydrogen fuel cell tends to be the more ideal option in most cases, but both have their own benefits.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Similar to electric cars, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles use electricity to power the engine. The difference is that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles create electricity using hydrogen gas. The fuel cell gets its power from an electrochemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen.


●     Hydrogen fuel cell engines create zero tailpipe emissions.

●     More efficient compared to other hydrogen power options.

●     Less greenhouse gas emissions.

●     Lower fuel consumption.


●     Not very convenient to switch to.

●     Can be very pricey.

●     Refuel stations are scarce.

Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine

Similar to regular gasoline-powered cars, hydrogen internal combustion engine (HICE) vehicles combust energy to produce power. The difference between these gasoline and hydrogen engines is that the HICE will combust hydrogen to create power rather than gasoline.


●     HICEs are ideal for those looking to change their gasoline/diesel combustion engine since they are capable of being adapted to a HICE.

●     Minimal adjustments are needed.

●     Less greenhouse gas emissions.


●     HICEs are slightly less beneficial to the environment due to the combustion process being a part of the energy-making process.

●     Somewhat expensive.

●     Still produces tailpipe emissions.

●     Refuel stations are scarce.

Going Head to Head

Both hydrogen engine options can be beneficial for the environment. When choosing an option, it all comes down to convenience and price. More money gets the buyer cleaner emissions. More time and a little more trouble can get the buyer a more environmentally friendly engine.

Both can have their own complications though. It can be difficult to store hydrogen gas and transport it due to the need for hydrogen gas to be in a high-pressure container. It is also difficult because hydrogen gas has quite a low energy density.

While these two engine power options can pose different problems, they still have many benefits to offer to the environment and the people using them.

What to Pick

For much of the world, air pollution has become a harsh reality. Having more environmentally friendly means of powering vehicles is a great way to work against pollution. We are seeing more construction companies using hydrogen-powered equipment. Recently, corporations like Cummins are helping companies like Taylor Machine Works and Terex begin to incorporate HICEs into their vehicles. Car companies like Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai are beginning to integrate hydrogen engines into their vehicles as well. In the future, this may be a common type of car to be driving.

Nevertheless, there are still some issues that are being run into for those trying to turn to hydrogen engines. For cars that might run on hydrogen, there are very few refueling stations available. All of these are only located in California. Another issue is how expensive getting these engines can be. However, it is projected that hydrogen-run vehicles might be around the same price as hybrid vehicles by 2025.

Hydrogen-powered engines are becoming a thing of the future, something that companies should attempt that they will want to start looking into. If companies fail to explore this more sustainable option, they might start to fall behind.

Switching to hydrogen-powered engines is the route to take for companies looking to be more environmentally friendly and have cleaner emissions. If a company is only able to budget so much for the switch, HICEs are a little bit more budget-friendly and more doable than hydrogen fuel cell engines. But, if a company has a bigger budget and is ambitious in its goals, hydrogen fuel cell engines are the more efficient and environmentally friendly option.

Whichever selection companies choose to make is up to them and both will greatly aid the environment. If companies can make the change, they will also benefit from the swap and will be moving towards a greener future.

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