Why hydrogen?

Energy for today and
for all tomorrows

Hydrogen will emerge as a new energy system that will reshape human civilization and reorganize
the global economy and power structure
Jeremy Rifkin
Jeremy Rifkin
American economist and social theorist

The remarkable progress and prosperity achieved over the past 200 years have been made possible by fossil fuel. But the continued use of fossil fuel threatens our environment and the survival of humanity.

We now stand at the crossroads of survival. Transitioning to clean and sustainable energy is no longer a matter of choice but an imperative.

The answer to our energy problems is solar power, wind power, and other clean, natural, and renewable energy types. The race is on to research and develop new, more efficient renewable energy technologies. However, renewables face insurmountable limitations.

Renewables: Great but intermittent energy

Renewables offer a green solution, but there's a downside; namely, they are plagued by huge swings in output caused by natural forces beyond our control. The solar panel loses efficiency when the clouds block the sun. Wind turbines stand idle whenever the wind stops. These wide variations in output make it extremely difficult to balance supply and demand.

Electricity is the ideal form of energy, but it's challenging to store. While batteries offer a storage solution on a small scale, they are not viable in mega-scale applications. They're expensive, massive, and pose a recycling problem at their end-of-life. The supply-demand imbalance requires an innovative solution for surplus renewable energy.

A clean energy carrier in its own right

The true value of hydrogen

The ideal way to produce hydrogen is through the electrolysis of water. If renewable energy sources provide the electricity used in electrolysis, then the resulting product, hydrogen gas, is clean, green energy with no emissions. Combining such hydrogen with oxygen can generate electrical energy again.

As hydrogen takes the form of a gas or liquid, it is easy to transport over long distances and offers the advantage of large-scale/long-term storage.

Hydrogen also overcomes the other major drawback of renewables: Production of renewables achieves maximum potential only in remote locations such as coastal areas and deserts. Connecting these remote locations to the high-demand regions (cities) requires costly infrastructure for electricity transmission.

But hydrogen provides the answer. It's the ideal energy carrier that can coexist in perfect harmony with renewables.

Hyundai Motor's hydrogen fuel cell system brand HTWO’s Zero‘0’ Carbon emissions 현대자동차 수소연료전지시스템 브랜드 HTWO 탄소 배출‘0(Zero)’

Eco-friendly energy, even at the end-user stage

The fuel cell system is the key. Stored hydrogen is converted back into electrical energy that's easy and ready to use. Inside the fuel cell, hydrogen passes through the Proton Exchange Membrane, where it reacts with oxygen (from the ambient air) to generate electrical energy. As a result, there is only one byproduct—pure water vapor.

As such, hydrogen is a genuinely eco-friendly energy solution that does not pollute the environment at any stage from production to utilization.

For every moment in life that needs energy,

Hydrogen: Energy for everything

The fuel cell system:
The heart of the fuel cell electric vehicle

Under pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the automotive sector has begun ramping up production of hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles and pure battery-powered vehicles: Both types of vehicles generate zero emissions and serve as the pillars of the electrification of personal mobility and the phase-out of the internal combustion engine.

Both types of vehicles have their distinct advantages depending on the usage scenario. The two types will continue to coexist into the foreseeable future, playing complementary roles depending on the user's purpose and the operating environment.

What's the difference?
* BEV(Battery Electric Vehicle),
FCEV(Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle)
Hyundai Motor's hydrogen fuel cell system brand HTWO, battery electric and hydrogen electric cars

Battery Electric Vehicle

Suitable for small cars / Excellent for short-distance driving

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

Best for large-size vehicles / Ideal for long-distance driving

Pure battery electric vehicles are advantageous for driving short distances and smaller vehicles, but powering large-size vehicles or driving long distances requires significant increases in battery capacity. This increases bulk, weight, battery cost and leads to inefficiencies that escalate exponentially.

On the other hand, hydrogen-electric vehicles continue to produce electric energy as long as there is a continuous hydrogen supply. Increasing the storage capacity of the hydrogen tank provides increased driving range—clearly advantageous for large-size vehicles and long-distance driving.

FCEVs perform exceptionally well in sub-zero temperatures, whereas pure electric vehicles experience a sharp decline in battery performance. With their short charging times, FCEVs offer a significant advantage in commercial applications (taxis, logistics). Fuel cell trucks s that travel long distances operate with much higher efficiency than battery-powered versions.

Hyundai Motor's hydrogen fuel cell system brand HTWO's hydrogen trailer drone

Hydrogen, a universal energy

FCEVs are already on our roads, and while fuel cell application appears to be limited to automobiles, its scope of application is far broader than many people realize.

Because of their high and continuous power output, fuel cells are the ideal power source for a diverse range of mobility applications, including trains, ships, and even aviation.

In addition, they can readily be used for power generation in residential and commercial settings or even in remote locations that are off the electrical grid. Hydrogen fuel cells can serve as a substitute for all the power generating sources in our lives that provide us with electric energy.

Energy for everyone

Hydrogen safety

Misconceptions on hydrogen

There are some misconceptions on hydrogen. The most common is that it's dangerous: Some people mistakenly associate the hydrogen gas used in fuel cells with the hydrogen bomb, causing anxiety about its safety. However, hydrogen gas is a commonplace element and is vastly different from deuterium/tritium, the extremely rare hydrogen isotopes used in hydrogen bombs. Moreover, a temperature of 100 million degrees Centigrade is required to trigger the reaction in a hydrogen bomb, an impossibility in everday life.

All the energy sources have risks, but with the control technologies, we can manage the risks and reduce the danger. Likewise, with the safely controlled management, hydrogen is being utilized in various sectors including semi-conductor, steel, and petro-chemical for over 100 years. Hydrogen would never have attracted attention as a sustainable future energy source if it were more dangerous than oil/gas and nuclear energy.

Myths and facts
about hydrogen energy
Comparison of
risks by fuel type
Hyundai Motor's hydrogen electric car, Nexo Hyundai Motor's hydrogen electric car, Nexo
* Relative risk by fuel type: the lower the value, the safer the fuel
* Sources: Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (MSDS), American Society of Chemical Engineers (DIPPR).

Hydrogen—Safer than fossil fuels

Risk is inherent in every type of energy. But hydrogen has lower overall risks than LNG and LPG. If accidently leaked into the atmosphere, hydrogen is difficult to explode since it dissipates rapidly as it is the lightest of all the gaseous elements.

FCEV: Safety tested

FCEVs and hydrogen charging stations are equipped with comprehensive safety features backed by several decades of accumulated technology, so there is no need to worry. NEXO, Hyundai's hydrogen-electric SUV, underwent extensive testing in its development and was repeatedly subjected to severe crash testing to validate its safety. NEXO’s hydrogen tank is designed to safely withstand ballistic penetration, exposure to open flame and rupturing due to crash forces, among many other criteria.

Major safety test criteria
for the hydrogen tank
  • Drop impact

  • Extreme
    temperature test

  • Hydrogen gas
    filling test

  • Room temperature
    pressure test

  • Penetration test

  • Flame test

  • Environmental

  • Ballistic
    penetration test

  • Accelerated
    stress test

Complete confidence in hydrogen’s safety

The safety of hydrogen has been proven worldwide. In Seoul, in front of the National Assembly, in Paris next to the Eiffel Tower, and Japan adjacent to the Tokyo Tower, hydrogen charging stations provide high visibility demonstrations of hydrogen safety and focus public attention on the importance of expanding the hydrogen energy infrastructure.

Korea National Assembly Hydrogen Station

Complete confidence in hydrogen’s safety

The safety of hydrogen has been proven worldwide. In Seoul, in front of the National Assembly, in Paris next to the Eiffel Tower, and Japan adjacent to the Tokyo Tower, hydrogen charging stations provide high visibility demonstrations of hydrogen safety and focus public attention on the importance of expanding the hydrogen energy infrastructure.

Korea National Assembly Hydrogen Station

Since the discovery of fossil fuels, we have reaped the rewards of rapid technological progress and a rising standard of living, but what's also true is that we have damaged the environment. We are threatening the survival of the next generation.

We have a moral obligation to our descendants to bequeath a clean planet and promote sustainable development for the prosperity of all humanity. HTWO will live up to its promise to lead the transition to clean and sustainable energy.