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Business: Industrial

Fuel Cells and Hydrogen

What are fuel cells and hydrogen?
Benefits
Availability and Cost
Safety and Performance
Government Programs and Regulations
Links

Benefits

Environmental benefits

If pure hydrogen is used as the fuel source, the only products are electricity, heat and water. The solid oxide fuel cell is able to directly utilize commonly available fuels such as natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, diesel and biogas. When operating on natural gas, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are reduced by up to 60 percent compared with conventional electricity generation, with practically no emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx).

Although vehicles which are powered by fuel cells that utilize pure hydrogen as the fuel have no tailpipe emissions except for heat and water vapour, life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria air contaminant emissions will vary according to the source of hydrogen. Reforming a hydrocarbon gas, either at a hydrogen production plant or on board the vehicle, will release GHG emissions.

Fuel cells have the potential to reduce GHG emissions that are contributing to climate change. Using hydrogen-powered fuel cells can also cut down on pollutants that contribute to urban air-quality problems, because fuel cells don't produce any particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides or volatile organic compounds.

Fuel cells also operate silently, reducing noise pollution.

Societal and economic benefits

Fuel cells can enhance Canada's energy diversity by providing a reliable, efficient and flexible alternative to conventional technologies. Fuel cells are expected to become a multi-billion-dollar market worldwide over the next decade, creating new export opportunities for Canadian industry and jobs for Canadians.