Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam: Paper - IV (General Studies – III) - 07 July 2020

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam

UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-IV: General Studies -III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

Q. Explain the mechanism of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV). Also, discuss in brief the limitations of Fuel Cells. (150 words)

Model Answer:

  • Why in News?
  • Introduction
  • Mechanism of the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles
  • Limitations of Fuel Cells
  • Conclusion

Why in News?

Supreme Court recently directed the government to examine if introducing vehicles that use hydrogen cell technology to deal with air pollution in the National Capital Region.


Energy plays an important factor in determining a country’s economy, infrastructure, transportation, and standard of life. Conventional fuels are hazardous and harmful to the environment. Though we have various renewable energy sources, according to the researchers' hydrogen is one of the best renewable sources of energy for vehicles. Like electricity, hydrogen is an energy carrier that has the ability to deliver incredible amounts of energy.

Mechanism of the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles:

A Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) is a type of electric vehicle which uses a fuel cell, instead of a battery to power its on-board electric motor. In contrast to other electric vehicles, FCEVs produce electricity using a fuel cell-powered by hydrogen, rather than drawing electricity from only a battery. The working mechanisms of FCEV are as follows:

  • The Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles is a device that uses fuel, such as hydrogen, and an oxidant to create electricity by an electrochemical process.
  • The fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to generate electric current, water being the only byproduct.
  • Like conventional batteries under the bonnets of automobiles, hydrogen fuel cells to convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
  • From a long-term viability perspective, FCEVs are billed as vehicles of the future, given that hydrogen is the most abundant resource in the universe.

Limitations of Fuel Cells:

  • Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles though do not generate gases that contribute to global warming, but the process of making hydrogen needs energy and often this source of energy is fossil fuel.
  • This has raised questions over the green credentials of hydrogen.
  • Questions have also been raised over safety issues with regard to hydrogen. As many have raised questions over the safety of hydrogen. Hydrogen is more explosive than petrol.
  • The price of hydrogen is many times more than the price of natural gas.
  • Fuel dispensing pumps of hydrogen are also very scarce.
  • The incident of Hindenburg Airship in 1937 proves the devastating nature of hydrogen.


The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is working towards projects in academic institutions, research and development organizations and industry for the development of FCEV but attention should be made towards its drawbacks and efforts are to be made towards resolving it before launched in India.

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