The Future of Hydrogen Power in Healthcare

By January 4, 2023 5   min read  (781 words)

January 4, 2023 |

Fuel Cells Works, Hydrogen Plan Must Move Beyond Ambition to Delivery

In the face of the evolving climate crisis, the need for clean, affordable, and efficient fuel is greater than it has perhaps ever been. However, nowhere is that need more urgent or more important than in the healthcare industry. 

If we have learned anything in the previous two decades, it is how very vulnerable our power grid is. Far too often, it is our sickest and most fragile citizens who pay the price for that vulnerability. We have seen, for example, hospital emergency power systems fail in the wake of natural disasters and hurricanes such as Katrina and Sandy. We’ve also seen energy demands exceed system capacities as seen during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The good news, though, is that there is hope that reliable, efficient, and green energy sources are on the horizon. And it is becoming increasingly apparent that that hope rests in hydrogen power and fuel cells.

What Are Fuel Cells?

Fuel cells are technologies used to cleanly, efficiently, and affordably create and store energy from renewable sources, often hydrogen. Unlike traditional sources of energy which burn fossil fuels, fuel cells and hydrogen power in general produce no greenhouse gas emissions and are safer and more reliable than traditional fuels — which may be more than necessary in the healthcare field.

Hydrogen Power, Energy Resiliency, and Healthcare

The promise of hydrogen power and fuel cell technology is particularly significant in the healthcare industry, where the failure of the power grid can have catastrophic consequences. Hydrogen storage technologies, for instance, can significantly increase resilience in the power supply. For patients receiving care in hospitals and clinics, loss of power to medical equipment, such as ventilators, monitors, and refrigeration systems can have life-threatening impacts. 

Expanding Energy Access

It is not only the vulnerability of the power grid in areas with a well-developed infrastructure that is an issue. In rural areas, the unreliability of the power grid and the lack of access to power sources renders quality emergency medical care unfeasible. 

However, fuel cell technology is particularly suitable to replace a traditional power grid in this sense. Since hydrogen fuel technology is low maintenance, fuel cells can be created with relative ease whenever the demand rises — which is consistent in remote areas. Hydrogen fuel cell technologies are even being used to power field hospitals, remote clinics, and military medical units in areas where traditional power sources are unreliable or non-existent.

Innovation in Energy Generation

As has been seen, hydrogen power is being used to support resilience in the power grid and to expand access to power to previously underserved (and unserved) areas. But that is not all. Fuel cells — both hydrogen and non-hydrogen — are also being developed for more innovative medical uses.

For example, new fuel cell technologies are being devised to enable implantable medical devices to generate their own energy using the body’s own physiological processes. These include fuel cells powered by microbiota, body fluids, and cellular waste products. Such self-renewing, self-fueling devices minimize the risk of device failures and the need for often aggressive and invasive treatments to repair or replace the implant.

Read the most up to date Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Industry news at FuelCellsWorks

The Takeaway

The search for sustainable, affordable, and reliable energy sources is both urgent and imperative. Perhaps no industry has a greater stake in this quest, however, than that of healthcare. Vulnerabilities in the power grid have put the lives of our society’s citizens — infants, older adults, and those with chronic illnesses — at risk. Likewise, limitations within the energy infrastructure have left many of the most remote areas of the nation and the world behind. This has resulted in a lack of access to quality medical care simply due to the lack of energy sources required to fuel medical operations. Even those with access to care, including patients receiving medical implants, may experience life-threatening complications if power to the device is lost. The advent of hydrogen power and fuel cell technologies, however, promises to rectify those wrongs, bringing energy, power, and hope to those who need it most.


About the Author
Indiana Lee

Indiana Lee, Contributor

Indiana Lee is a professional writer who resides in the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her two dogs and creating. Follow her Twitter account to learn more about her.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Fuel Cells Works, its directors, partners, staff, contributors, or suppliers. Any content provided by our contributors or authors are of their own opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.


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