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‘Electrification Factor’ in Transportation

'Coolness' & performance serve both the market & green goals
Ali Emadi
12/16/2013 11:10 AM EST

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Bert22306
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Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Bert22306   12/16/2013 9:33:31 PM
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Interesting thoughts. But I don't entirely agree.

On heating and cooling. The air conditioning compressor is a heavy load. The car designer will use whatever the most abundant source of power there is, to run such a heavy load. In EVs, especially battery powered EVs, it makes sense to install a heat pump, both for cooling and for heating. What better choice is there? You have no large excess of waste heat for winter heating, nor do you have any rotating motor with a large excess of unused power for running a compressor-based air conditioning system.

But does it make any sense to install a heat pump in a normal ICE car? I doubt it. In winter, it seems to me that there's enough waste heat in most ICE cars that you don't want to burden the electrical system. Coolness factor or not, I would think. And in summer, my question has always been, why don't regular ICE cars use the ammonia cycle for air conditioning? Using the waste heat from the exhaust system? Makes more sense than electrification, in an ICE car, doesn't it? My guess is cost. Either way, though, I don't see that electrifying the heating system makes a lot of sense in an ICE car.

One real problem I have with BEVs is, it takes longer to refuel them than the time you can drive them. Think about it. Drive a car, say, one hour, then you're forced to wait anywhere from 4 to 12 hours to get it refueled. Doesn't sound like something you can brainwash anyone to love, other than the true fanatic. At best, this might work for that second "commuter car," but it hardly supports a model of complete electrification. So we need something better, but also something that doesn't require recharging stations to have their own nuclear power plant, to supply that gigamps recharge current capacity that would be needed, to refuel all those hungry BEVs in a couple of minutes.

Seems to me that a hybrid approach will work best in the foreseeable future, although I would hope the hybrid is not with an ICE. My favorite being, a hybrid EV where the main energy supply is still a hydrocarbon fuel, sent to a hydrogen reformer, then to a fuel cell. And a hybrid-sized battery to take care of those short spurts of power cars need, and also to use regenerative braking for better urban fuel economy.

AZskibum
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
AZskibum   12/17/2013 10:09:37 AM
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Excellent points Bert, and especially your tongue in cheek comment about recharging stations requiring their own nuclear power plant to deliver all the current that would be required to quickly recharge multiple BEVs.

Battery R&D will soon lead to commercialization of new anodes that can dramatically increase the capacity of Li ion batteries, but quick charging will require chargers that can deliver currents approaching the "C" rating of the battery. As battery C ratings increase, so does the need for chargers with incredibly high current capability.

Hyperbole aside ("gigamps" is a word you don't hear often!), rapid charging of next-generation EV batteries will require chargers capable of providing tens of kilowatts to each EV. A station that can accommodate a dozen vehicles at a time would easily exceed 100 kW. Nobody is making EV chargers anywhere close to those kinds of numbers, nor are grid infrastructure improvements being made to deliver that level of power to large numbers of charging stations.

The BEV recharging model seems hopelessly stuck in the mindset of 4-6 hours or longer charging times, and the power available from chargers will continue to be the limiting factor, far more so than the batteries. 

Wilco1
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Wilco1   12/18/2013 4:41:33 PM
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My house has 23kW power connection, which is pretty normal by European standards, so I could recharge a 86kWh battery (300 mile range) in about 4 hours. A recharge point could super charge 10 cars at the same time at 100kW to add 150 miles of charge in 30 minutes (this is what Tesla super chargers do).

Note 1MW for a super charger is not much compared to a modern data center which uses 2.6MW. The UK's datacenters use 2.9GW in total, so adding a few super charger stations should be no issue at all for the grid.

 

 

  

bk11
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
bk11   12/17/2013 1:00:22 PM
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Bert,

What type of heat pump are you referring to?  I thought most larger systems used a compressor, and are essentially just "reversable" AC units.  Did you mean Peltier devices?  I wouldn't think they are nearly as efficient for cooling, but I could see them being used for heat (more efficient than resistive heating.)  I would think they would be pricey in that size, though.

Interesting idea about ammonia cycle for ICE-based cars, though.  I wonder what the roadblocks would be?

Bert22306
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Bert22306   12/17/2013 4:02:01 PM
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bk11, I was only pointing out that in an EV that doesn't include some sort of ICE, the only efficient way of obtaining heating and cooling of the passenger compartment is to use a heat pump. Yes, the reversible A/C units you mention. (And they would also be able to be completely sealed, because there's no need for an external rotating shaft.)

However, the next point is, would this make sense in a regular car? I don't think so. So I was disagreeing that gradual electrification of standard ICE cars, perhaps even most hybrids, necessarily makes a lot of sense.

I don't know what the road blocks are for using the ammonia cycle in regular cars. Could be cost, could be that it takes longer to cool down the interior of a hot car on a summer day. But the ammonia cycle clearly works, and it uses heat from a flame usually.

Frank, thanks. I agree that one can't get away from the fact that quick recharging of batteries will require very large charging power, EVEN with this idea of mechanically swapping the entire battery pack. What do you do with all those discharged batteries? They have to be recharged. We can't just ignore reality.

selinz
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
selinz   12/18/2013 3:45:48 PM
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My 6 year old civic hybrid (251K miles) has electric power steering and electric assisted AC. It makes sense. When I'm sitting at light, the electric boost is enough to keep the car cool sitting at a light. But for intial cooling, the engine powered assist is needed for speed. Not sure how they pull all that off but it seems to work nicely... I think the Chevy Volt model is the way to go. You never have to charge it unless you want to...

Wilco1
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Wilco1   12/18/2013 5:04:56 PM
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Bert, the facts are as follows:

1. The Tesla supercharger uses 100kW to add 150miles in 30 minutes to a Model S.

2. So you charge for 30 minutes, then drive for more than 3 hours, not the other way around (getting 50mph on average is a challenge, even on long trips). I don't know many people who drive for more than 3 hours and never stop to take a rest.

3. Super charging 10 cars at the same time is just 1MW and you service 20 cars per hour.

4. 1MW is no issue at all for the local grid - it's equivalent to a street of houses.

5. Just 1000 stations could supply 3 million pure EV cars which drive 23 miles per day, every day (that's the average distance driven per car per day in the UK).

6. 1000 such supercharge stations would use 1GW. That's just 2% of the UK's grid capacity. Existing wind turbines deliver about 10%, so it would be feasible to make most of the EV power renewable by building more wind farms and using pumped storage.

This stuff is really simple if you bother to run the numbers rather than make them up!

Bert22306
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Bert22306   12/18/2013 5:17:40 PM
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Let's even assume these Tesla numbers are real, and not some idealised case that usually doesn't pan out in the real world. And let's assume that we want electric vehicles, powered by batteries, to become the norm and not some oddball curiosity.

In any average size gasoline station, either urban/suburban or on interstate freeways, how many have the luxury of "refueling" only 10 cars for each half hour period? If this 300 mile range is real, then the number of EVs "refueled" would have to similar to the number of ICE engine cars refueled.

I haven't done a scientific survey, but surely 10 cars refueled every 5 minutes does not sound out of line for a lot of gasoline stations. So taking your number, that means at least 6 times as much electricity delivered to each charging station, and this during all hours of the day. That's a lot of "streets" of power dedicated to each charging station.

On the other hand, take out the large battery, replace it with a hydroigen reformer and a regular fuel tank, and you won't impact the grid by one iota.

Wilco1
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Wilco1   12/18/2013 5:47:18 PM
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There is no need to make charging stations as large as a large petrol station. This is because:

1. Using many small charging stations means there will always be one nearby, and less likely to be as busy as pertrol stations at Tesco or Sainsbury's (it's normal to have to wait a few minutes in a queue before you can even start filling up).

2. Some charging stations will offer to swap your battery pack in 90 seconds to get a fresh ~300miles charge for a fee (instead of 150 in 30 minutes)

3. You only need to go to a charging station on very long trips, as you'll typically charge overnight at home or at your office. Cars are parked ~23 hours a day after all!

From my own experience, I'd need a supercharge or battery swap maybe once or twice a year (eg. driving from London to Le Mans in France). All my other trips are either less than 300 miles round trip or are less than 300 miles one way but include an overnight stay.

Using hydrogen, in whatever form, is completely unrealistic today, unlike EV which is a proven commercial technology.

Bert22306
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Bert22306   12/18/2013 6:05:17 PM
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This is what I'm talking about:

http://www.hydrogencarsnow.com/blog2/index.php/hydrogen-cars/volvo-ev-with-hydrogen-fuel-cell-range-extender-announced/

http://www.plugincars.com/can-fuel-cells-help-battery-ev-market-107168.html

This type of arrangement ends up being at least 2-3 times more efficient than a regular car overall, i.e. through the drivetrain, especially in urban driving. A regular car is, except under ideal conditions, only maybe 18 percent efficient to the drive wheels. A fuel cell car with electric drive train, inclduing the reformer, should be at least 50 percent efficient. Better in urban driving, because fuel cell sare more efficient at low power, apparently.

I see BEVs as being the brute force and not very interesting solution. Even with this purported 30 minute charging time, I can't remember the last time I had to spend 30 minutes in a gas station. And you don;t find a whole lot of supercharge outlets on city streets. So something better is needed.

Bert22306
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Bert22306   12/18/2013 6:05:21 PM
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This is what I'm talking about:

http://www.hydrogencarsnow.com/blog2/index.php/hydrogen-cars/volvo-ev-with-hydrogen-fuel-cell-range-extender-announced/

http://www.plugincars.com/can-fuel-cells-help-battery-ev-market-107168.html

This type of arrangement ends up being at least 2-3 times more efficient than a regular car overall, i.e. through the drivetrain, especially in urban driving. A regular car is, except under ideal conditions, only maybe 18 percent efficient to the drive wheels. A fuel cell car with electric drive train, inclduing the reformer, should be at least 50 percent efficient. Better in urban driving, because fuel cell sare more efficient at low power, apparently.

I see BEVs as being the brute force and not very interesting solution. Even with this purported 30 minute charging time, I can't remember the last time I had to spend 30 minutes in a gas station. And you don;t find a whole lot of supercharge outlets on city streets. So something better is needed.

Wilco1
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Wilco1   12/18/2013 6:05:55 PM
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I forgot:

4. Batteries which are swapped out could be used as a capacitor to reduce load on the grid at busy times

5. Most of the power for a charging station can be provided by solar and wind (that's what Tesla is planning for its charging stations). You'd need about 800m^2 of solar panels per 100kW supercharger, while a single Enercon E-126 could supply up to 7.6MW (that's 30 super chargers running 24/7 at typical UK offshore capacity factor of 40%).

Remember this is all technology that exists today. Not some new technology that requires several major breakthroughs to become even feasible, let alone cost effective.

Bert22306
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Bert22306   12/18/2013 6:12:37 PM
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But I don't just buy into the Tesla propaganda.

The article talks about electrifying transportation as a complete solution. It seems to me totally unrealistic to pretend that "solar panels" will be the answer.

Wilco1
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Wilco1   12/18/2013 6:40:17 PM
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Bert, whether you like Tesla or not is a non-issue. They are not the only EV on the market or the only company doing charging stations. However they have the most advanced EV technology and as such we know what they do today will be mainstream and affordable 2-3 years from now.

We had a discussion on here before about whether your roof could provide enough power for your EV. My calculations said not quite. However with improved panels and design of the roof (ensure 95% is south facing rather than at most 50%), every home could in principle generate enough electricity for all their use, including cars. So yes, solar panels (and wind turbines) will most definitely play a major role in electrifying personal transport.

I don't believe any technology that continues to rely on fossil fuels will have a future.

Bert22306
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Bert22306   12/18/2013 7:13:09 PM
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Hydrocarbon fuels don't have to be fossil fuels. I simply don't like hype, not Tesla specifically.

Wilco1
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Wilco1   12/18/2013 9:18:38 PM
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Hybrids and range extenders are not the future irrespectively of the fuel they use. They are useful today because of today's battery technology. However if you look at the progression of hybrids, every new generation has increased the size of the battery, the range and speeds of battery-only driving, and added plug-in capability.

Do you really think this is not going to progress further until the point there is little benefit in lugging around a heavy ICE engine plus hybrid drivetrain?

In 5 years or so battery technology will have improved enough that range, cost and charging time will be issues of the past. It doesn't require any breakthrough either - just simple progressive improvements and economies of scale. This is already happening.

Bert22306
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Bert22306   12/18/2013 9:30:10 PM
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Batteries in EVs are only used because it's the drop-dead obvious and unimaginative approach. The problem will continue to be that batteries don't store enough energy (i.e. BEVs are perpetually energy starved), even so when the battery is humongous and heavy. And the problem will continue to be that recharging either takes way, way too long, or will require tremendous instantaneous charging power. EVEN during peak demand hours from the grid. You can't get away from that. It's practically impossible to get permission to install more high tension lines.

I don't think of the hydrogen reformer and fuel cell as a "range extender" at all. That's the lingo of BEV afficionados, and it misses the point. I think of it as a fuel cell car, with fully electric power train, and with a mild hybrid-sized battery. And which can use the existing infrastructure set up for fuel distribution, without pretending that some kind soul will provide supercharge stations at every urban street parking spot.

Battery technology has never pretended to follow Moore's law. Therefore, unless you intend for EVs to remain that odd niche product for fanatics with extra time on their hands, something better is needed. That's why the major auto companies have been looking closely at fuel cells again. All this talk about "in five years" is dreaming.

Wilco1
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Wilco1   12/19/2013 9:05:52 AM
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Bert, once again we have thousands of EVs on the road that can do 300 miles on a single charge and can recharge in 30 minutes. Battery capacity is a solved problem. Charging time is a solved problem. No need to bring up energy density when it is already more than sufficient today!

Note battery technology does follow Moore's law. Average yearly improvement is 7% in density and 20% cost reduction: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2013/04/lithium-ion.jpg 

That means in 5 years a battery will have 40% higher capacity, yet it costs one-third!

Also check out: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/energy_resources_materials/battery_technology_charges_ahead

Here they say that battery technology is improving so fast that by 2020 it is cheaper than any other technology, including ICE and hybrid - irrespectively of the price of petrol.

All the fuel cell prototypes you mention as based on hydrogen as the fuel. There is no infrastructure for hydrogen refuelling, and producing hydrogen is way too expensive (even via reforming).

So which technology is a dead end and which is the future?

 

Bert22306
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Bert22306   12/19/2013 3:28:25 PM
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Note that Moore's law DOUBLES in density, every 18 months. Depending how you figure that, it is either 100 percent improvement or 200 percent improvement over 18 months, a far cry from any purported 7 percent in 12 months. Batteries have hardly reached that level.

Plus, in spite of the hype, when real people test real cars, you don't see these fantastic figures materializing. Electric car companies (or models) not only go out of business with amazing regularity, like Fisker recently, but never measure up to the hype. GM has said multiple times that they only kept the Volt alive because the clueless bureacrats that bailed them out essentially expected them to.

Plus, the proof is in the pudding. Auto companies have re-started looking at fuel cells recently. This isn't some fluke, or that auto companies like to throw money away. If you want a no-apologies true EV, make it with a hydrogen reformer and fuel cell. No energy starvation, no make-believe "battery problem solved," no range anxiety, no 4 hour refueling time, no make-believe "trust me, we'll have a supercharger outlet where you park," none of that.

Anyway, I'm perfectly happy to get back in touch in 5 years, to show you how BEVs haven't progressed as you think they will have. We can just wait and see.

Wilco1
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Re: Refueling time is the biggest hurdle for BEVs
Wilco1   12/19/2013 10:37:02 PM
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Bert, Moore's law is a simple observation of exponential improvement, so it certainly applies to batteries. The actual rate for sillicon has varied significantly over the years, and is nowhere near doubling every 18 months today. It's more like a doubling every 30 months at the moment and slowing further.

As I've mentioned before people have repeatedly beaten the range estimates by manufacturers. Sure it requires careful driving, but the same is true if you want to achieve anywhere near the claimed mpg rates any petrol car and hybrid.

Car companies have been looking at hydrogen for many decades. Remember the GM Electrovan? That was 1966 (an interesting read - especially the exploding tank). So hydrogen is not new, and the fact that it has gone nowhere in 50 years is proof it is still not a viable technology.

Yes I'd be happy to take you up on that and see where we are in 5 years with EVs. You will be surprised with the progress.

 

prabhakar_deosthali
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Battery power is limited
prabhakar_deosthali   12/17/2013 1:28:55 AM
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The passenger car industry is some centuries old and there are many hydraulic , pneumatic and mechanical systems which are proven systems for their simplicity, reliability ,durability and ease of maintenance.

If we are to replace all these systems by electrical systems , first question arise is how reliable they will be compared to the conventional solutions.

Secondly just to replace the engine with electrical motor and the associated batteries, we get only a limited range in one charge. Imagine if all the axillary systems are also to run on battery - what will happen to the range?

davemb
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Freelancer
Transportation electrification factor
davemb   12/19/2013 8:39:02 PM
As a supporter of EV's of both the battery and fuel cell variety, I have several comments to add to this discussion;

1; It makes no sense to put a reformer and gasoline tank on board a fuel cell vehicle, unless you are trying to tap into the gasoline infrastructure, and that infrastructure is precisely what we need to get rid of. A reformer is too costly, too heavy, too bulky, and when mobile there is no opportunity to sequester the exhaust gases; resulting in a vehicle with no particular advantage over a conventional gasoline vehicle, at least from an environmental standpoint. That is precisely why the industry considered and rejected the idea in favor of compressed hydrogen as a fuel.

2. Use of hydrogen is neither impractical nor "too expensive", and it's not rocket science; we have been using it for more than two centuries-in fact, from the beginning of the industrial age. North America already manufactures enough hydrogen to fuel our entire fleet of cars and light trucks, if they were equipped with fuel cells (incidently, a third of this is produced here in Canada). Half of this output is used by the petrochemical industry to extract and refine the transportation fuels (gasoline and diesel) that we use today. Just one company, Praxair, built and maintains over 300 miles of hydrogen pipeline in the Gulf area, complete with underground salt cavern storage, to distribute hydrogen to refineries for the purpose of desulferization of diesel fuels and dearomatization of gasoline. All this production would become available if we phase out use of ICE vehicles.

3. While some vehicles can do perfectly well on batteries, it is impractical for many vehicles which see heavy usage. The chances are good these days that the food you eat, the goods you buy through the internent, the baggage handled by airports, etc. have been moved by hydrogen-fueled fuel cell powered vehicles. The industry has been very busy of late, replacing the batteries of fork lift trucks and goods-moving equipment with fuel cells and hydrogen tanks. Reason; these vehicles need to be kept busy 24 hours a day, and cannot afford to be held up for recharging or battery replacement. A fuel cell vehicle can carry enough fuel for an eight hour shift, and be refueled in less than 5 minutes between shifts, and there is no need to maintain multiple battery packs on constant charge for each vehicle.

4. Crunch the numbers, and you will find that in terms of vehicles serviced per-station, hydrogen refueling stations and infrastructure are not only cheaper  than rapid battery chargers and infrastructure, but also cheaper than gasoline and diesel stations and infrastructure; and while both the former are getting cheaper, the latter is becoming formidably more expensive. It will take a long time to phase fossil fuels out, as every new gas-or-diesel-guzzling vehicle produced today will be on the road an average of 20 years, so we need to get started now.

5. Hydrogen is a multiple use energy carrier, useful for providing energy storage to help in integrating renewables into our electrical grids as well as being a clean vehicle fuel; and has industrial uses as well. Here in Canada we produce large quantities of hydrogen from industrial process byproduct (i.e. chlorine produstion, wood waste from paper manufacture, water purification and desalination, sewage treatment, landfill outgassing,  etc.). Nature itself produces hydrogen; it supports ocean and seabed life, among other things. Moreover, it is safer as a fuel than gasoline, propane, or even diesel and natural gas.

6. Germany is committed to building 400 hydrogen refuelling station over the next 10 years; Japan, 200 over the next two years. Other European countries are planning similar projects. A West Coast Alliance is planning a rollout of both hydrogen stations and charging stations stretching from Southern California through Oregon and Washington to Vancouver and beyond, at least as far as Whistler. BC transit has 20 fuel cell buses in operation and are planning more. It makes sense, and should be expanded across the continent.

Wilco1
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Re: Transportation electrification factor
Wilco1   12/19/2013 10:14:21 PM
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1. On board reforming requires a breakthrough to become useful indeed. However methanol or biodiesel would be a much better and safer alternative to compressed or LH2 which rapidly leaks from tanks.

2. Total US hydrogen production is about 11 million tonnes. Total US petrol and diesel consumption is about 500 million tonnes. Taking into account hydrogen has 3x the specific energy, it would require 15 times the production to produce hydrogen instead of petrol and diesel. So no, it is not possible to produce that much hydrogen (and given the inefficiency of hydrogen production it means burning even more oil to produce the same amount of energy as the petrol/diesel).

3. Agreed, fuel cells are very useful for forklifts and other indoor vehicles. But I bet hydrogen will always remain a niche.

4. I don't see how hydrogen stations would be cheaper giving you don't need expensive storage tanks and regular transport via tankers.

6. There is not a single hydrogen car on the market. If they appear we can compare them with hybrids and EV's in terms of price, range and efficiency. I bet the comparison won't be favorable to hydrogen.

 

 

Bert22306
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Re: Transportation electrification factor
Bert22306   12/20/2013 8:35:36 PM
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Davemb, the advantages of using an on-board reformer are really three: (1) you can continue to use the existing fuel delivery infrastructure, (2) you don't have to put up with the large loss of hydrogen from fuel tanks, and (3) you can avoid the high-pressure delivery and storage system.

When not in use, hydrogen fuel tanks empty out faster than lead-acid batteries die, just because the atoms are so small. And still, the distribution and on-board H2 system is all high pressure. Instead, for robust autmotive use, in the hands of regular people, a hydrogen reformer fuel cell EV seems mighty attractive.

As to the size, there are several programs going on to make just what cars would need. Just search under "hydrogen reformer for cars."

To me, this has the greatest potential for excuses-free EV introduction, big time.

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