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Why Hydrogen Cars Are Suddenly Back in Vogue
7/2/2013

Honda claims that its FCX Clarity FCEV is much more efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles in converting chemical energy into power.
Honda claims that its FCX Clarity FCEV is much more efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles in converting chemical energy into power.

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junko.yoshida
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Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
junko.yoshida   7/2/2013 4:43:12 PM
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I actually find it fascinating that suddenly in 2013, the automotive industry is reviving their energy around fuel cell cars. 

Remember more than a decade ago, the idea of hydrogen cars was supposed to be the wave of the future?

Does this suggest in any way that auto companies are seeing a limited growth on EVs? Hence, also betting on fuel cells?

Seriously, if a car company knows the answer, isn't it much more efficient to pool all of their R&D resources on one thing?

 

krisi
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
krisi   7/2/2013 6:45:25 PM
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Hi Junko, I don't think you want to put all your R&D in one direction if you are a big car company. Neither EV or hydrogen cell cars will surive without goverment incentives. And who knows what the government will do? Last time they pull out all incentives for solar power killing quickly growing industry in the process. The same can happen with EV or hydrogen cells. If I were them I would place small bets here & there and try to see what the consumer driven givernment incentives would do. People love green technologies as long as they don't have to pay a cent more for them ;-)...Kris

chanj0
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
chanj0   7/2/2013 7:48:28 PM
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Addition: Honda has been putting a huge bet on fuel cell vehicle, believing hybrid does not have the long term future. They pulled the plug as soon as Obama cut the funding in 2009. I am glad to hear Honda is coming to the game again.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
junko.yoshida   7/2/2013 10:14:26 PM
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I hear you, Kris. I understand. But here's the thing. Despite some progress made in hydrogen cars earlier, why does it feel like that the technology development in hydrogen cars had been dormant or slowed down in the past decade,,,  Is that because the auto industry shifted their interest more to EVs?

jkocurek
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
jkocurek   7/3/2013 8:16:45 AM
I think the reason why development has slowed for fuel cell autos is the hydrogen storage problem. An aqueous solution of sodium borohydride can have a similar energy density as gasoline. It is reasonable non-toxic, non-explosive, it doesn't burn and is stable. A little catalyst and it releases its hydrogen and leaves behind sodium borate, i.e. borax. The problem is production. Ideally you should be able to react hydrogen with the sodium borate to reform the sodium borohydride. But so far it cannot be done economically.


Pretty much all of the other storage solutions are technically challenging, expensive, risky or some combination of the three. I think the auto industry would prefer to wait until the sodium borate -> sodium borohydride problem is solved.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
junko.yoshida   7/3/2013 8:36:23 AM
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As you pointed out, storage solutions appear to be the issue --- but that's the case with not only hydrogen cars and EVs. 

The quesiton is who gets to solve this faster...

jim_t
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
jim_t   7/3/2013 9:27:14 AM
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Hydrogen cars are among the least efficient, least cost-effective means of reducing CO2.

Our hydrogen supply today is made by methane reformation.  Converting methane to hydrogen, and then using that hydrogen in a fuel-cell car, is wildly more expensive *and* less energy-efficient than just running a conventional IC engine on compressed natural gas. 

Honda's figure "driving energy" conveniently excludes the issues associated with hydrogen production.  Otherwise their exising CNG vehicles would outperform the wildly more expensive fuel cell "car of the future".  And in the future, sure, we could make hydrogen from water with wind or solar power.  But if we're starting with (renewable) electricity, battery systems wildly outperform the energy-efficiency of hydrogen -- at least 2x more miles driven per starting kWh.

Battery recharge rates, storage capacity per volume and per dollar, and lifetime are improving every year.  And for that matter Tesla just demonstrated 90 second pack swap -- in and out of the supercharger station faster than filling an Audi with gasoline, and vastly faster than a hydrogen recharge.  Not quite Moore's law but a solid curve.

Battery-electric vehicles offer essentially zero-CO2 transportation, powered by wind or solar power, today.  Net CO2/mile even if you're running on coal-fired electricity is better than any hydrogen system right now, and running on gas-fired CCGT power (>50% efficient at the power station, rather than 20-30% efficient at the vehicle) is again the lowest cost/mile and lowest CO2/mile -- with transition to zero-carbon as fast as we decide to decarbonize the grid.

"Technology of the future... and always will be."  This stuff might be fun to write about but the fundamentals remain the same.

jim_t
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
jim_t   7/3/2013 9:27:18 AM
Hydrogen cars are among the least efficient, least cost-effective means of reducing CO2.

Our hydrogen supply today is made by methane reformation.  Converting methane to hydrogen, and then using that hydrogen in a fuel-cell car, is wildly more expensive *and* less energy-efficient than just running a conventional IC engine on compressed natural gas. 

Honda's figure "driving energy" conveniently excludes the issues associated with hydrogen production.  Otherwise their exising CNG vehicles would outperform the wildly more expensive fuel cell "car of the future".  And in the future, sure, we could make hydrogen from water with wind or solar power.  But if we're starting with (renewable) electricity, battery systems wildly outperform the energy-efficiency of hydrogen -- at least 2x more miles driven per starting kWh.

Battery recharge rates, storage capacity per volume and per dollar, and lifetime are improving every year.  And for that matter Tesla just demonstrated 90 second pack swap -- in and out of the supercharger station faster than filling an Audi with gasoline, and vastly faster than a hydrogen recharge.  Not quite Moore's law but a solid curve.

Battery-electric vehicles offer essentially zero-CO2 transportation, powered by wind or solar power, today.  Net CO2/mile even if you're running on coal-fired electricity is better than any hydrogen system right now, and running on gas-fired CCGT power (>50% efficient at the power station, rather than 20-30% efficient at the vehicle) is again the lowest cost/mile and lowest CO2/mile -- with transition to zero-carbon as fast as we decide to decarbonize the grid.

"Technology of the future... and always will be."  This stuff might be fun to write about but the fundamentals remain the same.

Bert22306
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
Bert22306   7/3/2013 3:18:47 PM
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Here are the numbers on efficiency. Reformer efficieny varies, depending on the fuel the H2 is extracted from. Reformers which use natural gas as fuel are about 80 percent efficient.

Fuel cell cars which run on pure H2, when you take into account the fuel cell efficiency and the efficiency of electric motors, are roughly 65 perecent efficient or so. Although fuel cells are less efficient at their highest output. Still, something over 60 percent overall is the figure.

So the entire process is right about 50 percent efficiency. Could be somewhat less than that at max power output, however, althoug of course max power diving is something we don;t often do.

Compare this with the practical efficiency of ICE cars, which runs anywhere from 18 percent to a theoretical best of about 30 percent, where 30 percent is only at very high power levels.

Junko, I too am puzzled why the trade press only covers battery electrics. Their range claims are usually way optimistic, their "refueling" times are way too long for practical general purpose use, the rate of technolgical improvement is slow as molasses, they weigh a huge amount, battery swap technology is impractical to say the least, requiring a whole lot more machinery than pumping gas.

It usually pays to look for the most elegant solution, when trying to decipher what the future brings.

tb100
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
tb100   7/4/2013 12:39:20 PM
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Fuel cell cars which run on pure H2, when you take into account the fuel cell efficiency and the efficiency of electric motors, are roughly 65 perecent efficient or so. Although fuel cells are less efficient at their highest output. Still, something over 60 percent overall is the figure.

So the entire process is right about 50 percent efficiency.

That's interesting because a car buring natural gas directly is about 35-40% efficient. So you are saying that converting it to hydrogen and then converting the hydrogen to electricity to power the electric motors is more efficient than just buring the natural gas directly in the car.

And searching through the net, I've seen that apparently they can build these steam reformers to convert natural gas to hydrogen pretty small--small enough to be at a gas station. That would solve the distribution problem. Apparently Honda is even working on a Home Energy Station to create H2 at your house.

It is starting to look interesting. But we are probably many years away from this being widespread. Still, if I had a Tesla (I wish), it would certainly be nice if I could fill up a tank with H2 to power the electric motors.

Bert22306
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
Bert22306   7/4/2013 6:34:43 PM
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My bet is, since the natural gas burning engines you're talking about are ICEs, that the 35-40 percent figure is only valid when the engine is running at max efficiency, if valid at all. Meaning, with internal combustion, at high power.

Internal combustion uses the Carnot cycle, which describes heat engines. Its efficiency is based entirely on the difference between the combustion temperature and the exhaust temperature. The hotter the exhaust, the more energy is being wasted. To make the exhaust as cool as possible, you need the highest possible compression ratio (so that the expanding gas is providing power until it cools as much as possible, as it expands).

Working against you is that compression can only go so high before you experience premature detonation, and you need it to rev to create horsepower from torque. High revs require short stroke. So those two effects, premature detonation and the need for revs, limit how much efficiency can be derived from ICEs. So any claims I hear about 75 percent or more, which you get from time to time, are pure fiction.

On the other hand, reforming the fuel and feeding H2 to a fuel cell works on entirely different principles. And it looks like you should easily beat the ICE, in most actual driving, handily. Of course, there's cost to be worried about.

Steam reformers at gas stations sounds like a pretty good idea, actually, although you still need to store H2 in a pressurized tank in the car. It would really be nice to avoid that. Fun to watch this stuff develop.

goafrit
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
goafrit   7/4/2013 7:15:48 PM
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>> Their goal is to get those new fuel cell cars ready by 2020.

With the efficiency of shale-gas production in U.S., I am getting worried over these alternative green vehicles. With the deposit of shale gas in U.S., automakers should have a strategy to continue to build mileage optimality in the typical internal cumbustion engine. This is not going away anytime soon if we continue to have shale gas here. So, venturing into hydrogen and the likes may be a business model after the shale gas is done.

John_Galt
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
John_Galt   7/3/2013 3:57:45 PM
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" A little catalyst" Yes, and sadly that is usually platnium - hence the huge cost.

EE,etc.
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
EE,etc.   7/3/2013 10:19:52 AM
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Thanks for posting this interesting topic,

reading through all comments, I agree that the technology is still in its infancy comparing to gas powered cars, however, I belive that's the way of teh future as both gas and electricity are coming from fossil fuels and they will end sooner or later, however, 2/3 of our earth is still water which hopefully one day could be used as a source to generate cheap Hydrogen.

I personally belive that auto industry is not too eager to switch from gasolin engines to other sources simply becuse its a proven technology with a vast support network built over 100 years, and it's teh most profitable type of car they can make today.

however, I am glad to see that they are willing to invest in other type of technologies such as EV and Fuel Cell, so when the time comes they are ready.

DMcCunney
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
DMcCunney   7/3/2013 2:24:52 PM
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I think the auto industry is doing it's best to hedge its bets.As with other things, it's ultimately about money.

The industry has been steadily consolidating to get economies of scale and cut costs.  The problem is that fuel cell vehicles require expensive R&D. Where does the money come from?  And once you have the production challenges resolved, what will such cars cost to build, and what will you have to charge for them?

The issues I recall seeing back when were just how you safely stored the hydroge you were going to use as fuel, and that's still an open question.

One thing I expect to see in the US, at least, is more use of natural gas rather than gasoline.  NYC already has natural gas powered busses in the MTA'a fleet, and I'd be surprised if the progam wasn't expanded, because the US has plentiful supplies of natural gas.

Like anything else, the form of energy used will be the cheapest available. Until economic factors make EVs and hydrogen powered vehicles cost competitive to buy and run with fossil fueled cars, I expect conventional fossil fueled vehicles to be with us for a while yet.

 

 

 

Andrzej11
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
Andrzej11   7/3/2013 11:26:29 PM
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Perhaps the road to better batteries is bumpier then they thought? Still it's hard to believe that hydrogen fuel-cell cars are a viable replacement. Ten years ago those fuel-cell cars were million dollar vehicles and there was no clear path to affordability. What's changed?

 

betajet
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AC Transit Hydrogen Buses
betajet   7/4/2013 9:04:48 PM
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AC Transit in Berkeley, Oakland and other parts of the East Bay is running a pilot program with hydrogen fuel cells.  Currently they have 12 buses running.  They're great buses -- quiet and efficient.  They have solar energy stations for making hydrogen, though they also use methane from landfills.  Making hydrogen from electrolysis is a great way to use excess solar and wind energy.

Here's a link.

I think it would be great to have a fully-electric car like a Tesla with enough battery capacity for local use -- say 100 miles / 160 km.  And then be able to rent a small, plug-in fuel cell for long trips.  That way you get rapid refueling and still get all the energy you need from wind and solar.

selinz
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
selinz   7/12/2013 12:20:03 PM
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The Clarity exhibition at Semicon seemed to always have a dozen people around it. It was an interesting exhibit but it gave a hint to the technical know-how that's needed to exercise a fuel cell vehicle. If the car itself could generate hydrogen from water and regenerative braking (or even electricity), that would address many of the concerns below. I found it interesting that the fuel cell life is only listed at 10,000 hours. that's roughly 60 weeks. They put that it terms of 160,000 miles "equivalent to a gasoline engine." Uh, I don't think so. My 97 caddy has 180K, by 2000 Chrysler T&C has about the same and my civic hybrid as 230K. And all of them are still going fine.  When I challenged him on that, he said that it's likely that the entire fuel cell module wouldn't need replaceing, perhaps only a cell or two.

Bottom line is that it's great that they get some of these out on the road and if you're a trendy hipster with some cash, you can drive one! They definitely look cool!

I believe that all vehicles are currently on "3 year leases" which would be a safe way to try one out...

junko.yoshida
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Re: Are auto companies seeing limitations in EVs?
junko.yoshida   7/12/2013 12:45:53 PM
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Yeah, fuel cell life must be definitely an issue.

I like when you challenged him on that and got the answer:

"...it's likely that the entire fuel cell module wouldn't need replaceing, perhaps only a cell or two."


Right. We will keep that in mind!

chanj0
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Fuel Cell As Replacement to Lithium Battery
chanj0   7/2/2013 7:40:46 PM
There is no doubt one of the biggest challenges to EV is recharge rate. There is all kind of solution coming up lately. Fast charging and Battery swap. Yet, there doesn't seem to be anything as fast and as convenience as pumping gasoline. What if a fuel that can be injected into a battery get a recharge? Neglecting production and transporation of hydrogen fuel,  I believe fuel cell might actually be able to contribute to our energy future, especially as an alternative fuel to vehicle.

krisi
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Re: Fuel Cell As Replacement to Lithium Battery
krisi   7/2/2013 8:01:18 PM
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The number 1 battery swap company just went belly up...so much for the good idea in theory but poor in practice that neglects reality of consumer behaviour...who would want to swap EV batteries instead of just umping gas???

Andrzej11
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Re: Fuel Cell As Replacement to Lithium Battery
Andrzej11   7/3/2013 11:28:01 PM
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If some of these metal-air batteries were ever to come to market, especially lithium-air, then the recharge rate would not matter. If you could get ten times the energy-density of lithium-ion this would imply ten times the range which would be over 2000 miles if we use the Tesla S as an example. That kind of range would be far in excess of a day's worth of driving.

 

Bert22306
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Fuel cell plus a reformer?
Bert22306   7/2/2013 8:23:52 PM
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I did read about a scheme in which you pump fresh electrolyte into the battery, to achieve a full charge in the time it takes to refuel standard cars. Not sure where that went.

Failing that, I've always thought that fuel cell cars have a brighter future. But hydrogen in a tank does not. It's very volatile, has the teensiest atoms, and these tanks therefore deplete themselves as fast as, or maybe faster than, batteries die when left without recharging.

Besides, how disingenuous is it to say that fuel cell vehicles are pollution-free? Surely, that depends entirely on how you produce the H2 they need. From coal-fired electric plants, they pollute at least as much as ICE cars.

I put my hopes on separating the H2 from a fuel, stored in the car, in a regular fuel tank. The entire process should easily be twice as efficient as internal combustion engines are, and more efficient than that at low power levels, such as city driving. So that's how you cut the CO2 emissions. I mean, the typical 30 percent figure we see for ICE applies only at the best operating modes. In typical driving, try something in the high teens and twenty percent ranges. A fuel cell should be on the order of over 50 percent. The reformer should be way higher than that.

krisi
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Re: Fuel cell plus a reformer?
krisi   7/3/2013 12:16:54 AM
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Good luck pumping your elecrtolyte into your battery...let me mention one word, liabilities!

tb100
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Re: Fuel cell plus a reformer?
tb100   7/3/2013 2:12:41 PM
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 "From coal-fired electric plants, they pollute at least as much as ICE cars."

Well, at least in California, we get very little of our power from coal plants (and it is rapidly approaching zero). More than half of our power comes from natural gas.

We could burn natural gas to generate energy to create hydrogen, then burn the hydrogen in our cars. Or we could just burn natural gas in the car directly. Why aren't these car companies pushing natural gas cars? We already have the delivery infrastructure--natural gas is piped all over the state. Most people use it for heating.

As for hydrogen fuel cell cars, the Honda FCX Clarity has been available for lease in the US for years. I think there are about 50 in the US. So it clearly has been a small-scale experiment. Has the economics really changed so much so all these car companies think it will now take off? It makes me wonder if there's something else they know that they aren't telling us--like some new lower-power way to create hydrogen.

John_Galt
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Re: Fuel cell plus a reformer?
John_Galt   7/3/2013 3:55:02 PM
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>>I put my hopes on separating the H2 from a fuel, stored in the car, in a regular fuel tank. The entire process should easily be twice as efficient as internal combustion engines are, and more efficient than that at low power levels, such as city driving. So that's how you cut the CO2 emissions.<< Fuels containing hydrogen are hydrocarbon based. The resulting amount of carbon freed from the H2 bonds would be identical to that released in an ICE engine...and a distributued large scale carbon sequester technology does not currently exist. Waaay back in the 70's I worked on a university research program to employ liberated hydrogen in powering vehicles with H2 from a variety of sources CH4, H20, diesel, turns-out that this is really difficult to without either encountering a net energy loss or creating pollution in the process.

Bert22306
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Re: Fuel cell plus a reformer?
Bert22306   7/3/2013 4:27:38 PM
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Quoting: "Fuels containing hydrogen are hydrocarbon based. The resulting amount of carbon freed from the H2 bonds would be identical to that released in an ICE engine."

The amount of CO2 released only makes sense as it compares with the amount of engine horsepower created by a given volume of fuel. An engine that's twice as efficient as the one you're comparing it to will produce half as much volume of CO2 as the less efficient engine.

The other piece of the puzzle is the car's efficiency, leaving aside the engine's efficiency.  A heavy car requires more energy to get to speed than a light car does. True, with electric cars you get some of that energy back when braking. And an aerodynamic car requires less power to maintain any given speed than a blocky car. Much less.

For instance, an efficiently designed car only needs around 12 to 14 HP to maintain a steady 50 mph. A pig like an SUV or full size truck easily needs twice that, if not more than twice. And that waste increases as speed increases, which is why the top speed of SUVs and trucks is so pathetic, compared to that of cars with far smaller engines.

 

Bert22306
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IEEE article on EVs
Bert22306   7/3/2013 3:54:55 PM
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This is probably only available to IEEE members:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/unclean-at-any-speed

The URL says it all. The basic point being, creating electricity out of solar power, in large scale, comes at a price. For one, worn out solar panels create toxic waste. Extracting natural gas comes at a price. Nuclear comes at a price. Spent batteries themselves create pollution. So the main point is, CO2 emissions alone is just one small piece of the puzzle.

 

DMcCunney
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Re: IEEE article on EVs
DMcCunney   7/3/2013 5:02:24 PM
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This is probably only available to IEEE members:

Nope.  Comes up fine here, and I'm not one.

selinz
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Regneration on the go?
selinz   7/3/2013 5:13:36 PM
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I get the increased efficiency but what about the ease of turning braking and/or downhill travel back into useable energy? Doesn' t seem like the increased efficiency would be worth it if that is lost (particularly for city driving).

Bert22306
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Re: Regneration on the go?
Bert22306   7/3/2013 9:02:45 PM
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Agreed on regenerative braking. But all that requires is a mild hybrid type of setup, where the battery recoups that braking energy. The battery is not the primary energy storage system. Such an arrangement can certainly be used in fuel cell cars too.

FarmerEngineer
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H2 storage is a loser
FarmerEngineer   7/4/2013 8:22:13 PM
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Storing H2 as either a high pressure gas or as a very cold liquid just does not make economic sense.  As a high pressure gas, it is difficult to store enough gas for any range, and the pressure vessal is very heavy or expensive for the amount of H2 gas stored.  As a liquid, the density improves, but the cost to produce the liquid is excessive in terms of energy. 

The best method of storing hydrogen is in the form of NH3 which is even higher density than liquid H2, and only requires a low pressure tank to maintain it in liquid form.  Even better, NH3 can be shipped through existing pipe transport systems and by tanker ship from overseas.

przem
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Re: H2 storage is a loser
przem   7/5/2013 12:44:52 PM
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But, but, the current best 'science' for storing hydrogen is 'hydrogen storage in metals'. It turns out that hydrogen is so small that it fits into metal crystalline lattice interstitials, and you can squeeze more of it into metal than there is in liquid hydrogen. Importantly, it then leaches out of metal so it is inherently safer than a high-pressure gas or cryogenic liquid.

 

The problem is with slow loading and how to combat contamination, and with the fact that you need expensive metals: it would be nice if it worked with iron or aluminum but nooo, hydrogen wants something like palladium. People are working on cheaper matrix materials, though.

chip_monk
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Re: H2 storage is a loser
chip_monk   7/5/2013 1:56:47 PM
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Any chemists here ? how about this work around the H2 storage problem ?

Can cheap natural gas be used as a substitute for hydrogen ? Storing LNG in a tank is no sweat. But can it be cracked efficiently on demand in the car itself to generate hydrogen which would then go into the fuel cells to generate the electricity to drive the motors. The residue would be carbon, loads of it and the cracking "cartridge" will probably need to be changed every night and disposed of, but at least no uncontrolled emission of C into the environment.

But building low cost H2 systems may still be a challenge - what with H2 requiring Titanium tubing & tankage. Otherwise leaks and I am sure many still remember the Shuttle Challenger.

Michael Dunn
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Re: H2 storage is a loser
Michael Dunn   7/5/2013 5:59:17 PM
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There's a company making truck-sized fuel cells that convert natural gas to electrons. Google, among others, has installed a bunch of units.

DU00000001
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Re: H2 storage is a loser
DU00000001   7/8/2013 7:13:04 AM
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Hello all,
no chemist, just ae EE - but working in the fuel cell development environment since more than 10 years.

1. Natural gas cracking mainly leaves CO2 (and some CO).
    The process is called (steam) reforming and is more or
    less self-sustaining (via the oxidation of the carbon).
    Anyway - no problems with a carbon-filled reformer.

2. Believe me - storing LNG in tanks is hardly less sweat
    than storing liquid hydrogen in tanks !
    And the problem of "boiling off" gas is common to both.

3. H2 tubing is made mainly from stainless steel.
    Not all steals are appropriate, but some are.

Ron Neale
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Fracking might be the answer
Ron Neale   7/5/2013 7:41:33 AM
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The one word answer to your headline question might be fracking. If the reserves of gas that are alleged to be available from that recovery method, turn into reality, then in the future the US and many other countries will have that as their main and only low cost energy source. It could be the auto manufacturers are just prparing for that eventuality.

_hm
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Extreme climate
_hm   7/6/2013 7:48:54 PM
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This looks very promising technology. However, is this technology also suitable for extreme climate conditions - -40C to +45C of temperature, dust humidity and others? I would love to see new technology solution for this and few noble awards reserved for this.

 

Bert22306
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Suggested alternative article title
Bert22306   7/7/2013 6:17:48 PM
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My headline would have read, "Why were battery-powered EVs ever in vogue?"

Imagine people rationalizing that buying a car with a 2 gallon tank is okay. That would be a really hard sell. Then imagine saying that in very cold weather, make that more like a 1 gallon tank. Then imagine adding on to that, it also takes at least 4 hours, and possibly 10 hours, to fill said 2 gallon tank. Whoa, that's a difficult one. Even if you can "fill the tank" in the privacy of your own garage (oh, another catch there, assuming you have a garage).

This is the reality of battery powered EVs, for the foreseeable future.

betajet
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Re: Suggested alternative article title
betajet   7/7/2013 7:38:05 PM
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Electric cars were in vogue in the early 1900s.  From Wikipedia:
Despite their relatively slow speed, electric vehicles had a number of advantages over their early-1900s competitors. They did not have the vibration, smell, and noise associated with gasoline cars. They did not require gear changes, which for gasoline cars was the most difficult part of driving. Electric cars found popularity among well-heeled customers who used them as city cars, where their limited range was less of a disadvantage. The cars were also preferred because they did not require a manual effort to start, as did gasoline cars which featured a hand crank to start the engine. Electric cars were often marketed as suitable vehicles for women drivers due to this ease of operation.

My mother grew up in Berkeley, CA in the 1930s and remembers a elderly lady who tooled around in her electric car.  It looked like a small, open carriage steered with a tiller.

Now we have different reasons EVs are superior to ICEs: economy of use and performance.  [There's also the advantage nobody seems to want to talk about: preventing or at least postponing the destruction of mammal life on the planet.]  As EVs catch on, economy of use will be joined by economy of production.  Yes, there are some challenges regarding range and cold-weather performance, but challenges are good: they result in science and engineering jobs.

Still, as Ed Begley Jr said in Who Killed the Electric Car: "Electric cars aren't for everyone: they can only satisfy the driving needs of 90% of Americans".

DrQuine
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Hydrogen vehicles ... and backup generators
DrQuine   7/10/2013 5:49:37 PM
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A little over three years ago I spotted a Fuel Cell Electric powered Equinox Chevy SUV at the local shopping mall.  While his family shopped, I had a fascinating chat with the engineer who was test driving it (and a good look at the "engine"). It seemed to be a "mature" technology at the time - although obviously the custom built vehicle was terribly expensive. Since then the Honda has been offered for sale as well.  What is the user experience?  What kind of range does a fill-up get? Based upon the size of the power wires inside, I'd guess that such vehicles would also make wonderful emergency generators in the event of a blackout.

selinz
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CEO
Re: Hydrogen vehicles ... and backup generators
selinz   7/12/2013 2:23:55 PM
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According to the guy at semicon, the clarity gets a bit under 400 and the Toyota model (also out on the road) is closer to 500 miles on a "tank." The Clarity hasn't released pricing yet but the Toyota version was around 50K.

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