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Why Hydrogen Cars Are Suddenly Back in Vogue

Longer distance and faster refueling time
7/2/2013 04:20 PM EDT
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selinz
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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.

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!

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...

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.

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.

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".

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.

_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.

 

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.

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.

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