This is what I've been waiting for.
A few years ago, at the Santa Monica Airport AltExpo, I was told that 2015 will be the year for Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles. If California can get an H2 station within striking distance of Thousand Oaks, I know what I'll be turning my Prius in for.
This will make at least two auto manufacturers that will have FC based vehicles for the masses, Honda Clarity and Toyota's new vehicle.
Now! For my home hydrogen generator...
Yes, finally indeed. Things are looking up for EVs, IMHO.
If I'm remembering this correctly, many years ago, perhaps it was 11 years ago, Toyota was experimenting not JUST on the fuel cell in the car, but also an on-board hydrogen reformer. As has been repeated on here several times, for the time being, on-board hydrogen reformer research has stalled? Well, I think it needs to un-stall, because without it, my bet is the FEV is going to be about as popular as the BEV.
Home hydrogen generation is the obvious next step, but there are a couple of issues. Generating hydrogen is a trivial high-school science experiment, but pressurizing it is a little more complex. This is particularly true given the second issue, which is that it needs to be done safely. I would just as soon not read about any Hindenburg re-enactments...
LarryM99 - Ah! But, the compressing of the gas is no different than CNG tanks and the Home Setup for CNG. In addition, what is explosive energy in CNG as compared to CH2? We also need to remember that the Hindinberg did not explode, it burned.
I think the key to using Hydrogen as a low cost energy solution is to do away with the monopolies that produce fuel. Since electrolysis is a low tech method of producing Hydrogen from water this could be done at home. In other words, your garage could be your filling station with the electrical energy coming from solar or wind... The storage tanks could be underground. This is not something that Exxon or other any oil company would want so surely measures will be taken to prevent this such as lobbying the government to pass laws that regulate this so as to only allow "licenced" dealers to create and store such energy. Hence we are right back to "gas stations". However, this will certainly not prevent many from doing there own thing. Once Hydrogen becomes makeable/storable at home with vehicles that can use it this will launch a new era filled with entrepenuers and startup companies. How this all plays out nobody knows.
cstandif - I have a problem with the term "Monopoly" as a plural. By definition, that seems wrong.
However, hydrogen, as you say, is much easier to produce; therefore, I suspect there will be a lot of ways to fill your tank, when the entrepenuers get in the picture.
Entrepreneurship is going to be an important part of it. There is a huge opportunity in providing hydrogen to the people. It's no surprise that both of the last two presidents were out in front of it. If anything, the industry is catching up with the demand for such cars. How long do people think until hydrogen is the norm?
Perhaps. On the other hand, I once had a yogurt maker, so I could make my own yougurt at home. After not so long, I said wait. It takes time. I need milk. What a nuisance! I can just go to the store and buy the yogurt, when I buy milk.
Having the gear to make your own hydrogen at home is hardly a trivial matter, and it won't work at all well for people living in apartments. The amount of energy the average person uses in his cars is close to or more than what they use in their homes. So manufacturing enough hydrogen may not be such a simple proposition, depending on your circumstances.
Seems to me that a delivery infrastructure for very high pressure H2 gas cannot help but be a lot more expensive and complicated than a delivery infrastructure for relatively low volatility fuel. There's a reason why things evolve as they do.
Fuel station is crucial to the adoption of different fuel technology to drive a vehicle. No doubt. When Tesla installed charging stations along HWY from Bay Area of LA and to NY, Tesla has got enough attention from the public. Stock priced soared. Given Tesla's success of demonstrations and stock price, I thought Honda would mimic the strategy to draw public attention to Clarity. Government supported to fuel cell technology given Honda Clarity a boost until the supported was pulled out. Honda was struggling to look for partners to continue fuel cell technology.
In 2014 CES, Toyota joins the fuel cell race. How is the Toyota's technology different from Honda's? Will Toyota's venture draw enough momentum to finally bring the public one more alternative fuel vehicle? What will the future of Tesla be? Will EV co-exist with fuel cell vehicle? Among all, I do hope the fueling pump for Toyota fuel cell vehicle be the same as that for Honda Clarity.
The best way to produce hydrogen is solar-powered electrolysis of water. In this case, you store the hydrogen and release the oxygen into the air. When you recombine that hydrogen later in a fuel cell, you're taking the same amount of oxygen out of the air and the fuel cell gives you back the water. So there's no net loss of oxygen. The hydrogen is simply a great way to store solar energy.
If you produce hydrogen from fossil fuels, you do convert oxygen to CO2 at some point (bad) unless you're converting biowaste natural gas (good).
This all sounds great until you realize that the catalyst in most fuel cells is platinum. At $1400 an ounce that is going to be a very expensive fuel cell. Yes I am aware that alternative catalysts are being developed but few perform as well as the standard PEM membrane type. These are going to be exceptionally expensive vehicles to manufacture and I suspect the worlds supply of platinum will seeon be stressed beyond reason. Same issue with the rare earth magnets in the brushless motors, lithium in backup batteries, etc... It sounds great and can work but are you willing to spend $100K for a standard sedan? 95% of the licensed drivers would be unable to afford the vehicle.
The platinum loading of the 100kW PEM cells used in these vehicles has over the past decade or so dropped from about 1400g to about 5g or so, and will be going lower. The limiting factors are power density and cell life. Honda's next generation Clarity's cell has a power density of 4.5kW/l, so cell size is just over 1 cubic foot and now will sit under the hood (by the way, the Toyota FCV that was displayed at the WHEC in Toronto in 2011 had its cell under the hood, and so did the Hyundai, so I would be surprised if the reporter's suggestion that the new Toyota's cell is under the seats is true). As for cell life, ACAL Energy's latest prototype cell, using virtually no platinum, and a liquid catalyst on the oxygen side (the most critical side) has been under independent test using a simulated cycle, and has so far passed the 300,000 mile equivalent life point with no significant degradation of performance.
Unlike gasoline, the safest place for hydrogen storage is above ground. This also saves an enormous expense. Filling stations for gasoline have to meet stringent regulations regarding the burial of gasoline tanks. This involves excavating a massive hole, putting in retaining walls, regulation leak detectors and corrosion prevention devices, installing the tanks and backfilling the whole mess and pouring concrete over it. This can take upwards of a month or two, with the resulting costs and loss of revenue. The 200-vehicle capacity hydrogen refuelling station in Copenhagen, Denmark (the city bought the first 15 vehicles off Hyundai's production line in February 2013) took 12 hours to install and 36 hours for the first fill, and was ready for service in 48 hours.
Hydrogen delivery infrastructure is really not that expensive by comparison with gasoline delivery infrastructure. Remember that hydrogen is a distributed source; it rarely has to go very far, and in many cases is either available or can be generated on site. Hydrogen can also be delivered concurrently with natural gas in a conventional natural gas line, or delivered short distances in 7500psi tube trucks, or long distances in liquid form. All of these are established practises and routine.
As for total infrastructure costs, they are lower than for gasoline or diesel transportation fuels. About half of all our generated hydrogen is used by the fossil fuel industry, first to extract low quality hydrocarbons and to desulphurize and dearomatize transportation fuels. Hundreds of miles of hydrogen pipelines exist in the Gulf region for this purpose. Gasoline must support all of this hydrogen infrastructure in addition to its own very expensive infrastructure.
Since natural gas is a salable fuel in itself, the fossil fuel industry has itself funded much of the research going into more efficient natural gas to hydrogen reforming methods and hydrogen production from renewable and other sources (why waste a salable fuel?) So we will be seeing the fuel industry very much involved with transitioning to the new fuel as soon as they see a profit in it. For them to block the transition to hydrogen would be very foolish of them. Although we have seen them doing foolish things from time to time, I doubht this will be one of them.
Gasoline is MORE volatile than hydrogen, not less. On the EEV (explosive energy of vapor) index, hydrogen rates a 2.02. Gasoline rates 44.2, or 22 times higher. In addition, gasoline requires only about 0.25% air-to-gasoline for a combustible mixture, while hydrogen requires about 4%. For those who may not know the EEV scale, it is a comparative scale, where TNT is arbitrarily assigned a value of 1 (dynamite rates about 1.6). TNT and dynamite are used for controlled blasting because of their low EEV value; precision charge control is enhanced if the volatility is low and predictable.
By the way, I drove the Honda FCX Clarity at the World Hydrogen Energy Conference at Toronto, Ontario, in 2011. It's a lovely car, has all the finish of a production vehicle, and is a joy to drive. I would love to have this car. Also present at the ride and drive were the GM Equinox fuel cell version (100 of these were built in Oshawa, Ontario. At least one vehicle has passed the 100,000 mile mark, and together they have travelled over a million miles), the Hyundai Tucson, the current version of the Toyota FCV, and the Daimler F-Cell. As I had limited time (my bus didn't arrive until 1:00 PM and the day's event was over at 4:00 PM) and the crowds were large, I only got to drive the Honda, but the general comments I overheard of the other vehicles was generally positive.
A last word about electrolyzers: The Honda home electrolyzer used a high-differential-pressure electrolyzer that delivers hydrogen at 5000psi with no need of compression (the current Clarity uses a 5000psi tank). Such units are available off the shelf. Some manufacturers are offering 10,000psi units to order; but at the present time it looks as though hydrogen will be delivered at 7,500psi, and boosted to 10,000psi with specially developed ionic compressors, which are much more efficient at compressing hydrogen than conventional compressors. Of course, there might ultimately be multiple approaches used. An interesting new PEM electrolyzer has been developed by Acta Power; it uses a solid alkalyne electrolyte rather than an acidic one, and requires no noble metal catalysts at all. It is also non-critical as to water quality; a model has been developed that uses filtered rainwater as the hydrogen source.
@davemb: you will usually see a link at the bottom of your own posts: Edit/Delete - click that and it lets you correct errors or delete the post. No, I didn't see it till someone pointed it out to me either :-)
@krisi...out of curosity: how do you get hydrogen? (how much energy does it take to produce
Don Lancaster, author of the TTL cookbook, has some strong opinions on hydrogen fuel on his website.
1. Terrestral hydrogen is ONLY an energy carrier or transfer media and NOT a substance capable of delivering net NEW BTU's to the on-the-books economy.
2. Terrestral hydrogen creation is inefficient as considerably more energy of usually much higher quality has to be input than is eventually returnable.
3. No large terrestral source of hydrogen gas is known. Water, of course, is a hydrogen sink and, by fundamental chemical energitics, is the worst possible feedstock.
4. The CONTAINED energy density of terrestral hydrogen by weight is a lot LESS than gasoline. And drops dramatically as the tank is emptied. The energy density of hydrogen gas by volume is a ludicrous joke.
5. Virtually all bulk hydrogen is produced by methane reformation. And thus is EXTREMELY hydrocarbon dependent.
thank you @Wnderer...I know little on the topic but my wild guess was that the hydrogen is obtained from methane and whole complete energy cycle has little or no net energy value...you and Don Lancaster seem to confirm that view...why bother with this technology then? Kris
A lot of people have strong comments on the web, both for and against hydrogen. To answer Don's points as recorded by you:
1. Terrestrial hydrogen is an energy carrier or transfer medium; of course that's true. That's also true of electricity, and in reality, fossil fuels as well. Neither of these alternatives, in fact, "contribute net new BTU's to the economy". Why should that be a goal? If we are ever to get out of the mess we're in, we need to create and consume less energy, not more. As economist Ken Boulding once said "Anyone who believes that growth can continue indefinitely within a finite system is either a madman or an economist."
2. We don't "create" hydrogen; and we don't "create" fossil fuels either. In all cases, we are using what is there. On a whole systems basis it is a lot simpler and more efficient to use hydrogen as a fuel than gasoline, and a whole lot cleaner too. Remember, "there is no away"; transforming water into hydrogen doesn't throw anything away. When we use it in a fuel cell, we get clean water back. When we burn gasoline in an engine, we get polluted water back, together with all the other constituents of the fuel, in modified and recombined form. Eventually, in a few thousand years, the earth may transform them back, if we're lucky, or if we are still around.
3. We have many times more water than it would take to close the loop. Remember that a fuel cell is 2 to 3 times as efficient as a gasoline or diesel engine. It takes as much water to make a kWh of gasoline as a kWh of hydrogen. And how can a hydrogen source so benign that we can drink it (in fact, must drink it) be a worse feedstock than the toxic soup that feeds our gasoline refineries?
4. I can only assume that you are combining the weight of the hydrogen tank and the hydrogen fuel in your calculations. But we don't consume the tank, we only consume the hydrogen. The gravimetric density of hydrogen is higher than gasoline. A kg of hydrogen contains 33.3 kWh of energy, roughly that of a US gallon of gasoline (usually gaven as between 34 and 35kWh). A gallon of gasoline weighs roughly 2.7kg. Of course the volumetric density is "ludicrously low". That makes it useful for providing lift in airships: it's also why it is ludicrous to call the Hindenburg fire a hydrogen fire. The loaded Hindenburg contained substantially more energy in the form of petrol (both diesel and gasoline) than was contained by all the hydrogen lift bags in its hull. That's also why we do not use atmospheric-pressure hydrogen as a fuel; we compress it.
5. Of course this source of hydrogen is fossil-fuel-dependent; but not as "extremely" so as the gasoline in an ICE vehicle's tank. So what are we trying to say here? At least we have the option of getting our hydrogen from other sources. Here in Canada, at least, we produce a very significant portion of our hydrogen from non-fossil-fuel-dependent sources.
AC Transit, which serves East Bay cities such as Berkeley and Oakland (California) has a demo project with (currently) 12 hydrogen-based fuel cell buses. Hydrogen is generated by solar electrolysis in Emeryville and from landfill methane in Oakland.
I really like the buses -- they are very quiet and have no emissions. Hydrogen tanks in the bus roof give a range of 220-240 miles. The buses use batteries to get power for accelleration and hills. They are recharged by the fuel cells and regenerative braking.
thank you @betajet...I think some type of public transportation makes sense...I think they either tried or use similar buses where I live (Vancouver, Canada, home of Ballard Power, hydrogen cell maker)...the hydrogen bus spills out some water, is clean and quiet as you say...but you are likely burning coal in California (or somewhere else) to create that hydrogen so really what you are mostly doing is shifting pollution from one place to another...scaling this concept to mainstream cars is very different and will simply not work in my opinion...Kris
If the hydrogen comes from natural gas, traditional steam reformation (still in use by the fossil fuel industry) runs at between 70% and 75% efficiency, according to industry figures I have seen. When boosted to 10,000psi for use in an automobile, the overall efficiency would be about 62% with conventional compression techniques, according to a GM study a few years ago. This is better than any fossil fuel to electricity conversion (more than twice that of a coal-fired plant). Better methods are now coming on stream; for example, Membrane Reactor Technology's membrane reactor has a claimed efficiency of better than 82%. Linde has developed an ionic compressor that is much more efficient than standard compression, so we could see overall natural gas to 10,000 psi conversion efficiencies in the range of 75%. It's important to remember that this process is a part of the process of making gasoline and diesel transportation fuels as well; increasingly so as we turn to unconventional sources such as tar sands, shale oil and oil shale.
If the hydrogen comes from hydrolysis, conversion efficiencies range from 65% to 85% depending on the size and type of electrolyzer used. High differential pressure electrolyzers greatly reduce the compression requirements. If you use electricity from fossil fuels (especially coal) hydrolysis makes little sense. It makes sense when your electricity comes from renewables, and using hydrogen as a storage medium on the grid can help integrate renewables into the grid.
Here in Canada we make a lot of hydrogen by electrolysis from hydroelectric power, where it has the side benefit of helping to balance electric power production with power demand, an in some cases, flood control requirements. We also collect large amounts of byproduct hydrogen from sewage and water treatment and certain industrial processes such as chlorine production, paper production, flue gases from steel refineries, etc.
Ontario has a lot of hydro power and renewables in its electrical mix, and closed our last coal-fired power plant a few weeks ago. Air Liquide, one of our largest hydrogen producers, produces hydrogen from electrolysis from hydroelectric power.
Thanks for the detailed post, Dave. Glad to see that any fuel cell longevity issues seem to have been addressed. However I'm a bit skeptical about the high pressure requirements for hydrogen storage, and your claim that the distribution system is cheaper than that of gasoline or diesel.
I can fill the tank of my car, and leisurely reattach the gas cap, without all of the gasoline evaporating in an instant. And when I do put the gas cap on, it only needs to retain a pressure of, I'm not exactly sure, but something on the order of 50 psi. That's for evaporative emissions, with the engine off, in cars after 1995 or so.
Compare this to 7500 psi or even 10,000 psi needed for hydrogen storage. There's nothing close to that high pressure in cars today. I find it very difficult to accept that distributing and storing hydrogen is cheaper than gasoline, even if the one-time cost of burying the fuel tanks in gas stations is steep. Sounds to me like a maintenance nighmare in the making, not just for cars, but also for delivery trucks or delivery pipelines. No?
To remind you, I'm the guy who loves the FEV concept, but wants it married to an on-board reformer. Rather than messing about with 10,000 psi tanks, on board.
Bert, I'm fully aware of your support for the FEV concept, and I appreciate that. However, my concern is that adding a mobile reformer to the vehicle both eliminates many of the advantages of the concept, and is a disincentive for transitioning away from gasoline, which is in my view necessary for the sake of the environment-increasingly so as we resort to unconventional oil and gas reserves for production. And, as a user of hydrogen myself, my view is that you are a little too afraid of the handling and use of hydrogen.
The fuel nozzles in the hydrogen refueling systems are designed to completely seal the pump-to-vehicle connection before allowing any fuel to pass into the tank, yet are as easy to use as a gasoline refueling nozzle; when you refuel a gasoline vehicle, the evaporative emissions system is ineffective, and vapors will be emitted during the process, and they linger in search of a source of ignition, as many people foolish enough to smoke while refueling can tell you, if they manage to survive the incident.
During the refueling process is the only time that 10,000psi pressures exist outside of the vehicle's storage tank. Pressure reducing valves located in the tank outlet reduce the pressure to typically under 50psi (less in smaller cells; the cells I use run at 5-6psi).
High pressures do exist in ICE vehicles; upto 25,000 to 34,000psi in the fuel rails of a common-rail diesel engine, and around 5,000psi in the accumulators in antilock braking systems. If the system is properly designed, it is not a problem. The pressure tanks in the FCV undergo a series of very severe tests to insure their safety and ability to survive accidents and fire exposure. Hyundai's brochure on their Tucson FCV (which I picked up at the WHEC event in Toronto) devotes two entire pages to discussing safety measures incorporated in their vehicle, including photos of the results of crash tests and fire exposure tests.
When I mention costs, I'm referring to whole systems costs, which would include not only distribution and storage, but extraction and processing costs as well. Remember there are no gasoline mines; gasoline is a highly refined product, made from oil at considerable additional costs, including both oil distribution and hydrogen distribution to very sophisticated and very costly refineries (so costly that the industry often prefers shipping oil a thousand miles to an existing refinery to building a local refinery). Purifying hydrogen for use in a fuel cell is child's play by comparison to that.
Gasoline infrastructure costs (including burying of gas station tanks) are not one-time costs. Things wear out, rust out, etc. Of course this is also true of a hydrogen infrastructure as well, but the cost of maintaining fossil fuel infrastructure in the US alone runs in the neighborhood of 100 million dollars per year. In the instance of the gas station, from my observation I expect that the above-ground hydrogen tank would last significantly longer than the buried gas tank, and would be cheaper to replace.
So, if I haven't convinced you, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. In any case, the fact that this thread has been active for so long indicates a lot of interest in the subject. I thank you and everyone for that.
@davemb: "Gasoline infrastructure costs ... Things wear out, rust out, etc. Of course this is also true of a hydrogen infrastructure as well, ... . In the instance of the gas station, from my observation I expect that the above-ground hydrogen tank would last significantly longer than the buried gas tank, and would be cheaper to replace."
How large are these above-ground hydrogen tanks likely to be? One can pave over buried tanks and use the space to park the tanker truck that refills the tanks. Modern gasoline tanks are fiberglass, and don't rust. I assume environmental regulations also prohibit having connections on the bottom of a buried tank (as does the USCG in boats) so the water which collects in the bottom of the tank can't corrode the connection and cause a leak into the groundwater (or the bilge in the case of a boat).
A buried hydrogen tank would have the advantage of a more consistent thermal environment, what with all that earth insulating it. If a fence post is required to be below the frost line, I'm sure that a buried gas tank must be, too.
The problem with buried tanks is corrosion and ununiform pressure on the tanks, along with settling issues over time.
and you can't inspect them either easily.
(a method may be possible from the inside, ultrasound...like pipe inspection equipment.)
Above ground adds a layer of safety in that hydrogen rises upward during an accidental release or accident.
being above ground allready adds a ground level buffer layer.
How much is really needed I don't know.
Tanks that store hydrogen by surface absorbsion are also possible.
these could be buried more safly perhaps.
Also a underground incasement for a cylindarical tank to be dropped in and se cured and piped into the system could also be a solution.
Standard cement tube pour or standard sewage cement pipe sections.
Another better holistic solution to reduce fuel station costs both large and smaller volume distributed fueling stations needed for mass market roll-out is to make them JIT hydrogen or near JIT as possible Just in time hydrogen production reduces tank storage volume needs substantially.
Power source infrastructure is needed but is available for the most part with significant buildout for mass market adoption. The point being, we have a good start and the modernization of the grid will be critical as we switch to a electric-hydrogen economy.
Anyone working on this issue?
What is the present cost-kw/kwh of the 2015 fuel cell and its comparison to LiFePO4 batteries and NiMH as comparisons.
Also the same for the total vehicle wold be great comparison points also
You're right, buried gasoline tanks have several safety issues, whatever they are made of (because of the stress forces and for cost reasons I suspect these tanks are still made of steel, with an anti-corrosion inner liner, and protected from galvanic corrosion by an active anti-corrosion device similar to those used on steel bridges and steel buildings). The pit the tanks are buried in usually also have containment walls to inhibit the spread of leaks and spills, and the ground is monitored for signs of contamination. Tanks must be monitored for signs of corrosion and leakage. Every jusrisdiction has strict rules to be followed; gasoline is highly toxic, and a leak has serious consequences regarding contamination of soil and groundwater around such sites, not to mention the fire hazard.
Hydrogen tanks are not perfect either, and must be periodically inspected. The consequences of a spill are much lower, however, espescially in hydrogen tanks mounted above ground in open air.
Regarding tank size: the 200-car capacity station built in Copenhagen, Denmark to fuel the 15 Hyundai vehicles that were delivered to them in February of 2013 was a modular system containing the dispensing units, hydrogen tank, and electrolyzer (a source of renewably generated electricity was available). The entire unit was transported to the site in a standard flatbed trailer. The unit was installed in 12 hours and the first fill took 36 hours, suggesting that the tank was sized to hold 1.5 day's supply of hydrogen and continually replenished each day; thus it acts as a "just in time" delivery system, precisely as you suggested. That the whole system was delivered on a flatbed suggests that the tank size is obviously quite managable.
With a little work this could probably work with CNG, methane, or biomethane as well.
Option 1: If natural gas is available on site, offsite hydrogen could be delivered concurrently with the natural gas, in the same pipeline; the gases don't mix chemically and are easily separable onsite, with the hydrogen going to the hydrogen tank and the remaining natural gas serving its original function (heating or whatever). This sort of thing is being tried in Germany.
Option 2: Gas reformation could be done on site. Standard steam reformation may be site-unfriendly, but there are at least 2 companies (one Canadian, one US company) offering alternatives that could possibly be made site-friendly. American Hydrogen's version inherently captures the carbon dioxide for industrial use or sequestration while delivering hydrogen at 2000psi. MRT's version can be equipped for sequestration as an option. Both are more efficient than steam reformation.
Option 3: Delivery by hydrogen pipeline; with a tank at the station as a buffer, the pipeline could be smaller than otherwise. A dedicated hydrogen pipeline, unlike an oil pipeline, doesn't necessarily have to be buried; it could be above ground and incorporated into existing infrastructure. With careful planning, such a system could be made safe.
Option 4: Frequent delivery by tube trailer at 7500 psi, as suggested by Linde; for short-distance delivery this could be feasable, and more efficient than delivery as a liquid by semitrailer, because it eliminates the need to liquify the hydrogen.
The key to making these work is having a distributed source of hydrogen, to avoid long-distance delivery.
I live in Ontario, Canada (in Ottawa). Our provincial Liberal government is working to increase renewables such as wind, solar, and microhydro in our electrical power mix, and closed our last coal mine in December. Two planned gas-fired plants were also cancelled, and they are working towards a distributed grid infrastructure. It's a political struggle, however, as it threatens certain vested interests, and involves some "short term pain for long-term gain", which some people can't understand or don't want to. With a little luck, however, it will happen.
I don't know if Toyota has identified the cost of its fuel cell yet, but from other sources I gather that the general goal in the industry is $25.00/kW for a car sized cell, which means that the cost of a typical 100kW cell would be around $2500.00. I gather that they are close to achieving this. In the end, the cost of the hydrogen tanks may be more significant than the cells. Some work is being done on that as well.
Toyota's most recent comments suggest that the cost of the cars will be roughly equivalent to plug-in hybrids.
I think the rail structure and long abandonded spurrs could be retrofitted to be hydrogen fueling stations.
Allows for inexpensive, secure train track delivery.
This could easily jumps statr the chicken and egg infrastructure.
The hydrogen delivered in CNG infrastructure can serve other sites preferentailly also.
Both of these will have great sites with little infrastructre extention/cost.
The low lying fruit can be developed first followed by moderate cost sites next as demand builds.
The hydrogen pipelines I am skeptical about leakage, not so much for safety, but because its hard to keep hydrogen in a expensive sphereicle tank from escaping out the walls because hydrogen is the smalles atom/molecule of any element and will leak through anything.
Pipe would be so expensive. Just to have a chance of being possible.
Electrolysis will also be part of the mix.
Tanks will need to be big enough to make hydrogen at night when there is a surplus of electricity and be dispatchable loads for grid stabilization also.
Very little waste electrical overhead voltage could be needed on the grid if these electrolysis loads can be throttled back or switched off to shed load from sagging power voltage from total grid load. This could be the way to help pay for the overhead of the infrastructure.
Split the cost savings between the power generaters and distributers, the fuel station operators, and utilitiy consumers.
I have not seen this but a hybrid tank is possible with a high pressure tank at the center and a outer shell that is a surface area material that has an affinity for hydrogen on the surface.
As the high pressure tank slowly leaks the outer low pressure can capture and deliver ito the pump/customer. it needs enough % storage capacity to be able to capture this escaping hydrogen over time with the users taking it out to limit the pressure of the low pressure tank.
Either venting or repressurising back to high pressure tank will be needed for back up when/if no users can refuel to keep this low pressure below its limit level.
@davemb: On your post of 1/7/2014 11:54:16 PM, you mentioned that the platinum loading of the 100kW PEM cells used in these vehicles has over the past decade or so dropped from about 1400g to about 5g orso, and will be going lower. Where did you get the number. DOE has the technical target for 2017 of total PGM (g/KW rated) is 0.125. Your data of 0.05 has exceeded that target already. Please advice. Thanks.
I don't have the article before me; it was in an automotive technical journal that was briefly loaned to me about 2 years ago. The article referred to the 100 kW cells in the GM vans as having a platinum loading of around 10 grams (or 0.1 g/kW, very close to the target you mentioned). These cells are made by Ballard, a Canadian cell manufacturer. The article went on to say that the next-generation cells to be manufactured in a new factory in Burnaby, B.C., would have a still-lower loading, perhaps as low as 5 grams.Construction of the plant was to be started in 2013. I believe this happened, but Daimler (one of the players in the consortium that was to build the plant), which then was aiming for 2015 as an introduction target for their fuel cell vehicles, has pushed their target back to 2017. So the 5g loaded cells are in the works, but not on the road. However, if the article is correct, the 10g loaded cells are on the road. At least one of these vans has exceeded 100,000 miles of operation, thereby exceeding the DOE target of 50,000 miles (this from statements by GM).
There are other players as well. ACAL Energy's cell, which uses a liquid electrolyte on the cathode side, claims that their cell uses "negligible" platimum. Their cell is undergoing third-party simulated-drive-cycle endurance tests and has logged over 300,000 equivalent miles so far (this information from their website).
@davemb: Thanks for your prompt response. The DOE target can be found through the reference of DOE 2013 Annual Merit Review Proceedings and 2012 Annual Progress Reports. I really appreciate it if you can provide me the detailed information about the Automotive technical journal published two years ago. It is quite interesting. Thanks.
This article strikes me as a public relations piece ("vaporware") intended to buy good will and time. Honda's Clarity was unveiled in November 2007 and production started in November 2008. They have been driving around on hydrogen for more than 4 years. I don't see much significance in Toyota's announcement except that they'd like to join the party.
Note also that the Clarity is Honda's second-generation fuel cell vehicle; the original FCX was introduced in December 2002. In addition, Hyundai has been selling the fuel-cell version of its Tucson in Europe since February 2013.
In my view a "public relations piece" is not so bad if it is reasonably honest and captures the public interest. In another newsletter it was mentioned that Toyota is also to get involved with refueling infrastructure, so it seems to me that they are serious about this. If they want to "join the party" by all means let's let them in; the more support, the better.
Thanks for reminding me of the earlier generation Honda FCX.
I'm pleased that Toyota is expanding into this market - the more players, the more infrastructure can be supported, and the more credibility the solution builds.
At the same time, I believe that when press releases are reprinted or reported in a publication that the "rst of the story" and the context be explained. Is this innovation, something new, or another company doing the same old thing. With mpodern graphics tools, an artist's conception of a car may even appear as real as a production vehicle on the street. Readers may not know all the background information (which is why they're reading to learn more).
Back in the early 1970s, Chemical & Engineering News (published by the American Chemical Society) had an article on hydrogen power for motor vehicles, using internal combustion engines, not fuel cells. The article also described a novel way to store hydrogen at low pressures.
The idea back then was that engine technology was not the problem, fuel sources and pollution was, and that hydrogen had several advantages over gasoline, diesel, and propane, but several obstacles to its implementation as well. From what I see the obstacles are still here, and will in some way affect the use of hydrogen fuel cells.
First, every chemistry major knows there are much better things to make from petroleum than simple non-renewable fuels. (Among other things, "Plastics." as Benjamin was told.)
Second, the only by-product of hydrogen combustion is water, which is not usually considered a polllutant in the same sense as CO, CO2, and NOx emissions.
Third, the colder it gets, the harder it is to vaporize gasoline and diesel fuel. Hydrogen, which boils at -252.9C / -423.2F, will still be a vapor in arctic / antarctic climates, whereas even propane gas turns to a liquid around around -42C / -44F (the record low temperatures in Alaska during the winter (October - April) run from -46C / -50F to -62C / -80F; Antarctica is even colder. reaching −80 °C / −112 °F to −90 °C / −130 °F in the interior in winter).
In a car crash, gasoline vapors hang near the ground waiting for a spark to ignite them, whereas hydrogen readily rises and dissipates, greatly reducing the risk of fire or explosion.
Four major disadvantages to hydrogen as a fuel source are production, distribution, storage, and panic.
Production: as pointed out in other posts, electrolysis requires electricity produced by some other (expensive) fuel source. The article proposed that thermal cracking of water in nuclear plants would be more efficient for large-scale production of hydrogen.
Distribution: gasoline stations are served by tanker trucks. Hydrogen stations could be served by trucks or by gas lines, similar to natural gas.
Storage: storage is done in heavy tanks, as for all gases. Gaseous hydrogen, being a small molecule like helium, tends to leak through joints or other small openings (which is why your helium-filled balloons eventually shrink and stop floating, even in mylar).
The article reported on some research into using rare-earth hydrides to store hydrogen. These "tanks" are lighter because the hydrogen is bound to the rare-earth substrate, not stored under high pressure in a heavy tank. An advantage of this system is that the the evolution of hydrogen from the substrate is an endothermic reaction, meaning it absorbs heat, so you need to apply a little heat to get the hydrogen out. If the tank is punctured in an accident, the release of hydrogen ends up cooling the tank, self-limiting the release. See also Wikipedia article on Lanthanum (Hydrogen sponge bullet).
Alas, like many ideas, this one died on the vine since gasoline was still cheaper than any other alternatives. Still, in my youth I thought this was neat. Still do!
Panic: The author termed this the "Hindenburg Syndrome." Mention "hydrogen" and everyone thinks of the ill-fated Nazi Zeppelin's last trip to Lakehurst, NJ, and assumes hydrogen is too dangerous. This isn't so. According to the Wikipedia article on the Hindenburg Disaster:
"Hydrogen fires are notable for being less destructive to immediate surroundings than gasoline explosions because of the buoyancy of H2, which causes heat of combustion to be released upwards more than circumferentially as the leaked mass ascends in the atmosphere; hydrogen fires are more survivable than fires of gasoline and of wood. The hydrogen in the Hindenburg burned out within about 90 seconds."
It seems to me that there could be a further advantage to hydrogen if you consider the distribution of the fuel. You could fill a balloon or dirigible and float the hydrogen (using its bouyancy) from distribution point to distribution point. When the supply was all depleted, the deflated balloon could then be carted back to base- reduction of delivery costs and traffic congestion.
@antedeluvian: "It seems to me that there could be a further advantage to hydrogen if you consider the distribution of the fuel. You could fill a balloon or dirigible and float the hydrogen ..."
Did I miss the part it where it said, "The design is left as an exercise for the student." :-Þ
I was never a stellar student in PChem, so it would take a good bit or time and research to do the numbers, but I have a feeling that transferring hydrogen only in the balloon wouldn't be efficient. Sorry to burst your balloon, but I don't think you could carry enough in the balloon itself to make it worthwhile. The more hydrogen you add and the larger the balloon is, the more ballast you'd need to keep the balloon from rising past the ionosphere (assuming it didn't burst first (... hydrogen gas is very rare in the Earth's atmosphere (1 ppm by volume) because of its light weight, which enables it to escape from Earth's gravity more easily than heavier gases)). Then you have to ship or dispose of the ballast ...
Perhaps a better idea would be to use a zeppellin (rigid airship) to transport tanks of hydrogen to a fueling station and to transport the empties back. We're not even considering the air traffic control problem, either. Or how you drop off one heavy tank and pick up a slightly lighter one without being tethered to something to keep you from floating away during the transfer!
Another exercise for the student would be to determine if the Zeppellin should be filled with hydrogen or helium. Helium is not flammable, therefore safer, but probably more expensive. You'd have the same problem exchanging tanks, too. From the Wikipedia article on Helium (Flight):
Because it is lighter than air, airships and balloons are inflated with helium for lift. While hydrogen gas is approximately 7% more buoyant, helium has the advantage of being non-flammable (in addition to being fire retardant).
"Helium is a finite resource and is one of the only elements with escape velocity, meaning that once released into the atmosphere, it escapes into space."
Nice synapsis thank you, please comment on my comments if you would. Specifically the tank in tank and hydrogen ICE helping to allow infrastructure funding,planning,rollout... are fresh of the back brain stem.
Also as a side but related hydrogen-ICE topic is hydrogen augmentation of standard gasoline and diesel engines.
There are now CARB certified hydrogen augmentaion systems being sold into the larger truck fleet type operations.
These increase mileage by 10-20%.
Lower CO, CO2, HC, NOx, emmisions (See CARB certification)
lower particulates (diesel)
(One thing is the O2 senser that can fight against MPG gains (up to ~50%) via compensating for extra oxegen with extra fuel (-->extra power)(-->less Mdot, foot pressure on pedel)
This can be solved with modifing the loop. The O2 sensor and system feedback controls, static and dynamic limits determine how big an issue this.
This not an issue for systems designed to compensate for this from the begining if car companies started putting these systems into new cars.
A crafty garagateer can get past this, or watching lots of youtube video on people doing mods, some bs, some excellent to get clued in on what needs to be done.
How does this work?
By taxing the alternator electrical output power to run the electrolysis.
OK now this sounds like a perpetual motion machine getting more out/in??
This is only partly right though because it does actually work and produces MPG.
OK electrical power makes hydrogen at an efficeincy less than 1.0...given
it is burned in engine at an efficiency less than 1...given
So how upto 20% or 1.2x?
Because the hydrogen help burn the carbon in the carbon chain backbone of liquid fuels.
It helps distribute the composite fuel energy more uniform on average,
changes the flame front and burn rate, ie higher effective octane rating
So it gets its gains by helping burn liquid fuel more completly with better efficiency in any ICE!
But these systems needs a cuastic liquid mix to allow efficient electrolysis.
If you did it with clean water the MPG gains would vaporise in the lost efficiency!
These systems can work in big industral applications with dedicated maintanance and large fuel costs with relatively low MPG.
These become issues as we move into the mainstream car market.
Cars get ~3x the MPG of the truck fleet.
maintanenece issues with caustic H2O solution and tank.
Ok back to hydrogen fueling stations...
If any car could add a small hydrogen tank and assist system to improve MPG without the nasty water phosphate solution and could fill up the tank while getting gasoline or diesel this could help jump start the hydrogen infrastructure needs right now!
0.03% poplutation driving fuel cell cars wont cut it alone.
add 10% of the cars on the road with this system. new cars and retrofit systems
using 10% of there fuel being hydrogen, saving another 20% in gasoline costs!
thats 1% of fuel use being hydrogen to save 2% average across populus.
The Other Tesla David Blaza5 comments I find myself going to Kickstarter and Indiegogo on a regular basis these days because they have become real innovation marketplaces. As far as I'm concerned, this is where a lot of cool ...