Toyota Prius Forum banner

1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,043 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Anyone interested in this topic, and answers to questions such as when, how much, how likely, can we really expect cars on the road with em soon ? should read this book:

"Hype About Hydrogen" 2004 Joseph J. Romm. I found it at my local library. Very enlightening.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
279 Posts
There are only two problems with fuel cells. The fuel... and the cell.

Simple maths:

To electrolyse and compress 1kg of hydrogen requires ~50 kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Thus, 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity (renewable or otherwise) gives you:

In a fuel cell car: 0.8-1 mile range.

In a plug-in hybrid: 4-5 miles range.

So any country running a hydrogen fleet will have to build 4-5 times as many power stations (and use 4-5 times the energy) as a country running a fleet of plug-in hybrids. It's madness!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
279 Posts
hyperion said:
Not madness when there is "zip" oil or when gas is 6 or 7 dollars a gallon
Where do you think the hydrogen is going to come from? Not from electrolysis, as it is just waaaay too inefficient and expensive that way, and also because plug-in hybrids can go 4-5 times further on the same amount of electricity.

In fact, because of this, the current plans for hydrogen are to make it from natural gas! Yes, that means using more fossil fuels! And when that runs out using coal to run electrolysers. So much so that recent think-tanks (even in the US) have worked out that switching to a hydrogen economy will actually double the amount of carbon dioxide emissions compared to today simply because it's such an inefficient solution.

I'm not saying a hydrogen economy is impossible - I'm just saying it's ridiculous when plug-in hybrids offer so much more for so much less not just today but at any stage in the future too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
111 Posts
Iceland is experimenting with hydrogen vehicles. They are unique in that they have unlimited geothermal power for the generation of the hydrogen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,873 Posts
And it looks like from Ken's articles that Honda has overcome any hurdles. Since GM has just been working on this for the past five years instead of hybrids, who knows haw far along they have come. It will be the future. Man once said, you can't fly!. 2020 will be here before you know it.
"Plug Ins) have been tried and failed to meet or come close to being a practical option where as hybrids work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
548 Posts
clett said:
hyperion said:
Not madness when there is "zip" oil or when gas is 6 or 7 dollars a gallon
Where do you think the hydrogen is going to come from? Not from electrolysis, as it is just waaaay too inefficient and expensive that way, and also because plug-in hybrids can go 4-5 times further on the same amount of electricity.

In fact, because of this, the current plans for hydrogen are to make it from natural gas! Yes, that means using more fossil fuels! And when that runs out using coal to run electrolysers. So much so that recent think-tanks (even in the US) have worked out that switching to a hydrogen economy will actually double the amount of carbon dioxide emissions compared to today simply because it's such an inefficient solution.

I'm not saying a hydrogen economy is impossible - I'm just saying it's ridiculous when plug-in hybrids offer so much more for so much less not just today but at any stage in the future too.
If you're serious about reducing the amount of CO2 emissions in the air today, plug-in hybrids aren't the answer. Pure electric cars are.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,873 Posts
I think the object is cheap, practical transportation with the least damage to the enviverament. Plug In's have failed to even come close. Imagine trying a days drive from Chicago to St. Louis. Unless there were stations where you could stop and trade battery packs in two minutes.
Hydrogen is the acknowledged way to go by some very smart people and every car manufacturer in the world is R&D'ing this approach. Hybrids are presently the most efficient and will be with us for the next dozen years
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,043 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Almost all of the many good questions & comments you all make are addressed in Romm's book.

Yes, I do realize that there are already experimental vehicles on the road of many technologies. Experimental is the operative word.

His book discusses many practical limitations...like who is going to invest to build/convert to hydrogen service/refill stations, to support a handful of hydrogen vehicles.

The current infrastructure of gas & service stations evolved over many many decades as vehicles grew in number & location. It has been about 100 years since Ford made the first commercially successful cars in volume.

A similar evolution would have to gradually occur for an infrastructure to evolve in support of a hydrogen economy.

He doesnt say it wont work, just challenges the "hype" that we can somehow get there relatively overnight, without the gradual evolution that we experienced with fossil fuel vehicles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
304 Posts
Also fuel cells have two other mountains to overcome: they aren't very robust (higher loads not only deplete them rapidly, but break down the internal construction at a much faster rate) nor do they work at all or well below freezing.  They are working on these two problems but don't expect them to be "fixed" within the next 20 years.  They simply aren't garnering enough (or as much) research money as battery technology currently holds by orders of magnitude.  In fact, capacitor (in particular ultra/super capacitor) research funding drowns out fuel cell so much so, the US Gov. is spending ~$340M on fuel cell research alone just to make sure it doesn't die by the wayside because of its current limitations.

Battery breakthroughs are now coming fast and furious because of the last 20 years of determined R & D. So will we get to a hydrogen economy? Eventually, probably. Will I see it in my lifetime? No, probably not although we might see some huge expansions in the SouthWest because of possible extensive solar (if that becomes big too. Heck it took 20 years after talking about a hybrid vehicle to produce a practical one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
279 Posts
hyperion said:
I think the object is cheap, practical transportation with the least damage to the enviverament. Plug In's have failed to even come close.
Here's one plug-in hybrid that does very well indeed.
http://www.evworld.com/view.cfm?section=article&storyid=818

hyperion said:
Imagine trying a days drive from Chicago to St. Louis. Unless there were stations where you could stop and trade battery packs in two minutes.
You're thinking of a straight EV. A plug-in hybrid has an engine and a battery. 90+% of its journeys (ie all the ones under say, 150 miles), are made under battery power, and all the much longer trips from normal refuelling. This means it consumes less than a tenth of the amount of fuel of a normal hybrid that can't be plugged in.

So for your imaginary trip from Chicago to St. Louis, you'd get about 150 miles on battery power alone, then the engine would kick in to start charging the battery. 500 miles after that, you just stop at a regular gas/biodiesel station to fill up in 5 minutes and be on your way again. That's how plug-in hybrids work - they have all the benefits of both EVs and hybrids in one package.

hyperion said:
And it looks like from Ken's articles that Honda has overcome any hurdles. Since GM has just been working on this for the past five years instead of hybrids, who knows haw far along they have come. It will be the future. Man once said, you can't fly!. 2020 will be here before you know it.
While there are some hurdles to be overcome in the design of the fuel cell cars themselves, like the lack of range, difficult storage and low temperature starting, I do believe they can and will be solved, as shown by Honda especially. I am not disputing that at all!

What I'm saying is that's not the issue with fuel cells. The main problem is the huge energy costs of making the hydrogen! Lets say you start with some electricity from renewable sources, like wind or solar. You first have to electrolyse some water (big losses there) compress it (very inefficient - the worst bit about hydrogen), transport it (15 times as many tankers will be required on the roads to transport H2 vs fossil fuels because of the tank size issues) and then the fuel cells themselves are only 50% peak efficiency (some new diesel engines get better than that)!

So, for your 1 kWhr of electricity you can go 4-5 times further in an EV or plug-in hybrid compared to a fuel cell car, because all that energy has been wasted along the way making the hydrogen.

Now imagine it's 2020, and you're at the dealers looking at the new fuel cell car and comparing it with a plug-in hybrid. The plug-in hybrid is a mature technology by now, and with a very simple layout is really quite cheap. The fuel cell car on the other hand has an enormous carbon fibre wound fuel tank and masses of platinum in the engine (there isn't actually enough platinum in the world to make all the fuel cells needed, so the price of platinum and fuel cells will go up, not down with the more that get manufactured!)

Then the salesman tells you that it's going to cost you 4 times as much to fill up the hydrogen car, and that you can only do it at a dedicated H2 refuelling station. But the plug-in hybrid can be recharged at home, or at a gas station, and an 80% electric charge is available in only 1 minute using Toshiba's (now 15 years old) long-life lithium battery technology.

So it's not that fuel cell cars can't be made, they can. It's just that should they come to market they won't be able to compete with plug-in hybrids, on efficiency, cost, range, practicality or environmental benefit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,873 Posts
You make some damn fine points. I've learned a lot. It's a shame that the folks in Washington haven't a clue and probably won't until the last drop of oil is pumped out of a force fed well! Thanks. Wouldn't it be great if this turns out to be the "big three's" decision for 2007, instead of just bettering the hybrid system used by Toyota!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,161 Posts
Clett makes a good point about the vehicle costing more than the gain, but we can currently say that about our current hybrids, and was definitely the case several years ago.

I heard an interview on Moody Radio of the VP of market development of American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE). He believes Ethanol would be a good way to lower our dependence on foreign oil TODAY, much as the hybrids do.

Now I have seen posts mentioning that it costs more in energy to make ethanol than is produced, just as is claimed with hydrogen. So, I just emailed him on that question.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Hi all,

Please be aware that "Hybrid" is NOT only with gasoline engine.
Hybrid vehicle can work with any power sources AND the battery power.
Toyota FCHV stands for fuel-cell hybrid vehicle.

The current Toyota HSD system is not a temporary solution. The technology is connected to the future power sources.

Regards,
[email protected]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
101 Posts
Actually, hydrogen is just as political as ethanol. I agree with Clett. Hydrogen is a clean-burning fuel, but it is not an energy source. It takes energy to produce it. It is inefficient to produce, inefficient to transport, and inefficient to store. (You have to add more energy to get it out of storage.) It has a poor "well-to-wheels" efficiency. Add to that the extremely high cost of fuel cells and the cost of a hydrogen distribution infrastructure. All the hype about the fuel cell cars of the future is a great way for the automotive industry to turn attention away from the need for better gas mileage (CAFE) standards today. As hybrid cars continue to advance, so too should battery technology, paving the way for plug-in hybrids that will use less-and-less gas.

Having said that, one possible future source of hydrogen is coal gasification. China has lots of coal, and they are concerned about the air pollution and health costs of burning it. They could produce hydrogen from coal and maybe even be coaxed into going to the final step of sequestering the carbon. (But geological sequestration of the carbon adds more cost and requires expensive research to prove that it will work reliably.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,161 Posts
Check this link out:

http://www.ethanol.org/pdfs/energy_balance_ethanol.pdf

I also found a link about running a classic on E85. Unfortunately, with the marginal ICE power, losing power capacity to E85 was a downer.

I estimated that at $2.20 for regular gas, E85 would have to be $1.60 to break even economically. Perhaps if the ECM was tuned for it, it would get better power and thus better mileage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,285 Posts
The long-term answer is hydrogen power (perhaps as a hybrid), with the hydrogen made from fusion nuke generated electricity. The only question is how long it will take to get to that technology pair. In the meantime, gas-electric hybrids are a relatively low-tech/low-risk way to extend the time we have to develop the long-term technology solution.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top