The EV just might get some competition in the near future The prospects of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ve

edited November -1 in General
Read this:

"Given the slow sales (so far) of mainstream electric cars, it’s not a surprise that automakers are taking a harder look at other alternatives to the ubiquitous gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. Ford on Monday announced a new strategic alliance with Nissan and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler under which the automakers will jointly develop a fuel-cell system that could power affordable mass-market cars as soon as 2017.

Fuel cells are electric generators that rely on a fuel, typically compressed hydrogen, to produce electricity without toxic emissions. The idea here is that a fuel cell could replace the (heavy, expensive, awkward to package) batteries in an electric car. The result would be a car that one “refuels” much like a conventional car today – and which has a conventional car’s range — but which emits nothing but water, the only “exhaust” from the hydrogen fuel-cell process."

Has anyone got any comments/opinions/views, or information/expectation on the development of this technology?

By the way BMW and Toyota have recently announced a strategic alliance on this technology as well. Honda and Hyunday are working on this as well.


  • bpbp
    edited November -1
    While the technology looks promising, a major challenge is the infrastructure required to provide fueling - and the expense of building new distribution and fueling stations can be very high.

    While EVs take longer to charge, a huge advantage is that the infrastructure is in place for electricity distribution, and owners can install charging stations at their homes. It just takes longer than 5 minutes to charge a reasonable range...
  • edited November -1
    The Honda hydrogen car was one that I looked several year ago. At that time they had several hundred prototypes planned for CA only. 10 years later they are at the same stage of development and guess what, they've designed LI-ion batteries as the motor drive. This means, I speculate, that performance will be capped at whatever the hydrogen cell engine is capable of producing. I wouldn't mind having something like this for long hauls but calling a Prius like performance "fun to drive" won't work for my daily driver.

    And like the firs.t responder said, infrastructure may be an issue. Honda has been working on that by using solar and nat gas as the power source to produce hydrogen for the fuel cell. That would make it easier and cleaner than gasoline delivery but how efficient is nat gas at producing the fuel? Don't know.
  • edited November -1
    By the way competition is good! No reason this couldn't work. If they did pull it off it accomplishes two good things for the US: eliminate foreign energy dependency and cleaner cars. Tesla cars already do that and the more efforts going down that path are a good thing.
  • edited November -1
    I could be wrong but I believe Honda did deploy a demonstration fleet of the FCX Clarity.

    I have read blogs etc. of the owners chronicles of using the things as a daily driver. Not sure if any remain in the wild.
  • edited November -1
    A consortium of seven auto companies, five energy companies, and two utilities have been working on this in a CA. sponsored effort north of San Francisco for about 15 years. Little progress has been made the last ten-twelve years.
  • edited November -1
    Even so, the hydrogen fuel cell is competition for the li-ion battery. It is an alternative source of electiricity that will drive an electric powertrain. It has no use for an ICE.
  • edited November -1
    The math doesn't work for hydrogen. Where is all the hydrogen supposed to come from? From water? Electrolysis requires more energy than that found in the hydrogen, so going from electricity to H2 and back again is less efficient than going from electricity to batteries and back.

    The distribution problem is comparatively minor.

    Since hydrogen obtained through electrolysis is too expensive, nearly all hydrogen today comes from fossil fuels. At bottom, hydrogen is yet another fossil fuel company play, so the fact that it requires distribution through fuel stations is actually feature, not a bug.

    Fuel cells are also very expensive. The Honda FCX Clarity was made in very low volume, around 50 cars, for a reason. Tesla is making that many Model S <i>every day</i>.

    They ramp up hydrogen news every time BEV's look like a threat. It's been done before. Just look at "Who Killed The Electric Car" for an example.
  • edited November -1
    Elon has discussed the stupidity of hydrogen fuel cells at length. At Tesla they call them "fool cells"...remember Elon works in the space industry as well so has extensive knowledge of the possibilities of fuel cells as they were born in the space industry...the fact is that NASA gave up on the fuel cell about 15 years ago in exchange for advanced lithium ion someone said above the math simply doesn't work...the maximium efficiencies possible with the fuel cell simply don't compare to what is possible with batteries and renewable electricity generation via solar, etc.

    If Elon saw a future in hydrogen he would have pursued it instead of going down the lithium ion battery path...being in the space industry he looked at all possible options...lithium ion offered the best hope along with the fact that 95% of the infrastructure required is already in our homes. Supercharging stations cost $250k on average...a hydrogen refueling station would be much more dangerous and cost millions.
    Restaurants, shopping malls, supermarkets, hotels, etc, etc can all install 240v outlets for EV users at minimal expense...none of these businesses will be installing million dollar hydrogen refuelling stations...the cost of hydrogen fuel will likely be much more expensive than gasoline until a nationwide distribution chain is build out, which will cost TRILLIONS...hydrogen is extremely volotile and needs very expensive tanks, pipes, or massive amounts of energy to freeze for transport as a can ignite on contact with oxygen, the flames are invisable and burn at extremely high temperatures, it is a colourless/odorless gas - ie. you would be dead before you even knew there was a problem/leak. It is extremely buoyant (opposite of dense) and needs special containment to prevent leaks (chromium plated tanks/pipes, etc)... Therefore the costs to make hydrogen safe to use/transport are immense...these costs are often overlooked when considering a hydrogen economy.

    Car companies are the only ones who seem to be holding on to the hydrogen pipe dream...I think it is because they know they can continue to claim that they "are working on it" but in reality know it will never happen. They have been telling us fuel cell cars are "10 years away" for the last 30 years now...ain't gonna happen.
    Once the world wakes up to what Tesla is doing with the superchargers the hydrogen fuel cell can die its rightfull death as a totally impractical and dangerous way to power a vehicle.

    Rant off..
  • edited November -1
    To correct myself...actually Elon has claimed many times that a breakthough in ultra/super capacitors is likely what will power EV's eventually in the future. In a recent interview he actually said there is a company in the USA that may have what it takes to make a revolutionary capacitor...he did say it was not EEStor, for anyone who has been following them.
    Lithium-ion is the current choice...who knows what the future will will almost definately not be hydrogen I said the math there just doesn't work even if maxiumum efficiencies in a fuel cell were says Elon anyway, and I take his word as an uber genius who would have looked very hard at the fuel cell when deciding on a course of action for EV's
  • edited November -1
    Wasn't Honda working on a solar powered hydrogen generator? Thanks for all of the interesting info on hydrogen. Definitely new about the dangers. Didn't realize the energy inefficiency was so high comparatively. Would love a link to the math if someone has it.
  • edited November -1
    Although hydrogen is flammable and so on I wouldn't overstate the dangers. Gasoline isn't exactly inert and lithium ion batteries aren't either.

    We are talking about energy storage. Where energy is stored, stuff happens. That can be engineered around.

    But the point is that hydrogen is being proposed as energy storage (like a battery), but is less efficient than batteries while introducing the need for a gasoline-like distribution system.
  • edited November -1
    Hydrogen fuel cell cars produce electricity to power an electric motor, and therefore, it's not any better for the environment than an EV. In fact, you need to use electricity to produce the hydrogen in the first place, and so the overall efficiency and impact to the environment is probably worse. The only reasons to go with a hydrogen fuel cell are if it's more convenient for the user, if it's cheaper, or if it's better for the environment.

    Right now, I would say none of those things are true. Sure filling up with hydrogen might be fast (depending on the filling system and storage system), and it does more easily enable long trips, except for the crucial fact that there is no where to fill up on hydrogen.
  • edited November -1
    Oh I forgot to add, what about a Hydrogen ICE?

    That's the drivetrain of Warthogs in the Halo series.
  • edited November -1
    @Benz, <i>The idea here is that a fuel cell could replace the (heavy, expensive, awkward to package) batteries in an electric car.</i>

    ...with heavy, very expensive and awkward to package fuel cell and large and awkward to fit in storage for the hydrogen.

    And because HFC car is still electric car you actually have to have all the parts that are in BEV, just in smaller scale, including that "heavy, expensive, awkward to package" battery.
  • edited November -1
    @ Timo
    The tekst in my first post is not from myself. I copied that from an article I read. And I was interested what others thought about it.

    And I did get some very good reactions. So, I am glad that I did start this thread. Thanks for all your reactions. They gave me some knowledge that I did not have before. Good to know all of this. Sharing knowledge is great.
  • edited November -1
    Fuel Cells have proven their worth in limited applications, most all of which are stationary and inefficiency can be overlooked to a degree because in an emergency something is better than nothing. Such as backup power generation sources for medical facilities, small businesses, homes etc.
  • edited November -1
    I understand that an EV is more likely to be successful to replace the ICE vehicle.
  • edited November -1
    How about airplanes that can fly on Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology? Will that be more likely than vehicles that can drive on Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology? Any thoughts on that?
  • edited November -1
    The Hindenburg ring any bells?
  • edited November -1
    Two other fundamental problems with hydrogen:
    1) It is difficult and expensive to store and contain, as it passes right through most materials
    2) It requires huge volumes, as its mass is so low. Even chilled to liquid.
  • edited November -1
    What makes Hydrogen so inefficient is the amount of energy that it requires to separate it from other molecules. Hydrogen is thousands of times more efficient as an energy storing media than any other battery out there or in the pipeline. More R&D must be performed on Hydrogen production; this is the big hurdle, not the efficiency of getting energy out of it.

    BTW, Elon's calculations and everyone else's for that matter are made under the assumption that Hydrogen would be manufactured using current production techniques. If a more efficient way of separating Hydrogen from other molecules was to be found this would be a game changer for sure.

    People are tackling this problem the wrong way. All the efforts should be concentrated on a cheap and super efficient way of getting Hydrogen, not on how to use it. I do believe in Hydrogen, after all, it is the most abundant element in the Universe!
  • edited November -1
    Gasoline has been the winner for the last 100 years because you can store a lot of energy in a small volume, enough to overcome the inefficiency of the ICE. Batteries and fuel cells are nowhere close. Tesla is doing well because they have come a lot closer than anyone else, in a vehicle that is actually a pleasure to drive. 5 or 10 years down the road, who knows what R&D might come up with.
  • edited November -1
    Batteries aren't a fuel, they're containers. Electrons are the fuel, and they're far more concentrated sources of energy than gasoline. Getting very many to share the same space is a bit of a problem though, because their energy is mostly expressed as mutual repulsion!
  • edited November -1
    OK, but tell me one thing. Do the technical people from all the other car companies (Daimler, Nissan, Ford, Toyota, BMW, Hyundai etc.) not know this? Why are they putting so much effort into it? There must be a reason for that.
  • edited November -1
    There has been and ongoing push for energy efficiency and reduction in oil independence, while extracting additional improvements on the ICE is getting harder and harder. Positive lab results for batteries and fuel cells are enough to encourage research, but it is still a big step from the lab to mass production of a reliable product. Many successful lab results never make this step.
Sign In or Register to comment.