Tesla + Hydrogen ???

Tesla + Hydrogen ???

I greatly admire Tesla for their EV revolution. They truely are trying to change the world. Considering the benefits of hydrogen fuel cells for powering electric motors, I must ask the question: does Tesla have any plans to pursue this option for storing the electricity?

If you haven't learned about hydrogen, it really is a convenient option because you can refuel the vehicle instantly and still use an electric motor while only emitting ordinary water as waste. Where does the hydrogen come from? There are machines available that do the reverse of a hydrogen fuel cell: they convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. By adding a solar panel, the fuel station could convert water into hydrogen and oxygen, and then the car would convert them back into water, all while being eco-friendly. Essentially, it's the same as an electric car in that it gets the electricity for the motor from the sun. Hydrogen just provides a more convenient way to store it.

This brings me back to my question. Does Tesla have any plans to pursue this technology? Do you think they should offer it as an option? Just imagine refueling your Tesla instantly instead of over a long period of time.

Timo | August 3, 2012

Hydrogen is far worse than using hydrocarbons directly because poor conversion efficiency. Fuel cells are quite weak compared to batteries and hydrogen tank energy densities (volumetric) are not that much better either. You can't recharge at home using hydrogen. Fuel cells also are far more expensive than batteries currently, and that ratio is (currently) getting worse for fuel cells, not better.

Nissan yesterday [October 13, 2011] revealed a new Fuel Cell Stack for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) that packs 85 kilowatts into a 34-liter package

310kW/85kW * 34liters = 124 liters to reach Model S performance power levels for fuel cell alone. Add in the battery it will need, actual hydrogen tanks and required plumbing, pumps etc. and you have system that uses a lot more space than Tesla battery + PEM + motor, and it is way way more complex system than pure BEV.

Hydrogen just plain doesn't make any sense in passenger vehicles. A lot bigger ones like long-haul trucks and buses maybe, but even those are better off using biofuels and CNG for far into future (it pollutes less using those than using hydrogen).

Also "instantly" isn't quite that instantly when using high pressure hydrogen, you are using closer to, probably over, 10 minutes to fill 300 mile worth of hydrogen + driving to station + driving back from station.

Electricity is already everywhere, hydrogen infrastructure is just a dream in Big Oil eyes. And probably will always be just that.

Brian H | August 3, 2012

Hydrogen is most efficiently used, transported, and stored when attached to carbon atoms. E.g., CH4. Also known as methane, or natural gas.

Barujin | August 3, 2012

Actually, you can refill at home. Also, depending of the type of hydrogen fuel used, the tanks can be quite small. It may be too early for this technology (due only to cost of fuel cell stacks), but I'll be happy to see it used in a Tesla one day.

Barujin | August 3, 2012

Actually, you can refill at home. Also, depending of the type of hydrogen fuel used, the tanks can be quite small. It may be too early for this technology (due only to cost of fuel cell stacks), but I'll be happy to see it used in a Tesla one day.

ggr | August 3, 2012

Getting perilously close to spam here.

Barujin | August 3, 2012

How? I admit that I double posted due to it being messed up the first time, but how is this spam? I came here hoping for an intellectual discussion.

ggr | August 3, 2012

Apologies, I saw two consecutive posts with (different looking) bunches of links, and went off prematurely.

So, discussion. Creating the hydrogen, compressing it, storing it both before delivering it to the car and in the car, uses lots of energy. Why not just use the energy to move the car directly?

Barujin | August 3, 2012

It's because of the time it takes to charge batteries and the weight of them compared to storing hydrogen.

DarrellH | August 3, 2012

Charging batteries is quicker than finding hydrogen stations--if there are any close enough to use.

ggr | August 3, 2012

99% of the time I don't care how long it takes to charge; it's always full in the morning.

Barujin | August 3, 2012

Gasoline stations will be replaced with hydrogen. Also, imagine driving cross-country in an EV. I'd hate waiting 30min to an hour for batteries to charge.

Brian H | August 3, 2012

Even chilled liquid hydrogen requires huge tanks to store useful amounts of energy. Distributing and storing hydrogen requires advanced materials, as it passes right through most metals and materials. It is also invisible when burning, and burns and explodes readily.

Pipelines to every "gas station"? Trucks refilling storage tanks with compressed gas?


Barujin | August 3, 2012

Yeah, you read none of what I wrote. Try actually reading the thread (and my links). Also, hydrogen is less volatile than gasoline.

Brian H | August 3, 2012

Hydrogen is 100% volatile: it's already a gas! "1.(chemistry) evaporating readily at normal temperatures and pressures" A gas has no need to evaporate!

None of your links contradicts a word I said, except that someday costs of the very difficult technologies might maybe come down to the point that a few specialized applications might maybe be possible.

And none of it contemplates realistic distribution systems.

It. Will. Never. Happen.

Bye, now.

Timo | August 3, 2012

Hydrogen explodes from pretty much any spark, it's about as explosive as gases come. Only advantage it has that with a leak it will disperse and go up rather fast, so unless there is already fire it wont burn. But OTOH neither will gasoline. Gasoline needs direct fire to burn, any tiny spark wont ignite it unless it is already in gaseous form and gas concentration is high enough. Diesel is actually difficult to ignite, if you have any try it. Those huge gas explosions you see in movies are Hollywood physics, reality is much less spectacular.

As I said in my first post there are number of reasons why BEV is way superior to hydrogen.

Your first link "Home Energy Station IV will reduce CO2 emissions by 30-percent and energy costs by 50-percent compared to an average home that is on the grid and uses a gasoline-powered car."

And increase it by 80% compared to solar and grid powered home that has BEV. Hydrogen production and storing efficiency is very weak. You would need a lot bigger solar panel to create hydrogen than what you would need to directly charge a BEV and if you use grid to produce hydrogen for your car the "long tailpipe" argument is very valid.

As someone said, hydrogen is not energy source, it is energy storage. Energy to produce hydrogen has to come from somewhere and, lets be realistic here, it wont be green in any larger scale production. Solar is hardly solution even for charging BEV:s, much less for producing hydrogen. You would need to use grid, and because the weak efficiency it would increase pollution, not decrease because more electricity would be needed. Quite a lot more in fact.

Your second link is older tech than what I quoted, and as such it is even weaker than what I posted. No further comment required.

Your last link tells quite a few weaknesses of the tanks, I don't have to repeat them here in detail. Summary would be: weight, size, complexity and cost are all too high. Cost or weight are not issues to all of the techs though.

For Gasoline stations will be replaced with hydrogen, I don't think this will actually ever happen. There just plain is no reason to. If all passenger cars switch to BEV:s (as they will), everything else can run happily with biofuels and CNG pretty much forever. We probably have wireless charging in highways before we have hydrogen distribution network.

Barujin | August 3, 2012

I came here to ask a serious question about Tesla not for a fight. This is simply ridiculous. If you can't act like decent adults, then I'm done here.

Timo | August 4, 2012

Short answer to your question will Tesla ever consider HFC in their cars is no. Not any other kind of "range extender" either. Pure BEV and that's it. This is Tesla opinion, and I agree with it for above reasons.

Elon has said that math just doesn't add up for HFC:s (in multiple occasions) and many of us here have calculated the same as you can see from Brian H and my answers, others probably just wont bother to repeat what we have wrote.

To summarize HFC problems: availability, size, complexity, efficiency, price and convenience are all worse than with BEV:s.

It has only one advantage over BEV and it is the faster filling the storage in long road trips. However, how many times you take a 400+ mile trip without at least one half hour break in driving? If you don't take breaks then I would suggest you start doing, because constant driving for six or so hours is unsafe and stretching your feets every three or so hours is just good habit.

Teoatawki | August 4, 2012

Barujin, it would be much easier to be patient with this topic if we hadn't been down this particular rabbit hole a dozen times or more in the past year.

You could have found that out for yourself with our handy search function. Whoops, there is no search function.


Beyond that, I think Timo's last 2 posts and Brian's comments pretty much said it all.

jbunn | August 4, 2012


With respect, if I may. I dont like hybrids. Gas hybrid has all the parts required for a modern, emission restricted auto. AND all the parts required for a BEV. PLUS, a bunch of new stuff required to make the two systems work together. System reliability is the product of all of the ways the system can fail. To quote Scotty "The more they overwork the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."

A hydrogen fuel cell electric hybrid does not escape this rule. Plumbing, moving parts, failure point all must be minimized. Its really the secret to Teslas success. You could not launch a new car from a "small" firm without this simplicity.

Personaly, I would buy an ice. Prefer a bev. Would NEVER buy a hybrid for the reasons noted above.

jerry3 | August 5, 2012

jbunn, --- Gas hybrid has all the parts required for a modern, emission restricted auto. AND all the parts required for a BEV

This is only true of some hybrids. Toyota has removed many of the parts of a conventional car and replaced them with more reliable electronics and has simplified others. For instance the Prius doesn't have: an alternator, a starter motor, a serpentine belt (2010+ only), a clutch or fluid coupling. In addition the automatic transmission with it's hundreds of parts has been replaced by a simple planetary gear system similar to a differential.

That said, a BEV is still better than any gas powered car because there is no expensive internal combustion engine to maintain.

Sudre_ | August 5, 2012

Barujin, I would also chime in but as Timo has posted. Many of us just agree with what is stated by others. I even took the time to look at your links in case there was new info I had not already seen years ago. There wasn't.
What specifically does Timo, jbunn, and many of us have wrong?

Volker.Berlin | August 7, 2012

There can be not doubt that Tesla will not pursue hydrogen while Elon is at the helm. Check out this video. During the Q&A towards the end, someone asks Elon for his view on hydrogen and his answer is pretty clear:

Vawlkus | August 7, 2012

Besides, people wouldn't like driving a hydrogen bomb, or refueling from one.

Volker.Berlin | August 7, 2012

The quote I was referring to above is at 53:27, but I presume you wouldn't regret watching the entire interview while you are at it:

jerry3 | August 7, 2012


Nor would they like the price. Hydrogen is very expensive compared to any other storage technology (well, it beats compressed air, but that's about it)

Vall | August 26, 2012

Why would anyone expect or want from tesla to go with hydrogen??? Hydrogen is everything that tesla is trying to get away from and change. A wasteful fuel(actually fuel storage) controlled by big oil, made from natural gas. Even if made from renewable electricity, it is still very wasteful, getting just around 30% of the electricity used to make the hydrogen when transforming it back to electricity. There are other companies, like toyota, honda, daimler, GM and huyndai, who have stated that they will soon start selling hydrogen vehicles for around $50,000. If you want one, just wait for them. Waiting for tesla to make you a hydrogen car is like waiting for universal studios or warner bros to make you a pron movie. Why would they, and more importantly, why would you want them to, if there are others that specialize in that particular "area"

Sudre_ | August 26, 2012

Vall, they probably would like Tesla to make it because they don't want an ugly car like the EV1 or Volt! LOL

Vall | September 1, 2012

Very unlikely that design is even in the top 10 of reasons.