By on October 10, 2012

Pretty much most of the world’s large automakers plan a commercial launch of fuel cell vehicles in 2015, Hyundai even earlier. One of the hot spots could be Scandinavia. At the end of a month-long hydrogen-powered tour through Europe, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Hyundai signed an agreement to jointly promote fuel cell vehicles in Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) provides mostly for moral and promotional support and is hoped to be “a catalyst to begin a dialogue between public and private stakeholders in Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark on securing relevant financing and support mechanisms for accelerating market introduction of FCEVs.” What is interesting is that the three Japanese majors are doing something together, and that they are bringing the Korean juggernaut Hyundai on board.

Japanese makers have big hopes for fuel cell technology. Mitsuhiro Ueno, head of Honda R&D Europe called the fuel cell vehicle “the ultimate green mobility.” FCVs don’t have the drawbacks of pure EVs, namely limited range and long charge time. What is holding them back are price and infrastructure.

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34 Comments on “Japanese And Korean Carmakers Jointly Promote Fuel Cell Vehicles...”


  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Well, it’s about time that somebody took the “bull by the horns” in the Hydrogen Economy….

    From the big picture of things, it is obvious that hydrogen as an energy carrier is ideal, not only for fuel cells, but for ICE’s as well (as BMW showed with it’s hydrogen 7 prototypes).

    I’s zero-emissions, clean, light-weight, has less temperature issues and no range dependence (unlike EV’s), and, again, can be used in both FC and fun ICE vehicles.

    The question is: is America going to be last with this new technology, as it was with hybrids?

    No infrastructure? No problem. Let FC car makers sponsor their own infrastructures, as Tesla is doing with it’s own charging stations. And Honda has done in LA with the “Clarity”.
    No non-petroleum hydrogen source? No problem: use wind-powered hydrolysis of sea water, and get oxygen as a by-product, even! (And, unlike other H2-generation methods, hydrolysis does not have to be enormously efficient, since the wind is free!)

    Congratulations to Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Hyundai!

    ————–

    • 0 avatar
      chris724

      Ideal? Hardly. Unless you make the H2 using nuclear power, there’s really nothing green about it. And as a non-liquifyable gas, it is about as unideal as you can get.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        chris724….

        1) If you don’t think H2 is ideal, tell me another one that you think is ideal?
        2) H2 from wind-powered hydrolysis of sea water is perfectly “green” (no nuclear power required);
        3) H2 is easily made liquid; that is what the BMW “Hydrogen 7″ ran on. Even Helium can be liquified.

        ———

      • 0 avatar
        chris724

        I suppose wind or solar generated H2 would be just as green as nuclear. But I do not count BMW’s liquid hydrogen car as anything close to practical. Cryogenic liquid fuel is just a non-starter. I thought Methanol powered fuel cells might be interesting, but I haven’t heard of any progress on those in a while.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      NMGOM,

      Even though wind is free, efficiency still matters when producing H2 from H2O. Lower efficiency means more windmills hence higher capital costs that show up in the final price of H2.

      As I see it, onboard storage of H2 is still a problem. We need a low pressure storage system capable of holding at least 300 miles worth of H2 fuel. So far, this has eluded the industry.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Felix Hoenikker…

        1) Obviously, you’re right: higher efficiency is always desirable. But less of an issue with a “free” source. (….which, as rolosrevenge points out below, is never truly, strictly, purely free; but neither is anything else.)
        2) Storage.
        …a) Liquid. The LN2 tank in the BMW “Hydrogen7″, which had to share “car space” with the gasoline tank, was capable of about 160 miles of driving on LN2. The estimate is that had the engine been designed/optimized for H2 in the first place (and not be simply an adapted petrol ICE), AND if the whole volume for “fuel” were available for ONLY an LN2 tank, then 350 miles would be doable. (You must note that the H7 was a dual-fuel vehicle.)
        …b) Gas. Here is one of those “correct-me-if-I am-wrong” comments. I believe that Denis Semanaitis, writing for Road &Track about 18 months ago, tested an FC car with gaseous H2 storage … trip to Canada, if I remember…. and claimed to have gotten about 500 miles before fill-up. (I don’t remember if it was a Honda “Clarity” or not.). So, at least with FC’s, long-range vehicles are realistic and not particularly elusive.

        ———–

      • 0 avatar
        chris724

        Nitrogen power!

    • 0 avatar
      rolosrevenge

      Wind is free? No, the fuel may be free, but a wind power plant is hardly free. There’s a large capital cost, regular maintenance costs, payroll costs, transmission tariffs, integration rates. Wind costs so much more than conventional power, that without tax credits and subsidies it can’t compete.

      • 0 avatar
        chris724

        Yeah, it would be a lot cheaper to make the H2 from nuclear. And every bit as green.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        rolosrevenge…(and chris724)

        Yup. The same is true for hydro-electric power. And nuclear power. And solar power.

        However, let me note that if this Japanese/Korean consortium felt that nuclear were the way to go, they would have offered to set up FC’s in France, which gets about 80% of its electricity from nuclear power plants.

        But they didn’t. The are using Scandinavia (except Denmark), which gets between 60% and 80% of its electricity from the “free resource” of running water, with all of its “large capital cost, regular maintenance costs, payroll costs, transmission tariffs, integration rates.” So, can hydrolysis of sea water be done by hydroelectric power from all those water falls? I think so. And so do they.

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        sfay3

        We’d be better off using the power generated from wind to operate electric trains. People who promote hydrogen powered cars who also think we’ll be able to produce the hydrogen purely from renewables simply haven’t done the math. It’ll never happen.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        sfay3….

        Perhaps you should suggest to Toyota, Honda, NIssan, and Hyundai that they have not done the math for the H2 Fuel-Cell vehicles that they will be promoting and installing in Scandinavia.

        “We’d be better off using the power generated from wind to operate electric trains.” Let me know next time you want to take an electric train 2 miles to go to the grocery store in January in Minneapolis. Americans value personal, private transportation: unless you have evidence otherwise, that’s not going to change anytime soon.

        ———-

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      And how many watts of electricity does it take, to generate enough hydrogen to have an equivalent energy content? Doesn’t this hydrogen then need to be compressed in order to store it in a reasonable sized fuel tank? That takes energy too.

      • 0 avatar
        chris724

        I don’t know the answer, but electrical energy would be measured in watt-hours, not watts. I doubt the efficiency to H2 is more than 50%. And you are correct about the compression. Liquification would be even worse.

      • 0 avatar
        sfay3

        Too much. There will always be more sensible things to do with electricity than to produce hydrogen from water. And comparing nations with tiny populations to the United States is just stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        sfay3….

        What is stupid is not realizing that large innovations start with small projects, and large applications on a grand scale began in a laboratory and then pilot line. Consider Scandinavia as the “Pilot Line” for serious H2 Fuel-Cell work, sponsored by those 4 car manufacturers. If it goes well there, then a scale-up to larger countries and more demanding infrastructure requirements would be the logical next step. Gotta walk before you run (^_^).

        ———–

  • avatar
    jhefner

    And that evil carp front cap won’t help sell it, either.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Infrastructure and hydrogen stigma are overwhelming obstacles.

    Most of the stigma began on May 6, 1937 and continues to this day, even if much of it is unwarranted.

    I’d like to know the true cost per mile of hydrogen; it must be very high.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi gslippy…

      Do you have a new avatar, or am I just not remembering correctly?

      You mentioned:

      1) Infrastructure. Solution already discussed above.
      2) Stigma. That is just an education and familiarization thing. People once though that gasoline would be much too explosive to allow self-serve pumps too!
      3) H2 Price: Currently, small volume: about $8.00/liter LH2, or about $20/KIlogram in bulk. Which is irrelevant. Current production is by cracking petroleum and is not truly large scale, so that value does not represent eventual commodity pricing. And I have no clue about what that would be. Stupid Guess only (or SWAG): perhaps $10-12/gallon LH2. Check with Linde.

      http://www.lindeus.com/en/innovations/hydrogen_energy/index.html
      http://www.lindeus.com/en/innovations/hydrogen_energy/faqs/index.html

      Comparing H2 versus gasoline in engines:
      Many pilot and demo fuelling stations around the world have shown that hydrogen can be handled safely as a fuel. It is the lightest element in the world and volatilises very rapidly in air, giving it a major advantage over petrol, which dissipates more slowly and is heavier than air. Petrol therefore stays on the ground longer, where the threat of ignition is highest. Petrol and hydrogen also burn differently. If liquid petrol leaks, spreads onto a surface and burns, it produces a very broad flame that emits a large amount of heat. In contrast, hydrogen burns with a narrow almost perpendicular flame that does not emit much heat. Unlike a bright petrol flame, however, a pure hydrogen flame is difficult to see in daylight. Hydrogen’s overall ignition properties are generally more favourable than today’s common energy carriers. Petrol’s flammability limit (0.6 volume percent) and explosion limit (1.1 volume percent) are very close together, which means that when petrol ignites, there is almost always the danger of explosion. Hydrogen’s flammability limit of 4 volume percent and its explosion limit of 18 percent are much further apart. At 0.24 millijoules, however, petrol’s minimum ignition energy threshold is significantly higher than hydrogen’s– although the energy in a spark is still sufficient to ignite petrol. And petrol’s relatively low auto-ignition temperature(220 to 280 degrees Celsius) also means that it can ignite on contact with hot metal parts such as a catalytic converter or exhaust manifold. This is not the case with hydrogen, which has an auto-ignition temperature of 585 degrees Celsius. Extensive tests carried out for example by the German testing, inspection and certification authority, TÜV Süd, have shown that hydrogen-powered cars are not any more dangerous than conventional vehicles.

      —————-

      • 0 avatar
        sfay3

        And that same property makes it more likely for hydrogen to leak out of fuel tanks, pipelines, etc. It’s simply not the panacea you’re looking for to continue with Happy Motoring. As Don Lancaster says, there will always be more intelligent things to do with electricity than to waste it in the production of hydrogen.

      • 0 avatar
        chris724

        @NMGOM: Most of your reply is regarding safety, which wasn’t even brought up yet. I think the biggest problem with LH2 is that it boils away over a short time, whether you use it or not. And getting the H2 from petroleum is actually a cost savings. Large scale electrolysis would cost even more. I bet most of that $8.00/liter is spent in liquifying it. Scaling up won’t save much cost, and then your fuel still boils away after a month. Totally impractical.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        sfay3….

        1) “And that same property makes it more likely for hydrogen to leak out of fuel tanks, pipelines, etc.” Well, that’s always nice to say, but the proper storage and piping requirements were for GH2 and LH2 were worked out, oh, about 75 years ago. My grad degree was in physical chemistry, in which piping BOTH states of hydrogen was common. I know intimately what those requirements are, and it isn’t black magic. And Linde Corporation has been doing this “forever”. So, unless you have some concrete evidence for a real problem in this regard…..

        2) “It’s simply not the panacea you’re looking for to continue with Happy Motoring.” Gasoline is the panacea I’m happy with. But that’s obviously not going to be the case forever, is it? Yes, we can use methane in the interim, but EV’s (currently) suffer from a huge number of issues, which we have discussed before on TTAC, and need not rework yet once again. Better get used to H2: it’s going to be dominant “fuel” as we approach the 22nd century, whether we all like it or not. Why don’t you suggest a non-electric alternative?

        3) “As Don Lancaster says, there will always be more intelligent things to do with electricity than to waste it in the production of hydrogen.” Apparently Mr. Lancaster says a lot of things about a lot of things: he is a very intelligent and innovative man. But enlighten me: with all due resect to him, his qualifications as an expert in chemical engineering and automotive technology are what exactly?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Lancaster.

        —————-

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        chris724….

        Yup. LH2 boils away. And venting will be an issue. Closed spaces like garages better have good upward ventilation! And if you take a business trip for 2 weeks to Jamaica ((^_^)), and leave your LH2 car in the parking lot, don’t be surprised if there is an empty “tank” when you get back. And maybe NYC won’t be exactly delighted at your going through the Lincoln Tunnel, since they won’t even let campers with CNG tanks go under there.

        So, looks like the LH2 versions may be only applicable to continual use in the wide open spaces of West Texas! Or are they? Well, it turns out that although pure LH2 vehicles would be one market segment in which the user would have to work within venting limits, there is another segment in which compressed GH2 would apply generally, with reduced range (obviously). Current FC cars envision this route, and that is what Honda “Clarity” employs: at more than 400 miles, there seems not to be a great range reduction worry!

        But research is also occurring to find a metal (or other) matrix for “sequestering” H2 as a clathrate, to allow it to be stored with a much higher density than gaseous H2, but without the venting issues of pure LH2. In other words, fully sealed containers. But we aren’t “there” yet. That is why this whole thing should be a lot of fun.

        Personally I still like the LH2/ICE with manual transmission. Goes “vroom”! Big time: H2 has an “octane” rating of about 115!

        ————–

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The only idea that is stupider than BEVs is Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles.

    It is not economic and it will never happen.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Robert….

      “The only idea that is stupider than BEVs is Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles. It is not economic and it will never happen.”

      Your view is based on what? Certainly the Honda “Clarity” seems to work well, and the experiment in the TTAC article, among 4 car manufacturers, is going to go forward. So, what do you know that they don’t? BMW and GM had been jointly working on a JDA for fuel-cell development. And BMW and Toyota are doing the same thing under the banner of “new products” generally.** Would they be wasting their time and effort for something that’s “not economic”? Certainly the Germans would have figured that out long ago.

      ** http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/bmw-and-toyota-sign-agreement-to-collaborate-on-new-products-and-technologies/

      ———-

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’m willing to speculate that his reason is because liberating hydrogen from various compounds is a huge waste of energy. That’s a good reason.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        CJinSD….

        I’m sure you’re right about what may be his feeling for the reason.
        But then again, at one time, some people thought that the cracking of petroleum crude to get gasoline would be too energy-intensive to be commercially successful, —before the Shukhov process (and others). And now we don’t even think about it. See link.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracking_(chemistry)

        ————–

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Schwartz

        “Your view is based on what?”

        The first and second laws of thermodynamics. The physical chemistry of hydrogen. The physical chemistry of fuel cells. The crustal abundance of various elements. The history of the development of technology. Und so weiter.

        Did you know that one liter of liquid hydrogen contains 71 grams of hydrogen, one liter of gasoline contains 118 grams of hydrogen, and one liter of diesel, 130 grams?

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Robert…

        Thanks for the response.

        The first and second laws of thermodynamics are not any more uniquely inhibiting for the “cracking” or water to get hydrogen than they were for the “cracking” of petroleum crude to get gasoline (or diesel, or heptane, or…). However, springing hydrogen loose from oxygen requires more energy than cleaving carbon-carbon bonds, and that’s is why electrolysis can be used in the former, and not the Shukhov process or its brethren. Having said that, it is true that most H2 currently comes from petroleum: but that method does not get CO2 out of the loop; is not “Zero Emissions” in the big picture; and does not reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

        Being a physical chemist, show me how the physical chemistry of burning hydrogen (fuel cell or ICE) is greatly different in principle from the physical chemistry of burning hydrocarbons?
        2H2 + O2 > 2H2O
        x(-CH2) + yO2 > x’CO2 + y’H2O, with coefficients depending on chain length.

        “The physical chemistry of fuel cells” means what? That the Honda “Clarity” shouldn’t run, or that Apollo 13 shouldn’t have happened?

        “The crustal abundance of various elements”? So? Specifically, do you mean that current catalysts used in fuel cells are rare-earth elements or similar, like platinum or palladium? If that’s the case, look at your catalytic converter: we already use those elements like flowing water! (And Pt and Pd are infinitely recyclable). With time, I am sure that other forms of non-metalic catalysis will be developed, like certain ceramics.

        “The history of the development of technology”? That’s a joke, right?

        Yes, I am quite familiar with the hydrogen content of all three. And that is why getting the H2 packaging density higher is a prime concern for this project, as described above. If various car manufacturers (also described above) felt that FC’s would NOT be a good long-term energy pathway, then why all the JDA’s and the effort described in this TTAC article?

        ….und wieder so weiter….

        —————

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    NMGO: You are a piece of work. Of course fuel cell powered vehicles are technically possible, however, there is no conceivable state of this planet in which they will be an economically viable form of mass transportation. You need to read Derek’s essay on the futility of being a fan boy:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/qotd-the-futility-of-being-a-fanboy/

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hello, Robert….

      Thank you. I shall consider that as a compliment. But in the future, it might be best to avoid personal slurs: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=piece%20of%20work

      Glad you have realized that H2 FC’s have, do, and will work. They are obviously more than “technically possible”, or the Honda “Clarity” wouldn’t exist as a product. Right?

      “Mass transportation”? Who was talking about mass transportation? I was referring to (and the article above was referring to) the private automobile!

      Economic viability depends on the availability (or not) of other competing fuel sources: at this point, price projections for H2 FC vehicles will be expensive, of the order of plug-in hybrids. Since no one has made a dedicated commercially available H2 ICE vehicle, no good price estimate is possible. But if BMW does go ahead with its new “secret” 3-cylinder H2 engine, coupled in a car with its usual advanced suspension and interior elegance, expect high prices. Remember, H2 is about 115 octane, and in the proper engine, a little goes a long way.

      I read the essay that you quoted. It’s excellent, as is usual from Derek. But it refers to supporting or being loyal to a car brand. That is not the case here: we are talking about a new fuel source and its technology, and its implementation, — as shown in the TTAC article above, to which these comments are attached.

      Suggestion: if technical issues are involved in the future, please be more specific.

      BTW: I am “NMGOM”, not “NMGO”. (^_^)…

      ————-

  • avatar

    Gentlemen: Please conduct your discussions with the proper decorum, at the very least without name calling. Consider this as a warning. Please consult the FAQ: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/faqs/


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