By on May 21, 2013

Hyundai-ix35-White-HD-Wallpaper

As one of the big dissenters from the battery-powered EV lovetrain, Hyundai is about to put its money on Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. Starting in 2015, it intends to assemble up to 10,000 units of a fuel cell-powered version of the Tucson crossover at its plant in Ulsan, South Korea.

While EVs have grabbed a lot of media attention lately, fuel cells have made a slow comeback at manufacturers like Daimler, Volkswagen, Ford, Toyota and BMW. Even Renault-Nissan is in on it.

One Hyundai officially we spoke to gave a few reasons for the company’s decision to pursue hydrogen fuel cells rather than battery-powered EVs. According to him, hydrogen powertrains are easy to scale to nearly any vehicle size, whereas EV batteries “have a logarithmic function between range, performance  cost and vehicle size.” A battery with increased range is much heavier, costlier and takes longer to refuel. Fuel cells on the other hand, don’t have that problem, and take roughly 9-10 minutes to “refuel”, while range is typically around 400 miles.

Hyundai has also apparently reached a point where cost reduction and economies of scale are making fuel cells viable for the mass market. The next step will of course be the infrastructure  Their internal research shows that fueling stations need to be within 5 miles of one’s home to be viable, and the question of who will chip in to help build that network (government, private corporations or private-public partnerships) is still up in the air on a larger scale – but Hyundai and the U.S. government recently announced a partnership to help advance the network of hydrogen stations across America.

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71 Comments on “Hyundai Assembling Fuel Cell Tucsons For Mass Production...”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    Fuel cells are even less likely to catch on than EVs due to the infrastructure problem. At least 110/220 is available everywhere for EVs, despite their recharge rate problem.

    Has anybody polled average Americans to gauge their sentiment on hydrogen handling and safety? Hydrogen can be handled safely by experts, but what about soccer moms? How do you deal with a slow, odorless hydrogen leak in your garage? Are the fuel economy gains worth it?

    Personally, I’d rather have 600 lbs of lithium ion battery under me than highly-pressurized, -400F liquid hydrogen.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      Yeaaaa! I think newest technology doesn’t use pressurized liquid hydrogen.

      Booooo! How and where ya gonna make the hydrogen in the first place?

      Fuel cells and EV’s are just two of the many possible ‘winners’ which includes more refined versions of today’s petrol engines possibly optimized to minimize CO2 emissions.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Wait, you gotta put gasowhat in that there contraption? and it moves down the road by making that gasostuff explode under the hood? That’ll never catch on…my horse can stop anywhere and eat some non exploding oats.

      • 0 avatar
        hans007

        you can make hydrogen from natural gas which the US has tons of. if you are inthe FCX clarity program honda has they have a home converter thing kind of like electric cars have a 220V charger

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Making H2 from nat gas defeats the whole point: it relies on a fossil fuel (yes, we have plenty nat gas, but the argument for hydrogen has been that we need to get off fossil fuels), and converting nat gas to H2 produces CO2.

          I have a hard time justifying the additional cost and complexity of hydrogen if we are still using CO2-producing fossil fuels.

          • 0 avatar
            DeeDub

            You do know how most electricity is generated in the US, don’t you?

          • 0 avatar
            Aqua225

            The anti-CO2 lobby is hilarious.

            What it boils down too is that eventually the anti-CO2 lobby will be used to regulate human reproduction so as to limit this “harmful” gas.

            I personally welcome the hydrogen fuel cell. I can have electric drive, with a 60% efficiency conversion rate vs. the 15 to 30% rate of a gas motor. And that silky smooth electric motor power delivery to boot.

            Mind you HFC tech is actually higher efficiency, but I seem to remember the 60% was related to versions that convert a hydrogen rich carbon fuel into hydrogen to fuel the cell.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Handle safely? It’s hydrogen, the worst you can do is flash burn yourself with the amounts we’re talking here. The gasolone in your car right now is more flammable (yes, I know it is inflammable but americans what not etc.) than the hydrogen under pressure in a tank or otherwise. The point of fuel cells is that it keeps the fuel stable behind a permeable membrane so that you can either recharge or pull the whole assembly.

      If it leaks it will dissipate in a few minutes to hours, it will escape through any surface except solid steel and stone. Ford did a safety test back in the late 90s or 2000s with a focus and a liquid hydrogen tank, it burned off almost instantaneously.

      The infrastructure will come if we want it but I fear republicans at the national level will make every effort to stifle the movement for personal political reasons that make zero sense.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        “You mean to make a ship sail against wind and tide by lighting a bonfire under its deck? I have no time for such foolishness.”

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Sure it’s the republicans repressing the ideas *rolls eyes*

        The buyers are the biggest voters here, if people want it, it will come, quite low to make a political attack on something so irrelevant to politics.
        Wasting taxpayer money on anything other then the taxpayers should be attacked on all fronts, if there is money to be made with hydrogen vehicles then more power to the manufacturers, otherwise they can keep rolling out the ICE engine just dandy.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Seriously? Buyers? Have you wver seen how economics actually work? If you make desirable technology exceptionally more expensive people won’t buy it. This holds true in every sense but it also comes down to automobile manufacturers work in a semi-closed system, they may not agree to collude but they use similar approaches. Really toyota is the sole maker that seems to buck normal trends.

          PS: Republicans in their current stance are against any public expenditures, in order to provide this infrastructure the government will need to be involved. So whether you’re right or left the argument falls to an issue of whether one party will stifle innovation for the sake of their already entrenched interests.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            If the technology has potentional then manufacturers will make it, there is NO CAPITAL N_O reason to produce something that will not make a profit, AT ALL.

            I haven’t seen a public outcry of desperation for alternative fueled vehicles, people are happily putting along in their conventional vehicles.

            Of course republicans are against public expenditures, an alcohalic will eventually run out of money, without checks and balances the government just keeps spending its people into poverty.

            The government as a whole may very well be deeply entrenched in these special interest groups but that is not a reason to continue funding them.

            There is no need to build an infrastructure for something that does not exist, It’s like china that has built massive cities expecting one thing or the other, then abandoning them the day there built, leaving new ghost towns.

            Government has no place wasting money on something that doesn’t benefit all of the people.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            “one party will stifle innovation for the sake of their already entrenched interests.”

            Like Kathleen Sibelius trying to prevent young teens from accessing morning after pills? Gotta keep dem voters poppin!

          • 0 avatar
            mic

            “If you make desirable technology exceptionally more expensive people won’t buy it.”. Apple *cough, cough* iPad *cough*

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            Hummer….

            Oh, you mean like the Hoover Dam and Social Security?

            —————

          • 0 avatar
            Aqua225

            Why does the government need to invest in technology? It is proven time and time again that if you let market forces work (only regulating immoral behavior (another can of worms for libs)), the best solution will eventually come forward.

            I wish I knew when the government became the hotbed of technology! Maybe it was related to NASA being told to go to the moon in ten years. But we are long since past the naivety of thinking government was the source here. Yes, government provided funding, but it was the everyday American who feared the communist onslaight that provided the psychological fuel for such endeavors.

            That same psychological fuel for electric cars does not exist in the current society. Gas cars aren’t a threat, no matter what Al Gore says.

            I can consider that we have very large expenditures of blood and money to keep the fuel taps open from the middle east, but in general most American’s see the benefit more than the risk of dumping money into terrorist coffers.

          • 0 avatar
            SherbornSean

            Hummer may be shocked to learn that the man behind the push for natural gas powered vehicles is…. T. Boone “swift boat” Pickens.

            Which will cause discomfort because it conflicts with the world view the Koch Brothers have indocrinated him to accept as true.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            I haven’t talked to Boone in several decades, so I don’t know what he has been up to lately – he must be 90+ by now, if he is still with us.

            Back in the ’80s he was personally promoting a dual fuel concept for cars that could switch from CNG to gasoline and back on the fly. He actually drove one, and I actually rode in it as a demo.

            It didn’t work out as a business venture because:
            1. the installation itself was too expensive.
            2. the on-the-fly transition from CNG to gasoline (or vice versa) caused the engine to stumble and sometimes stall.
            3. world oil prices went down starting in 1983.

            To summarize my own opinions and guesses as to the future:
            1. fuel cells, other than for niche applications, make no sense.
            2. EV’s current market share of about 4% is likely to peak in a few years, then go down.
            3. Natural gas makes sense as a power plant fuel. You get around 50% thermal efficiency with combined cycle, plus CO2 emissions are much less than for coal-fired plants.
            4. CNG for motor vehicles makes less sense. It takes a lot of money to build a fueling station infrastructure, and that ain’t gonna come from the tooth fairy. It may work for certain fleet applications. It may also work for certain countries that have abundant local sources of ‘fracked’ natural gas, but not much oil – Poland, China and maybe even someday Japan with methane hydrates.
            5. I think Nukes can be safe enough if you site them correctly. I can see them making a gradual come back.
            6. A lotta coal needs to stay in the ground for a lotta reasons, not just their CO2 emissions issue. I think it will.
            7. The big losers figure to be the coal industry, OPEC and Russia. Also, over-active, busy body bureaucrats and the hand wringing doomsayers.

    • 0 avatar

      When are we gonna face facts… FOSSIL FUELS are at the BASE of EVERYTHING WE DO.

      All the energy on Earth comes from the SUN. Plants capture it and change the molecules so we can use them as fossil fuels. Whether it’s oil or bio diesel, LIQUID FUEL holds more energy per unit mass than just about anything else, is easier to transport and is easier to maintain, refuel, etc.

      NUCLEAR REACTORS hold plenty of energy, but you need too much energy and safety precautions to make use of it. Hydroelectric requires dams and running water. Solar requires too much space for panels.

      Fossil fuel use is NATURAL. We just need to make emissions cleaner or figure out a way to use the emissions for a purpose.

      As for these Fuel Cell Hyundais – doomed to fail. I’d feel better if they were Compressed Natural Gas. Hydraulic Fracturing is causing a boom in CNG.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        I tend to agree with you. Let me suggest some issues for your consideration.

        1. Fracking, tight oil, et.al. represent a quantum breakthrough in oil and gas natural resource extraction technology (it appears to essentially double the resource base, and with improved application, may do even better). The only time I have ever seen natural gas selling as low on a BTU basis against coal (in white product cement plants, actually) was in over-regulated (isolated) state of Oklahoma in the late 1970′s. Now we are seeing natural gas from fracking (with the efficiency benefit of combined cycle gas turbines) pushing coal literally down to the ships and seas in Norfork, Va. and elsewhere.

        2. Be wary about investing in CNG for vehicles. Other than fleet vehicles that come home to refuel every night, there is not much infrastructure. What is far more likely (imo.) is that cheaper natural gas will drive petroleum liquids prices down.

        3. Global warming issues are not bullshit or to be ignored. There remains the BIG question: should one try to adapt to the climate change? or try to stop it? In addition, can it become runaway? There is no clear answer. One’s opinion tends to depend a lot on where one lives.

        4. Despite Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, the Tokyo Electric Power tsunami and San Onofre (or maybe some other location, but have you ever seen San Onofre?) I think building nukes in safe places will become the modern way to generate base load power in the future. Having lived through it as a survivor, I still think of President Eisenhower’s Operation Plowshares as having been ‘real good’. If you were not, as I was, on the B-52 flight line back in the day, I don’t wanna tell you, and you don’t wanna know. We did survive.

        • 0 avatar
          Aqua225

          I think #3 is up for discussion, otherwise I like your post.

          CO2′s danger is way overrated, and overhyped. It’s just a way for fascist-style environmentalists to eat away our confidence in fossil fuels.

          There are plenty of naysayers, and I side with the naysayers.

          I personally hate our dependence on the middle east for some of our oil input, but the majority of my fellow Americans find that the sacrifice in blood and money is worth it. I will just keep burning it as well, in remembrance of the people who fell to keep the taps open. And hope eventually we can wean ourselves off of it completely. Not that the terrorists will hate us any less — they will then hate us for causing their peoples to starve.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I will differ on one point: “Solar requires too much space for panels.”

        In many places, sunlight is a waste product, meaning, it’s hot, and sunlight makes it hotter. We spend a lot of money ridding ourselves of that waste (through AC). Putting solar absolutely everywhere so that it produces plenty of power AND lets us live in the shade is win-win.

        No, I see the key flaw of solar being cost. The last time I priced panels, they were around $0.18/kWh over their expected lifespan. That’s just too much. Space really wasn’t a problem as a system sized to provide me with 100% power for half the year only occupied <1/2 my available roof.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      gslippy….

      Can’t say for sure, but I doubt that the Hyundai Fuel Cell cars would use LH2. Seems that just regular compressed GH2 would do the job. And in that case, there are no leaks or venting requirements. You may have been thinking of the BMW Hydrogen 7 experimental cars, which DID use LN2.

      —————–

  • avatar
    fozone

    I would think CNG would catch on long before hydrogen. Not sure why more companies aren’t going full guns with it (other than Honda).

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Same reason I would think…I have nowhere to fill up with CNG within 100 miles and the pumps that pressurize the home stuff are several thousand bucks and have to be rebuilt pretty regularly last time I checked into it.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        CNG makes sense for fleets since they can have a shared, dedicated fill-up site. I believe many delivery trucks, buses, garbage trucks, etc., already run on CNG.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I thought the whole Hydrogen train had been abandoned, GM was also pushing it again a few months back using the out of production Hydrogen H2 (guess it’s cheaper to use the existing setup then modify it onto a current production vehicle)

    Out of all the alternative fuels that exist Hydrogen (to me) makes the least sense, it’s not easily made, requiring more energy to make it then it puts out, not widely availible, not every Bob the mechanic understands it, requires Turbo/supercharger to makeup for huge power loss (normal 6.0 in H2 made 325 hp, hydrogen version made 160hp, it’s not exactly a stable element…

    And in regards to the pictured vehicle in the press release for Hyundai, I must ask, I realize that a large amount of the “alternative fuel” crowd does it solely for attention(ie Hollywood types), but your not going to win the hearts of normal people making every vehicle with alternative fuel ugly as sin.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      No one here is suggesting hydrogen as an ICE fuel. Bob the mechanic is still upset about them going to OBDII.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I see, I seemed to have missed that, then in that case it makes even less sense, converting the energy an extra time?

        Law of diminishing returns, my friend.

        • 0 avatar
          Aqua225

          Not really. Energy density of hydrogen is much higher than lithium ion batteries.

          Unless something fundamental changes in battery technology (and it well could at some undetermined time in the future), lithium ions have many more drawbacks than advantages.

          At least you can pump hydrogen in a realistic amount of time (or CNG if you have a pre-conversion front end on the fuel cell), and it can store more power, even given its inefficiency of conversion from water & electricity or CNG.

          So it is a more ideal energy buffer than batteries. Thems the breaks till that breakthrough in battery tech occurs.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Actually, Mazda has suggested burning H2 in a rotary engine for a Volt-like range extender.

        Converting an ICE to run on H2 is very simple in comparison to fuel cells, so there certainly will be a variety of them out there. However, it is not the ‘future of the technology.’

        • 0 avatar
          Aqua225

          Mazda is full of it, always trying to keep the rotary as some sort of plausible technology in a world where fuel economy is becoming very important. A rotary can’t burn anything, without wasting a lot of it. And it doesn’t have the reliability of a gas turbine engine to warrant using it for its lower mass/higher specific output advantages.

          Gas turbines continue to be used because of high reliability/high specific output. They aren’t terribly efficient compared to a diesel or a gas engine. Just rock solid, and able to generate gobs of power continuously.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      I first encountered fuel cells about 50 years ago, and it was old stuff then. It was just a laboratory curiosity with no practical uses. As far as I know, it still has no commercial practical uses to speak of.

      Of all the contenders for tomorrow, it does seem to me to have the weakest prospects. Thing is, tomorrow is often full of surprises. Have you noticed that every time mogas at the pump GT.EQ four USD per US gallon in today’s money every horse shit technology in the world crawls out of the woodwork asking for money?

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Wasn’t fuel cell technology taking us to the moon around 50 years ago? I would think that 50 years of innovation should get folks up to the quickie mart to buy beer and scratch offs given any kind of infrastructure.

      • 0 avatar
        SIGCDR

        Just to set the record straight there are many commercial and defense applications of fuel cell technologies. In addition to the more common space vehicles, terrestrial fixed and mobile telecommunications network power and backup, remote and rural distributed power generation and forklift power units, there are now large scale use of fuel cells in conventional submarines. Ultra-reliable, very efficient, no moving parts, and no NVH, sounds like a not just a good submarine propulsion system but pretty good prime mover for an automobile.

        The German Type 212 class is a highly advanced design of non-nuclear submarine (U-boat) that features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) hydrogen fuel cells. The submarine can operate at high speed on diesel power or switch to the AIP system for silent slow cruising, staying submerged for up to three weeks without surfacing and with no exhaust heat. The system is also said to be vibration-free, extremely quiet and virtually undetectable.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          Good for the fuel cell, hah,hah. Here in the USA we use solar panels and batteries for remote location power back up and nuclear reactors for subs that can stay submerged until the crew’s food runs out. For that matter, solar panels look like the ultimate winner for near term space travel applications as well.

          Granted I say this because I hate the wretched fuel cell with all my heart. I had to work for 6+ months on a fools errand fuel cell application many years ago.

          I said, “Boss, this can never work.” He said, “Your report is due Friday, and you know what is better say.”

          Now, I say, “Death to the fool cell!!!”

          OMG, I just Googled ‘Fuel Cell’. It dates from 1839 – much older than the ICE. WTF, I say, let’s try to solve 21st century problems with early 19th century technology that has never shown any real promise in the past 175 years.

          Well. at least it don’t vibrate much. Of course, if you are going to move a wheeled vehicle over a public road at speed, there may be SOME vibration involved, even so.

          Jimbob

          P.S. can anyone tell me why Tucson is pronounced “too sahn” instead of “tuck sun”?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Wiki say:

            “The English name Tucson derives from the Spanish name of the city, Tucsón [tukˈson], which was borrowed from the O’odham name Cuk Ṣon [tʃʊk ʂɔːn], meaning “(at the) base of the black [hill]“, a reference to an adjacent volcanic mountain.”

            So a Spaniard would say you are right.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Nuclear subs have a bunch of pumps which do make noise…some more than others. Ours are quiet though. Back in my Navy days it was said an Ohio class boat was quieter than the abmient noise of the ocean around it. I was commo though, not sonar so who knows if that is true.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          Definitely the most advanced diesel-electric (can one still call this a pig boat?) out there. I like it as an attack boat but the 3 weeks down is not long in the boomer world. I am curious of how all that H2 on board would do in a real combat environment. Fire is already a big threat. I like them though and would rather live with the H2 than sail on some of the Soviet nuclear designs.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            Soviet sub = death trap. As I recall the Soviets tried some kind of unconventional power plant for subs in the ’50′s(?) that may have been fuel cell based. They were reportedly VERY dangerous.

            Once they got a look at Adm. Rickover’s navy, they reverted to what they did best. Steal the plans and imitate.

            What fun when the French and English slipped them a set of doctored plans for the Concorde. The resulting Concordski had a wee problem. It kept falling out of the sky.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      jpolicke…..

      Audi is suggesting H2 as an ICE fuel, but packed in a very clever way. Let’s just use carbon as the packing atom, and turn H2 into methane by reacting it with CO2 harvested from the atmosphere. Then you burn H2 as CNG made by electrolysis of seawater, reduce global warming, have great range, use conventional CNG technology, and have ICE fun with a stick shift and zoom factor, —- all at the same time. See Links:

      http://green.autoblog.com/2013/01/31/audi-to-produce-e-gas-synthetic-fuel-wind-solar-co2/
      http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/10/01/audi-developing-synthetic-fuel-for-automobiles/

      ——————-

  • avatar
    GoesLikeStink

    But fuel cell cars are EVs. They run on electricity and have electric motors. They just get that electricity from a chemical reaction turning Hydrogen and Oxygen into water. And therefore do not have heavy, slow charging batteries.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      They could use a specially designed internal combustion engine but yes, odds on they’re using electric motors.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        I always heard that running on H2 is where the Wankel came into its own. Don’t know if that is true or not though.

        • 0 avatar
          Aqua225

          An idea probably planted by mazda in a wiki somewhere :)

          Rotaries are junk when they burn anything. Gas turbines are more reliable, and diesel & gas ICE is more efficient.

          Rotaries have similar weight and power output to gas turbines, but nothing near the reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        BMW used to have a 7-series running in a modified gasoline engine. they could switch between hydrogen and gasoline use.

        But now you combine expensive hydrogen with the inefficient gasoline engine. in case of a “normal” hydrogen car you still use expensive hydrogen, but use the more efficient fuel-cell and electric motor (and don’t forget the smoothness and torque of an E-motor..)

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          It’s just a tolerance issue. Atomized or otherwise it’s still larger than hydrogen. The BMW needed incredibly tight tolerances and it still had leak issues. So ultimately it would fail.

      • 0 avatar
        GoesLikeStink

        That would be a hydrogen powered car not a Fuel cell car.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    They’re going to build up to 10,000? That means they’re going to build five.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Maybe people should read up in the NEC (National Electrical code) what they require you to do if you just have lead-acid batteries because they can leak some hydrogen. what will they have you do to your garage when you have several pounds of compressed hydrogen?

    I think battery EVs are more viable for short distances than hydrogen. Just a few physical problems that are inherent to hydrogen:
    - producing it from electricity requires a lot of electricity due to inefficiency (people are concerned about EVs draining the power grid, try 3-4 times that amount per mile driven when using hydrogen)
    - producing hydrogen from natural gas is cheaper and more common, but why then not just easily compress natural gas and use CNG and call it a day (it doesn’t sound as sexy as hydrogen?)
    - compressing hydrogen is difficult to get decent energy density (and requires lot of energy) and the infrastructure will be expensive at such high pressures.
    - hydrogen as the smallest molecule leaks like a sieve. hydrogen even travels through steel (in small rate, of course). Fill up your car and after parking it for a week it is half empty. Same for infrastructure. the losses will be tremendous not to mention safety.

    I know someone will make this thread a political issue… but all the above problems are expensive to resolve and don’t go away by (Republican or Democrat) decree or subsidy.

    I’m not so concerned about safety in case of a crash. Hydrogen rises up into the air since it is light. And if it ignites it sure isn’t worse than the 15 gallons of gasoline we all learned to live with in our cars.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      HerrKaLeun….

      I guess I feel obligated to offer some counterpoint information. But I don’t mind telling you that I think H2 is the best thing since sliced bread, so you know my prejudice right away.

      1) What to do with pressurized GH2? ANS: Nothing. It’s sealed. Or, do no more than you would for gasoline vapors that are reportedly contained by our new locking gas caps.

      2) Producing GH2 from wind-powered electrolysis of seawater makes the efficiency argument peculiar, since wind energy is essentially “free”. And you can sell the O2 to help recover costs.

      3) You do not want to produce H2 from CNG; you want to make CNG from H2, as with Audi! See Links:
      http://green.autoblog.com/2013/01/31/audi-to-produce-e-gas-synthetic-fuel-wind-solar-co2/
      http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/10/01/audi-developing-synthetic-fuel-for-automobiles/

      4) Compressing H2 has been done for many decades now, and is no more expensive than compressing any other common gas (CNG, He, O2, N2, Ar. etc). Check Linde shipping rates, for example.

      5) H2 has a covalent radius of 31 pm; Helium has a covalent radius of 28 pm and is smaller. See links:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium

      6) If you use LH2 as with the BMW experimental car, then yes, you will have little left after a 2-week trip to Bermuda with the car sitting at Chicago O’Hare. But if you have CH2 in a sealed tank, there will be no substantial change, or all the labs that have H2 cylinders would need to replace them every month. In my lab, we’ve had them sitting for YEARS with no (or little) change! The losses will NOT be “tremendous.”

      As you point out, crash safety is not an issue. In fact, the light-weight carbon fiber sealed tanks used in the Aston Martin H2 car that just ran the 24-hours of the Nürburgring are LESS penetrable in a crash than a gasoline fuel tank (fuel cell).

      ———————–

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        1 & 5. Sealed =/= pressurized. Gasoline vapors do not induce significant stress on the containers, and if a seal leaks, those vapors are not rapidly expelled from the tank. That being said, we use pressure vessels all over the place, so I’m not concerned. However, H2 does leak out of everything (even solid steel walls), so there will always be some escaping. The thicker (and heavier) the container, the slower the rate, hence lab storage equipment can keep hydrogen longer than a car, which is negatively influenced by the weight of its tank. Helium is smaller because the electrons are held more tightly. However, hydrogen has a tendency to lose its electron in various reactions, and then it becomes incredibly tiny until it regains an electron. HerrKaLeun exaggerates about the rate a hydrogen tank leaks, but it is worth noting that refineries always store hydrogen in spherical containers because the leak rate is significant enough to make the extra cost of fabricating tanks with reduced surface area worthwhile. I see this is more a problem for refueling stations more than individual cars.

        2. No. Wind power (like solar, tidal, etc.) is not free. The ‘fuel’ is free, but the capital costs to build the capture device (wind turbine, solar cell) must be recouped. That is why buying wind power, such as through Green Mountain Energy, is typically more expensive than traditional power. Also, the crux of the electrolysis problem is that if you have electricity (generated by wind, solar, etc), why destroy half of it going through the inefficient hydrogen conversion when you could just dump that electricity straight into an EV? (I do not believe HerrKaLeun’s “3-4 times” statement. I believe it is closer to 2-3 times.)

        3. Current fuel cell sales pitches are banking on using our plentiful natural gas reserves to make hydrogen. Using that hydrogen *is* efficient; however, it requires fossil fuel & produces CO2. Using H2 to make CH4 requires having H2 initially, which as discussed in #2, doesn’t make sense.

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          redav….

          With regard to your “1 & 5″, H2 does not just “lose” electrons inside steel storage cylinders, or there would be a net positive charge on the cylinders. There are no significant “various reactions” going on inside that environment. As I noted, in our lab, H2 cylinders have been kept at pressure for years without any real leakage problems. This is a non-issue for cars, but I agree that refueling stations and bulk storage facilities may have to take extra precautions.

          With regard to your “2.” (a response to my “2).”), please see my comment to “jpolicke” above, 22 May, 12:03 AM. If Audi’s analysis showed this process to be unrealistic, they would not be building a commercial venture to produce what they call “e-gas”, which is H2-produced methane. Remember, that process actually REMOVES CO2 from the atmosphere. I put the word “free” in quotes, because, yes, there is capital investment cost and R&D expenditure to amortize: this is always the case for any new operation. And, of course, there is maintenance on the turbines, such as gear-oil changes every year. The “Blue Sky / Green Field” project in WI showed that this is a minor expenditure. That state is moving to “20/20/20″: 20% of all electricity in the state produced by 2020. That’s hardly an ineffective or commercially non-viiable effort that would be thwarted by maintenance problems.

          With regard to your “3.”, see my comment above concerning Audi. When Fuel-Cell cars shift over to using the electrolysis-produced H2, there will be no CO2 issues (except, of course, in manufacturing, which is the case for everything at present, since we do not have a wind or solar or nuclear-based economy.)

          ———–

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        1) Because the energy density is so low, higher pressures (or volumes) are required than would be needed with another highly-pressurized gas used as a fuel.

        2) Renewable does not mean “free”. If that same electricity could be put to better, and more efficient use, it has opportunity cost. Not to mention the capital costs of wind power, which are substantial. Though certainly you have the advantage that you can put an “H2 farm” in a windy middle of nowhere since the H2 would be transportable.

        3) Yes, you could make CNG from H2 and CO2, but this is utterly impractical at the moment.

        4) Correct; it’s no more difficult to compress H2 than any other gas, but that doesn’t make it a cost effective way to fuel a car. (Again, the energy density is so low, you need it compressed more than say, CNG, for the same energy output.)

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          sirwired….

          Your comments are in quotes:

          “1) Because the energy density is so low, higher pressures (or volumes) are required than would be needed with another highly-pressurized gas used as a fuel.”

          ANS: Not a problem. Pleas see link below:
          http://www.eoearth.org/article/Hydrogen_storage

          “) Renewable does not mean “free”. If that same electricity could be put to better, and more efficient use, it has opportunity cost. Not to mention the capital costs of wind power, which are substantial. Though certainly you have the advantage that you can put an “H2 farm” in a windy middle of nowhere since the H2 would be transportable.”

          ANS: My response above to “Redav”, which was:
          With regard to your “2.” (a response to my “2).”), please see my comment to “jpolicke” above, 22 May, 12:03 AM. If Audi’s analysis showed this process to be unrealistic, they would not be building a commercial venture to produce what they call “e-gas”, which is H2-produced methane. Remember, that process actually REMOVES CO2 from the atmosphere. I put the word “free” in quotes, because, yes, there is capital investment cost and R&D expenditure to amortize: this is always the case for any new operation. And, of course, there is maintenance on the turbines, such as gear-oil changes every year. The “Blue Sky / Green Field” project in WI showed that this is a minor expenditure. That state is moving to “20/20/20″: 20% of all electricity in the state produced by 2020. That’s hardly an ineffective or commercially non-viiable effort that would be thwarted by maintenance problems.

          “3) Yes, you could make CNG from H2 and CO2, but this is utterly impractical at the moment.”

          ANS: No. Audi has done it on a pilot scale and is now building a commercial plant for doing just that. Please see links:
          http://green.autoblog.com/2013/01/31/audi-to-produce-e-gas-synthetic-fuel-wind-solar-co2/
          http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/10/01/audi-developing-synthetic-fuel-for-automobiles/

          “4) Correct; it’s no more difficult to compress H2 than any other gas, but that doesn’t make it a cost effective way to fuel a car. (Again, the energy density is so low, you need it compressed more than say, CNG, for the same energy output.)”

          ANS: Aston Martin just completed the 24-Hours of the Nürburgring with a hydogen-fueled ICE car. Fueling the car was shown not to have been a problem. But if Hydrogen as H2 is shown to be a storage/fueling problem in commercial cars, then Hydrogen as CH4 is certainly not, since we already run vehicles that way, and are projecting even more of them. See Link:
          http://wot.motortrend.com/2013-chevy-silverado-gmc-sierra-hd-bi-fuel-trucks-cng-pump-gas-capable-176305.html#axzz2UMwlZesZ

          ———————–

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Honda i’s been running a fleet in California for years – I’d be curious as to how they’ve resolved issues you’ve raised.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Hey..everyone else has sucked at the teat of the U.S. government.
    Give Hyundai a chance to suckle.

  • avatar
    360joules

    I have to agree with previous posts about hydrogen and fuel cells in that it’s about energy storage. Big Truck is right: until we all have Mister Fusion on the roof of our DeLorean to feed the flux capacitor, a hydrogen fuel cell is no different than a battery device storing electrical current.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      It’s certainly different in that it can be refilled in about 9 minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      Aqua225

      Ditto here on refueling time comparison, and range.

      Current batteries suck. Until the big breakthrough in battery tech occurs (the breakthrough has to be commercially manufacturable and reliable, mind you, not the weekly university announcements that go nowhere in record time), we need a better energy buffer. Hydrogen or the e-gas above fits that bill, if you can’t stomach extracting and burning fossil fuels.

      Or suddenly everyone gives up terrorism and we can all have fission reactors in the trunk of our cars (assuming accidental releases can be quickly contained or cleaned up, as well as prevented).

  • avatar
    360joules

    Hydrogen is flammable but not volatile. Convert 240 ml (8 ounces) of gasoline to vapor. Light an equivalent volume of H2 with a match… in the presence of oxygen both fuels result in big flame but the gasoline vapor results in a bigger bang than the hydrogen.

  • avatar
    360joules

    Perhaps automobiles can run on the hot air emitted by politicians and government ministers? Limitless!

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Funny you should bring that up.

      Compressed air cars do work, and many prototypes have been built. I did the math (back of the napkin universal gas law), and a 3000PSI compressed air tank can hold about as much energy as a lead acid battery that can fit in the same car (I don’t remember if this was by mass or volume – I think it was mass). The gotcha, though, was that you had to keep the air hot to preserve the energy.

      So, yes, you can power an alternative fuel vehicle on hot air. The problem is that you may need to hold down the bloviator and get him or her to blow hot air into a tube. I get the feeling that many people would find this to be a positive attribute of such a system.

      Oh and in the absence of a large corps of bloviators standing by power these vehicles, then the compressed air car is electrically powered and has a lot of the same limits as a 1990s garage-built EV.

      • 0 avatar
        Aqua225

        “keep the air hot to preserve the energy” really means no point.

        Why attempt to store energy, if you have to consume more energy to keep that energy viable? Was it really energetic in the first place? Probably not.

        There are similar systems that ARE worth it though. Molten electrolyte batteries can store massive amounts of power, relatively quickly, and they are flat when cold. But all you need is the heat to bring the electrolyte to a liquefaction temperature again, and you get out a lot more energy (stored during charging).

        They aren’t very practical for cars, though, they are being played with in the train locomotive sector for hybrids.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I’ve never understood Hydrogen vehicles at all. They combine the worst parts of both electrical and gasoline vehicles in one utterly impractical package.

    1) The most common way to generate Hydrogen is to process… Hydrocarbons (a.k.a. Fossil Fuels) Hardly an improvement.
    2) The “greenest” way to generate Hydrogen is by electrolyzing water. This is horribly energy-inefficient and to be practical would require nearly-free electricity.
    3) Either method requires the generated gas to then be compressed, which causes even more energy waste.
    4) The energy density of Hydrogen gas, by volume, sucks. (One mole of H2 gets you one third the amount of energy as Natural Gas, and it’s not nearly as easy to store H2.)
    5) H2 leaks like crazy because the molecules are so damn small.

    When we actually start deploying fusion plants, decades in the future, if ever, THEN come to me with dreams of H2-powered cars. Before then, don’t waste my time.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Good luck with that.

    I’ll be in line waiting for an affordable Tesla if anything actually materializes from the fuel camp.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Fuel cells are really just another form of battery that can be “recharged” quickly and has much higher energy mass density than batteries. They are still EVs and utilize most all of the architecture of EVs like Volt and Leaf. Costs are still very high. Not long ago, $30,000 was considered a breakthrough in cost reduction, which is aggressively ongoing.
    Refueling infrastructure is the necessary enabler for widespread acceptance, but at $1,000,000+ per filling station, we have a “pulling yourself up by your bootsraps” problem. Vehicle makers can’t sell many because there are only a handful of refueling stations. Fuel suppliers can’t justify building stations without a population of vehicles to require them.

    In 2008, GM estimated that $15B in national infrastructure investment for hydrogen fuel stations would create sort of a critical mass that would enable commercial viability of FC vehicles. FCs take the vehicle out of the tailpipe emissions issue with nothing by water vapor released.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Completely agree H2 is the fuel of the distant future. However, if you don’t start, the future looks just like the present, or worse. Also, it is currently being used industrially as the best option. Google Hydrogen Powered Fork Lift.


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