By on May 30, 2014

Honda FCX Clarity At Shell Hydrogen Fuel Pump

A new gold rush in California is coming to the fore as private and public investments push hydrogen fuel cell technology forward, and the U.S. Department of Energy is the latest to enter the arena.

Autoblog Green reports the DOE will be delivering $7 million in funding for the development of “lightweight, compact, and inexpensive advanced hydrogen storage systems that will enable longer driving ranges and help make fuel cell systems competitive for different platforms and sizes of vehicles,” the majority of the funds to land in California. Pasadena’s Materia will receive the most of the California-bound taxpayer dollars, with $2 million to help reduce the cost of storing compressed hydrogen through the use of “a novel resin system” aimed to replace carbon fiber composites in storage tanks.

The latest round of funding comes on the heels of similar investments into hydrogen storage and fueling infrastructure, including a $27.6 million grant by the California Energy Commission to FirstElement Fuel Inc., the startup founded by former General Motors and Hyundai exec Joel Ewanick. The only non-California recipient was PPG Industries of Greensboro, N.C., who will like supply its glass fiber tanks to the sole public fueling station outside of the new gold rush, located in Columbia, S.C.

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35 Comments on “California Receives Majority Of $7M US Energy Department Hydrogen Funding...”

  • avatar

    You can have faith in Joel Ewanick’s record of success

  • avatar

    We should have massive solar panels converting massive pools of seawater into Hydrogen and Oxygen gas – while simultaneously charging EV and providing light to energy-efficient-homes with LED lighting.

  • avatar

    $7 million in California is about enough to buy 7 homes that would cost $200,000 each in most of the rest of the country. It doesn’t really seem like a serious effort.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s worse, is thinking about all the staff hours, grandstanding, press conferences, lobbying and other silliness that has inevitably gone into distributing what amounts to little more than pocket money. It makes it so incredibly obvious, that the entire purpose of this whole bag of nonsense, is simply to allow some to pretend to be “greentechie”, without really affecting anything.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    $7m is such small change when it comes down to it.

    I’ve always been a supporter of fuel cells. Not the skateboard modular interchangeable body nonsense that was so commonly trotted out in the early to mid 2000s. But if we can get the cost of production down and the infrastructure in place, I still think it would be the best alternative to burning dinosaurs.
    We just need to get people to stop brushing it off because someone said it’s like driving with a hydrogen bomb in your trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Since most of the hydrogen technology involves extracting the hydrogen from hydrocarbons, it’s still “burning dinosaurs.”

      Extracting hydrogen from water takes way too much energy.

    • 0 avatar

      Invariably, the hydrogen will end up being produced from natural gas. If the goal is to burn natural gas, then one may as well skip the hydrogen conversion step and use nat gas directly to run the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      Why not use fuel cells based on methanol? Last I heard, that was *close* to market (for markets unconcerned with the cost of energy, see phones/mobile electronics), and wildly easier to produce the feedstocks.

      CNG cars make sense. CNG cars doing a crazy dance through hydrogen doesn’t.

  • avatar

    What is the energy balance with this? I know nothing, but have heard that it takes more energy to obtain the hydrogen than it returns as a fuel. If the energy used is solar, wind, or hydro, then it may be a good thing.

    • 0 avatar

      Conservation of energy (the principle of physics which States that energy can neither be created nor destroyed) guarantees that it will take more energy to spit water back in to hydrogen and oxygen.

      Exactly how much energy is wasted when electrolysing water is an “engineering problem”, as far as this principle is concerned, but splitting off the hydrogen will require more energy than it takes to move the car.

      Which raises the question: how is making hydrogen from water better than charging a battery?

      Which raises another question: since most hydrogen today is made by reforming natural gas into C02 and hydrogen, how is this better than just hacking a CNG tank into a regular car?

  • avatar

    Oh, look, the Honda FCX Clarity. This car seems to be the forgotten hydrogen fuel cell electric car in all the alt fuel excitement. it’s been out for several years being leased to customers

    • 0 avatar

      The FCX Clarity has been forgotten because you can walk in to most a dealer and just buy an EV off the lot, rather than convincing Honda Corporate to lease you the hydrogen equivalent of a GM EV1.

  • avatar

    Honda and Toyota see fuel cells as the future and see electric as a dead end.

    Both companies also see hybrids as viable.

    • 0 avatar

      It will be interesting to see which application will win out in the end, like VHS or Beta.

      Yet even with all this experimenting going on by car makers, the fuel of choice for the next couple of hundred years will continue to be gasoline and the good old ICE.

      After the planet runs out of oil, maybe we’ll have nuclear batteries (like those in satellites) to power our vehicles.

      • 0 avatar

        Funny you mention the VHS vs. Beta. The best picture quality technology was Beta, but it was beaten by a cheaper, non-proprietary alternative. That might be what we should be looking for when guesstimating winners and losers.

        • 0 avatar

          Sony’s Beta format was indeed the better quality picture. I’ve always enjoyed the toys and one of each when they first came out. I still have a couple of VHS decks hooked up to my TVs Composite inputs.

          And you’re right, the cheaper, non-proprietary alternative remains gasoline, and I hope that ultimately, it will win out.

  • avatar

    So much of “green technology” and environmental efforts seem to be more about psychology and political payola than anything.

    Using hydrogen as a fuel source is just moving the same numbers to a different part of the balance sheet.

    Using natural gas a the actual fuel source for vehicles seems to be the closest thing to a silver bullet.

    • 0 avatar

      The whole alternative-energy thing is a farce, driven by the greenweenie agenda. It hasn’t caused me, or millions upon millions like me, to reduce our use of gasoline, diesel, oil or coal.

      It’s great that natgas is so abundantly available which means more coal exports from the US to overseas. In time, America may even become a net exporter of oil, instead of importing it from the Middle East. Right now America’s most prolific export is gasoline (to Europe), and that means good money for America as well.

      • 0 avatar

        I used to think that, when I was a teenager. And it was because the environmentalists I knew at the time were preachy idiots.

        Things changed when, after college, I did a thought experiment where I considered energy efficiency and environmental impact as regular engineering constraints.

        Turns out a lot of engineers think this way, and I found smart environmentalist a to hang out with.

        I’m not any more likely to tolerate the wishy washy preachy kind of environmentalist than you are. But I do see benefits to these technologies, and when I do finally spend new-car money on a vehicle, it will almost certainly be an alternative energy machine of some sort.

        • 0 avatar

          Hey Luke42, ” I do see benefits to these technologies” I agree!!!

          I’m all for innovation and the betterment of the species but I resent the fact that the government, depending on who’s the power du jour, mandates legislation that is not always in our best interest.

          For instance, the E10 (soon to be E15) requirement. It’s hurting people with old cars who cannot afford to replace them.

          And I’m not just talking people in their sixties and seventies living on fixed incomes, either.

          Plenty of poor people living on welfare in America these days. Is the government going to give them free replacement cars so they can get around? I doubt it!

          Some of the old cars have self-ignited due to fuel leaks under the hood because the alcohol ate the seals and hoses. There have been a few roadside and parking lot auto fires. And you can smell the fuel leaks in any parking lot where old cars are parked.

          I resent having to pay for solar and wind-derived energy that isn’t even available in MY area. It’s generated elsewhere, hundred of miles away, and used elsewhere, sometimes even outside of my state, but I’ve seen my electric bill double in the last five years.

          It gives me a pervert kind of pleasure to kick on my AC generators every Sunday and watch the nasty black smoke billow upwards from the exhaust pipes.

          Yes, it costs more to generate my own electricity, but I have to be able to do so because we have a lot of power outages where I live.

          And for my in-laws who both use oxygen concentrators during the night, it is existential that they be able to generate their own electricity as well during power failures.

          The list is long and I won’t bore you with my hangups.

          My point was, industry is free to speculate and innovate to their heart’s desire, but industry isn’t free to fornicate the people by having them pay for it through government mandates and taxation.

  • avatar

    People forget about the hidden social choices that we make because we think our paths are irreversible. In the last 12 years, we’ve spent $4 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That $4 trillion would have paid for a lot of “pie in the sky” trans formative projects in the US. It would have been easy with a fraction of that money, over that time, to convert our over-the-road truck fleet to natural gas. Harder projects, like solar roads and massive solar hydrogen generation would have been within our grasp. We would have had money to design and build thorium nuclear reactors in areas without solar, wind and geothermal resources. As the wars wind down we still subsidize the oil, gas and (unbelievably) the coal industries. We subsidize private car ownership through insufficient fuel taxes.

    • 0 avatar

      As the EPA forces more coal-fired power plants to close, we’ll see a lot more coal being exported to third-world nations who will use it to fuel their power plants and further pollute the global atmosphere. If not OUR coal, it will be the coal from someone else that will be used.

      Coal is too valuable a fuel to leave unused. So is oil.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’m not a big supporter of incentivized and subsidisied schemes by the government. If hydrogen requires this even this small level of support then it’s a waste of resources. There are obviously better options out there.

    Or, is this just a token effort to appease some lobbyist group?

    Hydrogen is an expensive and polluting fuel to manufacture, when and if we can produce it economically, it then should be considered.

    There are other instruments that can be used to make the US more efficient in the use of energy.

    The first one is the US (and many other countries) must realize there is a cost with using any form of energy. It will impact something somewhere.

    If Californian’s want a cleaner environment, then increase the tax on fossil fuels. This would encourage the use of smaller vehicles.

    Believe it or not these are readily available and use cheap existing technology.

    • 0 avatar

      BAFO, California already charges at least a dollar more per gallon of gasoline and it hasn’t deterred anyone from driving less or driving some pregnant roller skate, except the people who can least afford the higher fuel costs because they were already poor. And those poor people cannot afford EVs, PEVs, Hybrids or hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

      People with money, which is is the vast majority of Americans, continue to buy gasoline, no matter what it costs. So raising the cost of fuel disproportionately hits the people who can least afford it.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    So? Does California have to have cheaper fuel? Your view of equal fuel prices is a socialist outlook.

    California needs money to exist. This $7 million is better spent fixing a blackspot to reduce accidents. Each road death costs the US and California millions of dollars.

    So what if you drive smaller and more efficient vehicles in California. But you need to remove many of the restrictive controls on the US auto industry and energy industry for this to occur.

    Driving large vehicles isn’t a god given right. Driving a small vehicle, as in Europe isn’t a god given right.

    Cheap energy isn’t a god given right. Just because you want cheap energy doesn’t mean it is a given, even to the point where poor government policy/regulatory controls/socialist subsidies are put into place.

    There are alternatives to the current regime of US controls and regulations to reduce fuel/energy usage in the US. All more efficient.

    I had this debate the other day on PUTC. The US auto/energy industry regulatory controls are designed by unions, corporation and government. Not the people. Your auto industry is an example of socialist controls.

    If you want to drive a vehicle that consumes energy, pay for it. Which makes my beliefs the same as yours. Except you believe that fuel should be cheap and subsidised because that is what you want.

    You appear to believe in socialism when you benefit. My mother is similar and she’s an avid Fox and Friends fan. To her everyone on welfare are the issue, not the fact that the average un/semi-skilled US worker earns peanuts.

    The cost of energy influences what you drive. Look at us in Australia and Canada. We have a similar car culture to the US. But the cost of energy influences what we drive.

    This isn’t subsidised by the taxpayer in Australia. It is influenced by better and more logical regulatory controls.

    We can buy and drive what we want, with less influence by regulations. That’s why per capita Australia has the highest ownership of performance cars globally.

    We call this in Australia freedom. In the US, the vehicle you buy, is more regulated and controlled to the point where the US is becoming the odd one out globally.

    Being the odd one out will cost the US consumer money.

    If you like a socialist energy and auto market, so be it.

    The US market would be similar to what I envisage the Chinese to eventually have. We will give you enough choice, but the choice is what we want as a government, not you as a people.

    Sounds like something George Washington and Ben Franklin would of have liked to see.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, it’s hard to determine exactly what California stands for or what it wants to morph into under the current regime. The disparities between the cost of living in California and the other 49 states of this union vary greatly. My guess is that New York and California are in a league of their own.

      What is done in the name of the people in California when it comes to energy and the price of fuel also disproportionately affects those of lower incomes in a negative way.

      Many Californians who disagree with that current philosophy are cashing out and moving elsewhere. Others who cherish the California trend of bankruptcy and higher cost of living, and who can afford it, move to California to live their dream lifestyle of the nouveau riche.

      My view of the world is far from socialist. I believe we should buy whatever it is we want and can afford, and shun whatever it is we do not agree with. In America there is no reason why fuel prices should be as high as they are today. We are literally swimming in oil. In places it still bubbles up out of the ground!

      It is our refining capacity that is artificially kept down by the current administration and the EPA.

      Personally, I do not think that Hydrogen is the way to go in cars, because it isn’t as efficient as gasoline. And I understand that the whole EV, PEV, Hybrid and Fuel cell thing is just an experimentation phase to stretch technology and have some poor “early adopter” suckers help pay for it. Just like the VHS vs Beta shakedown.

      I believe that to most Americans anything other than gasoline and diesel isn’t worth a second thought. If it was they’d be buying into it. And they are not buying into it.

      It may also interest you to know that gasoline at PEMEX in Mexico costs less than $2/gallon. That same gasoline is exported to the US where it is distributed by pipeline and sold for $3.27/gallon for Reg Unl 87 octane in MY area up to $3.48/gallon for Premium 91 octane, both with 10% ethanol added on this side of the border.

      Is it any wonder then, that so many people in the borderland area hop across the border to fill up their gas tanks with REAL gas and haul back a few extra gallons to help make it through the week? My American-born Mexican foreman, Federico, has on more than one occasion brought me a 55-gallon drum of gasoline from Mexico, for my stash. Of course I pay him for the gas and tax-free liquor he brings me from Ciudad Juarez.

      It is my understanding that this happens all along the borderland area with Mexico. Yes, even in California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

      People will always find a way to work around things, even the artificially high prices of fuel in America. And they will also keep their polluting cars longer, rather than buying new less-polluting cars or EVs, PEVs, Hybrids and Fuelcell cars, if they feel that they are being snookered into thinking that somehow these more expensive modes of transportation are better than their old, polluting, gasoline-fed ICEs.

      Philosophies differ. What matters is that whatever philosophy we choose to adhere to, works for us. And my philosophy works for me.

      I’m not sure the same can be said for others.

      • 0 avatar

        “Yeah, it’s hard to determine exactly what California stands for or what it wants to morph into under the current regime.”

        Six Californians!

        I’m not from there, so I literally don’t get a vote. But it seems sensible that rural Californians would be happier if they didn’t have to put up with the same policies as the San Franciscans of the world. And vice versa.

        • 0 avatar

          Well said! But the majority in CA keeps voting for more of the current regime and economic philosophy.

          I can tell you from MY relatives who still live in CA that their standard of living has tumbled to where it is lower than mine in New Mexico, and they are better off than many because they do not have a mortgage on their home(s), and their cars are paid for.

          They are also unwilling to pay for many of the basics that should come free in life. I have brought in and installed six Reverse Osmosis units so that my relatives can enjoy clean, good tasting, RO water, without having to pay outrageous prices for bottled water that I pay $2.79 for in a case of 24 – 16.9oz plastic bottles.

          And before I enter California on my trips, I stop in Quartzsite, AZ, to top off my gas tank, fill up 4 – 5 gallon gasoline containers and carry them on my hitch-mounted cargo carrier. That’s usually enough gas to make a trip into and out of California without having to pay for $4.75/gal gas there.

          And guess what, I’m not the Lone Ranger in this. Lots of travelers doing the very same thing!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Here’s are some links to highlight what I’m stating. The US subsidises it cars at $3 000 per vehicle, Germany $1 300 per vehicle, Australia $2 000 (used too).

    Then when you look at he graph in the first link the US also has greater fuel subsidies than the Europeans on average.

    So, this indicates to me that the US has a more socialised energy and auto manufacturing industries than the EU.

    I can see why the UAW stooges like Pch101, DiM, Mikey, and the rest want the status quo to remain. Socialism at it’s best.

    I think you’ll find the US would pay more for fuel without the massive subsidised energy you guys receive. Dont’ forget for a subsidy to exist the money has to come from somewhere.

    But where? Borrowings?

    This makes a mockery of this wasted money on pointless EV, hybrid and hydrogen sh!t.

    I do think the people that support this waste of resources should pay the full price for the unviability so they can feel good.

    Let them as the consumer contribute all the money required to develop these feel good industries. Not the guy making $10ph.

    I would say most who buy this stuff have a life skills degree in the Arts or are socialist inclined engineers, ie, the socialist elites.

    Why else would you buy a vehicle that’s subsidised by poorer tax payers? These are just feel good products. Like the feeling you get after eating a whole grain sugar encrusted breakfast cereal.

    The true cost of this stuff is the neglect of better methods to reduce emissions, like the construction of more very needed nuclear reactors or comprehensive natural gas infrastructure to ALL home in the US, not just manufacturer a few feel good products.

    • 0 avatar

      Appreciate the links. I have run across some, but not all.

      I understand about the massive subsidies the US uses to foster its own well-being. Truth be told, Americans expect that our government does many things for its people and the nation, when it works for them.

      I’m not saying it is right in all manner, and what some consider existential to their cause may not evoke any reaction from others, in fact, it may irk them. For me subsidies for EVs irk me!

      And so it is with the individuals you named. However, in the spirit of free thinking, they are entitled to their own beliefs. For some, their philosophy of the rigid status quo is the only solution. The way I see it, they are entitled to their own swill. I don’t have to buy into it, if I don’t want.

      From my perspective, I believe that enterprise is free to innovate all they want, but I draw the line when the government mandates conflict with my own beliefs.

      I have learned to suck it up when I encounter a policy like “too big to fail”, or bailouts, handouts and nationalization for failed corporate entities. I don’t support them, and find ways to work around them.

      I think I have been successful in beating my government at their own game — because it worked for me (whatever it was I did, like maybe no longer buying GM products, or whatever.)

      Our government says I need to pollute less, I fire up my AC generators every Sunday at noon and let them run for six hours, thus blowing more than my fair share of pollution into the atmosphere, and using a bunch of cheap gasoline I got from Mexico to boot.

      This also ties in to me having to pay more for my electricity because some greenweenie sold the government on having me help pay for windmills and solar panels. I use less commercial electricity but make more of my own at higher cost to me and greater pollution to the atmosphere.

      Some of this is out of necessity of course, because electricity in MY area is not reliable. I’ve got a lot of money invested in having all my electronics hooked up to individual UPS’s to tie me over until my generators kick in.

      I think you get the idea. I’d love to expound on MY philosophy about all this greenweenie silliness, but I have an early call tomorrow. So, good night.

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