By on June 4, 2014

Honda FCEV 02

While hydrogen is playing in the minors in California, the technology may soon be called up to the majors in Japan thanks to a boost in support for fuel-cell vehicles.

Nikkei Asian Review reports the Japanese government’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will relax pressurization rules for fuel cells this month, allowing for a new maximum of 875 atmospheres over the outgoing 700 atmosphere maximum. The increased pressure will raise the range of hydrogen vehicles by 20 percent before refueling is required.

The government is also in talks with the United Nations, the European Union and other governmental bodies on standardization involving importation and exportation of fuel-cell vehicles, making exports of such vehicles made by Japanese automakers easier to accomplish once the standards are in place by 2016.

At the moment, approximately 100 vehicles are traversing Japan’s roads in an experimental program, though more are expected to arrive beginning next year as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai press ahead with commercialization of fuel-cell vehicles.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

64 Comments on “Hydrogen Commercialization Receives Push From Japanese Government...”


  • avatar

    I wonder where all of this alternative energy technology will be 20 years from now.

    I really don’t think hydrogen technology is going to catch on.

  • avatar
    shaker

    12,862.5 psi seems a bit high. But imagine even 3000psi in a carbon-fiber tank, likely well-sequestered inside the crumple zones. These tanks and piping will need inspected every few years for fatigue cracks – I trust the guys at Pep Boys a little bit, but maybe not that much.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Pretty much has to be carbon fiber. Hydrogen eats away at metals. I’d also like to know just how you are going to inspect that tank: hydrogen is *small* and the smallest cracks will be a huge problem. I’d expect some sort of specialized machine with a ton of cameras attached to cheapo microscopes to scan the whole thing at mega-resolution. Might take awhile (might as well since removing the tank won’t be fast).

      There’s a reason that hydrogen is just to silly to be taken seriously.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This will cost more than CNG accumulators for the storage of gas.

    What a waste of tax payer money.

    Even the manufacture of hydrogen is already subsidised by $1.00 per kilogram in the US. This is a lot of subsidy.

    The reality is we are better off driving smaller gasoline and diesel vehicles until we can find a viable source of energy. Just pumping tax dollars into left wing Utopian schemes is really bad decision making.

    Keep this stuff for rockets and weather ballons.

    • 0 avatar

      I think this has less to do with left wing utopianism and more with right wing economic hardball. It’s a way to inject money into the economy and see if it gets growing again, gives Japanese makers an edge for an alternative fuel that may or may not catch on, protects the market if consumers join the bandwagon. All with a nice veneer of green.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      “Left-wing utopian scheme”? Where did you get that from? If you remember, in the US, the “Hydrogen Economy” plan was introduced by W in the ’03 State of the Union.

      But yeah, I don’t see the use either until we have better sources of Hydrogen.

      • 0 avatar

        Here’s are some better source of Hydrogen.
        http://www.greencarcongress.com/hydrogen_production/

        I like this one best
        http://www.greencarcongress.com/2014/04/20140416-nims.html

        And better ways to store Hydrogen.
        http://www.greencarcongress.com/hydrogen_storage/

        I think we are closer to the hydrogen economy than big oil wants us to think we are.

  • avatar
    redav

    “At the moment, approximately 100 vehicles are traversing Japan’s roads in an experimental program”

    Yep, that definitely shows it’s ready for the big leagues. /sarcasm

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Let me interrupt what will likely be a long list of naysaying. First, let’s just summarize the concerns:
    1. the technology will never work
    2. OK, it works, but nobody wants it
    3. Even if they did want it, it’s not safe
    4. OK, people want it, but I don’t
    5. Government has no role in industry
    6. Stay off my yard.

    Look, there are a set of technologies that are moving rapidly, at an exponential pace. Who would have imagined 10 years ago that 2 billion people would use the internet? Or that people would adopt cell phones 25X faster than they adopted TV and AC. Or that Facebook, Twitter and Google would be so deeply embedded in everyday life for hundreds of millions of peoople.

    I am no expert on hydrogen, but I don’t doubt that companies like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai employ hundreds. If they, and the Japanese government, want to invest in R&D and commercialization, who am I to cast stones?

    Keep in mind, Japan is a small island nation with a large economy, and zero oil. That’s why the 2 bestselling vehicles there are the Prius and Fit. That’s why WW2 – we embargoed oil exports to Japan.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I first heard about hydrogen as the next big thing some time in the 1980s, when I was about 7.

      Engineering has progressed tremendously during my lifetime (the Internet, FEA, etc). Also, the engineering for hydrogen has progressed a bit. But we haven’t found any hydrogen deposits on earth, and so the economic properties of hydrogen remain unchanged.

      In the meantime, the world had changed. I can go to the local Nissan dealer or the Tesla website and order a car tomorrow. I’ve test-driven several electric cars, and enjoyed their fantastic NVH. And we own a Prius with an automotive-scale battery that was made over 10 years ago.

      Upper hand: EV

      Prediction:
      It seems likely that we will see widespread adoption of CNG and EV vehicles long before we see hydrogen, due to the reserves of oil and natural gas. Peak oil has been postponed, but the deposits are still finite and we’ll hit the limit some time. We will see large numbers of CNG and EV vehicles selling for normal-car prices long before we see hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Unless we figure out how build good/fast/cheap/safe fusion power plants, which would make all of these questions will cease to matter.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        “But we haven’t found any hydrogen deposits on earth…”

        Yeah, very true dat — I only know of seven main ones: The Pacific Ocean, The Indian Ocean, the Atlantic…

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      You missed a key naysaying point:

      0. There are better solutions out there that make this technology unnecessary and undesirable in comparison.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    The thing that makes no sense to me is where the Hydrogen is going to come from. The easiest and cheapest way to generate hydrogen is to crack it off of CNG. If you are going to do that, why not just burn the CNG directly and skip the cracking? (Not to mention the expensive fuel cells.)

    If we ever reach a day with “free” energy (read: practical fusion), then we can electrolyze the ocean all day long, compress the output, and H2 makes sense. But until that day arrives (and it’s not even a glimmer on the horizon at this point) I don’t see the use.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Well, one of the drawbacks to solar and wind is that the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. But, if you’re just electrolyzing water then at 4kw/m3 of H then a wind turbine might generate 1500m3 per hour. Given the site, season, etc. you might be able to fairly accurately calculate a monthly production of 540,000m3 per month of H.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        There’s a competing technology you may have heard of: electrochemical batteries.

        They’re readily available, and becoming more affordable as the personal electronics industry matures, and as the EV industry starts to sell to early adopters in earnest.

        Batteries deserve a fair shake in your calculation.

        Especially since the battery packs fron few wrecked Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts should be showing up in junkyards right about now. Put a couple of junkyard batteries in a shed out back, and you can store a lot of those valuable PV watt-hours.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        jmo, the fundamental problem with your analysis is this:

        Electrolyzing water to produce hydrogen requires an initial amount of electricity.
        Option #1 is to put that electricity directly into a battery and use it to drive. This whole process (electricity-battery-motor-wheels) is ~80% efficient.
        Option #2 is to use that electricity to electrolyze water to create hydrogen (a process that throws away ~30% of that initial electricity), then you have to store the hydrogen (that creates some losses since hydrogen always leaks out of everything plus thermo losses due to compressing the gas). Then the hydrogen has to go through a fuel cell, which is only ~40% efficient. (NASA’s fuel cells are closer to 50%, but the ones going into cars aren’t that good). That whole process (electricity-electrolysis-compression-fuel cell-motor-wheels) is only ~20-25% efficient.

        In other words, you can only drive *ONE-THIRD* (at best) as far using hydrogen from water to store your energy compared to using batteries. And on top of that, fuel cells are more expensive than batteries. In other words, hydrogen from electrolysis equals paying twice as much to go a third as far.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “Well, one of the drawbacks to solar and wind is that the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.”
        Wrong, and wrong. The sun does always shine; it certainly doesn’t turn off, not even during OUR nights. And yes, there are some places where the wind does always blow–where a 5mph breeze would be considered a dead calm. Maybe it doesn’t do that where YOU live, but there are places in the US alone that the wind does blow all the time.

        The issue with solar and wind are their supposed ‘transient’ nature, but rather how to capture and use them most efficiently. Those are technologies still being researched and as far as solar is concerned there are plants in operation even now capable of producing power over even the longest winter night where they stand. Don’t say, “It can’t be done.” That argument has been proven false throughout history. After all, if a mere 1,000 knights and 4,000 footmen can defeat an army 10x their size with a loss of a mere 100 footmen, you really can’t say anything is impossible.

        What I didn’t glean from this article is exactly how the hydrogen is being used. Is it used to directly fuel the ICE? Why, then, call it a “fuel cell”? A fuel cell, at least the historical definition of it, was a self-contained system meant to generate electricity. It was a fuel cell explosion that nearly cost us three astronauts in Apollo 13. They weren’t running an ICE up there, but they needed electricity to power the systems and they ended up relying on the one in their lander to get them home. THIS kind of fuel cell could benefit everyone by offering a different quick-charge system for all-electric vehicles.

        The information here is too vague to even consider the political ramifications as yet.

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger

      You’ve hit the nail in the head. We’ll have to have spacecrafts mine it from the sun, and that will present a scorching problem.

      The problem with hydrogen is that there is no free hydrogen deposits on earth.
      Hydrogen is abundant, but it is all sequestered in the form of water or hydrocarbons.
      Releasing the water via hydrolysis requires more energy than what one recovers. This is a dead end.
      Cracking it from from hydrocarbons, reduces the available energy from the carbon itself. And you have all the waste carbon.

      Beyond stupid. Does not make any scientific sense.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        ST,
        To say that using hydrogen “doesn’t make scientific sense” doesn’t make scientific sense.

        Science allows us to make the seemingly impossible an everyday reality. You say that hydrogen is abundant, but challenging to mine. Just like oil and aluminum 150 years ago, right? And then we figured out how to tap these natural resources, and suddenly they were abundant.

        Well, hydrogen is even more abundant than oil, we just need to commercialize its extraction. That may be difficult, that may be easy. We shall see. Does it really hurt to try?

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          You canna break the laws of physics!

          The laws of thermodynamics, specifically, apply in this case. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Once you figure out what this means for hydrogen production, you will be enlightened. And then depressed. But mostly enlightened.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          You’re forgetting about efficiency. Yes, we can now produce previously hard to create materials like metallic aluminum, but it takes a large amount of energy to do so. That works because aluminum is durable and it’s worth the effort. Fuels are anything but durable and it makes no sense to use a lot of energy to produce considerably less energy.

          I see no point in pursuing hydrogen powered anything until someone figures out a way to efficiently produce hydrogen. That is where the research needs to be. As for now, hydrogen as a fuel is only an expensive and inefficient type of battery.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            FFF,
            We crack gasoline all day long, right? Look, I am not saying all cars will be hydrogen powered in 10 years. But I really don’t understand the opposition to R&D. If other people feel its worthwhile to invest their money in developing the technology, why are so many of the B&B so very opposed?

            I’m not saying people are brainwashed by Big Oil or the Koch brothers. I am just wondering why everyone is so very negative to any alternative to ICE whatsoever.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            I don’t think anyone here is against using something other than oil, I know I’m not. My daily driver is a plug in hybrid, I drive 20 miles each workday on electricity. The issue I have with hydrogen is that I can’t see where it is practical.

            I can think of three ways to produce hydrogen: derive it from coal, derive it from natural gas, or use electricity to derive it from water. In all these cases, I can’t see where producing hydrogen is efficient. If you have coal or natural gas, using those fuels to produce electricity to charge a battery is much more efficient, and obviously if you already have electricity, using that to charge a battery is much more efficient than using it to produce hydrogen that would have to be put in a pipeline, sent to its destination, then be compressed to a very high pressure, then put in a car with a fuel cell, which is then used… to produce electricity to move the car.

            The only advantage I can see for a hydrogen fuel cell powered car over a battery EV is that it can be refueled more quickly. The advantage of a fuel cell car over one with an internal combustion engine is that it has zero tailpipe emissions. Zero emissions are only important in urban areas, which are already well served by a battery EV. I just don’t see where a hydrogen powered vehicle is the best choice.

            Hydrogen has a number of problems as a fuel. First off, it’s a gas, liquids are much more convenient. Second, it’s energy density is very low, and it has to be compressed to very high pressures, which takes a fair amount of energy in itself. Because of its molecule size, it’s a PITA to deal with and will embrittle certain commonly used materials. If we’re going to come up with a different fuel, certainly we can some up with something better than H2 gas.

        • 0 avatar
          carve

          VoGo: hydrogen isn’t a source of energy- it’s a way to store energy you got from some other source (fossil fuels, nuclear, renewables). In fossil or nuclear, the energy required to obtain the fuel is far less than you get when you use the fuel (otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a fuel). With hydrogen, it will ALWAYS require more energy to make the hydrogen than you get back from using the hydrogen. It’s just physics.

          Well to wheel, hydrogen is about 1/3 as efficient as battery electric vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            FFF and Carve,
            My initial post stated the most obvious fact here: I am no expert on hydrogen. You guys clearly know more about it than I do, or at least are much better versed in all the things wrong with it.

            I am only watching the trends around me, which point to an explosion of data and capability.

            If hydrogen is so stupid, then don’t waste your time debating me – go call your broker and short the stocks of Toyota, Honda and all the other blue chip companies lining up behind the technology. You deserve to profit from your insight.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          “I can think of three ways to produce hydrogen: derive it from coal, derive it from natural gas, or use electricity to derive it from water. ”

          We *did* generate large quantities of hydrogen for use in airships; it was obtained by pouring sulfric acid over iron filings. No energy required (except to produce the acid and grind the iron down); but the residue was probably not environmentally friendly.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Fly a fusion rocket to Jupiter and scoop up hydrogen and bring it back home?

      Of course, I’d we could do that, we could just build a fusuon power plant and skip the part that involves exploring strange new worlds.

      Also, just building a power plant would also bypass the question of where the oxygen to react with the hydrogen would come from.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        I really doubt this. I suppose you could get a sufficiently eccentric orbit to dive into Jupiter’s atmosphere and ship it off at apogee fairly easily, but the amount of air-braking in the atmosphere is going to be killer.

        A better bet would be grabbing (water-based and other hydrogen bearing comets) and cracking them in places were solar power is extremely effective (eccentric orbit going closer to the Sun?). The whole thing sounds like Star Trek level tech, and by that time I just can’t see us needing to mine in any way we can now image.

        * PS. Yes I’ve been playing too much kerbal space program. And it is highly recommended.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          You still have the dilemma of if you generate electricity through such an effective process, why throw away so much of it to convert it to hydrogen instead of just storing the electricity directly in batteries or supercapacitors? Doing that means you need 1/4 to 1/3 of the power generation in the first place, which means we could get by with regular solar instead of satellites.

          The whole issue is like the solar-powered roads. There are better and easier ways of accomplishing the same thing.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Note: as far as conversion with “free” energy, there was news of a recent program to create fuels (presumably jet fuel or diesel for ships) on US air craft carriers. I’d assume that these are nuclear vessels and can produce more than enough extra power for “free” (the fuel is roughly good for the life of the carrier). The stuff is projected to still cost $4/gallon (which until the inevitable cost overruns/govt accounting is likely *much* cheaper than following a carrier group around with a gas can*).

      *Just assume that for non-classified DoD purchases, add a zero to the cost of whatever they are buying to find govt prices**. I’m guessing that each level of secrecy adds another zero, but haven’t worked in that field to find out.

      ** While you do make money this way, regulations will cost almost as much as the profits. Lockheed and General Dynamics are so profitable due to the huge chunk of the DoD budget that passes through them, not because they get these obscene margins.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Nuclear reactors don’t produce hydrocarbons. Link?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        At least partially false, though a valid point. “The fuel is roughly good for the life of the carrier,” is not true, our Nimitz-class carriers typically undergo a minimum of two refuelings which sometimes entail a complete replacement of the reactor vessels. The Enterprise was finally decommissioned due to the fact that such a reactor replacement was due on what was effectively our oldest and most obsolete nuclear carrier.

        However, it is true that the Navy is experimenting with a way to create jet fuel out of sea water–the first test providing enough fuel to fly a light-weight UAV for about 30 minutes, IIRC. Such production would need to be scaled up to viable levels to effectively fuel approximately 100 jets and turbine-powered craft (and maybe even the on-board vehicles for supplying and moving said aircraft) and as yet we have no idea how well that will scale NOR what overall effect it would have on the oceans’ own fairly delicate mineral balances. We simply don’t know enough–yet–to consider it a viable, economical and environmentally safe system.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    We’re looking at the future right here. The sooner we get off oil and onto HFC, the better. The tech is already viable, its simply the costs that need to come down, and they are as each new generation of fuel cell stack is created.

    Yes, its true hydrogen can be made from nat gas, but it can also be made from solar thermal plants on a massive scale, creating a zero emission cycle where the net energy gain comes purely from the sun.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      You do realize that once you start cracking water, all the vaunted efficiency of the “hydrogen cycle” goes out the window. You might as well use solar cells and store the result in lead acid batteries (rough equal level of efficiency: 50%*), and you can have that with zero R&D.

      * I think that this is at typical charge/discharge cycles. The efficiency of lead-acid batteries largely depends on how fast you charge/discharge them. Then again I suspect that any massive battery construction will be some sort of Li-ion deal.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        No. Batteries can’t replace ic as easily as HFC stack can. Batteries are currently dead end tech. If you must, think of the hydrogen and the stack as a better battery. When the energy is free (I.e. from The sun) efficiency at the source is irrelevant as you are simply harvesting a portion of the energy that’s available. The stacks themselves are around 60% thermally efficient and create zero pollution.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          The energy from the sun is free. The equipment needed to collect it is anything but. Efficiency counts, and using electricity, especially relatively expensive solar electricity, is not cost effective.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            FFF,
            Great conversation here – thanks. The great news is that the cost of solar panels is declining quickly, as the most expensive parts are subject to Moore’s law.

            Ten years from now, many areas will have so many solar panels on roofs that you’ll rarely see an asphalt shingle.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            And exactly what is the cost of a solar-driven molten-salt installation compared to one of the other types of electrical production?

            Solar cells?
            Nuclear plant?
            Coal-fired plant?
            Natural Gas-fired plant?

            You state that the equipment to capture solar energy is “anything but” free while overlooking the fact that the cost of installing and running a molten-salt generator is probably no more expensive than installing any of those others while operating costs are likely to be far lower since it doesn’t rely on burning any kind of fuel to generate the steam which turns the turbines. A molten-salt plant would be as close to self-sufficient as any power plant ever could be–even capable of recycling the water through condensation rather than venting it into the atmosphere.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            My point in all this is that efficiency counts. I am strongly pro-solar, but I do know it’s not cheap enough to where you can be wasteful with the energy it produces.

            Let’s say that solar cells are free. You still have to assemble them in an array, mount them in a frame, get them delivered to a structure, add inverters or microinverters, and wire all this stuff together to where it can deliver a meaningful amount of current. None of this stuff is subject to Moore’s law. Solar electricity is only cost effective when it’s used to replace peak time electricity. There may be a time where it is competitive with natural gas and wind, but it’s not there yet. Even if it does get to that level, it won’t be cheap enough to where it’s viable to use it to electrolyze water for hydrogen fuel for motor vehicles.

            Jeez, just use a battery.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aye, and when you start looking for efficiency, solar cells aren’t there; their efficiency at best is 50% and typically around 30% for now. Odds are it will improve, but molten-salt is somewhere around 80% efficiency right now and far less expensive than loading down millions of less-efficient cells.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Or, use the exact same thing with pure electric systems with all the same benefits for an already lower cost. And with its head start, it should always be cheaper than fuel cells.

      The only advantages hydrogen has over batteries is rate of refueling and weight. A pure electric system may eventually catch up on refuel rates, but we will never convert our airplanes to run on batteries.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        There’s a simple answer to that, redav. Just ground the aircraft. Electric-powered passenger rail, whether it be on steel rails, monorail or some sort of tube system, could conceivably move people as quickly across the continent at a lower overall cost. 200mph, 300mph, we already see trains around the world capable of effectively matching flight times (when taking terminal wait times into account) over distances exceeding 300 miles. This alone could eliminate the majority of intra-regional flight and reduce aircraft ‘pollution’ in the skies by 50% or more.

        Fuel use by aircraft as a whole would be cut by as much as 70% as the greatest fuel use by a plane is between takeoff and climb to altitude. Once at altitude, those planes tend to spool at about 60% throttle and descent has them throttled back even more. By eliminating all flights of less than 300 miles you would reduce the number of flights over the US alone by more than 75%. A side benefit of this is that our atmosphere would begin to clear and our weather begin to stabilize. Should it become possible to eliminate all aircraft–using some form of sub-orbital shuttle for the longest, intercontinental flights, one of the most visible causes of “global warming” itself would be eliminated.

        (Oh, and before you call me a nut case, I invite you to compare the forecast vs measured temperatures over the northeast US during the month surrounding Sept. 11, 2001. There is a five-day period where the civil aviation grounding became patently noticeable on regional weather.)

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Planes can be reduced, but not eliminated. Some things need to be up in the air, and there are some paths that just aren’t conducive to rail.

          The data about brightness/temperatures after 9/11 actually highlight another doubt I have with a hydrogen economy–the effect of increasing water vapor in the atmosphere (instead of CO2). It’s well known that it’s a more severe GHG than CO2, and we know that clouds have a huge effect on climate. I have a suspicion that if we ever did switch to a hydrogen economy, water vapor emissions would eventually be defined as a pollutant. (If plane contrails already produce such effects when burning hydrocarbons, how more of an effect would they have if they burned hydrogen?)

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I don’t agree that HFC is the best choice, though maybe as an interim for specialized purposes… I could see city transit companies using it as they’re the ones that individually realize more cost driving taxes up, but ONLY as an interim until more efficient methods come into play that don’t require ‘cracking’ hydrocarbons or electrolysis. Cracking still requires a supply of hydrocarbons–now somewhat limited on Earth despite all the naysayers–while electrolysis effectively wastes energy to make another kind of energy that then turns right around to resort to the original wasted energy. There simply has to be a better way.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    What I like about hydrogen cars is:
    1. agnostic. They don’t car where the hydrogen came from, CNG, water & electricity, undiscovered/unannounced else… they don’t care.
    2. They can recharge faster than a battery and the power can be used off peak and stored. A battery changer that uses a battery to store off peak produced power would not be efficient.
    3. they don’t have to be instead of BEV. They can be for those who have longer range and quick charge needs not served by BEV, and let BEV be used when it makes sense.
    What I don’t like about hydrogen cars is:
    1. they don’t make sense at the current level of development and infrastructure.
    2. they’re expensive

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      On your ‘like’ argument I would dispute a couple of your points in their reasoning.

      #2. As yet, I’ve not read just how quickly a hydrogen fuel cell can be refilled by a user. With what I know about handling pressurized gasses (specifically nitrogen and certain chemicals like butane), said refueling would take longer than using the current gas pump… several times longer. A vehicle would need to be physically grounded to reduce the risk of sparks that could ignite any leaks while the fittings themselves would need to be made as leak-proof as possible–maybe even to the point that gaskets and fittings would need to be replaced on a regular basis. Of course, the fittings themselves would need to be made of brass or other non-sparking material that can withstand the thermal shock of sitting hot while not in use and dropping to high-sub 0° (sub-zero degree) temperatures while fueling. While an experienced technician might be able to do it safely in 5 minutes or less, the average POV driver could take much longer or take risky shortcuts in order to finish more quickly. Granted, it could bring back the old-style gas station attendants and trigger a nice hiring boom, but there’s no proof that it would be significantly quicker than battery charging with new technologies and methods just hitting the market or undergoing testing.

      I’m also not sure if you meant “Battery changer” such as the robotic system demonstrated by Tesla almost two years ago, or “battery charger” in the form of a battery bank put to use as a supplemental energy source for a quick-charge station. Honestly, a bank of high-capacity capacitors would be more effective as they can discharge as quickly as they charge–requiring nothing more than current limiters to prevent overheating of control circuits. However, if you take a look at the newer Lithium Polymer batteries, they’re not batteries at all, but rather dry-cell capacitors capable of being recharged much more quickly than any other type of battery. As such, the supply voltage and current capacity of the vehicle’s or supply’s charging circuits is all that slows most BEV charging rates.

      Tesla has already announced that by doubling the supply voltage, they can cut the full-charge time of a Model S down to 30 minutes or less. While I’ll grant this is still slower than refilling a hydrogen fuel cell, it is also infinitely safer as the risk of explosion is much, much lower and even if a car does light up, it doesn’t necessarily risk nearby vehicles and lives the way a hydrogen blast would.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    No infrastructure = no future.

    BEVs aren’t for everyone, but at least the infrastructure is there, and it’s cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Charge times are slow and batteries aren’t very energy-dense. I would guess some auto manufacturers don’t see those two limitations changing in the near term.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        That depends on your perception of “slow” and “aren’t very energy-dense” According to Tesla, they’re about to cut charge times in half again (where the charging circuitry can handle it, and that includes where the rechargers are located) and almost double the effective range of cars due in the near future. Granted, they may never refuel as quickly as your current gas station, but battery-swap stations may change that paradigm.

  • avatar
    hybridkiller

    It seems to me that onboard generation of electricity (in this case fuel cells) will never be the cheapest or most efficient way to get it done. I believe the real tech revolution will be in storage media (batteries). Develop a storage medium (battery) that’s lighter, holds significantly more energy, and can be recharged quickly, and watch how fast EVs replace ICE vehicles.

  • avatar
    wmba

    This is thinly disguised free R & D money for Toyota and Honda to do the silliest thing imaginable. Waste natural gas to make hydrogen, then put it in over-the-top fuel cell designs to generate electricity.

    It is so stupid, it’s actually happening, and will get the human race precisely nowhere. Both electricity and hydrogen are mere carriers of pure energy, refined secondary products that use energy to create. And these fuel cell vehicles use both!

    If anyone with a modicum of technical brains was in charge, both electric and hydrogen piwered vehicles would be banned immediately as a waste of resources. Barring the use of solar, wind, hydro and nookyoular to generate electrickery, of course.

    But the time for basic logic ended years ago, so now we put up with stupid ideas as being normal. And think no more of it.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      What you’re missing here is that in an urban or suburban situation, an electric vehicle is vastly more efficient than one powered by an internal combustion engine.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      “If anyone with a modicum of technical brains was in charge, both electric and hydrogen piwered [SIC] vehicles would be banned immediately as a waste of resources.”

      Why stop there, wmba? Why not ban all research that you personally don’t approve of? Why allow science at all? Kill the electric cars! Kill all scientists!

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      While ignoring the rant part of your argument, one statement in particular doesn’t make sense.

      “If anyone with a modicum of technical brains was in charge, both electric and hydrogen piwered vehicles would be banned immediately as a waste of resources.”
      Ok, I’ll agree that the Hydrogen part of it doesn’t make much sense and for exactly the reasons you describe; but why electric? Compared to any other motive power, it is the LEAST wasteful in the long run–depending on the source of the ‘batteries’ themselves. Since Lithium Polymer ‘batteries’ aren’t nearly as damaging as other so-called ‘dry cell’ batteries (which are still ‘wet’ through use of a liquified paste), manufacture of such is relatively clean and the batteries themselves almost 100% recyclable into new battery packs.

      • 0 avatar

        My take is that Big Oil is most at risk from wide spread vehicular electrification and their, or affiliated, trolls are out in force to confuse and delay its adoption every opportunity (worked well so far), and when confronted with logic, reason and sense they have no answer and can’t respond.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    So the picture for this article is the ugly prototype because the picture that should have run with this article was just used for the one on the ELR’s non-sales?

    When I was an underclass engineering student I volunteered for the vehicle design team that built hydrogen hybrid electric vehicles for competition. They had a deal with a local sandwich shop so that after team meetings members got a half-price deal on a 2-foot-long sub the shop called the Hindenburg. The team leader though it was hilarious.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • nrd515: I finally got to drive an SC a couple of days ago. A friend showed up to pick me up for lunch in one in that...
  • ja-gti: Anyone else getting the feeling that all the billions EVERY car company is investing in all-electric vehicles...
  • ajla: I think it’s alright although the headlight/hood outline is a little weird. I put its looks about equal...
  • Good ole dayz: True. And one can have sex with a blowup doll. Some are content with artificial.
  • Inside Looking Out: In the world of Sloan’s ladder FIAT would be Chevy, Alfa – Pontiac, Lancia Oldsmobile...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber