Aug 22

GM hydrogen fuel cell vehicle update

 

The other day we learned Hyundai aims to build 1,000 Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) beginning this year, and some of you wondered what GM was doing in this arena while a few answered “no” and others said “yes” to the question in the headline, “is hydrogen the future?”

According to GM, regarding fuel cell technology it pioneered in 1968 and present day iterations it says ought to be production ready by 2015-16, the answer is actually a qualified “yes.”

So then what does GM have to announce? Actually nothing at the moment, but GM’s Randy Fox, manager, Electric Vehicle Technology Communications said things are proceeding with two hydrogen fuel cell projects, one announced in September 2006, begun in October 2007; the other was announced May 2010 and got started February this year.

 

Begun in 2007, Project Driveway is the largest-ever fuel cell demonstration fleet and has involved as many as 119 de-badged converted Chevy Equinox FCVs in the hands of private citizens and agencies in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. and internationally, that have now accumulated over 2.5 million miles.

“There are roughly 100 Fuel Cell Equinox’s still in-service,” said Fox yesterday. “Mainly in the U.S. and a few in Europe and Japan.”

When Car & Driver did an update in March 2010 on Project Driveway, the miles racked up were estimated at 1.2 million, so they’ve been busy with their data acquisition.

 

The other FCV project is in conjunction with the U.S. Pacific Command and the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative (H2I) which we reported in February this year.

“In addition to ‘Project Driveway,’ GM is also involved in the H2I initiative,” said Fox. “GM announced in May 2010 that it has a memorandum of understanding with The Gas Company in Hawaii to cooperate on a fueling infrastructure on the island that would take hydrogen from key points along The Gas Company’s 1,100-mile synthetic natural gas pipeline for use as transportation fuel for fuel cell vehicles.”

This project has begun with similar Chevy FCVs being paid for by the Army Tank Automotive Research Development Engineering Center (TARDEC), Office of Naval Research and Air Force Research Laboratories (ONR) and Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL).

 

As equipped, they can travel up to 200 miles on a single charge, refuel in five minutes and produce zero emissions. They could also lead to tactical vehicles later, as the military is keen on sustainable hardware that has the extra added bonus of independence from vulnerable fuel supply chains.

Other drivers for fuel cell technology include mandates by the California Air Resources Board, Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules and European legislation. These, you know, are pushing for energy security and emission reductions.

Political and technological constraints notwithstanding, GM (and its FCV partner BMW – which by the way is also working with Toyota) is not alone with fuel cell irons in the fire as efforts are also underway by some of the other usual OE players, including (as mentioned) Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Nissan, and Daimler.

While GM has not announced a production fuel cell program, and “will not speculate” when it will, we may be hearing something in the next couple years or so given one definitive statement.

“We do believe fuel cells can be commercialized by 2015/2016 time frame, in limited quantities, in specific geographic regions where refueling infrastructures exist,” Fox said.

But while we hear GM talk middle of this decade – along with other OEs – is hydrogen really “the future?”

 

It has a future, but we’re not there yet, are we?

Really, GM’s hydrogen fuel cell effort for now could be seen as fitting the “all-of-the-above” approach that includes moves toward natural gas, all-electric, and extended-range electric, not to mention higher-tech ICE vehicles that will also be made as squeaky clean as possible in years to come.

As for fuel cells, GM’s Honeoye Falls Fuel Cell Facility in Haneoye Falls, NY is an epicenter for GM’s move toward overcoming the chicken and egg issues involving FCVs.

“Given the depth and breath of GM, these cars were designed and developed globally,” said Fox. “Honeoye Falls was instrumental in the development of the fuel cell system that went into the Project Driveway cars.”

 

We’re presuming Honeoye Falls’ was also involved in the H2I cars, as it has quite the resume. Its two buildings comprise 160,000 square-feet; the campus was opened in 1999 and is dedicated to battery and fuel cell research, development and prototyping.

Two facilities make up the Honeoye Falls, Battery and Fuel Cell Campus with on site capability for materials development and integration, engineering development, controls and software development, as well as prototyping of complete battery and fuel cell systems

There GM’s more than 360 employees presently earning around $29 million in annual wages are building on the company’s proud R&D legacy that it would like to ultimately see pay off.

Record of Technology Leadership

• 1968 World’s first operational fuel cell powered vehicle
• 1997 First GM fuel cell vehicle propulsion concept – Geneva Motor Show
• 1998 First GM drivable fuel cell vehicle (methanol powered) – Paris Motor Show
• 2000 First GM direct hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCEV) Set 15 endurance and speed records
• 2001 World’s first FCEV with full functionality
• 2004 Introduced Fuel Cell Stack with best in class power density
• 2006 FCEV to demonstrate 300 mile range in real world driving conditions
• 2007 Project Driveway Launch – World’s Largest Market Test of Hydrogen FCEV
• 2008 All 119 Project Driveway Vehicles on the road globally
• 2009 Project Driveway Accumulates first million miles in real world driving with real customers
• 2010 GM Introduces Next Gen technology power module – reduced weight, volume and cost

Fast Facts and Certifications

• 1990 – GM began working on hydrogen fuel cell technology at Los Alamos National Lab until 1996
• 1996 – 1999 GM group moved to Metro Park facility in Rochester, NY
• 1999 – Opened Fuel Cell R&D Center in Honeoye Falls (10 Carriage Street)
• 2002 – Opened Fuel Cell Product Engineering and Prototype facility (11 Carriage Street)
• 2009 – Added Battery R&D and prototyping capability

 

So you can see, even if all we hear these days is news about the Volt, Spark EV and Cadillac ELR, GM’s hydrogen project is still active if not in the spotlight at the moment.

For a general perspective, I also called the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association in Washington, D.C., and spoke to its President and Executive Director, Morry Markowitz.

After discussion issues for a bit I asked if hydrogen takes more energy to produce than it provides, as I’ve seen people say, and does it keep us dependent on petroleum producers?

I was trying to get answers to such comments I’ve seen as this:

“BIG PETROL” is recklessly & irresponsibly flexing its muscle throughout the industrialized world!!!…
The ONE issue this topic/videos doesn’t resolve (or even discuss) is how hydrogen can be produced —RENEWABLY— then distributed to owners of H2 fuel-cell powered vehicles! And this is really the one issue that completely dwarfs every other challenge, including the cost of vehicular fuel cells!!!

Making hydrogen is very simply a net-energy loser…. the energy used to crack the hydrogen from water would be better off being directly inputted into the vehicle i.e. nat gas or the electricity….
Don’t the car companies know this?

 

I noted these and other such objections the other day. So, I asked, is hydrogen a net energy loser?

“For the foreseeable (near term) future fuel cell powered vehicles are the only zero-emission technology available that will totally replicate today’s driver experience of being able to drive 300-500 miles and being able to refuel the car in 2-5 minutes,” Markowitz said.

Good point, I thought, but that wasn’t quite an answer to my question, so I tried asking again.

Markowitz said hydrogen is a transformational technology, provides domestic energy security, has ability to power a large spectrum of vehicles, and is increasingly reliant on renewable sources.

Yes, but is it a net energy loser? People on GM-Volt have said it is, so I asked again.

“As a net energy loser I do not believe that is a correct assessment,” he said,

Aha! Now I’m getting somewhere, I thought. I humbly asked, may I ask why?

He went on to say that all energy technologies have their pluses and minuses and talked about that for a bit. He reminded me also the internal combustion engine was not born a mature technology and took decades to go from huffing and puffing small scale oddities to being mass production viable.

Closing our talk, we agreed he had not gone beyond “pluses and minuses” answering my question as to hydrogen’s ultimate viability.

The FCHEA is an advocacy group in Washington after all, so perhaps this was as direct an answer as I was going to get, so I thanked him, and moved on.

 

Later yesterday afternoon, I sent questions to GM’s Randy Fox who did answer in good faith, with my thanks. Some of which you’ve seen answers to, and the final two follow:

GM-V: What does GM see as the biggest impediment to FCV viability?

Fox: “GM is a leader in fuel cell technology proven by our “Project Driveway” demonstration program. Fuel cells can power a wide range of vehicle applications, while providing 300-plus+ miles of range and 3 minute refueling times. The question right now is how quickly the infrastructure will develop. A U.S. study showed that nationwide seeding of 12,000 hydrogen stations would cost between $10 billion and $15 billion which would be enough to support 1 million fuel cell vehicles. Ultimately deployment volumes will be determined by hydrogen fueling infrastructure growth and customer demand. As with all new technologies, hydrogen fuel cell costs will come down through generational learning cycles and ramping of volume to achieve economies of scale.”

GM-V: Is hydrogen a “net energy loser?” Does this keep the industry dependent on petroleum?

Fox: “I’m not sure what you mean by ‘net energy loser.’ Hydrogen production can be cost competitive with gasoline on an energy equivalency basis, especially in locations where excess hydrogen production capacity currently exists. There are hydrogen production facilities located all across the U.S. in nearly every major city. Because fuel cell vehicles can be approximately twice as efficient as today’s gasoline internal combustion engines, hydrogen can be twice the price of gasoline (on an energy equivalent) and still be cost competitive.”


Before decisions were finalized for our favorite E-REV, GM was talking about producing a fuel-cell Volt in 2011.

So some of you asked for an update, and here you have it, such as it is

Short answer made long is an industry group in Washington and General Motors – not to mention a raft of other global OEs and the U.S. military – are among those spending billions to make FCVs happen on a commercial scale; first with fleets, with consumer vehicles expected to follow. The timeline for when the ball gets rolling in earnest is being said to be a 2-4 years out or sooner and as you know, some are already making first stage production plans now.

How long it takes after that before you see a competitively priced FCV at your local dealer remains unknown. Whether this car will share space with the expanded, multi-model Voltec line is also unknown.

What is known is big players are sharing as much info as they wish, depending on their agenda, but otherwise are running the fuel cell ball toward an end zone, and no one is saying the game is not still very much on.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 64


  1. 1
    smithjim1961

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (6:02 am)

    Virtually all commercially available hydrogen comes from the reforming of natural gas. CO2 is released to the atmosphere during this process but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is the main component of natural gas. Initially, methane has about 75 times the warming effect as CO2 but methane breaks down in the atmosphere over time. When the breakdown of methane is taken into account, methane has about 25 times the warming effect as CO2. If the methane leakage rate is between 2% and 3%, natural gas has the same warming effect as burning coal. Some experts believe the leakage rate is 4% or higher but nobody knows for sure because the natural gas industry is suing the EPA to keep leakage data from being made public.

    If the methane leakage rate were magically reduced to zero natural gas would still result in 10 to 50 times more greenhouse gas emissions than solar and wind energy.

    http://www.npr.org/2012/05/17/151545578/frackings-methane-trail-a-detective-story

    http://americanenergycoalition.com/2012-news/emissions-from-natural-gas-drilling-may-be-underestimated


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    Bonaire

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (6:13 am)

    The biggest producer of H2 is Air Products (HQ Trexlertown, PA). Their production is based on chemical processes used to create other chemicals and gasses. The amount of H2 they produce nationally could power up to a few hundred thousand cars. That is from an engineer from A.P. speaking at a renwables conference last year. I’ll see the guy on Sept. 25 and ask him if this is still the case (in terms of output quantity).

    The same engineer stated that “the only way to make H2 in the quanities needed for an H2-powered FCV fleet would be to use vast amounts of cheap Solar power to use electrolysis. GW of power in the deserts could do it.” That means localized production using electricity generation. The same electricity that could be directly inputted into an automobile’s battery – like the Volt, Leaf, Tesla, etc. So, instead of using the electricity to charge a battery, they would split water atoms to create H2 gas, store it, truck it, store it and pump it.

    There are two ways to deliver H2. Compressed and Chilled. Chilled price per gallon equivallent today costs $7 and compressed about $5. It is NOT any cheaper than EVs powered by batteries. It MIGHT be cheaper if done at a huge scale.

    What someone with a slide-rule and clip-board needs to do is come up with a cost per gallon equivallent if done with the GW-sized solar electrolysis type solutions. This still may be much higher than just charging an EV off already-existing grid power. There is also a huge spend to be done in terms of H2 delivery, tanking, certified stations, legal fees, etc. And that’s before any one single accident occurs at such a facility. The kind of accident that would dwarf the Volt NHTSA crash-test debacle.

    The only benefit to H2 FCV over EV and EREV is speed of refueling. Why build a nearly Trillion-dollar infrastructure and cracking system to do that? Will we run out of power plants? We already have Li-Ion cells that can be charged at a 5C rate (12-minute full-charge) and recent news of some that can be charged much faster. That means the refueling solution is already “engineer-solved” for EVs.

    So, for now, H2-powered FCV are simply “Fool Cell Vehicles”.


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    gsned57

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (6:50 am)

    “A U.S. study showed that nationwide seeding of 12,000 hydrogen stations would cost between $10 billion and $15 billion which would be enough to support 1 million fuel cell vehicles.”

    That’s $10,000 to $15,000 per car for hydrogen filling stations only. Once you get there as shown in the comments above there is no cost advantage over gasoline. After watching the last 5 years of EV production and development I’ve come to the conclusion that Americans aren’t going to buy EV’s in mass JUST because of green cred. There has to be a financial element to it for it to go mainstream. The volt is priced as a luxury car and has the feel of a luxury car. It also can go drop users commuting bill 90%.

    The beauty of EV’s is that the infrastructure exists already. Electric outlets are everywhere. We don’t NEED the government to invest in infrastructure and that $7500 tax refund isn’t a requirement to get Volts sold. I don’t see how FCV’s are going to go mainstream without the government spending hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure.


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    xiaowei1

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (7:00 am)

    Jeff, I am very glad you pursued the “yes but is it a net energy loser?” line. I for one am very appreciative of your fact finding and inquisitive reporting style.

    I accept the answer of needing technology to mature, however this still did not answer the question you asked. The answer is “yes is it a net energy loser, but we are working on it”.

    Currently at about 50% inefficiency, there are a lot of kinks to work out. As I see it, the major hurdles include but are not limited to:
    1. there is extremely limited infrastructure when compared to being able to simply plug in an electric car at home,
    2. they use almost 2x the amount of electricity compared to batteries (energy expended when generating the hydrogen),
    3. Producing hydrogen creates almost 2x the amount of pollution as an equivalent battery driven car; not to mention transportation and storage of the actual hydrogen,
    4. Energy density is only a touch better than current market available lithium ion batteries; not batteries that may be available in the same 2015/2016 time frame,
    5. costs are still very prohibitive to buy these cars,
    6. storage and transportation is also not yet established (nor are the inevitable costs added for these), and
    7. very few places actually produce Hydrogen in quantities yet. It will grow, but this will also be slow.

    I agree you can “charge” in a short period of time (albeit not as safely as with plugs), though technology in a few years’ time may solve this – so that is one plus to hydrogen.

    As cool as these cars may be, I just cannot see 2015/16 as a realistic time frame for them to be made commercial to the public with any real success. Good luck to all producing Hydrogen cars. They merely have to fix the above problems, and they will have a real winner.


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    Darius

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (7:13 am)

    Why not developing more efficient range extenders, battery chemistry or in-wheel motors? Why waisting money on dead end?


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    Darius

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (7:28 am)

    xiaowei1:
    Jeff, I am very glad you pursued the “yes but is it a net energy loser?” line. I for one am very appreciative of your fact finding and inquisitive reporting style.

    I accept the answer of needing technology to mature, however this still did not answer the question you asked. The answer is “yes is it a net energy loser, but we are working on it”.

    ‘Currently at about 50% inefficiency, there are a lot of kinks to work out. As I see it, the major hurdles include but are not limited to:

    2.they use almost 2x the amount of electricity compared to batteries (energy expended when generating the hydrogen)’

    You estimation 2x is very optimistic and simply nature laws of phisics will not alow such small diference. In fact thre is more than 4x diference between electricity-wheels and electricity-hydrogen-electricity-wheels since first you have to use electricity to generate hydrogen and losses will be 50% and then fuel cell in automobile will use hydrogen to generate electricity with at least 50% losses. Finaly you have 75% theoretical losses and no technical modifications of electricity-hydrogen-electricity-wheels path could overcome that limitation.


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    Ziv

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (7:34 am)

    I have always felt that Dr. Robert Zubrin pretty much destroyed the argument for Hydrogen Fuel Cells in 2007, I have never seen it effectively debunked. I would be a lot more positive Zubrin is right if he had followed up on that article in 2010 or 2011 as the technology developed, though. In the New Atlantis article he points out just what Jeff did, that making hydrogen for fuel takes more energy than the hydrogen will carry. And then he goes on to point out that hydrogen fcv backers keep talking about how it would be generated by using electrolysis via solar arrays. But they fail to point out that first it is incredibly expensive and second that finding the water to split in the desert where the solar arrays are supposedly going to be built is simply not going to happen. He then moves on to destroy the idea that it could be transported in a cost effective manner, and then dismisses the idea of locally produced hydrogen with ease.
    The best summary of what hydrogen requires is his quote that it would, require you to “believe 6 impossible things before breakfast.”
    It is a great article, even though I take his solution, (ethanol and methanol production) with a grain of salt.

    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-hydrogen-hoax


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    Roy_H

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (7:41 am)

    Darius:
    Why not developing more efficient range extenders, battery chemistry or in-wheel motors? Why waisting money on dead end?

    Car companies are doing this on taxpayer’s dollars. Governments do this because oil company lobbyists convinced them. Oil companies will be the ones to profit, but guess who is going to pay the $15B infrastructure?


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    Koz

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (7:52 am)

    How does a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle outperform a 60 mile EREV with a flex fuel engine? The components to make an EREV like this exist today. Cost is the only limiting factor and an equivalent fuel cell vehicle would cost at least twice as much. This is assuming we can “blink” into existence the trillion dollar plus infrastructure. This is also ignoring the question the hydrogen fuel cell proponents didn’t and can never answer effectively as long as energy isn’t clean and nearly free.

    I have no issue with continued work on fuel cell development, even H2 fuel development. They have their places and that will grow. I have tremendous issue if this detracts one iota from advancement, development, and adoption of battery electrics. No, no, no…don’t be fooled again!


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    Mark Z

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (8:09 am)

    For travelling across the country, a Cryo-compressed storage of Hydrogen would allow much longer driving distances.

    There is a lot of information about Hydrogen storage found on the web. Thanks to Jeff for today’s topic that encourages further research to be informed about this futuristic alternative to quick fill gasoline and natural gas vehicles.


  11. 11
    taser54

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (8:18 am)

    (click to show comment)


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    ClarksonCote

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (8:27 am)

    “Hydrogen production can be cost competitive with gasoline”

    Translation: It is 30% as efficient as just using electricity in a battery-electric vehicle like the Volt.

    Hydrogen is a step back, with the small exception that it has faster re-fueling times than battery-electric vehicles currently have. IF they focused all that money on the battery electric vehicles, fuel cells would never stand a chance, nor should they.


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    ClarksonCote

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (8:29 am)

    taser54:
    Bonaire,

    How much money is going to cost to upgrade the electrical infrastructure to handle more than a smattering of electric cars?

    Have you looked at electrical grid power load data? At night we use half of what we use during the day. If rate structures are put in place to encourage night charging, we can power roughly half of today’s passenger electric vehicles without needing any more infrastructure.

    That’s many years down the road though, and since the adoption curve isn’t instantaneous, there’s really no need to worry about this very much. The grid handled when everyone bought electric dryers, electric stoves, then big TV’s, then personal computers, etc. It will handle electric vehicles just fine; there’s plenty of time to prepare for 100% adoption.


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    kdawg

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (8:34 am)

    The only fuel cells I could imagine showing up sooner rather than later, are the ones that can split gasoline into hydrogen & carbon dioxide. The infrastructure already exists and these are 2 to 3 times more efficient than burning the gasoline in an ICE.

    It appears the current crux is the high-temps they need to run at, but they have made progress.

    Here’s a good article from last year (Chevy Volt is mentioned)
    http://www.technologyreview.com/news/426252/gasoline-fuel-cell-would-boost-electric-car-range/

    “The work is part of a larger U.S. Department of Energy effort, over the past decade, to make solid-oxide fuel cells practical. The first fruits of that effort likely won’t be fuel cells in cars—so far, Wachsman has only made relatively small fuel cells, and significant engineering work remains to be done. The first applications of solid oxide fuels in vehicles may be on long-haul trucks with sleeper cabs.”

    fc_x220.jpg


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    Roy_H

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (8:41 am)

    taser54:
    Bonaire,

    How much money is going to cost to upgrade the electrical infrastructure to handle more than a smattering of electric cars?

    Nothing, the electric infrastructure is already here. I believe the focus on quick charge is mis-placed. Yes there will be a need for this on major highways, but in cities outlets at your shopping malls etc. will allow many small charges wherever you go for very little money.


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    Roy_H

     

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (8:55 am)

    kdawg: The only fuel cells I could imagine showing up sooner rather than later, are the ones that can split gasoline into hydrogen & carbon dioxide. The infrastructure already exists and these are 2 to 3 times more efficient than burning the gasoline in an ICE.

    Thanks for the link. Of course these still emit CO2 like gas engines. There is competition for this, http://www.popsci.com/cars/article/2011-03/shockwave-generating-wave-discs-could-replace-cars-internal-combustion-engines


  17. 17
    Nelson

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (8:56 am)

    I agree that cracking hydrogen from water using electricity is a “net energy loser”, but if we use night time (1am-5am) wind turbine energy that would otherwise overload our grid I feel it’s acceptable. In some areas of the country, when the wind picks up late nights and power consumption is low, wind turbines are taken offline to avoid grid over load. If during those times the electricity could be used to crack hydrogen IMO that’s not a loss it’s an “opportunity gain”. As for storing hydrogen, if they have a hydrogen tank for a fuel cell vehicle that’s been on the road since 2007 (Project Driveway Launch) they can make a larger one for collection. The only person(s) who I would imagine to continue to argue against hydrogen would be those allied with the oil industry. They stand to lose big if the hydrogen for transportation takes off. I don’t know how the FC Equinox works, but if they’re not plug-in EVs with FC range extender I will not buy one.

    NPNS!
    Volt#671


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    Bonaire

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (9:01 am)

    taser54: Bonaire, How much money is going to cost to upgrade the electrical infrastructure to handle more than a smattering of electric cars?

    Nothing. It actually is going to work out well. I could write an enormous reply with technical details, grid power availability, conservation efforts, growth of homeowner renewables installations (who have EVs) and so on – the EV population will have to reach well beyond 15 million units before the grid, in its current form, is pushed to any limit. In fact, current power generators were hoping for a hotter summer this year in the mid-west to sell more kWh. They want consumption.

    Gasoline FC has high potential. Let’s go with that for EREV gensets.


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    ClarksonCote

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (9:03 am)

    Nelson:
    I agree that cracking hydrogen from water using electricity is a “net energy loser”, but if we use night time (1am-5am) wind turbine energy that would otherwise overload our grid I feel it’s acceptable.

    But, if instead, we used that same energy to simply charge electric vehicles, it’s much more efficient. Part of the problem isn’t just in making the hydrogen, it’s also in developing all the non-existent infrastructure, including keeping the hydrogen highly pressurized. It’s not a liquid under a normal, unpressurized environment. All those details add significant costs and waste.

    The only motivator is fast refuel times; surely we can find another way to do that quickly.


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    Roy_H

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (9:06 am)

    Re: Net energy looser

    BEVs are net energy loosers too. Both hydrogen and batteries are energy carriers, not energy producers. The argument here is that batteries loose less than the hydrogen system.

    Every time I read about how some new solar cell can produce H2 I chuckle. Yes it is possible, but it still makes more sense to use that electricty directly. But as I have pointed out before the LFTR has much greater promise. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors are inherently safe, do not require expensive enriched uranium, but cheap as in free thorium, and have no long term radioactive waste. See http://energyfromthorium.com/


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    George S. Bower

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (9:22 am)

    Good article Jeff. That took some digging. Thx for posting it.


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    James McQuaid

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (9:31 am)

    Excellent reporting. Thank you, Jeff!


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    kdawg

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (9:37 am)

    ClarksonCote: The only motivator is fast refuel times; surely we can find another way to do that quickly.

    I think the quickest solution to that problem is battery swap (or car swapping).
    What is the lesser of the evils?

    $ to build battery swap stations and commonize the batteries somewhat?
    $ to build hi-speed DC charging and develop battery technology?
    $ to build hydrogen infrastructure?


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    Nelson

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (9:43 am)

    ClarksonCote: Part of the problem isn’t just in making the hydrogen, it’s also in developing all the non-existent infrastructure, including keeping the hydrogen highly pressurized. It’s not a liquid under a normal, unpressurized environment. All those details add significant costs and waste.

    Long ago I heard of a way to store hydrogen in beads.
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20055-green-machine-fill-up-your-car-with-hydrogen-beads.html

    The science behind the small spheres is very interesting. It’s not what we know that holds us back, it’s what we don’t know.
    http://www.spacesafetymagazine.com/2012/07/26/british-company-teams-nasa-develop-hydrogen-fuel/

    NPNS!
    Volt#671


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (9:53 am)

    Roy_H: But as I have pointed out before the LFTR has much greater promise. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors are inherently safe, do not require expensive enriched uranium, but cheap as in free thorium, and have no long term radioactive waste.

    Is this what’s powering the new Mars rover “Curiosity”?

    NPNS!
    Volt#671


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (9:54 am)

    I think the “net energy loser” is irrelevant. Every conversion of one form of energy to another is a net loser. Oil refining is only 85% efficient. But how efficient the process is isn’t the big issue. It’s how expensive it is. For example, solar might only be 10% efficient, but if it costs $1/watt installed, then it’s the cheapest energy you can get. But hydrogen isn’t cheap. Here is one study:

    “[A] quick visit to the market is helpful. According to [11], every GJ of hydrogen energy will cost around $5.60 when produced from natural gas, $10.30 from coal, and $20.10 from electrolysis of water. Before taxes, gasoline costs about $3.00 per GJ.”

    http://www.efcf.com/reports/E21.pdf

    Then of course there is the problem of the fuel cell itself. The prices are very high, and it’s hard to justify putting such an expensive piece of equipment in a rapidly depreciating asset like a car. The more obvious route would be to have the fuel cell for the home.

    The gasoline powered fuel cell mentioned by kdawg is intriguing. On its own this won’t work because it needs a steady output, but as part of an EREV system you’d be able to use the battery as a buffer, enabling you to get 100 MPG in CS Mode is a much smaller package.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (10:07 am)

    Nelson,

    There are lot of grid load regulation options and way cheaper than generating hydrogen or doing other stuff. Infact nowdays grid load regulation is non existing issue in US since over 43% of power is generated by combusting natural gas including shale gas. Natural gas power generation is even more flexible than hydrogen or hydro power generation. Coal and nuclear power is going to constitute less than 50%. Those power modes are more robust but could be regulated as well. Modern coal power plants in Europe are same flexible as gas generators. The issues with grid load regulation could ocure in case wind power will exceed 20% share. But wind turbines could be regulated in some extraodinary instances by simply shuting down. Utilities carefuly costs of day and night power and usualy their tariffs are cost reflective on hourly basis. If there is no day/night price difference it means there is no significant cost difference. For grid operators greates issue is your peack demand and grid capacity cost. In general grid load regulation from power generation point is highly exagerated subject. Therefore smart grid and V2G projects are not so profitable as was considered before. Those projects mainly assisting grid in management peack power demand and better supply reliability in case it is required by customer.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (10:23 am)

    Darius: The issues with grid load regulation could ocure in case wind power will exceed 20% share. But wind turbines could be regulated in some extraodinary instances by simply shuting down.

    My point exactly “opportunity loss”. The opportunity to make electricity to crack hydrogen out of water using wind energy because we “simply” shut down a wind turbine when the wind, which we don’t control, is blowing.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2015129713_apuswindenergyhalt1stldwritethru.html

    NPNS!
    Volt#671


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (10:28 am)

    So much energy arguing about a solution only lobyists think is valuable. In reality, Hydrogen has the only advantage to help keep the status quo for Big Oil who can convert to Big Hydrogen.

    We need some imagination here. Going to a gas station (or hydrogen station, for that matter) like slaves dependant on an energy master doesn’t make any sense when an easier solution – i.e. plug your car at night – exists.

    We only have to solve the fast recharge problem. That should be easy. Easier than rebuilding an entire infrastucture to help maintain the order of things.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (10:41 am)

    How many gasoline cars go up in flames every year ?

    I say lets fill them up with hydrogen ! possibly people will drive with an over abundance of caution when the 1st news crew shows a fireball after a normal 65mph crash on the freeway.
    Gosh I want to drive one of those.
    Tom


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (10:41 am)

    I think guinea pigs will power my car before hydrogen fuel cells will.

    http://youtu.be/VU6hmgTY76M

    Row.jpg


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (11:07 am)

    Roy_H: taser54:
    Bonaire,

    How much money is going to cost to upgrade the electrical infrastructure to handle more than a smattering of electric cars?

    Nothing, the electric infrastructure is already here. I believe the focus on quick charge is mis-placed. Yes there will be a need for this on major highways, but in cities outlets at your shopping malls etc. will allow many small charges wherever you go for very little money.

    (Quote) (Reply)

    I think quick charging an EV in 5 minutes is really not needed. Right now on a road trip I empty my tank approx 6 hrs stop at the Gas station for 5 minutes cross the road to a restaurant and spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour relaxing before continuing. So I think recharging in about 45 minutes is the holly grail JMHO


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (11:29 am)

    Nelson,

    “In addition, two major transmission line projects funded by federal stimulus loans are under construction to harness wind power, he said” – that is solution for Bonnevile power wind turbine shuting. Shall be noted that spring is always period of low power prices due to large hydropower supply in many locations and not only wind turbines plan their maintanance during that time but nuclear and coal as well. But my point is that there are lot of viable options before hydrogen could be considered like Chevy Volt which could consume surplus power as well.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (11:45 am)

    kdawg,

    I think the chance of production SOFC with natural gas or other fuel is better. Replacing the ICE in an EREV with SOFC is a more realistic next step. I think hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are further away than some want to believe.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (12:00 pm)

    OT: I notice AONE is down to 37cents/share :(


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (12:03 pm)

    The problem with giant solar arrays in the desert (or windmills in remote farmland) is getting the harvested energy to where it is needed. I’ve always thought that an appropriate role for government research would be development of a superconducting power backbone to link population centers on the coasts via remote energy sources in the interior. It seems like this would be a lot cheaper in the long term than providing water from great distances, wasting half the electricity in splitting the water, spending more energy to compress / chill the hydrogen, truck it, store it, and provide it to 12,000+ refueling stations which must all be built from scratch. But maybe that’s just me.

    “But you can store electricity which would otherwise be wasted, by making hydrogen!!”

    Instead of finding a use for “wasted” electricity, how about eliminating it? Lithium Ion batteries aren’t the only cells being researched … there are some systems which could transform the grid on a scale we can scarcely imagine. Consider this large-scale liquid battery:

    http://www.technologyreview.com/article/412190/tr10-liquid-battery/

    behcb4.jpg

    Discharged, charging, charged: The molten active components (colored bands: blue, magnesium; green, electrolyte; yellow, antimony) of a new grid-scale storage battery are held in a container that delivers and collects electrical current (left). Here, the battery is ready to be charged, with positive magnesium and negative antimony ions dissolved in the electrolyte. As electric current flows into the cell (center), the magnesium ions in the electrolyte gain electrons and form magnesium metal, which joins the molten magnesium electrode. At the same time, the antimony ions give up electrons to form metal atoms at the opposite electrode. As metal forms, the electrolyte shrinks and the electrodes grow (right), an unusual property for batteries. During discharge, the process is reversed, and the metal atoms become ions again.”

    Yes, this can be considered “grandiose,” but it has the advantage of meeting a real, existing need for virtually everything electric — including cars. Everyone would benefit from storing off-peak or intermittent power for later use, not just a few Project Driveway refugees. It is certainly no more grandiose an idea than the launching of a complete hydrogen infrastructure from scratch. Also, with a national superconducting electricity backbone, you could build mammoth, tank-farm-sized battery plants which are Not In My [or anybody's] Back Yard.

    Perhaps most significantly, this is something which could be introduced gradually by private industry (even sans superconducting systems, for individual cities) without committing the country to (another) massive tax-funded scheme.

    … and this is just one example. There are likely other similar systems out there.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (12:55 pm)

    I think home solar cells can produce enough energy to create the Hydrogen.
    I do think hydrogen is the future… maybe not the near future but the best long term solution.
    and home solar can produce the power for commuters while stations would be for long trips.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (12:57 pm)

    Since fuel cell vehicles are basically EVs with a fuel cell and since GM is getting funding for this work. Why not? They can use the funding to also advance their EV technologies.

    As for fuel cell vehicles winning the passenger car markets – forget it. Not going to happen. Too expensive, hard to maintain, hard to generate and store hydrogen, etc. EVs are far cheaper, less complex and more efficient. No way on Earth the US can afford to build out the hydrogen infrastructure.

    Of course, we all may be getting back to walking and riding horses but there is still time for driving fun. Hydrogen technology may be useful for some applications and we should be trying everything.

    Going down the backside of the fossil fuel bell curve is going to be dramatic.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (1:05 pm)

    I support EVs with hydrogen fuel cell extended range capabilities because:

    1. Charging EVs will soon become effortless with the advent of wireless charging technologies such as those being developed by Plugless Power.

    2. I prefer zero emissions, including zero water vapor from fuel cells. Imagine the ramifications of millions of cars outputting water vapor if they have fuel cells as their primary power source. Have scientists projected the effects on climate? Would such a large amount of water vapor create permanent clouds over cities? Running the vehicle first from electricity (like the Chevrolet Volt), and then later using a fuel cell after the battery’s charge has been depleted would solve this problem.

    3. EV battery technologies are improving, and soon we will hopefully have a car, such as a future generation Chevrolet Volt, that can go 200 miles fully electric before switching to its fuel cell.

    4. Charging directly from renewable sources such as solar and wind power makes more sense than using that solar and wind power to make hydrogen, which comes with a certain efficiency loss. A second efficiency loss is in the process the fuel cell uses, which ultimately results in electricity used to power the vehicle.

    5. Hydrogen from fossil fuels doesn’t make sense. We need to completely transition to green technologies like solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy. Hydrogen from water can be a secondary energy source, since for reasons identified above the hydrogen generation and usage processes are less efficient than using electricity.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (1:07 pm)

    Hypothetical, but if batteries & solar cells were free, and every house & building had them installed, and these were tied to a smart grid, and everyone drove EREV cars; would the US be energy independent? Would we produce enough oil to supply our airline fuel, semi-truck fuel, diesel, and plastics?

    I’m just curious if anyone has run the #’s, and where is the break even point.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (1:20 pm)

    kdawg: I think guinea pigs will power my car before hydrogen fuel cells will.

    #31

    Without a doubt! LOL +1


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (1:23 pm)

    The hydrogen economy is just around the corner – all it needs is H2EEstor high-density capacitor-based hydrogen storage technology, now in the proof-of-concept testing phase…


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (1:25 pm)

    kdawg: I think the quickest solution to that problem is battery swap (or car swapping).
    What is the lesser of the evils?

    $ to build battery swap stations and commonize the batteries somewhat?
    $ to build hi-speed DC charging and develop battery technology?
    $ to build hydrogen infrastructure?

    There was an interesting article in a recent Charged EV Magazine issue that looked at how often cars are at various locations, and what the “perceived” charge inconvenience is from the user’s perspective.

    80% of the time vehicle’s spend at home or work. At either location with a Level 2 charger, the “inconvenience” time is only 5 seconds (the time to plug in). Now, with a super fast “Level 4″ (I made that up) charge station, the inconvenience time is still, let’s say, 5 minutes. So the system takes more of a user’s time than a Level 2 @ Work or home, yet also costs much more..

    The point ends up being that, the majority of trips and refueling can and should be done via workplace and home-based charging stations, at a Level 2 rate. The “fast” charging stations really aren’t that “fast” from a convenience standpoint, and are too costly. In the end, battery tech should help us go further without needing fast chargers.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (1:35 pm)

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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (1:37 pm)

    Is this quest for the “5-minute fill-up” a real, necessary barrier to overcome; or is it merely an illusion being left behind by a paradigm in obsolescence? We have never refueled gasoline vehicles slowly at home; so obviously charging an electric car is a weakness, or somehow “not right.” Baloney. As electricity takes over from liquid fuel, there is no real need to drag the liquid-fueled past along with it. Electricity has it’s own strengths, we would be better off trying to exploit them than bending over backwards to somehow duplicate the gasoline experience (by hydrogen or by improbably power-dense charging technology).

    I think the paradigm will shift to charge-while-you-park. When you drive to a city-center, your first task is to find a parking garage. These garages might offer recharging as part of the service; perhaps at a higher charge-rate than at home, perhaps not. Approaching the suburbs, conventional charging at destinations will become the rule. It may be awhile before this is available generally; but some stores already offer spaces served by charging stations.
    This is currently ( ;-) ) done mostly for advertising “green-ness,” but it points the way.

    I’ve been skeptical of inductive charging in the past, but I think it could make public charging transparent enough to become well accepted. A car could simply drive up, be identified automatically by a coded number for billing, and be charged almost without thought. In a future where gas stations are remembered in less-than-fond terms, people will wonder how it could have been any other way. (It may seem far-fetched, but eventually, there may be some kind of inductive charger built into intersections to top up EVs at a stop light. Who knows, maybe hydrogen will be practical by that time :-P ).

    The place where all this falls down is long-distance travel; but I think EREV technology pretty much as we understand it now will continue to be more than adequate for decades (and indeed, I think it will have to be).

    There will also be great difficulty in establishing an affordable business case for the chargers. Who owns the chargers? Who fronts the money for installation, and how are they paid back? How much of the cost to recharge is the actual electricity? I think at first, chargers will be installed and operated by the destination businesses, for purposes which include advertising; but eventually the electric utilities will become the major players. In any case, these more practical questions must find answers.

    Perhaps it is the more comfortable and familiar business case for the gas station which is actually driving hydrogen. At stake is not just the hydrocarbon feedstock, but the Way Things Are Done. It’s in Big Oil’s interests to keep people used to buying tangible energy at a dedicated facility. Who wins if you recharge everywhere you go? Not them. Don’t underestimate the influence of the powers-that-be trying to keep the status quo.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (1:48 pm)

    kdawg: Hypothetical, but if batteries & solar cells were free, and every house & building had them installed, and these were tied to a smart grid, and everyone drove EREV cars; would the US be energy independent? Would we produce enough oil to supply our airline fuel, semi-truck fuel, diesel, and plastics?I’m just curious if anyone has run the #’s, and where is the break even point.

    Some numbers have been run to say that 1 Million EVs on the road replacing gassers could possibly reduce our need to import OPEC oil. That’s about 1 million, if not more, barrels a day. I think that computes, but can’t be sure. If it means drivers plug in at home and at work and get say 40-miles per charge, that is possibly saving them 3+ gallons per day each. 3 million gallons a day is not 1 million barrels a day, however, so that number really has to be more like 8 million EVs on the road and not 1 million for 1 million bbl day reduction. Would be nice, though. I say 8 million EVs since a barrel of oil reduces down to about 24 gallons of gasoline. But, using the GM sponsored number where 85% of drivers drive less than 40 miles a day, the real number will be 16 million Volts a day could cut oil imports by 1 million barrels a day. There are something like 300 million registered cars in the USA alone. 16/300 = 5.3% A lot of EVs can make a minor dent.

    Anyway – OPEC produces 31 million bbls/day now. That is a lot of worldwide EVs to take on just OPEC. Oil is used in many ways from tanker vessels to lots of trucks, busses, taxis and so on. I think we may want to see taxis go all electric (ie. more than just the Prius taxis in NYC) as a start since this is a pretty attainable possibility and is happening in China now where EV fleets are rolling out. Taxis are on the road all day, every day, and would be a good start for electrification.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (1:58 pm)

    Bonaire: Taxis are on the road all day, every day, and would be a good start for electrification.

    Inductive chargers at Taxi stands?


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (2:19 pm)

    When I read about the billions required to fund the hydrogen stations, IMHO the money could be better spent.

    If the same funds were put into electrifying the interstates, a charge lane could power the EV and recharge its battery while driving. The result would be NO stops to “fill-up.” The driver would be billed for the power.

    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/february/wireless-vehicle-charge-020112.html

    Once you arrive at your home or destination, you could plug in as usual.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (3:04 pm)

    Mark Z,

    I think wireless is the future. It will start at the home, then appear in public places.

    From your linked article: “Fan and his colleagues wondered if the MIT system could be modified to transfer 10 kilowatts of electric power over a distance of 6.5 feet – enough to charge a car moving at highway speeds.”

    That number seems a bit low for expressway speeds, even 55mph highway speeds. Using the KW meter on my Volt, steady state at 75mph I’m pulling 24KW.

    Power75mphsteadystate.jpg


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (3:07 pm)

    Thanks Jeff for the follow up.

    There GM’s more than 360 employees presently earning around $29 million in annual wages are building on the company’s proud R&D legacy that it would like to ultimately see pay off.

    Wondering what it takes to get one of this positions :-) . I just need only 2 years ( any way the history already proved they don’t need to be financially responsible ) .

    Again , Its still good for GM to keep a web page for the project driveway and updates. Again i am not sure some one is working on the web updates for GM ( ex: GM.ca , it still shows spark is a expected car, the advertisement from a dealer says he has it in his lot ). No body even cares whether the web page is update or not :-)


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (3:11 pm)

    Nelson: I agree that cracking hydrogen from water using electricity is a “net energy loser”, but if we use night time (1am-5am) wind turbine energy that would otherwise overload our grid I feel it’s acceptable. In some areas of the country, when the wind picks up late nights and power consumption is low, wind turbines are taken offline to avoid grid over load. If during those times the electricity could be used to crack hydrogen IMO that’s not a loss it’s an “opportunity gain”. As for storing hydrogen, if they have a hydrogen tank for a fuel cell vehicle that’s been on the road since 2007 (Project Driveway Launch) they can make a larger one for collection. The only person(s) who I would imagine to continue to argue against hydrogen would be those allied with the oil industry. They stand to lose big if the hydrogen for transportation takes off. I don’t know how the FC Equinox works, but if they’re not plug-in EVs with FC range extender I will not buy one.NPNS!Volt#671

    If hydrogen could be used to cheaply store excess wind, or sun or even nuclear, that would be great. But that seems to be a while down the research road from here. It seems though that large stationary FC’s could eventually be more efficient than millions of mobile ones.

    And that takes us right back to the present issue. Might as well use the FC’s to put the power on the grid for peak use, instead of into less inefficient FC vehicles. And use the power from wind turbines at night, when millions EV of batteries can be waiting to be filled, at twice the efficiency of sending hydrogen to millions of mobile fuel cell stacks.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (3:16 pm)

    Mark Z,

    Wow. Here is an example of how an idea can turn the future on it’s head; can revolutionize the way you think about the world. I think this could well be the answer and the future for long-distance road travel. Fuel cell promoters may well find themselves near the top of their ladder, only to find it leaning against the wrong wall.

    Yes, this would require an expensive, publicly funded program; but like the Interstate Highway System itself, it can have profound positive effects on the economy for decades.

    Now, if they can only incorporate superconducting cables and build in storage … :-P


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (3:31 pm)

    Worth a look. Not topical to this thread “exactly” but it involves Tesla (not Elon’s)

    http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/21/comments-edison-overrated-readers-praise-legacy-of-inventor-nikola-tesla/?hpt=hp_t3


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (3:40 pm)

    Jackson,

    Yes, another set of profound ideas that could reach the top of the ladder, only to be supplanted by cheaper, faster, smaller batteries. No matter how clear it seems from here, the future is a tough one to predict. Technology is widely known to do that.


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (4:17 pm)

    jeffhre,

    “Ya cannae change the laws of physics.”
    Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott, USS Enterprise.

    I think the electric road is a likelier proposition than even a relatively quick charge for over-the-road trucks, or even cars. Power density to recharge a 300 mile pack for a large truck would be difficult to manage, even in 30 minutes (if the batteries could stand it). Keep in mind that for trucks, many of the recharging stations must be located out in the hinterland. Will high-tension lines need to be run directly to them to meet the huge power demand? (The induction road also needs power, but wouldn’t be as concentrated a load as the charger I’ve described, for whatever that’s worth). And, with the induction road, the truck need not even stop for the charge.

    Power from the road would still save money and be preferable to a from-scratch hydrogen economy, because that must be a planned economy. Those historically have not worked out well. The induction road is just the road, and the management framework. Everything else is private enterprise. Hydrogen is everything from production to wheels on the road. The amount of hydrogen available, how it is created, the number of filling stations, where they are located and the vehicles themselves must all be centrally planned, at least initially.

    Nevertheless, you could be right. We might all be using Diolithium Crystals 100 years from now (what would Mr. Scott think of that?).

    “The future is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine.”
    J B S Haldane


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (6:45 pm)

    Tall Pete: So much energy arguing about a solution only lobyists think is valuable. In reality, Hydrogen has the only advantage to help keep the status quo for Big Oil who can convert to Big Hydrogen.

    #29

    I agree. +1

    IMHO this whole FC thing is so improbable that I can only wonder what the real agenda is.

    “You know there’s something happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?”


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (7:22 pm)

    Nelson: Roy_H: But as I have pointed out before the LFTR has much greater promise. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors are inherently safe, do not require expensive enriched uranium, but cheap as in free thorium, and have no long term radioactive waste.

    Is this what’s powering the new Mars rover “Curiosity”?

    No, the Mars Rover is powered by plutonium-238. This is very hard to make and NASA is almost out of their supply. However plutonium-238 can be made by LFTRs.
    See http://flibe-energy.com/products/


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (10:14 pm)

    Jeff,

    Thank you for the article, and the information about the 2008 Fuel Cell Equinox.

    If I follow Texas’ logic in post #48, then the FC Equinox is the FIRST EREV, years before the Volt. It does have an electric motor driving the wheels directly. I recommended in a previous thread that if the fuel cell were smaller and the battery larger, the FC Equinox would be the perfect EV since it can carry 5 plus cargo, and it is the best SUV of its size (its twin is the GM Terrain). The only limitation would be the H2 refueling

    I knew all about the FC Equinox since the project started and I have the Owner’s Manual so in theory I know plenty about the vehicle, including the long and cautious refueling procedure. Many laypersons would never understand this procedure and probably could not follow it. Helm Inc has the manual for sale: http://www.helminc.com/helm/product2.asp?Make=CHV&Model=EQUI&Year=2008&Category=&class_2=CHV&mk=Chevrolet+%26+Geo&yr=2008&md=Equinox&dt=&module=&from=result&Style=helm&Sku=1X264361C&itemtype=N

    If GM does end the project, the FC Equinox can be converted to a regular EREV, and become the next Voltec vehicle. I and many others here need a EREV SUV, so GM, go for it!

    Raymond


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    Aug 22nd, 2012 (10:14 pm)

    If you want to really laugh at how much of a hoax hydrogen really is….

    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-hydrogen-hoax


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    Aug 23rd, 2012 (1:46 am)

    I keep hearing that because electrolysis is a net energy loser, that it is better to put the electricity directly into the vehicle.

    There is only one problem with this argument……Electric vehicles will not be able to meet 100% of our transportation needs.

    There still is the need for large vehicles and the need to travel long distances while refueling in 5 minutes. Plus, there will always be folks living in places where electric charging simply is not an option. You can’t keep burning gasoline for these applications forever.

    A net energy loser that comes from renewable energy sources is still better than burning fossil fuels for those applications where burning fossil fuels is your only option.

    Right now, EV owners have a choice of having a second ICE vehicle or owning a Volt, because EV’s can’t meet 100% of their driving needs. Hydrogen gives us a 3rd choice.

    I still see a future with both EV’s and hydrogen……


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    Aug 23rd, 2012 (4:58 am)

    DonC,

    kdawg:
    Mark Z,

    I think wireless is the future.It will start at the home, then appear in public places.

    From your linked article: “Fan and his colleagues wondered if the MIT system could be modified to transfer 10 kilowatts of electric power over a distance of 6.5 feet – enough to charge a car moving at highway speeds.”

    That number seems a bit low for expressway speeds, even 55mph highway speeds.Using the KW meter on my Volt, steady state at 75mph I’m pulling 24KW.

    Maannn…the power meter and Hold Mode are two software upgrades I really wish GM would offer for the older models.

    Yes, 10KW would not be enough to “charge” the Volt but a 40kwh efficient BEV like it could go 400 miles on a charge with it at 60mph. The problem is you would then need it on every lane and for almost all miles of highway to support the whole fleet and that still wouldn’t support trucking. I think it would need to be 30kw or whatever a freight truck uses on average at 60mph to be viable. If this is implemented on all miles of interstate highway, that makes a 40kwh sedan, a 70kwh pickup, and an 100kwh freight truck workable.


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    Aug 23rd, 2012 (5:10 am)

    Dave Phoenix,

    But why particulary hydrogen is ultimate solution? Why it is so atractive to you? Why not methanol generated using CO2 or DME. DME would be very atractive transportation fuel since existing LPG fueling infrustructure could be used. Why you preference is for the hydrogen over other synthetic or biofuel types. Methanol could be much more efficiently generated by solar power than hydrogen and there are fuel cells working on methanol. FOR ME THIS HYDROGEN FUSS SEEMS TO BE CREATED BY MARKETING GUYS NOT ENGINEERS OR REAL BUSNESSMAN.


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    Aug 23rd, 2012 (5:27 am)

    Jackson: Is this quest for the “5-minute fill-up” a real, necessary barrier to overcome; or is it merely an illusion being left behind by a paradigm in obsolescence? We have never refueled gasoline vehicles slowly at home; so obviously charging an electric car is a weakness, or somehow “not right.”Baloney.As electricity takes over from liquid fuel, there is no real need to drag the liquid-fueled past along with it.Electricity has it’s own strengths, we would be better off trying to exploit them than bending over backwards to somehow duplicate the gasoline experience (by hydrogen or by improbably power-dense charging technology).

    I think the paradigm will shift to charge-while-you-park. When you drive to a city-center, your first task is to find a parking garage.These garages might offer recharging as part of the service; perhaps at a higher charge-rate than at home, perhaps not.Approaching the suburbs, conventional charging at destinations will become the rule. It may be awhile before this is available generally; but some stores already offer spaces served by charging stations.
    This is currently ( ) done mostly for advertising “green-ness,” but it points the way.

    I’ve been skeptical of inductive charging in the past, but I think it could make public charging transparent enough to become well accepted.A car could simply drive up, be identified automatically by a coded number for billing, and be charged almost without thought.In a future where gas stations are remembered in less-than-fond terms, people will wonder how it could have been any other way.(It may seem far-fetched, but eventually, there may be some kind of inductive charger built into intersections to top up EVs at a stop light. Who knows, maybe hydrogen will be practical by that time ).

    The place where all this falls down is long-distance travel; but I think EREV technology pretty much as we understand it now will continue to be more than adequate for decades (and indeed, I think it will have to be).

    There will also be great difficulty in establishing an affordable business case for the chargers.Who owns the chargers?Who fronts the money for installation, and how are they paid back?How much of the cost to recharge is the actual electricity?I think at first, chargers will be installed and operated by the destination businesses, for purposes which include advertising; but eventually the electric utilities will become the major players. In any case, these more practical questions must find answers.

    Perhaps it is the more comfortable and familiar business case for the gas station which is actually driving hydrogen.At stake is not just the hydrocarbon feedstock, but the Way Things Are Done.It’s in Big Oil’s interests to keep people used to buying tangible energy at a dedicated facility.Who wins if you recharge everywhere you go?Not them.Don’t underestimate the influence of the powers-that-be trying to keep the status quo.

    Good to see others coming around to the notion that we really don’t “need” 5 minute charging with BEV’s. Truckers need to be able to travel 600 miles in a day or whatever the current rules allow. There is only a very small percentage of the population that even wants to drive more than 500 miles in a day. How much should we hold back progress or add cost and complexity to solutions that only satisfy a mirage for most. For the very few that find they actually want or need those things the status quo still works, which includes EREVs.

    As far large corporate interests and sway, this has always kind of baffled me. Just as much as the oil industry is concerned about a shift to battery power, that power companies should be pushing it. There are some consortiums and other programs they support, but there efforts have spotty thus far. Their leadership is severely lacking IMO. They should be grabbing the rope with the fledgling EV industry, supporting public, and supporting politicians to easily pull the gas proponents into the mud pit. They should already have TOU maturely setup in all markets. They should be subsidizing the charging network for mass parking. They should be working to educate industry and the public to the many benefits of battery electrics. They should have the low hanging V2G fruit in its first generation and available in the larger markets to customers who choose to participate. They should have programs in place to take advantage of the EV batteries that are starting to reach end of useful life for transportation. In stead of pulling and driving the market, they are largely waiting for it to come to them.


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    Aug 23rd, 2012 (5:35 am)

    pjkPA:
    I think home solar cells can produce enough energy to create the Hydrogen.
    I do think hydrogen is the future… maybe not the near future but the best long term solution.
    and home solar can produce the power for commuters while stations would be for long trips.

    Don’t forget it needs to be compressed too. Not only does it take lot of energy to create the H2, but then in order to “fit” in a car in a useful amount you need very high pressure. It could make sense as stationary energy storage for the house when the solar isn’t producing enough but I think batteries are much better for this too.