Skip to comments.GM, Daimler, Honda Betting on Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Posted on 04/08/2008 3:33:28 PM PDT by Dane
GM, Daimler, Honda Betting on Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Posted: Apr. 08, 2008 10:04 a.m.
Car and Driver reports, Fuel-cell vehicles -- where hydrogen is converted to electricity onboard and there are no emissions -- are real today and even more feasible tomorrow under a carefully scripted development plan at General Motors that culminates in as many as one million affordable FCVs by 2020. GM has nearly completed development on a fuel cell propulsion system that has been reduced to half the size for half the materials, less weight, and less cost that previous models. The next-gen fuel-cell stack will hit the road in a still-to-be-decided vehicle (were guessing a small car to show off the diminutive dimensions) in four years, GM VP Larry Burns told C&D. Burns will only say that the vehicle sports an exciting design.
Reuters reports, General Motors Corp plans to have 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in California between 2012 to 2014 to comply with the state's goal to put thousands of cleaner cars on its roads. The automaker already has about 60 hydrogen-powered Chevrolet Equinox SUVs on the road in southern California, and Burns recently told reporters, The next logical play for us is to take that up to a car scale of about 1,000.
Those fuel cell powered Equinoxes are part of Project Driveway, and effort designed to get some real-world data on the performance of the hydrogen-powered vehicles as well as to garner some publicity, since many of the motorists wholl have the Equinox FCVs for three months at a time will be policy makers and celebrities, according to The Car Connection. GM recently modified one of the vehicles to fit the needs of 69 former basketball star Magic Johnson.
Autoblog Green reports that GMs Burns sees mainstream acceptance and financial viability of hydrogen cars following in 2017 or 2018.
All of GMs green car efforts may ultimately point toward hydrogen. In an interview with Design News, Charlie Freese, the engineer leading GMs diesel efforts, argues that all green vehicle technologies will start to dovetail together where one feeds into the other and provides the infrastructure that eventually builds into that next phase. So, this electrification of the vehicle is a basis that you need before you can make a hydrogen vehicle work.
GM may not be alone in pursuing a fuel cell future. Autoblog Green reports, Daimler chairman Dieter Dr. Z Zetsche believes that the technology for fuel cell vehicles is here today and that vehicles using the hydrogen-for-energy system will be available in five to eight years time.
Honda is getting into the act, too. Car and Driver adds, Honda is ramping up for production of its FCX Clarity, the industrys first dedicated fuel-cell vehicle for customer use. The automaker will begin assembly in May in Tochigi, Japan, and will build a small pool of vehicles available for lease in the U.S. this summer. A still-secret number of consumers will be able to lease a Clarity fuel-cell vehicle for $600 a month for three years, which will include maintenance and insurance. The lessee must pay for the hydrogen, which costs about $5 per kilogram in compressed-gas form.
Research the most environmentally friendly vehicles on the market now with U.S. News' rankings and reviews of hybrid cars and hybrid SUVs.
If so, you first.
“Yes sir, the brand new Hindenburg model you ordered just rolled off the transporter”. I’m going inside the kevlar shielded building right over here while you start it up, OK?
You know, people also were scared of electricity when it first became available.
Will it cost more than gas though? It costs $5 per kilogram, but that doesn’t really help compare cost to gas unless we know the relative amount it will take to get us per mile etc.
If we only need a little bit of it, then it would be much cheaper, but if we need even a decent amount, it would be much more expensive.
Hydrogen as a transportation fuel is a boondoggle - a pure scientific folly that will NEVER be practical except in the most exotic applications, such as space travel. And it works there ONLY because of its low mass, not because of its efficiency.
Go to a hardware store, buy a plastic 1-gallon gasoline tank, and fill it up at the nearest gas station. Now go get a 1-gallon dewar flask and fill it up with a full gallon of liquid hydrogen, at a temperature of -400 degrees. Forget about how hard it is to get hydrogen, how hard it is to liquefy it, and worse, how hard it is to keep it liquid, which is the only way to achieve a reasonable energy density.
Which tank has more hydrogen in it? The GASOLINE tank, by more than 50 percent!
We might eventually get to using hybrid cars with fuel cells and electric motors, but the fuel will be little different from what we use today - a mixture of light, liquid hydrocarbon compounds. The mixture might be cleaner, purer, and derived from different sources, but when G_d designed hydrogen and carbon he did a REALLY good job!
As for getting us off of the oil teat, hydrogen is a lost cause.
The last time I looked at hydrogen powered vehicles, they were planning on storing it at 10,000 PSI in steel tanks buried in the trunk. The tank better be well anchored... it could be quite a missile.
If you add things up, I still think that biodiesel is the best bet, for a whole slew of reasons.
To start with, it is pretty hard to beat a product that is manufactured by microorganisms, in this case algae. All you really need is fresh water and sunlight to grow it. However, you multiply your growing efficiency by adding *waste* CO2 and Nitrous Oxides (NOx) gases. So from the very beginning, you are making money—by not having to expensively get rid of these waste gases.
Algae can be grown on the small or large scale, and South of the Mason-Dixon line in the US, at least 10 months out of the year of continual production, instead of just two or three crops of corn, for example. Some algae are 50% vegetable oil, that are easy to extract into biodiesel. The leftover algae makes good animal fodder, so no waste.
So you make biodiesel. But then you can put it into existing diesel cars, trucks, boats, even trains, without making any modifications to the engine. Diesel engines are as powerful as gasoline engines, are easier to maintain, and are available right now. No new engine to be invented or made efficient.
Biodiesel can be sold in existing gas stations, so no new multi-billion dollar expensive infrastructure across the US.
So from beginning to end, biodiesel makes more sense than any other alternative fuel. It will save America hundreds of billions of dollars, we will still have powerful engines instead of weak little putt-putt cars, and best of all, we can do it *right now*.
Sure, hydrogen fuel cells might work some day. And they might give you are reasonably good electric car some day. And hydrogen companies might put up a hydrogen refueling station in your neighborhood some day. And Al Gore might be president some day. Etc. Etc.
Or you can have a diesel car right now. With a powerful engine right now. And a local gas station right now. And it can run on petroleum diesel or biodiesel right now.
Can I get it with a sunroof?
Yes, but the point is to get free of imported oil and make Algore a lot of money. Oh, wait, Algore only makes money by buying/selling carbon credits and there aren't any with this. win-win
True. The tanks won't be compressed gas.
True, but with economics of scale that price may come down. There oceans full of hydrogen to be harvested and I'd rather give my money to an American hydrogen manufacturer rather than sheiks who pay millions for camels.
If H2 stations are located at suitable intervals, this will work just fine.
Hydrogen is is bunch of BS.
Plug in Electric is the only way to go.
No need for fueling stations, if you have a 110 outlet you are charging it up.
Not going that route. Tech moves on.
Electric would do just fine. H2 will also. But, these are H2/electric.
Good. Build some nuclear and coal plants and let’s switch the whole fleet to hydrogen. Give the oil monopoly as much competition as possible, I say.
It's not poo-pooing Hydrogen because of envirowackos, it's poo-pooing hydrogen as a means of getting us off of fossil fuels.
Hydrogen is a means of storing energy, not making it. The #1 source of Hydrogen for fuel cell automobiles is from petroleum.
Neither solar, wind, or geothermal electricity is anywhere near efficient enough to provide enough energy for our transportation needs, so unless I see 20 new Nuclear Powerplants per week being started in the US, I will continue to poo-poo Hydrogen fuel cell automobiles as a boondogle.
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