Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

New program driven at developing hydrogen fuel cells
AP ^ | 1/9/2002 | Ed Garsten

Posted on 01/09/2002 3:40:24 PM PST by John Jamieson

DETROIT -- The Bush administration launched a partnership today with domestic automakers to spur the growth of hydrogen fuel cells for the next generation of cars and trucks, hoping to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil while reducing tailpipe pollution.

The new program, called Freedom Cooperative Automotive Research, will also focus on developing a hydrogen refueling infrastructure, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said.

"The long-term results of this cooperative effort will be cars and trucks that are more efficient, cheaper to operate, pollution-free and competitive in the showroom," Abraham said at the North American International Auto Show.

The government hopes fuel cells will spur industry efforts to develop motor vehicle power systems that eventually will replace the internal combustion engine.

The new program replaces the Partnership for a New Generation Vehicle that was started by the Clinton administration to develop a vehicle that could attain 80 miles per gallon fuel efficiency.

The Energy Department and senior Bush administration policy officials have expressed little enthusiasm for that program, which was aimed at quadrupling automobile fuel economy by the middle of this decade.

"This new initiative that the Department of Energy is launching is exciting not only because it can replace gasoline as a way to power vehicles making America more energy independent, but it's pollution-free," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

Fuel cells produce electricity from a chemical reaction in which hydrogen and oxygen are combined without a flame. The only byproduct is water.

In recent years, the cost of fuel cells has dropped sharply. Hydrogen can be produced from natural gas aboard vehicles or pure hydrogen can be used, though that would require development of a supply infrastructure.

Automobile fuel economy likely is to be a major issue when the Senate takes up energy legislation next month. Democrats are calling for the government to require increased auto fuel efficiency, especially for popular sport utility vehicles.

The New Generation partnership had pushed industry development of hybrid gasoline-electric cars now just entering the market. It also had focused industry attention on finding ways to improve fuel economy without reducing car size and zip.

Using advanced aerodynamics, new engine technologies and lighter composite materials, the automakers in the program developed prototypes of vehicles capable of getting more than 70 mpg, three times better than most cars now on the road. But commercial development of large numbers of these cars in the next few years, as once envisioned, was not expected.

Although Abraham supported the program as a senator from Michigan, shortly after he became energy secretary he said the program had outlived its usefulness because the auto industry was going in a different direction.

The Bush administration proposed slashing funding for the program as part of its first budget a year ago. However, Congress kept it alive, even as some environmental groups and the watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense called the program an unnecessary subsidy for the car industry.

This new government-industry partnership "will further the president's national energy policy, which calls for increased research in hydrogen technology to diversify and enhance America's energy security," the Energy Department said.

Although several automakers -- including DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. -- have said they expect to have fuel-cell vehicles in showrooms within the next four or five years, wide availability of such cars is probably a decade or more away.

On the Net:

Energy Department: http://www.energy.gov/

Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS:
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-71 next last
This is a big mistake. If you don't like $2 gas, how you gonna feel about $10 a gallon hydrogen? Hydrogen is derived from oil, natural gas, or electricity; it don't grow on trees.
1 posted on 01/09/2002 3:40:24 PM PST by John Jamieson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: John Jamieson
Money spent on opec oil is money sent to the Satan for Satan's purposes. Hydrogen would be a bit more expensive at first but would ultimately be cheaper and it would be a hell of a lot cheaper when you add the cost of rebuilding another western city every other year or so into the cost of oil.
2 posted on 01/09/2002 3:58:07 PM PST by medved
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: medved
You get hydrogen by throwing away the carbon in Hydrocarbons. Thats about two thirds the energy content. Or you make it from electricity powered by hydrocarbons (very ineffecient).

We're better off buying all the cheap energy we get from the middle east as long as we can. When theirs run out, we'll still have ours. Meantime we use just enough of ours to control their prices.

3 posted on 01/09/2002 4:08:57 PM PST by John Jamieson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: John Jamieson
This is a big mistake.

I agree. My MS thesis (not too many years ago) was on advanced vehicle technologies. Part of my MS requirement was also to write a proposal for this DOE project.

Although several automakers -- including DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. -- have said they expect to have fuel-cell vehicles in showrooms within the next four or five years, wide availability of such cars is probably a decade or more away.

Fuel Cell vehicles won't happen any time soon. The next evolving vehicle will be hybrid electric. People are not going to sacrifice PERFORMANCE for an expensive toy. Watch 'em in Califonia starting to back-up on their emmissions and "ZEV's" (Zero Emmision Vehicle) mandates they set forth back in the early 90's for this year.

A natural gas - Electric hybrid is what I predict when they get through playing with the gasoline-electric hybrids. There is already a fair infastructure in place for this. Fill your car up in your garage! Hybrids are on the market and the market for them will expand.

4 posted on 01/09/2002 4:15:28 PM PST by Down South P.E.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: John Jamieson
"This is a big mistake. If you don't like $2 gas, how you gonna feel about $10 a gallon hydrogen? Hydrogen is derived from oil, natural gas, or electricity; it don't grow on trees.

Even if you derive the hydrogen from oil or natural gas, the increased efficiency of the total fuel cell-electricity-electric motor-mechanical energy combination cycle is still sufficiently more efficient than the thermal engine-mechanical motion (gasoline or diesel)cycle to make it cost effective.

5 posted on 01/09/2002 4:18:58 PM PST by Wonder Warthog
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Down South P.E.
What ever happened to LP or LNG cars? I know several of the taxi fleets here switched to these vehicles years ago. It sure looked like a promising technology. It was clean and it was easier on the cars than gasoline.
6 posted on 01/09/2002 4:20:00 PM PST by Straight Vermonter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: medved;medved
Hydrogen is not readily available and is also a "bit" more volatile as a fuel.
7 posted on 01/09/2002 4:20:37 PM PST by Down South P.E.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Straight Vermonter
It is still used in fleet vehicles. The infrastructure already exists and it is practical in some vehicles. eg. LP gas delivery trucks (large vehicles) run off of the LP gas.

When compared to gasoline powered vehicles, LPG (light vehicles) emit about the same level of carbon monoxide. Results are better for larger heavier vehicles such as buses.

The primary safety concern is that LPG is heavier than air and tends to "pool" (in the event of a leak or accidental release). This makes it more susceptible to fires or explosions compared to other gaseous fuels such as natural gas (which is lighter than air and dissipates when released).

Propane (LPG) works best for heavier fleet vehicles relative to light vehicles primarily due to emissions. A primary focus of the DOE project above was to reduce the emissions of passenger vehicles - not larger heavier vehicles.

8 posted on 01/09/2002 4:36:12 PM PST by Down South P.E.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Down South P.E.
I agree that natural gas would make an excellant next step.

However, hybrid cars make very little sense. People that are now buying hybrids are paying about $11 a gallon for the gas they don't use!

9 posted on 01/09/2002 4:41:29 PM PST by John Jamieson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Wonder Warthog
I'd love to see your calculations on that one!
10 posted on 01/09/2002 4:42:29 PM PST by John Jamieson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Straight Vermonter
Big power loss and lost interior space (trunk) and reduced range.
11 posted on 01/09/2002 4:43:34 PM PST by John Jamieson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Down South P.E.
Wait til you see your first hydrogen powered crash and fire. Self cleanning hiway!
12 posted on 01/09/2002 4:45:25 PM PST by John Jamieson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: John Jamieson
Hydrogen is an energy carrier... it takes more energy to make and store the H2 than you get out of it....Period!!
13 posted on 01/09/2002 4:50:08 PM PST by OregonRancher
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Wonder Warthog
Even if you derive the hydrogen from oil or natural gas, the increased efficiency of the total fuel cell-electricity-electric motor-mechanical energy combination cycle is still sufficiently more efficient than the thermal engine-mechanical motion (gasoline or diesel)cycle to make it cost effective.

But you first have to as you say "derive" the hydrogen from oil or natural gas. Remember most of your electricity produced in power plants is also derived from oil and natural gas. This factor was consider in many efficiency studies for those developing electric vehicles (so called Zero Emission Vehicles) because you gotta make the juice (burn oil, gas and coal) to charge the batteries.

Overall energy efficiency (from the power plant through the vehicle) was a little better. The problem was the technology for the batteries ain't there. Pure electric vehicles were argued to be "cost effective". Problem is they lack the PERFORMANCE of today's vehicles. In addition, the MAINTENANCE cost were also determined to be incredible. I wouldn't look for mass production of fuel cell or electric vehicles for several decades.

This is more likely a diversion from more promising near term solutions (hybrids - which are on the market)so the oil kings can continue to pull in the money. They don't want you to buy less.

Believe it or not there are also safety concerns with these vehicles (electric and fuel cell). Just a couple examples: you have to lighten the body of the vehicle and most are too "quiet" (can't hear em coming).

14 posted on 01/09/2002 4:57:49 PM PST by Down South P.E.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Wonder Warthog
In case you don't have those calculations right at hand here's my simple take:

Gal of gas weights 6 pounds and produces 120,000 BTUS

Gal of gas contains about 1 pound of hydrogen C(n)H(2n+2) C=14 H=1.

Assume you can seperate the two for free. (You can't)

Throw away the 5 pounds of carbon and just use the 1 pound of hydrogen.

1 pound of hydrogen generates 61,000 BTUs.

You just doubled your cost, if you could do it at 100% eff.

Feel free to check my math.

15 posted on 01/09/2002 4:58:19 PM PST by John Jamieson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: OregonRancher
You got it!
16 posted on 01/09/2002 4:59:38 PM PST by John Jamieson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: John Jamieson
When we worked in the gas industry, we used to joke about the incredible gullibility of environmentalists to buy into the argument that natural gas is a better fuel to burn environmentally than more complex hydrocarbons.

Considering there's a finite supply of both, but that hydrocarbons break down into methane later in the process, the more intelligent choice is to break the plentiful number of hydrocarbons available. This would leave plenty of methane available for chemical feedstocks without the threat to quantity of methane available to future generations.

I've wondered if the hydrocarbons weren't actually formed in ancient history by fallen angels or their bodies from some condemnation. It might explain the natural inclination of so many environmentalists to oppose their man made consumption.

17 posted on 01/09/2002 5:13:22 PM PST by Cvengr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: John Jamieson
There are different types of hybrids. The trick is in when you use what energy. The hybrid I propose uses a small to medium size combustion engine(same as in current vehicles - established conventional technology) operating off natural gas with a small auxiliary electric motor and battery pack. You run the vehicle on natural gas normally.

When driving in the city or accelerating say for example to pass another vehicle the electric motor kicks in on a universal drive system to compensate. These driving conditions are where your biggest emission problems occur. Starting and stopping frequently and accelerating.

You only use the electrical motor for short distances in the city and when accelerating. The combustion engine,when used, runs at its peak operating point constantly - further improving efficiency. The key is targeting the biggest inefficiencies in operating conventional vehicles.

18 posted on 01/09/2002 5:19:58 PM PST by Down South P.E.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: John Jamieson
"I'd love to see your calculations on that one!"

Geez--do a Google search! There is plenty of documentation available on this. If you don't understand the efficiency advangate of non-thermal conversion that bypasses the Carnot thermal cycle engines, a dialog is hopeless.

19 posted on 01/09/2002 5:21:00 PM PST by Wonder Warthog
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Cvengr
Our economy is built on HC fuel because it is far and away the cheapest source of energy in large enough supply to support our needs. The switch will only occur when we are finally forced to adopt nuclear. Nothing else is even close. Solar would be nice (it's nuclear too and in a strange way I guess HC is too!), but the equipment costs are much too high. It takes energy to build equipment, and not a whole lot more.
20 posted on 01/09/2002 5:21:20 PM PST by John Jamieson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-71 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson