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Old 03-24-2016, 11:53 AM   #21
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So I've been thinking about "the future of the automobile" and although most of the focus is on electric, I'm beginning to think hydrogen powered cars make just as make sense.

Benefits? Slightly longer range than fully electric cars, 300 to 400+ miles per fuel up on about 1kg of fuel, fuel ups take about 5 minutes, no tedious charging times, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe, no worries about running out, tailpipe emissions consist of water vapour only, electric cars in some countries still rely on burning fossil fuels to generate the electricity to power them. There are more benefits of course. What do we think?
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Old 03-24-2016, 12:19 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Draigflag View Post
So I've been thinking about "the future of the automobile" and although most of the focus is on electric, I'm beginning to think hydrogen powered cars make just as make sense.

Benefits? Slightly longer range than fully electric cars, 300 to 400+ miles per fuel up on about 1kg of fuel, fuel ups take about 5 minutes, no tedious charging times, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe, no worries about running out, tailpipe emissions consist of water vapour only, electric cars in some countries still rely on burning fossil fuels to generate the electricity to power them. There are more benefits of course. What do we think?
I don't know enough about it, but this guy does:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNV8qi_rJBg
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Old 03-24-2016, 02:17 PM   #23
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He's bound to have a biased opinion to be fair
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Old 03-24-2016, 03:03 PM   #24
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He's bound to have a biased opinion to be fair
Perhaps he had already weighed two choices of energy before building electric cars, Draigflag.

Plus, when Elon said he'll give me a free car for sticking up for him, I'll say ANYTHING!
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:18 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Draigflag View Post
So I've been thinking about "the future of the automobile" and although most of the focus is on electric, I'm beginning to think hydrogen powered cars make just as make sense.

Benefits? Slightly longer range than fully electric cars, 300 to 400+ miles per fuel up on about 1kg of fuel, fuel ups take about 5 minutes, no tedious charging times, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe, no worries about running out, tailpipe emissions consist of water vapour only, electric cars in some countries still rely on burning fossil fuels to generate the electricity to power them. There are more benefits of course. What do we think?
The Mirai's 312 mile range is on a little under 5kg of hydrogen. One kilogram would have been awesome, since such a little amount would get around one issue of hydrogen car design; the fuel tanks.

Hydrogen's energy density by mass is of the highest in the universe. But its volumetric energy density sucks anywhere outside the center of a sun. In order for a car to carry enough of it to attain ranges that approach a gasoline car's, the hydrogen needs to be liquidified or compressed to really high pressures.

Since personal cars don't have the space to dedicate to insulation, all liquid hydrogen in their tanks will eventually boil off; BMW's bi-fuel hydrogen ICE car's hydrogen tank would empty in about a week.

So the current hydrogen cars use compress hydrogen to the tune of 10k psi. For comparison, CNG vehicle tanks are at 3500 psi. To contain those pressures, the tanks end up heavy even with the use of light weight materials like carbon fiber. A DOE goal is for the weight of a filled hydrogen tank to be 5% hydrogen. They aren't quite there, but if they were, a 5kg tank would be 95kg or 209 pounds.

On top of that, the physical requirements of the tanks for containing high pressure gases limits the shape of the tank to spheres and cylinders. Making the required space on the car higher than for a like amount of liquid fuel. The Mirai's exterior dimensions are very close to a Camry's. The hydrogen tanks mean losing the middle rear seat. Toyota never released the passenger and trunk volumes, but the EPA calls it a subcompact. It is also over 500 pounds heavier than the Camry.

High pressure tanks for vehicles also have a limited service life for safety concerns. The longest lasting CNG tanks are rated for 25 years from manufacturer date; the shortest, 10 years. Going by the label on a Mirai filler door, it appears its tanks are good for 15 years.

Hydrogen is everywhere, but we have to break up molecules to get it in pure form. The cheapest method is to break up natural gas for it. Toyota plans to use Australian coal to provide hydrogen for the Japanese market. Using renewable electric for electrolysis is a possible avenue. it is just very inefficient compared to using the electricity in a plugin car. The electricity to move a hydrogen FCEV one mile would propel a plug in 4 miles. So more renewable electric would need to be built for the same number of cars. There are other possible renewable methods, but they are mostly still in the lab now.

The biggest hurdle for hydrogen powered personal cars is the cost of infrastructure to distribute it. First, it pretty much needs to be built from scratch. Second, hydrogen's physical and chemical nature means constructing and maintaining any pipe lines and tanks will cost more than equivalent ones for other fuels. Third, the equipment required to fill up these high pressure fuel tanks, will make a hydrogen station more expensive to built and run than a current gas one. This all adds up to a pretty big price tag.

Note that my 'little' rant was against hydrogen, not fuel cells. A Volvo partnership has developed a diesel powered fuel cell that they plan on using in long haul trucks and boats to replace the generator. Methanol and natural gas powered fuel cells also exist. The fuel cells and on board reformers are still too bulky for personal cars, but there is no reason for continuing development not to get to the point where they will work.

Those fuels can be make from renewable electricity like hydrogen too. Switch the personal vehicle fleet over to plug in hybrids where a pure BEV won't work, and the reduced amount of fuel used by the ICE on them can make the costs of these renewable fuels more acceptable to the public. Replace the ICE with a fuel cell when they are commercially ready, and the increased efficiency makes the switch to 100% renewable 'fossil' fuels even more likely.
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Old 03-25-2016, 01:32 PM   #26
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Electric motors: Great!
Best batteries that can be built to store electrical energy: Bad!

What would we think about an ICE engine with a fuel tank that starts giving us limited range, takes a long time to fill up, and gets smaller every year? And, if that weren't bad enough, it turns out being the most expensive component on the vehicle.

But like I eluded, the electric motor would be a huge step forward for transportation: last much longer, less maintenance, and far more efficient, and super refined if only we could fuel it some other way, make batteries at 100th of the current cost, or figure out a way that they could last like a liquid fuel tank.
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Old 03-25-2016, 02:14 PM   #27
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Interesting information trollbait thanks. The hydrogen fuel cell Hyundai ix35 sold here can cover approximately 430 miles per fuel up, not sure of the tank size/volume though. You remember the Rasa I showed you? That managed 300 miles on 1kg, but remember that was a very lightweight car made mostly of carbon etc. I think the government is experimenting with all the associated instalation and maintenance costs of the hydrogen infrastructure which is why there are only a select few stations in the UK, mostly in London. But they are investing a few million (11,000,000 for new filling stations) in the development of hydrogen fuelled cars, as are Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, BMW, Daimler and VW, so there must be some sort of future for hydrogen.
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Old 03-28-2016, 06:11 AM   #28
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Battery chemistries are still improving, and among the BEVs sold in the US, early Leafs are the only model that had issues with capacity loss in hot climates. But yes, a BEV on the road for as long as many ICE cars are will require a replaced pack at some point. Unless the reduced range works for the owner.

The motor and other electric parts will have a long life without issues. Replacing the coolant for the inverter is about all the regular maintenance there. The brakes will last longer than the ones on any car without regenerative braking. Which sums up the difference between the BEV and ICE car maintenance.

So a battery replacement might wipe out the savings from no oil and transmission fluid changes, but there is no guaranty that an ICE car won't need major engine or transmission work in the time period that the battery pack lasts.

The battery in a PHEV is coddled compared to a BEV's. With an ICE onboard, the battery is counted as part of the emission system. In the US, that means a federally mandated 8yr/100k mile warranty; 10yr/150k mile in some CARB states.

Perhaps Germany has reasons like Japan for supporting hydrogen cars. The high cost of building the infrastructure can't be avoided though. Which makes hydrogen almost a non-starter in a place the size of the US, if government is going to be doing the heavy lifting in paying for it.
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