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Thread: Hydrogen vs. Battery

  1. #1
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    Hydrogen vs. Battery

    Hey everyone. I wrote a blog on the topic of Hydrogen vs. Battery EVs. This was brought up once again is the discussion around Top Gear's review of the Tesla and Honda Clarity and it seks to address the question of "why does Hydrogen continue to appeal when it doesn't actually make sense from an efficiency standpoint"

    Since the crowd on this board is knowledgeable and opinioneated on the subject, I'd welcome your feedback

    Darryl Siry's Blog: The stubborn appeal of hydrogen

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    Darryl

    Nice post. I think you're correct as far as consumer psychology goes. Personally, I think its a bit of a red herring though, and BEV manufacturers shouldn't worry about it too much. Its more of a mindshare issue. Once BEV adoption reaches a critical mass, and people see their neighbors happily making do with the limitations of the charging, then the psychology will adapt. This is what happened with hybrids, and is afaict pretty normal with new technology. Rather than worrying about charging or swapping out battery packs(yuck) it will be enough when swapping to electric makes compelling economic sense vis a vis gas cars.

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    Head Moderator / Administrator doug's Avatar
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    Hi Darryl,

    Not sure if you wanted a response here or on your blog. Actually, your post doesn't seem to say much about hydrogen since it focuses mainly on BEV range versus quick charge.

    You may be right, but I'm not sure I buy the premise that "consumer appeal of hydrogen persist[s] so stubbornly." Consumers haven't yet had the opportunity to err... consume (purchase) HFCVs. (Nor many BEVs for that matter.) How can it persist if it doesn't really exist yet? As with most things, left alone the market will decide. The core of "consumer psychology" is how purchases affect their wallets. Given relative expense of HFCVs versus BEVs, consumers that purchase HFCVs would really have to value the idea of the quick-fill.

    Moreover, there is not just the cost of the individual vehicles, but the infrastructure required to support them as well. This whole point about the quick-fill capability of HFCVs is moot if there's nowhere to fill them. I haven't done the analysis, but my suspicion is that a hydrogen filling station is more expensive to build than a charging bay.

    In your discussion of BEV range versus quick charge, you omit an obvious point of which I'm sure you're well aware. You said, "Enthusiasts will plan lunch stops around the one hour charge during a road trip, but it won't be practical for daily use." Of course most cosumers aren't going on road trips every day, and to me, one of the greatest selling points about BEVs is not having to go to the gas station for "daily use." Starting every day with a full tank, as it were.

    With that said, your post seems to favor quick-charge over increased range as a way to reduce battery weight and cost. My feeling is that once consumers are experienced with home charging, they will be willing to pay for range they need so as to benefit from the convenience of not having to stop at a charging station.

    Btw, as a physics guy, I love hydrogen. It's the only atom that has a complete solution to Schrodinger's equation (everything else is a perturbation theory expansion on hydrogenic energy levels), and hydrogen fuel cells are an interesting technology. But given alternatives, using hydrogen as a transportation "fuel" isn't that sensible.

    Edit: Ok, I went ahead and posted on your blog too.

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    One thing I've always wondered about when it comes to Hydrogen FC, is why noone seems to be trying to use them for aviation. For commercial aviation you don't care about the price of the fuelcell (or not nearly as much as with a car). Their fueling stations, read airports, already have infrastructure or is so limited in numbers building out infrastructure makes sense. They've got qualified technician to handle any problems. They are not that much conserned with efficiency, they are flying after all. Cryogenic storage has a higher weight/energy ratio than batteries which is important for flights...
    Can someone tell me why this would be a bad idea ? Not the least so all that research could be used for something usefull..

    Cobos

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    '08 #383 SByer's Avatar
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    From what I understand, fuel cells are still very failure-prone, and have a short lifetime (~3 years). Not appropriate for being up in the air.

  6. #6
    BMW, that niche automaker we've all heard of, has a completely different take on the whole "hydrogen-powered-vehicle" issue:

    With its unique dual power engine, the driver of a Hydrogen 7 can switch quickly and conveniently from hydrogen to conventional petrol power at the press of a steering wheel-mounted button. The dual power technology means the car has a cruising range in excess of 125 miles in the hydrogen mode with a further 300 miles under petrol power. To make this possible the BMW Hydrogen 7 comes with a conventional 74-litre petrol tank and an additional hydrogen fuel tank holding up to 8kgs of liquid hydrogen. Such flexibility means the driver of a BMW Hydrogen 7 is able to use the vehicle at all times, even when the nearest hydrogen filling station is out of range.
    http://www.alternative-energy-news.i...-7-production/

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    Liquid hydrogen?!?!?! Good luck with that ever being cost competitive. I'd like to see the wheel to well numbers on that bit of greenwash.

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    @doug - when I talk about the persistent appeal I am talking about the consumer media's interest. In the absence of actual product to try, analyzing media interest is a proxy for the mass consumer mindset.

    You are right that my post is not about Hydrogen vs. BEV, since I don't believe there is any question as to the relative efficiency or practicality. The point I am making is that I think the issue of quick charge is much bigger than most EV proponents make it out to be, as is evidenced in your post. You have to remember that to analyze the factors that will lead to mass adoption, you must focus very intently on cost. We can't get lulled into the false sense of comfort that comes from the willingness of early adopters to pay a premium and deal with some minor inconveniences. I am thinking about cars that sell in the 100,000+ units and are sold to price senstive people. In that case, the smaller the battery pack the better since that is the most expensive part of the equation. But a smaller battery pack is only acceptable if there are numerous practical quick charge stations.

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    Head Moderator / Administrator doug's Avatar
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    I see your point. Placing hydrogen aside then, and just looking at BEV range versus quick charge. We come back to cost versus convenience. In terms of daily use, I don't think the consumer would consider it acceptable to have to stop for a recharge along the way to work everyday. So that would define minimal range. But as it is, the batteries that support a truly quick-charge tend to be quite expensive. Over time they may get cheaper, but so should batteries geared towards energy density.

    In the situation you describe, it seems PHEVs may be the best solution. Which to me have a greater "persistent appeal," as you define it, than do HFCVs.

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    2008 Roadster #181 DaveD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    Liquid hydrogen?!?!?! Good luck with that ever being cost competitive. I'd like to see the wheel to well numbers on that bit of greenwash.
    I was under the impression that for normal ambient temperatures, hydrogen can't be liquified at any feasible pressure. Is that what you are referring to, Tim?

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