fuelcell vs. battery ev

Fuelcell vehicles get all the press nowadays - see stucon’s clogger entry on the new Honda - Honda Motor Co.,Ltd. | Honda Global - but get regularly dissed by Electric Vehicle fiends.

Is it just because fuelcells, at the moment, are more expensive and less efficient than batteries - or is because fuelcells are a part of a conspiracy to maintain the oil industry’s existing distribution networks?

Centralized generation of electricity seems more efficient. If electricity is the base “fuel” then why not harness the existing distribution network, i.e. national electrical transmission grids? fill up at your house not at the station!

A few reasons:

  1. Fuel cells have the potential to store greater amounts of energy v. batteries.

  2. There is a physical limit, I would assume, to the recharge time of batteries. The GM EV1 I think took an hour to recharge…and only had 100 mile range? That’s not realistic for the US market where people own cars so that they could, although rarely do, drive across country at a moments notice. Fuel cell can be quickly recharged, I think Shell has a station that takes 5 minutes to refill a car. Honda’s fuel cell vehicle has a range of 200 miles I think, and is quickly reaching gas powered range and performance.

Also…the old president of Honda said they would cease producing gas powered cars by 2010 in 1997. I think he was only about a decade off at their pace. Now the ball is in the court of the gas vendors…can they revamp their systems to dispense H2 in ten years?

Here’s a few more reasons if gleened from doing a few years of casual curiosity based research:

  1. where does your electricity come from? Most likely a coal plant my friend. Hydro-electric, wind, and nuclear plants are the minority. If we doubled our need for electricity we would overwork our infrastructure and be mining a whole lot of freaking coal. This would probably cost as much as switching to fuel cells and be far less eco-friendly

  2. batteries have a life span. Often they max out at about 5-7 years in auto apps. Some of the most toxic chemicals can be found in those batteries. Now imagine a world full of old, used up, giant sized toxic batteries

  3. the big ‘breakthrough’ the industry has been looking for in battery storage capacity versus weight has not happened.

  4. the breakthrough in size of fuel cells vs power are happening… see merc concepts as well as a new solid fuel (non-combustable hrydrogen bricks) powered working Toyota (saw it on PBS a couple of months ago)

  5. fuel cells have the potential to be totally clean start to finish and have similar power and range to gas. Ultimate solution. It will take longer but it pronmises to be a longer lasting solution instead of a quick fix that just gives us a whole new set of different problems.

Honda has implemented intelligent charging into the hybrids that use Ni-MH batteries. Supposedly the batteries will last the life of the vehicle (20-30 years?).

On the electricity front, you are right. Electric cars would simply shift the pollution to centralized generating facilities. There is hope though. Arnie has promised to back a proposal in CA to subsidize solar cels on people’s roofs. The UK has commited to being 20% wind/water/solar/? by 2020…so has much of Europe. If the electricity were to come from those sources it would be great.

Another interesting fact, Texas and Oklahoma have enough HARNESSABLE wind power to supply the US electrical needs TODAY. That’s harnessable, meaning no need to knock down buildings or relocate Dallas.

All too true and great steps

… but Iceland has comitted to being the first hydrogen nation, promising to make a total switch before anyone else. They want to be one of the worlds largest exporters of hydrogen, and have pioneered ways to mass extract it faster and cheaper. They have also been working hand in hand with daimler, and even have the first public hydrogen pump station up and running.

Admittedly it’s a small nation but smart to get on the new stuff first.

We should be doing it, but I think the idea of a whole lot of windmills is more romanticised stateside. A lot of the development ironicly is being done stateside and is funded by overseas companies.

A quick google search revealed the top companies on the globe making fuel cells 32 of the top 40 are US based, we as a nation should be doing more to integrate the technology faster to get greener and reduce our dependancy on oil, in my opinion.

top 40 companies make Fuel Cells,

Acumentrics Corp.
Westwood, MA

Anuvu Incorporated
Sacramento, CA

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.
Boulder, CO

Ballard Power Systems, Inc.

BCS Fuel Cells, Inc.
Bryan, TX

BWX Technologies, Inc.
Lynchburg, VA

C.A. Litzler Co., Inc.
Cleveland, OH

Cellex Power Products, Inc.

Ceramatec, Inc.
Salt Lake City, UT

Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited

Coval H2 Partners, LLC
Desert Hot Springs, CA

Dais-Analytic Corporation
Odessa, FL

Ener1, Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Fuel Cell Technologies Ltd.

FuelCell Energy, Inc.
Danbury, CT

GE Distributed Power
Schenectady, NY

Global Thermoelectric Inc.

Guth Laboratories Inc.
Harrisburg, PA

H Power Corp.
Clifton, NJ

Hydrogenics Corporation

Bend, OR

InnovaTek, Incorporated
Richland, WA

Lynntech, Inc.
College Station, TX

Manhattan Scientifics, Inc.
New York, NY

Materials and Electrochemical Research Corp.
Tucson, AZ

McDermott Technology, Inc.
Alliance, OH

Mechanical Technology, Inc.
Albany, NY

Metallic Power, Inc.
Carlsbad, CA

Motorola, Inc. / Energy Systems Group
Lawrenceville, GA

Hollywood, FL

Ovonic Battery Company
Troy, MI

Plug Power
Latham, NY

Proton Energy Systems, Inc.
Wallingford, CT

Renewable Technologies, Inc.
Sutter Creek, CA

Schatz Energy Research Center
Arcata, CA

Sulzer Hexis Ltd.

Sulzer Ltd.

Teledyne Energy Systems
Hunt Valley, MD

Transistor Devices, Inc / Dynaload Division
Randolph, NJ

UTC Fuel Cells
South Windsor, CT

hey 914 you are on post away from the covetted 4th core star!

YES!!! Four stars for verbal diarrhea!!! I just want to tell all the children that you should dream…anything is possible!

I agree Yo, wind farms for all of our needs is unrealistic, but combine that with the fact that if you cover Nevada with solar cells you could supply all the electricity for the US. Plus we have huge amounts of tidal power on our coasts, wave power, perhaps greater amounts of hydroelectric power, plus more efficient nuclear facilities. The US could be 80% non-oil/coal/burning stuff in 20 years, but it takes will power that is just not here unfortunately. I keep hoping that $2.00 a gallon will change something, or $2.50 or $3, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference. (on a side note we pay about $3.20-3.40 a gallon in Canada, and its not an issue here either)

Another side note, since I am winning my fourth star for verbal diarrhea here. There have been protests in the UK against the visual pollution of wind farms, but ironically, in the same areas as the protestors there were far more windmills 100 years ago when that was the source of energy for milling grains. I think that there is a design problem when people protest to save old windmills and against new ones. Perhaps some Core supporters should post their concepts in the new ongoing project forum?

I’m down with the Hydrogen now in some ways - as you guys have mentioned the advantages are numerous - but I’m still a little skeptical about the amount of hype it is getting as a pollution free and efficient fuel. It is pitched as such now but isn’t going to be that for quite a while.

The point made above that wind and solar farms are possible now but not considered as viable alternatives to coal/oil makes it seem unlikely that they or any other novel new technologies will replace fossil fuels as the source for hydrogen in the near/mid term. No economic motivation exists for a switch.

as it stands now 90% of hydrogen production comes from f.f.s

it is cool to see fuelcell development so widespread in America though; it is all over the country.

I found a bunch of citations on both pro and con sides of hydrogen here:

I like their tagline:
canadian association for renewable energies
we c.a.r.e.

GM brought a working hydrogen fuel cell prototype to Nike today and let a bunch of designers here drive the hell out of it. Corragous of them considering it was a million dollar one off. Drove great, they where able to stuff it into a compact Aveo or whatever it’s called, and its only emissions where water vapor. Good acceleration up 30mph, but then ig got a bit piggy.

The tech is almost there, it’s just mass producing it. Developing a new combustion motor has been done again and again, they are tried and tested, as with electric drive motors, these thing have never been mass produced in the numbers we are talking about, so I think they are taking the time to get it right, which is cool. Also the infrastructure change over will be nuts. It will force Oil companies to start thinking of themselves ad transportation fuel providers. I think BP id allready there as far as corporate culture.

One thing we haven’t mentioned yo is the wankel. Ford has tried and tried H2 into an Otto cycle, but it is always a pain to keep the compression…the H2 leaks past the rings and out the valves…it’s of course much smaller molecules than gasoline. Mazda experimented with an RX-7 several years ago and found to everyone’s surprise that they could take essentially a wankel right off the line and hook H2 up to it! No compression probs at all! Mazda is still working on this caveman H2 engine with alot of success. It is still a problem though to store the gas, and of course no one has made an econo box wankel in 30+ years.

Yo: maybe we should just start to instant message each other heh. BTW: what position at Nike are you?

Shaggy needs the education!

Seriously though, the wankle is amazing. I hadn’t heard that about Mazda being able to go straight to H2.

BMW has been developing H2 combustion engines with success for some time. They have the storage down OK but the volitile moment comes at the pump. For this they co developed the robot arm fuel filler pump to interlock a foolproof seel. Still, it’s pretty scary.

I think the solid, non-voltile, hydrogen will be cool. Imagine picking up a bunch of cylinders at the grocery store( would they put those in the batery aisle, or next to the duraflame logs )

Yeah, the solid H2 storage is probably going to be the safest system for the future. I saw the Bilbendum challenge on Scientific American on PBS a few months back. Most H2 competitors were storing their H2 as a gas in special tanks designed NOT to rupture. They were heavy and rather difficult to package into the cars. There was one guy though that found a way, supposedly, to store the H2 in some kind of honeycomb in a solid form. He also said he could squeeze two or three times the H2 into his tank than you could into a pressurized gaseous tank.

I have seen the BMW pump…it is intimidating. The pump that Shell has in Iceland I believe is used by the consumer with no need for special equipment to hook the car up. In a solid state, I would imagine the automakers would either need to find a way to inject the gaseous H2 into a tank that would store it solid, or that the tanks would have to be designed to be modular, in other words the same tank for all cars. That way one could have a machine remove the tank from the car and replace it with another when you stop at the gas station.

Peugeot Quark concept to debut at the Paris Motor Show

Sep 13, 2004 – Following the earlier Fuel Cell Taxi and H2O concepts, Peugeot has created the Quark concept vehicle to demonstrate new developments that have lead to the miniaturisation and simplification of this technology. Blending hi-tech and off-road style, the Quark is powered by four electric engines, one in each wheel. The Quark demonstrates the level of performance offered by current fuel cell technology, with a range extended to 80 miles, in a compact unit with a length of 2380m and a width of 1500mm.

The Quark is a two-seater, four-wheel drive vehicle that uses the integral working parts to provide the visual appeal of the vehicle, with each component designed to highlight its specific function. Although there is minimal bodywork, the Peugeot character is expressed in the design of the dual LED headlamps, Lion badge, and front grille. The front bodywork serves as a windshield to protect the passengers, who also have dedicated storage spaces. At the front and at the rear, protective panels support the number plates, while at the rear, the hydrogen tank is painted red to symbolise its contents. The 17’’ diameter wheels are fitted with Michelin tyres with a purposely-round cross-section and an original ‘shell-like’ tread profile to assist in the removal of water.

Te driver uses a removable interactive interface as an ignition key and this also forms part of the instrument panel. Positioned in its housing, it provides information concerning the traction system and the fuel cell, vehicle speed, and satellite navigation.

Thanks for posting that Yo…very on subject. That’s mind blowing that Pug got the components so small to fit in an ATV type vehicle. Plus, 80 miles on one of those is ideal for a recreational vehicle! My only question, living in Quebec, is where is Bombardier’s?

Where’s the french connection eh?

definitely some valid points made here. I’m all for alternative methods of energy production / harnessing. I was curious to know if anyone has heard of anyway to store energy from extreme forces of nature generated energy, specifically lightning. then maybe tornadoes, hurricanes (for us florida folk), and maybe even lava flows.