fuelcell vs. battery for cars

I posted this over on the auto board as well -

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!

that is the big reason for hydrogen economy… centralised power and distrabution and control.

You have to generate huge amounts of electrisity to produce hydrogen… why not bypass that all together and stick with electric vehicals… we could all be driving them now.

it is more important to solve the electrisity production portion of the equation in a clean manner. Hydrogen is just an unnecessary step thrown into the loop to add profit, maintain dominance over the worlds energy resorces and delay the transition.

Agreed. The whole industrialized world has a more advanced system of electrical distribution than petroleum! Why not use that very large electrical system to create H2 on location (ie your garage or car port?)

What I am suggesting is that we forget about H2 altogether… there is no reaon to use it.

A.) We have an electrical distribution system.
B.) We have electric car technology - which because it is electric provides unlimited torque, way beyond combustion engines.
C.) Electric cars already have 0 emitions - you gain nothing by adding hydrogen.

There is no reason to add H2 into the loop.

We could work at developing more efficient storage of electricity (i.e solving the battery problems) and alternate sources of production or collection - like wind, solar, or hydroelectric.

Again why add Hydrogen into the equation

From what I’ve read:

  1. there are a lot of different ways to produce hydrogen, each region can produce the method that is best for it (it can be extracted out of methanol [made from corn] through a chemical reformer [little electricity needed] [this option would be great for US], it can be extracted through electrolisis [lots of electricity, a good option for Iceland which has a huge untapped geo thermal supply of electricity] and so on.

  2. we have been waiting for a breakthrough in battery storage capacity for about 25 years, it hasn’t happened and there isn’t much promise on the horizon from what I’ve read. Hydrogen offers similar distance of petrol, with the high output torque of going battery [still uses electric motors]

  3. the rate toxic waste would be produced from all that battery acid in a world powerd by cars with a 7 year max battery life is scarry.

I would recommend that you watch the documentary called “who killed the electric car”. (Sony Pictures Classics Presents : Who Killed the Electric Car?) You’ll see that what you said about batteries is simply not accurate about modern battery technology. Advanced batteries for vehicles don’t have to be lead/acid batteries; they can be lithium or Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries. Even the lesser of the two new technologies, NiMH, would be more than sufficient for what we need.

The problem isn’t a matter of breakthroughs in battery storage; the problem is that we can’t think of batteries as equivalents to fuel tanks. They don’t need to be the same, because they have different advantages, and we can adapt to them. You can’t fuel up your car every time you get home, but you can plug your electric car in every single time. That alone alleviates the need for high capacity for the vast majority of drivers. For the vast majority of your driving (which is a round trip of about 60 miles) a battery system that we can build using existing technology is more than sufficient. If you think of what the battery can satisfy, it satisfies the majority of the driving needs of most people. The minority who can’t use batteries (truckers, etc.) shouldn’t use them, but even if they don’t and everyone else who can does, the savings in air pollution and fossil fuel usage is enormous. Even if your power grid is dominated by coal, the coal is being consumed at the power plant at maximal efficiency, vs. the stop-and-go and inefficient internal combustion engine in your car; by switching to all electric, even if coal powered, you’d be saving about 40% in carbon dioxide emissions.

Fuel cells are definitely part of a plan to keep us dependent on big oil. Watch the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car”. There are sinister hidden hands at work in what you’ll see in that documentary. (Sony Pictures Classics Presents : Who Killed the Electric Car?)

The Hydrogen fuel cell is not a viable solution in the long run. Let me separate the hype from the facts for you.

  • The advocates of hydrogen say that pound per pound, it provides more energy than just about anything, but what they don’t tell you is that hydrogen is such a light, low-density gas that a few pounds of it take up such a huge volume at atmospheric pressure that in order to have any usable density, it has to be compressed. Keep in mind, the Hindenburg was kept afloat with hydrogen; it’s a lighter gas than even helium. Compressing hydrogen to a significantly usable density is very energy intensive, and even after compression, you have to transport far more of it to even get the equivalent amount of energy from a lesser quantity of other fuel.

  • Hydrogen is conventionally obtained by electrolyzing water using electricity generated from some existing source of energy. The hydrogen then needs to be compressed to a usable density, which takes energy. Then, a lot of this stuff has to be transported, consuming yet more energy. All for what? for use in a fuel cell, where it is turned back into electricity. Each step along the way incurs a significant loss in energy.

In other words, hydrogen isn’t a real fuel; we use other fuels to generate electricity to electrolyze water to get hydrogen. If it’s not fuel, what is it? A very lousy battery.

Hydrogen is such a dead end that the European Fuel Cell symposium has decided that it will no longer accept entries, papers, nor talks on hydrogen fuel cells; no matter how efficient we make it, we simply can’t make using electricity to electrolyze water to make hydrogen just to turn in back into electricity more efficent than simply using the electricity in the first place.

Here are some links you may want to read on this matter, re: the European Fuel Cell symposium rejecting Hydrogen:


The future is not about the hydrogen economy; it’s about the electron economy, and the technology to grasp it is already within reach. Hydrogen is just a pipe dream and a red herring thrown in our way by the ones with the interests to protect. The oil companies want to convert their hydrocarbons into hydrogen + sequestered carbon, but not because it’s a better technology; this is to keep us dependent on them no matter what fuel it is that we end up using.

It doesn’t really matter if go with Hydrogen or Electric power. Unless you’re somehow generating sufficient power of your own somehow (not likely) you are dependant upon “The System.”

Hydrogen could and likely would be centralized the same way oil is, and, unless you live on a freakin’ wind farm, where exactly do you think your electricity is coming from??? The walls???

Check this out. It may sound goofy at first (God knows it looks goofy), but it actually sounds like a realistic means of everyday/commuter/grocery-getting transport. http://www.theaircar.com/

The problem with all these people want fast cars while they never use the topspeed.

Look at begin when there already was an electric car vs oil engine and steam engine. They choose for oil cause its fastest. If they choose electric cars in the beginning we wouldn’t had have this problem.

What need to happen before we would get fuel cell or electric car we need to have a racing car that could compete with normal fuel cars. That mean at 24 hours le man need to get a car that could go even fast as other cars.

Fuel cell / hydrogen engine are great cause they can produce hydrogen with almost no use of power. They use some kind of plant in the water who does it automaticly. Only thing they need to do is collect the hydrogen.

I think its stupid why the are not electric car sold in every country. The plug in electric car exist allot of years but only sold in America and allot of famous people got it.

Also why there are nothing about bio fuel while that also exist and those cars are updates diesel cars. And in some country it is even illegal to make your car into a bio fuel car cause you are not paying fuel but vegetable oil.

All these cars exist and all these things could be on the years ago. So who is it who do not put these things on the market. Goverment, the big group of wealthy countries, the fuel companies?

Ofcourse if the world suddenly dont use oil Shell and other oil companies need to fire all there workers and need to change to an other companie.

I want to have an eletric motorcycle or electric car and fast and not over 10 or more years while the technology and concepts exist.

I agree with the original post, why add hydrogen to the equation? We had a pretty good start on electric cars over 10 years ago, if the major company’s of the world put effort into developing that technology I think we would solve the issues they originally had. One, batteries could only get you so far, but we actually have come far, because in the past automotive company’s were leading (or holding back) the battery technology. Now because of cell phones, computers and many other electronics battery technology has developed. The other is where the electricity is coming from, again if we developed our wind and solar power sources we could take away a lot of the added demand away with clean energy. There is no reason to trust big oil, and when I see mobile and BP Hydrogen stations it makes me think, what are their real intentions? At one time all the major auto comp. made electric vehicles, today their are none. Are we going backwards? STEAM->All ELECTRIC->GAS->ALL ELECTRIC->GAS->HYBRIDS.->HYDROGEN. Seems like the wrong order to me.

its about energy density, and batteries have a long long ways to go yet. If you want to look at a real nice long term solution to energy generation (and H is just a method of transfering ergs from one place to another) check into Helium 3 fusion, its well developed and the fuel source is only 270k miles away in a place that is perfect for mining…low grav, no life forms, no air to pollute…yup its all over the moon. When we have He3 fusion plants then electroliss of water is pratical, so is the other methods of creating H as well as abundent elecrtical power.

What about a hybrid hydrogen lol. Got battery stored and also use hydrogen. On the roof a solar panel to fill the battery and when the battery is empty you go hydro till battery is full again. Mean less hydro use. Also easy is your battery are empty that you don’t have to way till they recharge again.

Same principle as hybrid fuel engine. Engine start and fill the battery when you are on the gas and then auto change to battery. When battery got no power change back to fuel engine.

I just stay on my bicycle that much better for the enviorment and my health.

I think both have pollution problems.