Hydrogen fuel cell electric cars

nwdiver

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2015
Location
Texas
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI (sold); 2012 Tesla Model S
You'll know a manufacturer is serious about fuel cells when they make one with a plug... it's already a BEV... there's no reason to not add a charger so you can make it ~50 miles without using H2. Then you could still charge at home and only refill with H2 for longer trips.

Adding a plug would also make FCEVs far more viable until there's more refueling locations.
The Mirai was a joke. Its true purpose was to serve as FUD to hold off the demise of ICE. A lot of Mirai drivers had to go ~30 miles or more to refuel...
 

meerschm

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 18, 2009
Location
Fairfax county VA
TDI
2009 Jetta wagon DSG 08/08 205k buyback 1/8/18; replaced with 2017 Golf Wagon 4mo 1.8l CXBB
The guy who wrote the article does assume some battery for regen braking.

plug-in would not seem out of the question.

he also sees a mix, BEV, fuel cells....

will be an interesting 20 years or so.

part of the challenge is H2 sources other than reformed nat gas. no real long term reason distributed solar could not be used for H2 generation. all a matter of costs.
 

gulfcoastguy

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
MS Gulfcoast
TDI
TDI sold, Mazda 3 purchased
That might work out if you are in certain parts of California and never drive more than 200 miles from those parts. Electric plugs are already everywhere even if public chargers are a bit scarce.
 

theprimer

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2016
Location
Miami
TDI
VW Golf 2.0L Diesel
Although I like the idea of hydrogen fuel cells powering cars, I have to say that it doesn't look too feasible. Tesla on the other hand are really blazing a trail with those lithion ion batteries. I'd put my money on those if I had to.
 

VeeDubTDI

Wanderluster, Traveler, TDIClub Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 2, 2000
Location
Springfield, VA
TDI
‘18 Tesla Model 3D+, ‘14 Cadillac ELR, ‘13 Fiat 500e
I don't see hydrogen being a solution to anything in the near future. It's too energy-intensive to produce and there is essentially zero fueling infrastructure. Sure you can add infrastructure, but hydrogen fueling stations are incredibly expensive.

It makes far more sense, in my opinion, to develop battery electric vehicles. Car charging infrastructure is cheap and readily available, and expanding the grid and making it smarter are attainable goals in the near future. BEVs can and will be an integral part of a smart national electrical grid - hydrogen, not so much.

The only situation where I can see hydrogen making more sense than BEVs is if it's determined that battery production is unsustainable and producing and storing hydrogen is a more practical alternative.
 

meerschm

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 18, 2009
Location
Fairfax county VA
TDI
2009 Jetta wagon DSG 08/08 205k buyback 1/8/18; replaced with 2017 Golf Wagon 4mo 1.8l CXBB
I do not see it as an either/or choice.


the point is, that for some applications, H2 tanks and fuel cells may make sense as an alternative to ever-larger batteries.

yes, there currently is no infrastructure, and the production of H2 is mostly from Natural gas, and is not very efficient, but that is today.
 

VeeDubTDI

Wanderluster, Traveler, TDIClub Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 2, 2000
Location
Springfield, VA
TDI
‘18 Tesla Model 3D+, ‘14 Cadillac ELR, ‘13 Fiat 500e
Why not just burn the natural gas either directly in an ICE or use it to generate power to the grid? Natural gas to H2 is probably one of the least efficient ways of generating forward propulsion.

Or - natural gas microturbine range extender with a moderately sized battery pack (as opposed to a giant battery pack) in something like OTR trucks, trash trucks and large delivery vehicles.
 

bhtooefr

TDIClub Enthusiast, ToofTek Inventor
Joined
Oct 16, 2005
Location
Newark, OH
TDI
None
And electrolysis is horrifically inefficient, and methane is more efficiently used in a giant ICE to generate electricity than used to produce hydrogen for a fuel cell (not much more efficient, but...)

The reason why Nikola Motor is using hydrogen instead of natural gas is for noise reasons, microturbines are loud. (And, they're using a natural gas microturbine in markets where hydrogen infrastructure isn't available.) I'm wondering if a spark-ignited piston ICE running on natural gas might work better, though...
 

meerschm

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 18, 2009
Location
Fairfax county VA
TDI
2009 Jetta wagon DSG 08/08 205k buyback 1/8/18; replaced with 2017 Golf Wagon 4mo 1.8l CXBB
http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-processes

Discusses a couple options.

when the alternative is dumping excess capacity, electrolysis makes more sense.

Potential for synergy with renewable energy power generation
Hydrogen production via electrolysis may offer opportunities for synergy with variable power generation, which is characteristic of some renewable energy technologies. For example, though the cost of wind power has continued to drop, the inherent variability of wind is an impediment to the effective use of wind power. Hydrogen fuel and electric power generation could be integrated at a wind farm, allowing flexibility to shift production to best match resource availability with system operational needs and market factors. Also, in times of excess electricity production from wind farms, instead of curtailing the electricity as is commonly done, it is possible to use this excess electricity to produce hydrogen through electrolysis.
 
Last edited:

VeeDubTDI

Wanderluster, Traveler, TDIClub Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 2, 2000
Location
Springfield, VA
TDI
‘18 Tesla Model 3D+, ‘14 Cadillac ELR, ‘13 Fiat 500e
That would be a good use of the electrolysis process, but I have to wonder if that is more efficient than a smart grid charging a bunch of conventional battery banks, BEVs, and heat storage banks during those same times of surplus renewable energy generation (all while utilizing existing electrical infrastructure).

Building hydrogen generators to essentially absorb surplus generation doesn't seem particularly sustainable.

Sorry, not trying to be a hydrogen poo-pooer, just thinking that the investment might be better-made elsewhere like upgrading and modernizing what we already have.
 

Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, Crestview, FL, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
Not only all the above, but what many people fail to mention, or don't understand, is that hydrogen storage is problematic at best. You can't store hydrogen for any real length of time because the molecules are so small they run out of the tank walls in between the molecules of the tank wall itself. Metal tank walls? Meh... not only will the hydrogen leak out, but then it embrittles the wall.

So you are faced with the losses to generate the hydrogen, then the losses to transport and store it before it runs out. In the entire cycle of things, hydrogen by itself is notoriously inefficient in the parts of all the process before it even gets a chance to generate energy that you can use. Better to use all that extra wind energy to feed in coal and water and come out with liquid hydrocarbon fuel and oxygen as the end products.

And no, I don't have the process to do it. But it makes more sense than to run around with tanks of highly volatile H2 gas running around on the streets.

PH
 

El Dobro

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 21, 2006
Location
NJ
TDI
2017 Bolt EV, 2015 Spark EV
I find it very easy to store electricity at home. :D
 

Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, Crestview, FL, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
Yeah, right now, batteries are about the best we have after liquid fuels.

The real advantages a liquid fuel has is that you only carry the fuel. The oxidizer you need to complete the combustion event to generate energy you pick up in the air along the way; essentially it is free. And the environment also has the ability to absorb the combustion products produced, which are also expelled along the way. You don't have to carry them with you.

In a battery, the energy density is much more limited and you have to carry the box with you all the way. You can refill it a very large number of times, but in essence it is the same box that you start with. Still heavy. Relatively short range on the travel distance before recharge, too.

Fuel cells offer an increase in efficiency, but a number of problems still need to be worked out. For instance, manufacturing cost is a big problem, and the cells are still hypersensitive to poisoning from less than perfect reagents. Maybe at some point in the future, a cell can be perfected that will be cheap if manufactured in mass quantities and relatively tolerant to the dirty real world.

One can hope, anyway. I am not sure at this point my remaining life span will allow me to see these modern miracles reform the modes of transportation of the masses. I'll have to stick to my carbon fiber bicycle for super efficient transportation until then.

Cheers,

PH
 

meerschm

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 18, 2009
Location
Fairfax county VA
TDI
2009 Jetta wagon DSG 08/08 205k buyback 1/8/18; replaced with 2017 Golf Wagon 4mo 1.8l CXBB
One other advantage of H2 (and CNG) is the decreased time required to fuel, compared to charging a battery. this advantage is shared with liquid fuels.

it is true that it is more challenging to store compressed gas vs liquids in the car, and that H2 gas has additional challenges, but not beyond reason and technology development to solve.

one advantage of H2 from a safety point of view, is that the gas rises, so leaks do not pool in a leak situation.
 

Dave_D

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2003
Location
Gaithersburg, MD, USA
TDI
2015 Passat Titanium Beige six speed manual & Jetta, 1999.5, Tornado Red
Assuming they are ever able to scale it to automotive level, methanol fuel cells would be a much better base for a car.

Dave
 

El Dobro

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 21, 2006
Location
NJ
TDI
2017 Bolt EV, 2015 Spark EV
A Toyota Mirai can probably be had easy enough. They don't seem to be flying off the lots.
 

tikal

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2001
Location
Southeast Texas
TDI
2004 Passat Wagon (chainless + 5 MT + GDE tune)
Natural gas generating electricity or powering fleet vehicles seems a more bang for the money including environmental hidden costs of energy (search for this the very in depth scientific paper using Argonne National Labs GREET model). In this way the top three environmental energy choices for passenger transportation are:

1) Electrical Vehicles with electricity coming from natural gas power generators being one of the best choices.
2) Vehicles powered directly with natural gas (CNG). Mostly fleet related.
3) Diesel vehicles (post 2007)
 

GetMore

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Location
Patterson, New York
TDI
1997 Passat TDI, 2010 Jetta Sportwagen
I have something to add regarding H2 fueling stations:
I worked for a fuel cell company, and they were able to use fuel cells to create H2 from natural gas and compress it to the proper pressure. The mail fuel cell would produce power and heat for the building or facility where it is located, and the H2 would almost be a byproduct.
On-site generation is much easier and safer than trucking and storage, and since the equipment could be placed into a seavan (ocean container) sized area it wouldn't take up too much real estate. It is an option that makes it much easier to create fueling stations.
I would expect the rollout of H2 fuelling stations to be rather similar to that of electric vehicle charging stations. It won't happen overnight, and will be regionally driven, but as demand increases it will pick up some momentum. Just think about diesel pumps at gas stations, and how rare they used to be, but now it's at a majority of them.

That fuel cell company also has some that they can run backward and forward, so to speak. They can produce H2 from "excess" electricity from solar or wind farms, store it until generation drops off, and then produce power from that H2. The idea is to reduce the load on the grid by leveling the generation/demand.
It is not as efficient as anyone would like, but it appears to be the most efficient method so far. I am not sure when they plan to put them in use yet.
 

nwdiver

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2015
Location
Texas
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI (sold); 2012 Tesla Model S
I would expect the rollout of H2 fuelling stations to be rather similar to that of electric vehicle charging stations.
One HUGE difference is that people no where near a charging station can still buy an EV. It's not ideal but the outlet in your garage is sufficient for most people to use an EV. Can't do that with a fuel cell vehicle... which is another reason I don't understand why they make fuel cell cars that don't have a plug... they should ALL be a PHEV... they already have a battery... go a step further and add a plug.
 

bhtooefr

TDIClub Enthusiast, ToofTek Inventor
Joined
Oct 16, 2005
Location
Newark, OH
TDI
None
The Mirai actually does have a CHAdeMO plug... but not for plug-in, instead for plug-out - that is, powering your house off of the car.

That said, the Mirai has the battery out of the Camry Hybrid - you're not getting any meaningful range from plugging it in. The Clarity's battery isn't much bigger.
 
Top