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Transportation Japan Power

Toyota Announces Plans For Fuel Cell Car By 2015 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
puddingebola writes "Toyota has announced plans for a fuel cell powered car at the Tokyo Motor show. From the article, 'Satoshi Ogiso, the Toyota Motor Corp. executive in charge of fuel cells, said Wednesday the vehicle is not just for leasing to officials and celebrities but will be an everyday car for ordinary consumers, widely available at dealers. "Development is going very smoothly," he told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show. The car will go on sale in Japan in 2015 and within a year later in Europe and U.S."'"
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Toyota Announces Plans For Fuel Cell Car By 2015

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  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @11:02PM (#45478551)
    I remember at least 2 years ago, Toyota had this plan. Hydrogen isn't as bad as people make it out to be. You just need special materials to work with. If you go steel, it just gets owned. So special materials are expensive in the short run until they're manufactured. Hydrogen itself is just made with electricity and water. It isn't much different than electric cars in that regard. The main difference is electric cars need expensive batteries. Hydrogen cars only need a pressurized tank. I think in the long run hydrogen cars can win out. Do go investing in hydrogen refilling stations just yet though like that electric car got ahead of the curve.
    • by TheLink (130905) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @11:13PM (#45478601) Journal
      If they use hydrocarbon fuel cells the cars may be able to use the existing fuel stations (likely to need filters to prevent poisoning from impurities). They'd probably still release CO2 but be more efficient.

      Far more convenient than cars with hydrogen tanks.
      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @12:48AM (#45478949)

        If they use hydrocarbon fuel cells the cars may be able to use the existing fuel stations

        They don't. Toyota is using hydrogen fuel cells in these cars. They will not be able to use existing gas stations. They will require fueling with compressed hydrogen. There are a handful of hydrogen fueling stations in Los Angeles, and 100 more are planned, with the $1M/station paid for by the state of California.

        • The technology is great, but I hope those $1M payments are via cashier's check or out of state escrow, as the state of California is dancing on the fine edge of bankruptcy.

        • by TheLink (130905)

          I think that's actually worse than the Tesla/Nissan Leaf pure battery model. Since you can charge battery cars in far more places.

          We would still need hydrocarbons because I doubt our airliners will be hydrogen or battery powered. So it'll be great if we can figure out a practical path for "green energy" (e.g. wind/solar) or nuke to hydrocarbon, and hydrocarbon powered electric cars.

          If fuel cells aren't up to it yet, maybe small gas turbine generators could do: http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/alternativ [popularmechanics.com]

        • This is like the creation of the Internet; taxpayers pony up $500 Billion to create the infrastructure, and ISP's create toll gates to charge us for getting on the on ramps.

          If the gas companies ever make a profit from Hydrogen stations, will they remember who paid for it?

          Also -- I think of Hydrogen fuel as the Ethanol of the future; wildly wasteful and expensive corn will probably be burned along with natural gas in order to create the hydrogen. We will probably lose at least 20% of the energy in processing

      • If they use hydrocarbon fuel cells the cars may be able to use the existing fuel stations (likely to need filters to prevent poisoning from impurities). They'd probably still release CO2 but be more efficient.

        And you can even take your hydrogen source, grab some CO2 out of the air, and use membranes (see George Olah's work) to convert it into methanol, which is a liquid compatible with the existing infrastructure.

        Sure, it releases CO2 on the other end, but it's the CO2 you just borrowed from the atmosphere

    • Horrible typos I had:
      Title was supposed to be: They've had this plan since what 2010.
      and Don't go investing in hydrogen refueling stations just yet.
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Damn. Just bought 1,000,000 shares in Bob's Hydrogen Fuel Stop & Rob - Coast to Coast.

        • Maybe you can bank on the government regulating helium. Then kids balloons would be filled with hydrogen. :)

          I actually figured it'd be pretty easy to make a hydrogen refilling station. All you'd need is a tank to hold the hydrogen and a pressurization tool that is also resistant to embrittlement. This stuff isn't cheap right now, but once the materials science and manufacturing is out on the best materials to store hydrogen with, it will be cheap. So hold off until they're cheap. Then you're just loo
    • by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @11:16PM (#45478613)

      Hydrogen itself is just made with electricity and water.

      Yes, except that is not really how most of it gets made.

      Frankly, one of the cheapest sources for hydrogen is from natural gas:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_production#Steam_reforming [wikipedia.org]

      Besides, where is all the electricity going to come from to do from pure water? Coal fired power plants? Yea, that sure fixes the problem!

      So either you take it from natural gas, which is about 80% efficient, or you take it from water which isn't efficient at all and get the electricity from coal power plants, which isn't clean either.

      I'm all for replacing oil and gas as our fuels, but unless we use nuclear energy to power the Electrolysis to pull it from water, this isn't solving anything.

      BTW, less than 5% of hydrogen is actually obtained from water, 95+% is obtained from fossil fuels.

      • I heard the math on regular grid electricity electrolysis is about 1/10th the cost you'd pay in gasoline. It is about the same cost of an electric car's fuel.

        The key is the grid would get pummeled if these cars came out cheap. But this would incentivise more people to get personal solar power arrays at their homes. What you'd pay in solar panels would be much less than you'd pay in gasoline and utilities in about 5 years. Then after that it is like free fuel. :)

        I think the only other loser besides t
        • by luther349 (645380)
          guess you never saw a tesla it has 4 charge modes the slowest being a normal household plug the 2nd and most common is the 220 dryer plug and the last there own charging station. the last is the super charging station would would use to recharge the car in like 15 minutes. in other word it does not pummel the grid recharging its no worse then a electric dryer or in the slowest mode a space heater. anything else would be a dedicated recharge source.
        • by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @01:28AM (#45479061)
          Source?

          Electrolysis is terribly inefficent, if it was worth doing, that is how we'd get our hydrogen.

          No matter how much better it might or might not be than gasoline, the fact is it costs FAR less to pull hydrogen out of natural gas than it does from water.

          So using your numbers, it would be almost FREE to power our cars with hydrogen from natural gas.

          Except, that it wouldn't be, there are a few laws of thermodynamics you're breaking there. We already have natural gas cars and they are good, but not nearly 10 times better than gas cars. You sure aren't going to get further improvement beyond that by using hydrogen.

          • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @05:20AM (#45479693)
            Just to put some numbers on this:

            Natural gas power plant: 60% efficient
            Electrical transmission from plant to home: 98% efficient
            Battery charging: 75% efficient
            Net efficiency: .6*.98*.75 = 44%

            Natural gas power plant: 60% efficient
            Electrolysis next door to power plant: 65% efficient (this is about the best you can get in a lab, so I'm being generous)
            Hydrogen fuel cell: 75% efficient (again being generous - they've gotten over 90% in a lab, but anything over 50% commercially is good)
            Net efficiency: .6*.65*.75 = 29%

            Gasoline engine: ~30% efficient

            Yes the gasoline engine suffers additional losses when operating outside its optimal RPM, and the transmission. But electric motors are the same when not run at their optimal RPM. So I've omitted the last step in the power transfer to the wheels.

            The only way hydrogen fuel cells make sense compared to regular gasoline cars (never mind EVs) is if you don't use electrolysis and liberate the hydrogen directly from petrochemicals like natural gas. If gasoline-like refueling is an important market factor, I think biofuels are going to end up the winner, not hydrogen.
            • Electrical transmission from plant to home: 98% efficient

              Not in the US it isn't... It is about 93% efficient overall, but this of course varies from place to place.

              Regardless, the whole point is being missed. Why go to hydrogen in the first place? What are we trying to accomplish?

              Is it to just replace gas? If so, why do we want to do that? Is it to be "green"? Frankly, hydrogen isn't green unless you use completely green energy to crack water to get it.

              Since we already don't have green energy for our basic needs, what makes everyone think we're going

              • by dcw3 (649211)

                This entire idea is insane, either it is just a PR stunt by Toyota trying to appear "green" or someone is trying to pull a fast one

                Yup, and most of the auto industry is out to get us. Just look at this from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle [wikipedia.org]
                At the 2012 World Hydrogen Energy Conference, Daimler AG, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota all confirmed plans to produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for sale by 2015.[6] General Motors said it had not abandoned fuel-cell technology and still plans to introduce hydrogen vehicles like the GM HydroGen4 to retail customers by 2015....In 2009, Nissan started testing a new FC vehicle in Japan.

                So, ma

                • What do you think I'm overlooking? So some big companies are tossing around the idea, that doesn't mean much, either they are just pandering, or hoping for tax dollars to pay for it, or perhaps they are stupid, it has happened before.

                  Please let me know where I'm missing it.

              • by dave420 (699308)
                It can be more green without being entirely green. Not having massively-inefficient gasoline-burning engines running around crowded city centers is a good thing. It's far easier to apply new cleaning techniques at centralized locations than on every single car on the road. Green is a sliding scale, not a binary state.
                • There is nothing green about taking hydrogen out of natural gas, it would be greener to just burn the natural gas in our cars, and much easier and cheaper.

                  Taking it out of water isn't green if we build another coal power plant to do it, but that might fool some people I suppose, who won't notice.

            • Net efficiency: .6*.65*.75 = 29%

              As always happen with untested tech, there are some steps missing from this calculation. Transportation of gasoline is about 98% efficient, but for hydrogen that number will be lower. Refueling with gasoline has some 9s of efficiency, but with hydrogen you can get it either fast at near 90% efficiency, or fill your tank overnight. Gasoline losses are almost nil, but hydrogen leaks away from the tank when you are not using it.

              My opinion is that hydrogen is only fit for rockets

          • by e70838 (976799)
            Electrolysis is not the more efficient, but hydrogen production by electrolysis is probably the more effective way to store electricity.

            Nuclear plants have often excedents of electricity that they burn in resistors in order to avoid overloading the grid. If they could generate hydrogen instead of wasting energy, their efficiency would improve. IMHO nuclear remains the cleaner energy (less harm to our planet) and the safer (http://nextbigfuture.com/2008/03/deaths-per-twh-for-all-energy-sources.html). I t
          • by orzetto (545509)

            Electrolysis is terribly inefficent, if it was worth doing, that is how we'd get our hydrogen.

            Huh, no, electrolysis is actually very efficient, 70-90%. The problem is that you need to provide the electricity yourself instead of using a energy-rich feedstock (natural gas).

            We already have natural gas cars and they are good, but not nearly 10 times better than gas cars. You sure aren't going to get further improvement beyond that by using hydrogen.

            Incorrect, you are going to get a significant improvement with

      • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @12:33AM (#45478895)

        esides, where is all the electricity going to come from to do from pure water?

        Seems like a good application for solar.

        Possibly eventually even bypass the electricity step and just use solar energy to produce hydrogen directly.

        http://cleantechnica.com/2013/09/27/solar-hydrogen-production-efficiency-world-record-broken-wormlike-hematite-photoanode-crushes-old-record/ [cleantechnica.com]

        5% efficiency so we're not exactly there yet, but its a possible direction for future breakthroughs.

        In the meantime, solar electric arrays to power electrolysis seems like it beats "coal plants".

        • Seems like a good application for solar.

          Yea, I thought of that too, but when our main power grid is already only about 0.17% of our total electric usage, that would be pointless, we'd be better off using solar to replace coal fired power plants.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_the_United_States

          Solar keeps getting talked about, it gets a ton of media attention, but it isn't even close to prime time.

          • Grr. That should have said:

            Yea, I thought of that too, but when our solar power generated in the US is only about 0.17% of our total electric usage, that would be pointless, we'd be better off using solar to replace coal fired power plants.

          • Solar is not great for powering the grid, where the supply and demand must be balanced and where you want to put the supply and demand close together to minimise transmission losses. It's much better for workloads that are effectively charging batteries. If you stick big solar collectors in the middle of the desert, connecting that up to the grid for the rest of the USA is pretty difficult and you'll still have the problem that there are big demand spikes just as the solar sun starts to set. In contrast,
            • The power grid as a whole loses about 7% to transmission losses. Not ideal, but not terrible either.

              There is a world of difference between proof of concept and scaling something up for everyone.

              Solar is a great proof of concept, but scale is hard to get. Doesn't really matter if you want to power the grid, charge batteries, or produce hydrogen, the amount of power you get for your dollar with solar is just terrible.

              Where solar makes the most sense is on roof-tops, providing power during the peak tim

              • The grid losses are about 7%, but that's because the distances are kept quite small. Most consumers are in the same state as their power stations, and often a lot closer. There's a reason power stations are built quiet close to cities. Try powering the coasts from a solar array in the middle of the USA and you'll see much bigger losses. And the middle of the USA is exactly where you want to have large-scale solar collectors: where you have lots of empty space with lots of sunshine.
                • Try powering the coasts from a solar array in the middle of the USA and you'll see much bigger losses. /If/ the power generation is cheap enough, then it's actually cost effective to use superconductors along the long-distance paths and pay with the power to keep them cool. There is a superconducting cable feeding NYC now, for example, kept cool with liquid nitrogen. Getting such power lines down the East coast and then over to the nearest desert is just a function of relative costs.

                • The grid losses are about 7%, but that's because the distances are kept quite small.

                  Current HVDC apparently gives you something like 7% of losses over 2000 km of distance or so. How far is it from the middle of the US to either coast?

        • Not happening anytime soon but when we have fusion power stations then what will be the best distributed fuel source? Would hydrogen not be a good choice then?
      • by s122604 (1018036)
        There doesn't seem to be much of a point in using natural gas to produce hydrogen, to produce electrical energy, to produce mechanical energy.

        Why not just use the natural gas in an existing internal combustion engine.
        Thats what the nat gas civic does, and its available today, for less than 10k more than the gasoline version, has a 250 mile range, and the natural gas pipeline structure is already built. All we need to do is solve the 'last mile' problem by having more nat gas filling stations, which is eas
        • Why not just use the natural gas in an existing internal combustion engine.

          That depends. Are you willing to put a turbine with constant rotational speed inside your car? The difference in efficiency between a small internal combustion engine and a big turbine is huge (but hydrogen as an intermediary makes no sense).

          • by s122604 (1018036)
            No turbine necessary. Conventional internal combustion engines run on methane just fine.
            In fact it burns so clean, you can change your oil every 20k miles and your plugs every 200k miles and be just fine.
            • Yes, they do run just fine, and get 10%-20% of efficiency out of it like any other small varying speed ICM.

    • special materials are expensive in the short run until they're manufactured.

      The main difference is electric cars need expensive batteries.

      doesn't the first statement also apply to batteries? if manufacturing will bring down the prices of more expensive and exotic materials needed in a H2 fuel cell, wouldn't it also make batteries less expensive?

      • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @12:25AM (#45478861)
        Batteries are a much more complex technology than a simple canister. Batteries might still have manufacturing advances, but in general they should be more costly than a simple container. Also batteries have been advanced significantly over the past 60+ years to where they are now. There will be improvement in battery arrays, but it just isn't on the same rate a new technology can be advanced. A battery array today costs several thousand dollars(and sometimes needs to be replaced), but a canister that holds compressed air isn't much more than its scrap metal price. You're looking at thousands of dollars at a battery array against maybe what can come down to into the low hundreds.
        • and the actual fuel cell is a 'simple canister'? you think special materials are only required in the H2 tank?

    • by jmv (93421)

      If your electricity comes from burning hydrocarbons, then using hydrogen is a bit silly since you get a loss in the heat->electricity process, plus in the electricity->hydrogen process.

      • by gagol (583737)
        emitting pollution in one well maintained power plant reduces pollution in the cities.
        • Emitting no pollution in one well maintained nuclear power plant reduces pollution everywhere.

          Any physical pollution created can be put in sealed storage and monitored as long as required.

          • by flex941 (521675)
            Until it goes kaboom! Or slowly leaky-leaky.
            • Nuclear waste doesn't go kaboom...

              It also doesn't leak, if you simply monitor it correctly. Even better, use reprocessing and breeder reactors to cut the waste even more, but most of that is illegal in the US because we are stupid.

              Frankly, I wouldn't bury it in the ground, you can't watch it that way. I'd put it 20 feet into the air on raised concrete platforms, so that you can see under the storage if it is leaking or not. That way, no one can claim "oh, we missed it" when you can drive a bus under

              • by flex941 (521675)

                It didn't talk about nuclear waste. Accidents happen in nuclear facilities. It really can go kaboom. But yes ... mostly it's some simpler accident. But even "simple" accidents without big kaboom can turn into major events during following years. Look at Fukushima.

                Ant that waste management and monitoring... c'mon .. if .. they ... simply ... monitor ... it. Yeah right. Keep in mind that those who monitor are human beings. And a human being has its flaws. Those flaws sometimes result in cutting corners or ju

                • Nuclear isn't perfect and it should just be a stop-gap solution until we figure out fusion anyway, it isn't meant to solve all our problems forever.

                  Do keep in mind that I'm not against solar, but frankly, solar is a tiny fraction of our power generation and even if we increase it by a factor of 10, it will remain a tiny fraction of our power generation.

                  Wind is fine, water is fine, great... but if you actually want to replace and shut down large coal plants, the only option that we actually have... tod

                  • by flex941 (521675)

                    I didn't talk about solar. I don't care if you are or are not against solar. Or wind or whatever. I talked abut nuclear (which is probably the best option now for mass electricity creation, yes) and the dangers associated with it some people never want to (fully) admit or just think you can engineer yor way out of those problems. Oh yes, you probably can solve imaginable technical problems. Problem is not everything you can imagine. And then there will be always the human factor (careless, greedy, bored etc

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Hydrogen itself is just made with electricity and water. It isn't much different than electric cars in that regard.

      FALSE. Hydrogen itself is made by expensively cracking natural gas, a fossil fuel. The process is energy-intensive, which means that it's polluting (where does the energy come from? the usual places.) It isn't much different than electric cars in that regard. Hydrogen CAN be made via electrolysis of water, but it isn't. It isn't for two main reasons. One, you need very clean water for the process, or you produce undesirable outputs. Two, the process is even less energy-efficient than cracking natural gas.

      The main difference is electric cars need expensive batteries. Hydrogen cars only need a pressurized tank.

      Oh

  • *Yawn* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @11:09PM (#45478579)

    Wake me up when this has a chance of actually being a viable product. I doubt they can create the thing for a reasonable (non-heavily-subsidized) cost. Given that we are STILL waiting for laptop fuel cells which have been perpetually "around the corner" since literally the Dawn of Slashdot, I'm not holding my breath.

    And once you have the car, you need the Hydrogen. There are currently zero economic ways of creating the stuff. You can either crack it off of Hydrocarbons (and if you are going to do that, why not just burn the damn things in a conventional car?) Or you can electrolyze it. Which is tremendously energy-inefficient. And then you have to compress it for storage/transport/delivery, wasting even more energy.

    Hydrogen cars make sense if we have bountiful free electricity. Until that happens, electric cars make more sense, and neither will seriously challenge the dominance of the ICE.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ahabswhale (1189519)

      I was going to say wake me when they make a Toyota that can actually keep me awake. They truly make the most boring mass market cars on the planet to drive. Quite an achievement IMHO given their resources.

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        They have their uses. A Prius is nice in the city because you are not grinding away fuel when stopped at lights or in a traffic jam. Plus, it does work well as an emergency generator in a pinch. Priuses won't win any drag races... but in a crowded city, the point is moot anyway.

        Now, if they would bother selling the plug-in models in my neck of the woods, it would be great.

  • Don't you just hate it when the summary is so useless that you actually have to RTFA (or, more realistically, skim through it)? Fuel cells can mean natural gas, gasoline, diesel etc, all of these significantly less interesting since they have been powering cars for 100+ years and done so by converting chemical energy directly to mechanical energy, without going through the electricity step. But hydrogen is interesting. And finally some competition for Tesla - let's see, what happens to a hydrogen fuel cell

    • But hydrogen is interesting. And finally some competition for Tesla - let's see, what happens to a hydrogen fuel cell when you hit debris on the road!

      They are going to avoid that situation by putting the fuel cell on top of the roof. It'll be perfectly safe.

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday November 21, 2013 @12:50AM (#45478959)

      To me, why not just use a natural gas or propane fuel cell? It would save having to make hydrogen from CNG.

      If the fuel cell could handle both CNG and LP gas, the technology for storing propane is fairly mature, so it would be useful, not just for keeping an electric car's batteries topped off, but for a UPS or emergency backup generator.

      I read a lot of hype about hydrogen, but that is an expensive road, and I wonder if the gains from it are worth it compared to better electric grids and higher capacity batteries.

      • I read a lot of hype about hydrogen, but that is an expensive road

        It also has the side effect of exploding when released under pressure and sparks are applied.

        http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/h.htm [lenntech.com]

        Physical dangers: The gas mixes well with air, explosive mixtures are easily formed. The gas is lighter than air.

        Chemical dangers: Heating may cause violent combustion or explosion. Reacts violently with air, oxygen, halogens and strong oxidants causing fire and explosion hazard. Metal catalysts, such as platinum and nickel, greatly enhance these reactions.

        • by hey! (33014)

          While it is true hydrogen *can* explode, the fact that it is lighter than air means it seldom will achieve sufficient density to support significant explosions. The gas used to heat homes is also lighter than air, which is why though gas service is very common in homes, explosions are exceedingly rare. Hydrogen is even lighter and diffuses faster.

          Which is not to say it won't explode from time to time, but large explosions will probably be rarer than homes demolished by gas explosions.

          • The gas used to heat homes is natural gas, far less explosive than hydrogen is...

            Also, last time I checked, my house doesn't crash into other houses all that often, it rather tends to stay in one place.

            The forces in a crash, the small size of cars (compared to houses), the higher compression required for hydrogen to be able to carry enough of it, the whole thing sounds like a mess to me.

            Yes, cars have gasoline in them now, but gas tends to burn, not explode. It actually takes a lot of effort to get g

            • by hey! (33014)

              It's not a matter of crashing or not crashing. It's a matter of getting the stoichiometrically correct ratio of fuel to oxygen, then providing it with a spark.

              I'm not saying you wouldn't get a deflagration of some sort, even a shock wave "boom!", but it would be nearly impossible to liberate more than a tiny percentage of the energy in a hydrogen tank with ambient oxygen in an explosion. You might get a bang, followed by impressive fireball as the rising hydrogen meets fresh air, but nothing like a bomb.

      • To me, why not just use a natural gas or propane fuel cell?

        I know nothing of propane fuel cells, but I do know that the method which is used to extract natural gas is absolutely horrendous for the environment; it destroys huge swaths of land and makes taking drinking water from anywhere around it completely unusable.

        http://www.nrdc.org/energy/gasdrilling/ [nrdc.org]
        freaking fracking

        • by mlts (1038732) *

          Here in Texas, even without fracking, the stinky areas of the state (Texas City, Luling, etc.) have natural gas in abundance, even without resorting to fracking.

          Might as well use it for something.

          • Obviously if you have enough of an excess you might as well use it, which is why I only mentioned fracking. However, if we are going to use natural gas for cars then there is no doubt we will resort to fracking, because as is we already frack, creating more demand will simply create more fracking.
  • In the TFA it say hydrogen costs $3 for the same equivalent range as a gallon of gas (which is about $3/gallon where I live).

    Except that it requires hydrogen --- which is complicated to store --- and requires an infrastructure we don't have in place. And the hydrogen probably takes up more space than a gallon of gas (a guess --- does someone know?).

    Questions:

    1. What are we destroying to make the hydrogen? Hydrogen doesn't occur naturally --- it would need to be stripped off a molecule. What is th
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1. I think the hydrogen will come from dead puppies and kittens who were slaughtered for their hydrogen.

      2. Absolutely! It'll be paid for by the Government and not cost us a penny!

      3. Excellent point! All this water will have to go somewhere - i.e. eventually into the oceans! And God knows what will happen if we start dumping water into the oceans!

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      sure it costs the same.

      if you don't tax the hydrogen at all and have 50-100% tax on the petrol(and make the hydrogen from oil).

      brilliant!

      change amount of water? uhmm.. it wont make a difference at all. what does make a difference is how you get that hydrogen though... but for changing humidity at all? not really more than what comes out of your cars tailpipe when burning oil.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by orzetto (545509) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @04:49AM (#45479575)

      I am a researcher working in hydrogen & fuel cells, so I'll just spill the beans:

      And the hydrogen probably takes up more space than a gallon of gas (a guess --- does someone know?).

      It does, but not so much. Storing H2 at 700 bar requires a hefty pressure tank. They are fairly safe but that doesn't make them lighter. That's why hydrogen is suited for larger vehicles (family wagon, SUVs, long-range trips, trucks etc.). Short range is better served by batteries.

      What are we destroying to make the hydrogen?

      If you have cheap electricity, then it's water. You electrolyse it at the station and do not need to ship hydrogen around or build a gas network. You can also reform natural gas, which is cheaper, but then you need to clean the hydrogen really well: requirements on purity are 99.99% hydrogen, and other components are very severely limited (e.g. sulphur down to 4 parts per billion). It is debatable whether the purity standard is really necessary, though, it may be unnecessarily strict.

      Main reason not to use electricity directly, as in batteries: batteries are heavier, and if you want to double energy storage in a battery car you need to double the batteries (which is not going to double the range—the batteries are heavy too). If you want to double the energy storage in a hydrogen car, you only need to double the hydrogen storage, the fuel cell (the expensive part) is still the same. And hydrogen storage is not nearly as heavy as its battery equivalent, also factoring in that fuel-cell conversion is about 50% efficient.

      Why is investing in a new infrastructure -- hydrogen distribution --- a good thing?

      As I said above, a good alternative is not to have the infrastructure, but to produce and compress hydrogen locally at the station. The idea is that even with all the losses (hydrogen production, compression, fuel cell) the system is still more efficient that oil (drilling, extraction, transport, refining to gasoline, transport, combustion engine). More importantly, hydrogen can be produced starting from anything: natural gas, oil, solar, you name it. Gasoline comes only from oil (or coal if you want to go Fischer-Tropsch, but that's not really efficient and has large emissions).

      Does this process change the net amount of water in the ecosystem in a way that would have impact in 50 years?

      No, the quantities are minimal compared to the oceans. Any day you will have far more water passing through your shower than out of your exhaust. 100 km of travel in a fuel-cell Mercedes B-class (yes I drove it :-) produce about 9 kg (i.e. 9 liters) of water. Besides, that hydrogen was produced from water from the biosphere anyway, so no balance is disrupted.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        If you have cheap electricity, then it's water. You electrolyse it at the station and do not need to ship hydrogen around or build a gas network. You can also reform natural gas, which is cheaper,

        ...and which is the actual way that virtually all of our hydrogen is made. But you sought to disguise that fact in your comment.

        You also need very clean water, which is not free.

        • by orzetto (545509)

          But you sought to disguise that fact in your comment. You also need very clean water, which is not free.

          Aside from the fact that I did not disguise anything, water is absolutely not a significant cost. You just need a simple deionising unit. Compared to the rest of the plant, it's peanuts.

  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @11:43PM (#45478713) Homepage Journal
    Amory Lovins sees fuel cell vehicles as being competitive well before 2050, so this is an interesting development. http://www.rmi.org/RFGraph-cost_reduction_potential_of_powertrains [rmi.org]
  • When precious metals are replaced? Really? And just how long do they think fuel cells have been around and very expensive too? FYI, fuel cells have been around for many decades and have been in use for about the same period. Mostly by the space, aerospace and defense industries. TFA seems to throw out the concept of a quick reduction in price when it's an old/mature industry and technology already.

    It made me wonder if another Bush wasn't in office somewhere pushing this hydrogen stuff again as a distraction
  • 1) It doesn't matter if it has the "range of a regular gasoline car". Because you would have to drive like 500 miles to find a hydrogen refilling station!

    2) Hydrogen is expensive... at least as much as gasoline in most of the US.
  • Another year, another disappointing Toyota...

    the green(ish) vehicle we want is the SARD Supra HV-R
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SARD [wikipedia.org]
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Toyota_Supra_HV-R_02.jpg [wikimedia.org]

    so why won't they build a few?!?!?!

    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      They have a few. People just aren't willing to pay the seven figure price for them. They expect a half-life on costs of under 12 months though, which by 2015 means you might see something in the $200k range. ...all for something getting 60mpg equivalent?!

  • by spage (73271) <spage@sk[ ]page.com ['ier' in gap]> on Thursday November 21, 2013 @07:44AM (#45480141)

    All the comments about H2 efficiency and explosive risk completely miss the point. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been feasible for years, there have been a few Honda Clarity and Mercedes B-Class FCVs driving round Southern California (which has the ONLY public refueling stations in the entire USA) for several years.

    The problem is demand. If you care about the environment you plug in for your regular commute. You can can already buy a plug-in hybrid for half the price and lower running costs than these 2015 cars. As Volt owners gleefully report, most drivers travel for hundreds of miles recharging at home, but for long trips the car has the quick refueling of gasoline that's available everywhere.

    There's a market of people who don't want any tailpipe emissions and can't plug in and regularly drive long distances and live near the handful of H2 stations and are willing to spend a lot of money on a new technology, but it's vanishingly small!

    Eventually fossil fuels could be so expensive or restricted that H2 will be the range-extender we use for our plug-in vehicles, if ethanol from biomass doesn't work out. But that's a long way away. Meanwhile Toyota and Hyundai are very cagey about whether you can plug in their HFCVs; it seems the answer is No. Their cars have a battery and motor so plugging in is the cheapest way to drive the first few miles, and I think soon consumers will reject a motor-driven car that you can't plug in. The comparative reviews of the first HFCVs against 2015's plug-in hybrid cars will be brutal, and there will be dozens of "gotcha" pieces, wherein the brave reporter drives out of Southern California and gets stranded.

  • If we look to the car of the future, it's surely going to be battery. And I don't just mean 10 years from now. I'm thinking 100 years, even 1000, heck even 10,000 years from now.

    We're seeing around 8% improvements in battery capacity year upon year. Everything is going solid-state for reasons down to reliability, size, capacity, latency, noise, efficiency, (and eventually) cost to produce. You just can't beat raw instantaneous electricity as a power source.
    • You can't predict what's going to happen 10 years from now any more than you can predict a 10,000 year future. Weather reporters can't even get tomorrows weather accurate, so what makes you so sure?. Our battery future is now, in 10 years we may have some advancements that rival battery power. The resources of Earth are not infinite, whatever the future holds it has to be renewable or bust.

      • by Twinbee (767046)
        I meant even in principle, battery is better than any other power source. It has to be. The only statistic it currently falls short on is capacity, but imagine a battery that stores 10x as much energy as today's batteries. That's almost inevitable, and by itself makes it much better than any other option. Now imagine 100x more capacity. You get the idea...
        • I meant even in principle, battery is better than any other power source.

          Except for fuel cells. In practice batteries currently beat fuel cells, but nobody knows for how long.

  • By far the cheapest sources of H2 today are fossil fuels. Big gas/oil don't mind fuel cells because it still means sales of their product. But mostly they don't mind because it's a distraction from real alternative fuels. The real threats are renewables, and little of the energy from them will go into producing H2 in the foreseeable future, because those processes are currently so inefficient. Energy from renewables will be stored as biodiesel, butanol, or other liquid fuel for which there's an existing dis

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