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America's First Pipeline-Fed Hydrogen Fueling Station 247

hasanabbas1987 writes "Shell has opened America's first pipe-lined hydrogen fueling station in the town of Torrence in Southern California. Shell wasn't alone in this project as Toyota also helped them in this green deed, all of which was funded by the government. At the moment other hydrogen stations around the US still depend upon trucks to supply them with fuel. This marks a new era of green fueling and hopefully this pipeline spreads to other stations. Many of the big car makers like Toyota, Honda and Mercedes have indicated a mass market for hydrogen powered cars by 2015."
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America's First Pipeline-Fed Hydrogen Fueling Station

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  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @03:53PM (#36098242) Homepage

    To add information to this discussion, here's the net system efficiency, well-to-wheel, of different energy sources:
    Link []

    That graph is from this paper:
    Link []

    All issues of fuel cost, fuel cell vehicle cost, safety, ozone damage, infrastructure cost, and so forth aside, one of the big complaints about hydrogen is that it's just not that efficient.

  • Efficiency (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:07PM (#36098454) Homepage

    What is the overall efficiency of a Hydrogen powered car (including the energy cost to extract the hydrogen) as opposed to one that runs directly off of fossil fuels?

    From below, I posted about the efficiency. Here [] is a graph from this [] research paper. To sum it up, if you're burning the H2 in an ICE, you're only making the situation worse. PEMFCs can be a little better than ICE vehicles, but they pale in comparison to electric cars.

  • Re:Is this safe? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @04:16PM (#36098564) Homepage

    Luckily pure hydrogen is not combustible

    Yeah, but it burns at mixtures anywhere from 4-75% with air, so that hardly buys you anything. And it detonates down to about 50% with air. You really think a detonation won't damage a pump? Or even a burn (hydrogen burns *hot*)? Pumps are not designed to operate as blow torches. Hopefully they would put flame-sensor shutdowns on the system, but I don't know that they have.

    There are two significant risks at play. One is a failure of the storage tanks, most likely due to a manufacturing defect (these things happen, especially with composites, which H2 storage pretty much requires). These tanks are at very high pressures, many hundreds of atmospheres (unless you're dealing with liquid H2 storage, which is actually much more dangerous (air ingestion into an LH tank leaves a trapped SOX/LH slurry, which is a contact explosive)). The other risk is pooling. You're absolutely correct that there are anti-pooling countermeasures which not only can be taken, but essentially must be taken when dealing with hydrogen (aka, this isn't stuff you want sitting around in just an ordinary garage). Even still, even in structures designed to prevent pooling and detonation, it still happens. Fukushima being a glaring recent example, but there are countless others. Hydrogen detonates just so damned easy.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp