Developments - hillman

There is a very interesting article in the IEEE Spectrum magazine about the future of hydrogen fuel cells as applied to motor vehicles. The author is based in California, where the authorities take pollution seriously and support the motor industry in its attempts to solve the problems.

It seems that you can buy or lease several models of cars that are fuel cell driven, made by leading manufacturers including Honda, Hyundai and Toyota. All are able to compete with petrol or diesel fuelled cars with respect to range.

The only new technology is in the fuel cell, all the other features are taken from battery electric or hybrid vehicles.

A local manufacturer has announced the production of an HGV tractor unit that can travel about 1,200 km between fill-ups.

The electric motor is very much suited to vehicle use. Electric motors have very few components to go wrong and with the right control gear the motor can develop maximum torque at zero revolutions on startup.

One of the objections was the presence of such an explosive fuel in compressed form. In a crash you could say that a tank full of petrol is dangerous because if the tank ruptures then petrol spills onto the ground and surely will ignite. Hydrogen is lighter than air and is quickly dispersed upwards.

The only hold-up is the supply of compressed hydrogen and they are dealing with that.

Think of the centre of London where the only emissions from vehicles are air and water. These Londoners are always moaning. In the latter part of the 19th century they were forecasting being knee deep in horse dung.

Developments - Andrew-T

One of the objections was the presence of such an explosive fuel in compressed form. In a crash you could say that a tank full of petrol is dangerous because if the tank ruptures then petrol spills onto the ground and surely will ignite. Hydrogen is lighter than air and is quickly dispersed upwards.

If a tank of hydrogen ruptures in a crash, (a) it will be under much higher pressure than petrol and (b) if the crash generates a spark (quite likely I would guess), ker-boom, on a fairly major scale.

Developments - Wackyracer

It seems that you can buy or lease several models of cars that are fuel cell driven, made by leading manufacturers including Honda, Hyundai and Toyota. All are able to compete with petrol or diesel fuelled cars with respect to range.

The problem with what is already on offer is the price, the Toyota Mirai is quoted as being £66,000. Couple that with limited hydrogen refilling stations and they start to look quite unappealing.

Developments - Terry W

The principle method of hydrogen production is steam reforming of other hydrocarbons - mainly natural gas.

Every time potential energy is transferred to another form there is a loss - thus at the moment hydrogen is an expensive, energy inefficient means of propulsion - save for uses where the absence of local pollution dominates.

For it to be widely adopted requires some truly competitive advantages over petrol/diesel which is widely and easily available, and cheap. And as the main benefit is in urban areas where emissons may be an issue with conventional fuels, electric already has a head start. Even LPG which has been available for years with a huge tax advantage has failed to be popularly adopted.

Don't expect hydrogen vehicles to be any other than a minorty interest for a long time. If it were simpy a case of tweaking a chemical process based on existing science, this would have been done long ago . Just as, despite decades of reseach, battery powered vehicles still have limitations in range and charging time (although progress has been made).

Developments - focussed

And the problem with manufacturing hydrogen for use in fuel cells is that it has to be extremely pure.

All told, the energy used to make hydrogen far exceeds the energy it is possible to extract from it.

Developments - Sofa Spud

It seems that battery technology is advancing at such a rate that hydrogen fuel cells for cars will become obsolete before they gain any popularity.

A range of over 200 miles is the new benchmark for mass-market electric cars, set by the latest Renault Zoe which now has the option of a 250 mile range battery. Other manuifacturers are going to have to match this.

This sort of range is where Tesla began with the original version of the Model S about 5 years ago. Now you can have a Model S with a battery range of almost 400 miles.

That still means pure electric cars won't suit everyone's requirements but as battery range increases and prices come down, a significant portion of the car and van market is there to be won.

Edited by Sofa Spud on 20/03/2017 at 21:40

 

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