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Hydrogen vs. Battery

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by siry, Dec 20, 2008.

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  1. siry

    siry Member

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    Hey everyone. I wrote a blog on the topic of Hydrogen vs. Battery EVs. This was brought up once again is the discussion around Top Gear's review of the Tesla and Honda Clarity and it seks to address the question of "why does Hydrogen continue to appeal when it doesn't actually make sense from an efficiency standpoint"

    Since the crowd on this board is knowledgeable and opinioneated on the subject, I'd welcome your feedback

    Darryl Siry's Blog: The stubborn appeal of hydrogen
     
  2. Tim

    Tim Member

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    Darryl

    Nice post. I think you're correct as far as consumer psychology goes. Personally, I think its a bit of a red herring though, and BEV manufacturers shouldn't worry about it too much. Its more of a mindshare issue. Once BEV adoption reaches a critical mass, and people see their neighbors happily making do with the limitations of the charging, then the psychology will adapt. This is what happened with hybrids, and is afaict pretty normal with new technology. Rather than worrying about charging or swapping out battery packs(yuck) it will be enough when swapping to electric makes compelling economic sense vis a vis gas cars.
     
  3. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    Hi Darryl,

    Not sure if you wanted a response here or on your blog. Actually, your post doesn't seem to say much about hydrogen since it focuses mainly on BEV range versus quick charge.

    You may be right, but I'm not sure I buy the premise that "consumer appeal of hydrogen persist so stubbornly." Consumers haven't yet had the opportunity to err... consume (purchase) HFCVs. (Nor many BEVs for that matter.) How can it persist if it doesn't really exist yet? As with most things, left alone the market will decide. The core of "consumer psychology" is how purchases affect their wallets. Given relative expense of HFCVs versus BEVs, consumers that purchase HFCVs would really have to value the idea of the quick-fill.

    Moreover, there is not just the cost of the individual vehicles, but the infrastructure required to support them as well. This whole point about the quick-fill capability of HFCVs is moot if there's nowhere to fill them. I haven't done the analysis, but my suspicion is that a hydrogen filling station is more expensive to build than a charging bay.

    In your discussion of BEV range versus quick charge, you omit an obvious point of which I'm sure you're well aware. You said, "Enthusiasts will plan lunch stops around the one hour charge during a road trip, but it won't be practical for daily use." Of course most cosumers aren't going on road trips every day, and to me, one of the greatest selling points about BEVs is not having to go to the gas station for "daily use." Starting every day with a full tank, as it were.

    With that said, your post seems to favor quick-charge over increased range as a way to reduce battery weight and cost. My feeling is that once consumers are experienced with home charging, they will be willing to pay for range they need so as to benefit from the convenience of not having to stop at a charging station.

    Btw, as a physics guy, I love hydrogen. It's the only atom that has a complete solution to Schrodinger's equation (everything else is a perturbation theory expansion on hydrogenic energy levels), and hydrogen fuel cells are an interesting technology. But given alternatives, using hydrogen as a transportation "fuel" isn't that sensible.

    Edit: Ok, I went ahead and posted on your blog too.
     
  4. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    One thing I've always wondered about when it comes to Hydrogen FC, is why noone seems to be trying to use them for aviation. For commercial aviation you don't care about the price of the fuelcell (or not nearly as much as with a car). Their fueling stations, read airports, already have infrastructure or is so limited in numbers building out infrastructure makes sense. They've got qualified technician to handle any problems. They are not that much conserned with efficiency, they are flying after all. Cryogenic storage has a higher weight/energy ratio than batteries which is important for flights...
    Can someone tell me why this would be a bad idea ? Not the least so all that research could be used for something usefull..

    Cobos
     
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  5. SByer

    SByer '08 #383

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    From what I understand, fuel cells are still very failure-prone, and have a short lifetime (~3 years). Not appropriate for being up in the air. :)
     
  6. just-an-allusion

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    BMW, that niche automaker we've all heard of, has a completely different take on the whole "hydrogen-powered-vehicle" issue:

    http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/bmw-hydrogen-7-production/
     
  7. Tim

    Tim Member

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    Liquid hydrogen?!?!?! Good luck with that ever being cost competitive. I'd like to see the wheel to well numbers on that bit of greenwash.
     
  8. siry

    siry Member

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    @doug - when I talk about the persistent appeal I am talking about the consumer media's interest. In the absence of actual product to try, analyzing media interest is a proxy for the mass consumer mindset.

    You are right that my post is not about Hydrogen vs. BEV, since I don't believe there is any question as to the relative efficiency or practicality. The point I am making is that I think the issue of quick charge is much bigger than most EV proponents make it out to be, as is evidenced in your post. You have to remember that to analyze the factors that will lead to mass adoption, you must focus very intently on cost. We can't get lulled into the false sense of comfort that comes from the willingness of early adopters to pay a premium and deal with some minor inconveniences. I am thinking about cars that sell in the 100,000+ units and are sold to price senstive people. In that case, the smaller the battery pack the better since that is the most expensive part of the equation. But a smaller battery pack is only acceptable if there are numerous practical quick charge stations.
     
  9. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    I see your point. Placing hydrogen aside then, and just looking at BEV range versus quick charge. We come back to cost versus convenience. In terms of daily use, I don't think the consumer would consider it acceptable to have to stop for a recharge along the way to work everyday. So that would define minimal range. But as it is, the batteries that support a truly quick-charge tend to be quite expensive. Over time they may get cheaper, but so should batteries geared towards energy density.

    In the situation you describe, it seems PHEVs may be the best solution. Which to me have a greater "persistent appeal," as you define it, than do HFCVs.
     
  10. DaveD

    DaveD EVs Kick Gas!

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    I was under the impression that for normal ambient temperatures, hydrogen can't be liquified at any feasible pressure. Is that what you are referring to, Tim?
     
  11. Tim

    Tim Member

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    Pretty much. Liquid Hydrogen is very expensive, which is why most hydrogen cars use either compressed hydrogen(which has a lower energy density) or just reform some sort of hydrocarbon onboard, which defeats the whole purpose of the hydrogen car to begin with. Its one of the many problems with the whole hydrogen fallacy. Storage is difficult. Production is difficult. Distribution is difficult. All are expensive.

    Tim
     
  12. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Not necessarily. I think there are a large number of people who would willingly deal with a limited range, if the price were right. For many people a second car with a range of 100-150 miles would be easily and enthusiastically integrated into their lives. However, the price of entry would have to reflect that limited range. The realities involved in building enough quick charge stations in enough places that people worried about range issues would feel "safe" will be prohibitive in the near term. Infrastructure can't be built quickly enough to overcome the range issue.
     
  13. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    My response on your blog page:

    Some of the problems of perception with hydrogen are:
    1. It's everywhere, therefore free or nearly so.
    2. The only emission is water.
    3. Fuel cells are inexpensive and require no maintenance and never wear out.

    Of course all these ignore the realities of hydrogen and fuel cells, but coupled with the promised convenience of quick fill ups that people are used to end up perpetuating the myth of hydrogen. Myths die hard, even in the face of facts.
     
  14. graham

    graham Active Member

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    Part of the problem, too, is that consumers at large are just not familiar with BEVs because they have not been exposed to them.

    Hydrogen seems more like the gasoline that they know, so that seems more appealing. I think some of the low-price mass adoption folks would be interested in a 100-150 range car even with the current limitations knowing that it is always "full" when they leave the house in the morning, so they never have to go to the gas station.

    I think that is one of those things that people will have to see working in practice by their early adopter neighbors before they begin to believe it. I think they will also like the quiet of electric cars over gas ('though admittedly hydrogen gives them that too).
     
  15. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    JRP# wrote:
    I'll add to this list.

    4. Companies that I have heard of keep telling me it's the future. (not some science nerd or greenpeacer)

    Apparently $3.50 was the magic breaking number. When gasoline went all the way to $5.00 a gallon a lot of people looked at the range and quick fill limitation again and many were willing to rework their lives to avoid the fuel stranglehold.

    I agree with Tesla's early premise that if the car can go a whole day of traveling -around 500 miles- a significant portion of car buyers will be persuaded to convert -even with a long charge. Maybe not all, but certainly enough buyers to satiate multiple makers of EVs
     
  16. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    500 mile range in an affordable package is many years away. I don't see that as a reasonable near term goal. I personally don't know anyone who travels more than 150 miles a day other than once or twice a year, and they all have more than one vehicle. Most people travel less than 40. As I've mentioned before, the perception of "need" is different than the reality. People need to get to work and run their errands, and not much else. A properly priced EV that can meet those needs with a comfortable safety margin will sell. I'm sure there is a range of "tipping" points where the range is high enough and the price low enough that people will buy, and I'll bet there are at least 100,000 who will buy at 150 mile range and a $25-$30k price right now. Unfortunately with current battery prices I doubt that would be profitable.
     
  17. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    That may be, but it is just about feasible to build a car that can do that today - probably in the $150k range if they could produce it in limited numbers. That is about the same as the proposed cost of the Lightning GT.

    They may not sell lots of them - it may even be a one off special - but having such a Halo Car would be good for Tesla and the EV movement in general.
     
  18. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I have to disagree. One of the biggest criticisms of the Roadster is it is unobtainium for most people. An even more outrageously priced vehicle won't help the image at all no matter how far it goes. Plus unlike the Roadster with all the battery you'd need it would not be a great performer.
     
  19. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    I think that there has been an important failing in the promotion of electric vehicles through the traditional motoring media. The present system functions on tight deadlines with new cars available for a few hours only. It would appear that EV manufacturers haven't succeeded in challenging this.

    Naturally in this situation, review-writers agitate over any issue which may delay their work, so we shouldn't be surprised when they write of the "inconvenience of recharging". The prospect of having to lose review-time while the car is recharged is the auto-journalist's very own form of range anxiety. Call it "review anxiety".

    Providing multiple cars is one approach, but as we saw with Top Gear, concern over recharing was the point they wanted to make, so they made it anyway. Maybe some minds will never be changed.

    Likewise, talk of battery swapping will be jumped on by the press since it represents more of the same; it reinforces the perception that what we need in our motoring is yet more infrastructure. It's a red herring.

    So until an EV manufacture goes the extra mile and fits a free charger in the home of an auto journalist, who then lives with the reality of home recharging for a couple of weeks or a month and then writes about their experiences, then no one is going to really understand the advantages of this system over the well-ingrained habit of regular trips to the re-fueling station.

    Just to reinforce the point, a second (lower power) recharge point should be fitted in the journalist's office parking bay - just to emphasise how much non-driving/possible-recharging time is available in a typical 24 hour period.

    Lots of people just assume that they couldn't live with a BEV. It's time to show them that's false.

    A long-term test of the Roadster is long overdue. At least, that's what you tell the journalist - the real story is all about how easy it is to live with recharging.
     
  20. siry

    siry Member

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    I agree and wrote about this topic this morning on my blog (and also a video comment on seesmic)

    Darryl Siry's Blog: Cheap gas is a big problem
     

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