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Why 'Fool' Cells.... WHY?

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by nwdiver, Aug 1, 2015.

?

What is the PRIMARY purpose of Fuel Cell Vehicles

  1. Delay the obsolescence of ICE

    69 vote(s)
    47.3%
  2. Give consumers what they want (short re-fueling times) + 'ZEV'

    24 vote(s)
    16.4%
  3. Little from #1.... little from #2...

    24 vote(s)
    16.4%
  4. Don't know / Not Sure

    29 vote(s)
    19.9%
  1. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    #1 nwdiver, Aug 1, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2015
    Given...

    • The technical challenges (and laws of physics)
    • The fact that no OEM is proposing a fuel cell vehicle you can also plug in
    • The fact that the prime demographic scorns them
    • The lack of infrastructure

    It's hard not to come to the conclusion that fuel cell vehicles are more designed more for confusion than success. IMO the BIGGEST red flag that they're designed to fail is the fact that it's an electric vehicle with no plug. With limited infrastructure a plug-in FCEV should be a no-brainer... a slightly larger battery and the ability to plug it in at home would relieve the stress on the limited fueling stations.

    The second red flag is using Hydrogen instead of CNG... ESPECIALLY when most hydrogen comes FROM CNG!! There's already A LOT of CNG stations. There are 4 <30 miles from my home and I live in the middle of no where. My understanding is that you should be able to design a 'dual fuel' fuel cell that can accept H2 or CNG.

     
  2. MsElectric

    MsElectric Active Member

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    I suggest you add another poll option. Provide a way for fools to be parted with their money :)
     
  3. tom66

    tom66 Member

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    Fuel cells do make sense for one mode of operation, and that is for long-distance hydrogen-electric trucks. Fuelling infrastructure is less important as routes will be well planned, and batteries will be prohibitively expensive for the energy required. In addition, even though a fuel cell based vehicle will "emit" CO2 via natural gas reforming, it will benefit from the electric drivetrain efficiency and regen, which should make it cleaner than a diesel truck.
     
  4. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    Hmmm... good point... wish I'd thought of that...

    If your view is that FCEVs are an R&D investment toward something greater please choose option 2.
     
  5. J1mbo

    J1mbo Member

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    +1

    Trucks, coaches and maybe buses.

    Not cars.
     
  6. ToddRLockwood

    ToddRLockwood Active Member

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    Where fuel cells don't make sense is in the area of efficiency, especially when compared to a PEV being charged with renewables, such as solar. Creating hydrogen is an inefficient process, along the lines of refining gasoline. Hydrogen is usually created by extracting it from natural gas, a process which requires a lot of electricity. The oil & gas industry obviously sees opportunity in this approach, as it will insure that they remain in the middle of the transportation sector. The very idea of homeowners charging their cars with their own solar energy is a real threat, even though it's a better solution for the environment and for the consumer.
     
  7. bga

    bga Member

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    The best I could choose was 'delay the obsolescence of the ICE'.

    I suspect the reality is more sinister if we look at the beneficiaries of the hydrogen economy:
    1) Infrastructure providers stand to win big from the rollout of the needed network
    2) FF incumbents have a new product to sell so they aren't dependent on dwindling oil revenue.
    3) Car makes get to make a complex (and expensive) product the requires new (and expensive) maintenance

    The consumer stands to lose because they are the targets of the above three monymaking ventures.

    There is a great deal of education needed to make the polulace realise that they simply do not need an ICE equivalent in a post-oil environment. On most cases, they don't need tesla-like driving range either, making a limited range EV (100km), or bike?, a good and far less expensive option.
     
  8. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    nwdiver, I posted this in the Competing technologies to BEV thread recently:

    One alternative view could be that this whole fiasco with hydrogen cars coming to market extremely slowly, with poor performance, with a completely non-functioning infrastructure etc. is an intentional strategy from the ICE makers aimed at demonstrating to the world that going away from ICEs (with the exception of small battery hybrids) is oh so difficult and will take decades. And that consumers just need to accept this and keep buying gasoline powered cars.

    And actually this strategy would have worked perfectly, with small, short range, weird looking EVs as a super niche product if it weren't for Tesla coming along really stirring the pot and throwing the big car makers off their game.

    See, they had planned on having decades to devest their ICE factories, dealer systems, to build up in house expertise etc. Not 5-10 years or whatever Tesla is doing to the market.


    So your alternative number 1 then.
     
  9. Kandiru

    Kandiru Member

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    The big ICE and OIL have seen the giant xxxxstorm headed their way, but even while the
    ICE are trying to do something, they have been in bed with OIL for so long that their
    products come out half-baked. I read about GM purposefully rigging the ECUs on FlexFuel vehicles
    to perform poorer when on E85, sorry cannot find the source now.

    I suspect that around the turn of the decade we will see several big ICE and OIL co.s go
    belly up, that is if they do not rally the industrial-military complex into thermonuclear warfare on
    their way out, a famous Louis XV quote comes to mind.
     
  10. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    Could hydrogen serve as a "battery," rather than something like Tesla's storage batteries? How does the value compare in storing that excess energy in hydrogen, via electrolysis, than in charging a battery.

    I know it is not on Toyota's radar, but I think it is foreseeable having renewables instantaneously producing in excess of grid demand, including EV charging, where "creating" hydrogen is a nice option. The hydrogen could be put to whatever is the most profitable use.

    Like most here, I'm pretty pro BEV, but I also feel hydrogen will have a small place in the energy future. Today, for a passenger car, getting a used MS for a price near that of the Mirai is the better option for a million reasons. (faster, safer, bigger, better looking, more storage, more re-fueling options, cleaner, greener, meaner....)
     
  11. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    #11 Johan, Aug 1, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2015
    It absolutely sucks. Everything about it is lossy: conversion to hydrogen, storage, transfer and conversion back to electricity. Round-trip in reality 20-30% (best case) of the energy left when you've gone the whole loop from electricity back to electricity. Would only happen for very special applications. Just burn natural gas and you can get better efficiency than that.

    Battery_EV_vs._Hydrogen_EV.png
     
  12. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    By the laws of physics you can't have round trip efficiency higher than ~50% with fuel cells. That's what Elon means when he says,'Success is not one of the possible outcomes'
     
  13. Spidy

    Spidy Member

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    • Is just as much an issue for batteries. At some point the progress of energy/weight will slow down.
    • It's a new technology. If there is demand for that then it will come at some point. But for now it's just more weight and more things that can fail.
    • Not sure where you are getting that. Because this forum and the whole Tesla community certainly does not have an unbiased view on this. In Germany I never felt like anyone had strong view one way or the other.
    • In Germany The Linde Group is starting to roll out a Network with Daimler and other manufacturers and installing hydrogen at gas stations. Long term this might even be the smaller issue, because they can make money selling hydrogen. Meanwhile Tesla is investing a lot of money in SuperChargers, but not actually making any money with those and we don't really know how that whole charging thing would work out once we have millions of electric cars on the road, especially when there are holidays etc. (Remember that 4th of July picture from the one Supercharger?)

    Electricity companies are just as much big business. And not everybody can just get some solar panels. And yes infrastructure provider would certainly benefit from this, but as already pointed out it means that companies like Tesla don't have to spend millions on charging stations themselves and the customers is paying for that just as much. And talking about expensive, batteries aren't exactly cheap either. The Model 3 will still be pretty expensive even with the Gigafactory.

    Hydrogen has some advantages though. For example when you generate a lot of electricity, but there is little demand you can use if to create hydrogen and don't have to care about the grid as much. One of the biggest issues with solar is anyway that where it is most efficient isn't exactly where a lot of people are living. In Germany we for example generate a lot of wind power in the north, but need most of the energy in the south. Overall something like that seems much better than everyone installing a Tesla Powerwall and/or using the car battery is not exactly going to have a positive effect on it. I agree it doesn't beat electricity with our current grid, but we also shouldn't ignore the effect once we actually have millions of those cars out there.
     
  14. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    Spidy: Educate yourself. Forget cars, if we're talking grid storage with regards to production-consumption mismatch (which there is absolutely with renewables) if you don't believe batteries are getting better and cheaper (they are) there are many technologies in existence today that are cheaper already, and already more efficient in use than hydrogen COULD EVER THEORETICALLY BE. For example molten salt, pumped hydro, even huge flywheels to name a few.

    Also with better energy use planning on a large scale level much of this mismatch can be adjusted.
     
  15. Yggdrasill

    Yggdrasill Active Member

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    To be fair, the graphic is a bit pessimistic. A hydrogen fuel cell can have an efficiency more in the range 50-60%.

    Looking at the Toyota Mirai, it carries 5 kg of hydrogen or 165 kWh. With this energy it achieves 312 miles range in the EPA test cycle. A model S requires around 100 kWh for 312 miles. If we assume 90 kWh of the Mirai's 165 kWh are converted to electrical energy, that's a 54.5% efficiency for the fuel cell.
     
  16. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    Fair enough. So starting with methane I could see steam reformation-> Hydrogen -> compression -> transport-> storage in car -> conversion to electricity in fuel cell -> drive EV (the Mirai is an EV with a fuel cell instead of big battery)

    About as effective as

    Methane -> burning in turbine power plant -> transmission of electricity -> charging battery (losses) -> driving EV (Tesla has way greater performance than Mirai so yours was an apples to oranges comparison).

    But starting with solar, hydro, nuclear, coal, well mostly anything except natural gas as energy source and the fuel cell will loose 100 times out of 100.
     
  17. Spidy

    Spidy Member

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    I'm not saying they won't get better and cheaper. I'm just saying at some point we will reach a point where the advancement will slow down and the question is if that is good enough and when we will reach it.

    It's not that simple. Pumped hydro for example requires a place to pump it and in most places where we have mountains and it's possible we already do it. There isn't much to expand. (Not every country can do what Norway does) Molten salt and Flywheels also don't seem to be that awesome when it comes to efficiency either. Meanwhile with hydrogen you would then just distribute it. I guess one big factor will be cost of storage per kWh which honestly I have no idea about.

    And the reason I brought batteries up is that this is going to be a much bigger issue in the future. Already because of more renewables which will just generate energy when the sun is shining or wind is blowing. When you then add electric cars to the mix that creates new challenges for the grid, distribution and storage.
     
  18. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    I think this is basically right - with the caveat that you can probably do steam reformation with coal, too, and possibly at almost the same sort of efficiency as burning coal - I've never seen a coal plant that's anywhere near as efficient as a modern combined cycle natural gas unit.

    - - - Updated - - -

    It seems to me like you left off a significant option - one I'm not convinced I believe in, but that is still somewhat plausible:

    "Get the most benefits for the least money in complying with CARB requirements."

    I suppose this is in a way continuing ICEs, since the only reason to comply with CARB is to be able to sell ICE cars in California - but I feel like it has a different flavor than the delay/deny/defame campaign.
    Walter
     
  19. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    Probably correct, but coal burns much dirtier than natural gas and NG is much more pure methane while coal is a much more complex mix of hydrocarbons.

    My only real caveat would be: what if we develop or discover some totally carbon neutral biologically anchored technique for either making cheap methane (remember: carbon neutral) which is then steam reformed, or even fancier: a technique that makes straight hydrogen gas (could be algae based or some such thing).
     
  20. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    This is actually somewhat plausible. We know that a lot of biological decay processes produce methane, but with a few exceptions we don't make any effort to tap it. What if all of the garbage that goes to landfills got separated and the organic parts and sewage were "reduced" in a controlled environment using cultivated bacteria?

    Just barely in the realm of feasible today I think, and no where near cheap - but it could change. Maybe. (Which is why I'm very much on the EV side - all the pieces are in place there except for some capital investment and mass production.)
     

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