Hydrogen Car Anyone?

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doctle
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Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by doctle »

I have developed an interest in hydrogen powered cars. Electric cars aren't going to be the answer for reducing carbon apart from the drain on the national grid to charge them there's the time, the range etc.
Hydrogen cars would be clean, take only a few minutes to refuel and have a decent range. With enough hydrogen pumps range anxiety wouldn't enter into the equation.
All wind turbines do at some stage over produce electricity which is "dumped" this power could easily be used to produce hydrogen. I think in the future small home based wind turbines and solar pv panels will be on every house and again they will often be overproducing electricity that could be converted into hydrogen. Perhaps one day small hydrogen plants will be in homes or communal to a street or area?
Anyone have any knowledge or opinions on hydrogen as a fuel I'd be very interested.

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NewcastleFalcon
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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

There is a thread I started called "Hydrogen fuel Vehicles Still alive" where I have been posting up news and developments on Hydrogen as A fuel for vehicles.

https://www.frenchcarforum.co.uk/forum/ ... hp?t=62501

You may find some posts of interest there. Lastest was about Hyundai but fuel cell vehicles are more expensive than BEV's and currently use platinum in the fuel cells, and at £65,000 a shot, not yet a solution for the masses.

Regards Neil

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Mandrake
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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by Mandrake »

doctle wrote:
13 Nov 2019, 23:25
I have developed an interest in hydrogen powered cars. Electric cars aren't going to be the answer for reducing carbon apart from the drain on the national grid to charge them there's the time, the range etc.
Hydrogen cars would be clean, take only a few minutes to refuel and have a decent range. With enough hydrogen pumps range anxiety wouldn't enter into the equation.
All wind turbines do at some stage over produce electricity which is "dumped" this power could easily be used to produce hydrogen. I think in the future small home based wind turbines and solar pv panels will be on every house and again they will often be overproducing electricity that could be converted into hydrogen. Perhaps one day small hydrogen plants will be in homes or communal to a street or area?
Anyone have any knowledge or opinions on hydrogen as a fuel I'd be very interested.
So much wishful thinking and misunderstanding of reality in this one post its hard to know where to begin... but I'll try...

You say electric cars can't "reduce carbon" (I presume you mean CO2 production) but on what basis do you say this ? ICE vehicles always produce CO2 at the tailpipe - it's the primary waste product of an internal combustion engine. And because it's only 20-25% efficient there is a lot of waste product...

A BEV doesn't produce any CO2 at point of use so the only CO2 production is at the point of power generation and also manufacturing of the car. Manufacturing of cars whether ICE or BEV is currently a high CO2 process, this is largely due to the processes of industry which, surprise surprise, burn a lot of fossil fuels to create materials (such as steel) deliver materials, commute workers to factories, power and heat factories etc. Currently there is a bit more CO2 produced to create a BEV than an ICE for reasons I won't go into here, however as CO2 production during driving is considerably less including generation there is a crossover point, which is approximately 5 years at the moment, after which lifetime CO2 emissions including manfacture and operation are less.

For CO2 generated from driving the car due to electricity generation it has been shown that even with the UK's heavily gas generation mix that CO2 per mile for a BEV is a lot less than a comparable size ICE. And that will only improve as renewable generation increases, meaning that a BEV you buy today will actually produce less CO2 per mile years later as the electricity generation mix changes, while an ICE you buy today will if anything get slightly worse with age.

"Drain on the national grid" - the national grid themselves have released studies on the effects of high uptake of BEV vehicles on grid capacity and the overall summary is that the "last mile" may need upgrading in some locations but the grid backbone is more than capable of handling it.

In fact if all BEV charging was time shifted to off peak times the current grid could cope with all vehicles in the UK being BEV's. Today. The difference between peak and off peak generation is so huge that it can swallow up charging tens of millions of BEV's. Time shifting all charging is not feasible or course so some upgrades will be needed but they are managable and the national grid themselves are not worried. Their reports on this are publicly available if you go looking.

What makes you think Hydrogen cars would be clean, or cleaner than BEV's ? In practice this is simply not the case.

There are basically two ways you can get Hydrogen in bulk - electrolysis or steam reforming of methane or natural gas. (which is mostly methane)

Guess which one is a lot cheaper and already in wide use ? Yes you guessed it, steam reforming of natural gas. ;) Nearly all commercial production of hydrogen today is from natural gas. This is NOT a clean, green process and generates a LOT of CO2. In fact per mile of driving you would produce less CO2 if you simply burnt the methane directly instead of converting it to hydrogen... So any hydrogen car running on steam reformed natural gas is anything but clean and green. It's no greener than your natural gas boiler at home.

Electrolysis from electricity is the other option. However this is not a great solution. Using electricity to break water apart into hydrogen and oxygen is at best about 60% efficient, done on a commercial scale. That hydrogen then has to be shipped to where it's needed. Hydrogen has this annoying habit of being able to leak through almost any container - even steel, and thus can't be stored for a long time without significant losses into the atmosphere.

If you ship hydrogen by truck you need cryogenic cooling to convert it to liquid hydrogen to get any sort of reasonable density, (and that cooling itself consumes energy, as does pumping and compressing hydrogen) however the energy density is still many times lower than petrol or diesel. So you'd need a lot more tankers to deliver the stuff for the same number of car/miles per service station.

Instead of shipping it long distances you could electrolyse it locally, but that then puts a strain on the local power distribution network, so you might as well just be charging a BEV instead. Local generation of hydrogen would require almost 3x the energy of simply charging a BEV so is a much larger strain on the local electricity supply than BEV chargers.

Regardless of where your hydrogen comes from a hydrogen fuel cell is only about 50% efficient - when it's new, and the fuel cell contains expensive catalyst metals to function which have to be mined... A hydrogen fuel cell car also requires a battery - a fuel cell can't put out high peak power levels, nor can it ramp up from low to high power quickly as it has a lag of several seconds adjusting to different loads.

As a result a relatively large battery must be included in the car to act as a buffer and also provide somewhere for regenerative braking energy to go, otherwise you would miss out on the significant gains of regenerative braking. So a hydrogen fuel cell car is effectively a BEV with a smaller battery plus an expensive fuel cell and hydrogen tank and piping/valves - a lot more complexity. Batteries degrade in BEV's but fuel cells in hydrogen fuel cell cars also degrade, with their efficiency falling off a lot as they age, and the catalyst in them is subject to "poisioning" from certain pollutants, so if the oxygen is taken from the atmosphere it has to be carefully filtered. Otherwise you need to carry a tank of pure oxygen as well.

Due to the low efficiency of both electrolysis and the fuel cell, hydrogen fuel cell cars are extremely inefficient compared to a BEV. If you measure from the electricity grid to the wheels, a BEV is approximately this efficient:

Onboard charger - 90%
Battery - charging slowly - 98%
Battery - discharging rapidly - 95%
Drive inverter - 95%
Motor - 90%

That gives a wall to wheel efficiency of about 71%.

Now lets compare Hydrogen:

Electrolysis - 60%
Fuel cell - 50%
Drive inverter - 95%
Motor - 90%

That gives a best case efficiency from electricity to wheel turning of 25% - about the same as an internal combustion engine! If your hydrogen is coming from electrolysis from electricity then the CO2 production at the generation plant per mile is about 2.8 times higher than just plugging in a BEV to charge instead. Not very green!!

That 25% figure also does not include the energy spent compressing hydrogen, pumping it, cryogenically cooling it, carrying on trucks, compressing it again for pumping into the recipient car etc... all of which take a big further chunk out of the overall system efficiency, actually making it worse than an ICE. Electricity flowing across the national grid to charge a BEV does not have any mass, does not need compressing, cooling, pumping, shipping etc...

A hydrogen car also has the huge disadvantage that you cannot fuel it at home like you can a BEV. You can charge up a BEV anywhere you can find electricity, and if you have off street parking the norm is to charge your car overnight at home - which is cheap and effectively doesn't take any time as you are not waiting for the car to charge since you're at home at night with the car on the drive way anyway. A hydrogen car cannot be refulled at home.

This would be less of a problem if there were many hydrogen fuelling stations - but there aren't. You can count the number of hydrogen fuelling stations in the UK on one hand! Here in cental Scotland I would have to drive over 100 miles to get to one...

As for wind turbines - to my knowledge there is not any significant "dumping" of power from wind turbines. Very rarely yes, but usually only in the case that the wind speed is too high and the turbine has to be shut down, rather than it being available but nobody wanting the energy.

Home based wind turbines - I doubt it. Certainly not in the UK where most people live in terraced housing. For wind to be efficient the turbines have to be very high off the ground (the wind speed is much higher the further you go up) and large slowly turning blades are much more efficient than a small faster turning blade. So any wind turbine you could install at a typicall UK residence (even if planning would allow it) is not going to generate a useful amount of power. Solar, yes.

But why would you want to waste your solar power generating hydrogen at home (where are you going to put the electrolysis plant and high pressure hydrogen tanks ? They're not small, and also dangerous if mishandled....) when you would only get less than 1/3rd of the range from a hydrogen car from your solar panels as you would from simply charging up a BEV ?

Twenty years ago I thought Hydrogen would be the future, however I now understand how foolish that was and that despite the likes of Toyota and Shell trying to push it, it simply doesn't make sense on so many levels. The only people that want hydrogen are those that want to control the pricing and supply of it.

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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by doctle »

I was thinking more in an Irish context where our electricity grid is just about adequate as it is. Most of the world still uses carbon based fuels for industry so replacing the 2.5 million vehicles in Ireland will take a lot of carbon and a lot of lithium and other things that are finite, This is one of the reasons I think the electric vehicle isn't practical. Of course there are many challenges and obstacles however only a little over a century ago cars were scarce and petrol stations almost non existent. Things change much quicker than minds.
Ireland depends on imported gas to provide electricity some from the UK however this isn't guaranteed and if Britain or Russia turns off the taps Ireland has no power anyway so the electric car would be useless.
I believe we must become fuel self sufficient, all countries have to do so and micro generation will play a part. More research needs to be done to make it more efficient and practical. Maybe hydrogen isn't the answer, I'm not educated enough on the subject to say either way, companies like Hyundai probably are and they make a hydrogen car. Yes it's expensive but the first decent electric cars in Ireland were shocking expensive now they cost 30k.
Ireland is way behind in charging points we have 1200 public charge points for 5 million people, laughable really.

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bobins
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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by bobins »

It'll be legislation, market economy / pricing, public perception, and Big Business that decides the fuel of the future (logic and common sense will only be by-standers in that race) - and it's a brave person that can foresee where that will take us in the next 20 - 30 - 40 - 50 years.
Current government thinking seems to be towards the idea of eventually phasing out outright private car ownership - you still get to use a car as and when you want, just not own it. Safety and pricing control to determine when and where people use cars seem to be behind that concept.

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NewcastleFalcon
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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

doctle wrote:
13 Nov 2019, 23:25
I have developed an interest in hydrogen powered cars.
..and the FCF caters for it.

Simon does his usual comprehensive job of busting a few myths, and making the case against hydrogen....but....

It does remain current news in the auto industry, heavy transportation whether by road or rail/, range extenders and remains part of government and policy makers thinking for tackling pollution and climate change, and also in the vested interest oil-industry.

Government ideas to kick start a viable hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure in the UK have even proposed pumping a percentage of hydrogen into the current natural gas grid. In the UK Gas boilers are on their way out for new build from 2025, and reducing CO2 emissions from existing domestic heating via the mix with hydrogen is a proposal on the table.

Carlos Tavares of the empire builders PSA/ Chrysler Fiat has had something to say about hydrogen recently

..and the news is covered in the pages of the FCF here. Join in with it find articles keep the FCF up to date.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles still alive?

REgards Neil

doctle
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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by doctle »

I have read a long thread on this site and I still think Hydrogen is still viable. You guys must have heard all the rumours years ago about water powered cars and pills you put in your tank and how the inventors were bought off/killed/debunked etc. Some may have had a grain of truth especially the stories about water powered cars. I'm betting the stories about people being killed off etc are just stories.
In the mid 1600's people thought the future was tulip bulbs and that craze is long gone, fossil fuels are going to go the same way. Young people are really interested in the environment (ignore the UK Chavs and the Irish Skangers) they will want a better place to live than we or people before us ever dreamt of. There will be indigenous power supplies in every country the days of a few countries holding the planet to ransom for oil will end and oil is finite anyway. Ireland has constant off shore wind generation capacity on the west coast, a lot of it goes to the UK to help meet EU targets how that will work in the future is anyone's guess but making hydrogen cheaply with cheap electricity is a matter of will, plenty of potential both available here and in the UK.
Im sure battery technology will improve maybe hybrid electric/hydrogen cars will become available or a system that can manufacture hydrogen as needed so you would carry water as fuel who knows I'm kinda sorry I won't live to see it all!

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Mandrake
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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by Mandrake »

There are a few practical problems with Hydrogen taking off aside from the poor efficiency and higher emissions arguments I made above.

The biggest issue in my opinion is that it's extremely hard to "boot strap" an entirely alternative fuelling infrastructure to the Petrol and Diesel one we have now.

Nobody will buy a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (hereafter HFCV) if there are only three models to choose from and they cost around £66,000 (Toyota Mirai) and there are only about 13 filling stations in the entire UK, which is the situation at the moment.

Nobody is going to build out hundreds or thousands of filling stations around the UK when there are only about 100 HFCV passenger cars on the road in the UK at the moment - most of those are test cars, with almost none in the hands of ordinary drivers. I don't think you can even buy a Mirai in the UK - only lease it, and only if you live in an area where there is a fuelling station otherwise Toyota won't let you have one!

Short refuelling times mean nothing if you have to drive 100 miles to the nearest filling station... ;) (As I would have to in central Scotland, as the nearest one is in Aberdeen)

For all this inconvenience you get about 300 miles range and a cost of £50-£75 to fill up as per the article above. So your per mileage cost is comparable to a V6 petrol and probably twice as expensive as filling up a Diesel. Who is going to go for all that inconvenience AND pay more per mile ? :shock: Not me, that's for sure. Charging a BEV on a typical home electricity rate of about 12p/kWh works out to about £10 for 300 miles...

BEV's (Battery electric Vehicles) have a major advantage over HFCV's - they only need electricity, and electricity is available everywhere. Specifically, you can plug in an electric car at your house and fill it up while you sleep.

The first modern BEV's came onto the market around 2010 in a situation where there were basically no public chargers in the UK, and what chargers there were were simply 3 pin plugs the same as your house, limited to about 2kW charge rates, or very slow charging. (Adding about 12 miles range per hour of charging) And yet, this ability to fuel up without any BEV specific fuelling infrastructure in place is what allowed BEV's to be "boot strapped", so people were able to start buying them, charging them at home, and using them for local duties.

At first they weren't suitable for long range journey's as there were no rapid chargers en-route, but after a while enough BEV's got onto the road to make it worthwhile to start installing higher speed public chargers, and it gradually snowballed from there.

Nine years later you can see the following statistics in the UK - 10290 separate public charger locations in the UK made up of 16426 charger units with a total of 28412 connectors. (As some chargers have multiple connectors) In fact I think there are now more public charging locations than there are service stations in the UK....! And compared to a whole 13 hydrogen fuelling stations, 5 years after the Toyota Mirai was first released.

But wait, it gets better.

In a Petrol/Diesel infrastructure all cars have to go to service stations or at least have fuel bought from them to be fuelled up. In a Hydrogen Infrastructure the same is true - you can't fuel a HFCV at home, or on the road side with a Jerry can for that matter. So all HFCV's would have to go to fuelling stations. But because Hydrogen is so much less energy dense than Petrol and Diesel even in Cryogenic liquid form, the size of the storage tanks would be massively larger than the current underground tanks and require many times as many tanker visits to fill them up, as well as cooling equipment and power to keep it cryogenic. Where is the room for this going to be found at your typical small service station ?

Contrast a BEV - something that is simply not appreciated by those who don't drive BEV's is that if you have off street parking (as more than 60% of current car owners do) and the range of your car is sufficient for your daily commuting and errands, you can get by without ever using a public charger except when you need to go on a longer trip. So the amount of public charging infrastructure required for BEV's is dramatically reduced compared to the infrastructure that Hydrogen would require or which Petrol and Diesel requires now.

Sure, some people do long trips and will need public charging, at least now and then, and some people don't have off street parking so may need to do a once a week rapid charge in place of home charging. So there will be a need for rapid public charging stations, however only a small percentage of BEV's will actually be using them on a regular basis due to home charging.

If you could wind back the clock about 20-25 years and imagine a world where Lithium Ion batteries didn't exist and emissions regulations were getting tighter and tighter then Hydrogen is certainly a candidate to replace Petrol and Diesel, and a transition to Hydrogen could have been achieved, albeit at great expense and inconvenience due to essentially having to duplicate the entire refuelling infrastructure.

However the window of opportunity for Hydrogen to do this has been and gone and existed only briefly from about 1995 to 2005. Lithium Ion batteries have a lot of limitations and are still the Achilles heel of any BEV, however they were "good enough" to get the ball rolling for BEV's and make them into something that can be useful and succeed, and any battery breakthroughs that happen after that (such as Solid state batteries and/or Sodium Ion based batteries) which reduces costs and size, increase energy density, charging speed, and longevity will just put the final nail in the coffin for Hydrogen.

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mickthemaverick
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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by mickthemaverick »

Mandrake wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 12:16

BEV's (Battery electric Vehicles) have a major advantage over HFCV's - they only need electricity, and electricity is available everywhere. Specifically, you can plug in an electric car at your house and fill it up while you sleep.

I totally agree with everything you said there Simon but I picked out the above phrase because it illustrates the problem I still have - most homes have more than one vehicle to charge (we have 3) and the loadings involved may result in upgrading home supplies and incur additional costs. You could advocate a charging rota but that wouldn't work for us because we never know what mileage we may need on any given day. So for me the BEV remains a non starter until the range can be brought into line with current ICE vehicles. I am sure that battery technology will advance and get us there but until it does the C5 will be my steed of choice!! :)

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Mandrake
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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by Mandrake »

mickthemaverick wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 13:43
Mandrake wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 12:16

BEV's (Battery electric Vehicles) have a major advantage over HFCV's - they only need electricity, and electricity is available everywhere. Specifically, you can plug in an electric car at your house and fill it up while you sleep.

I totally agree with everything you said there Simon but I picked out the above phrase because it illustrates the problem I still have - most homes have more than one vehicle to charge (we have 3) and the loadings involved may result in upgrading home supplies and incur additional costs. You could advocate a charging rota but that wouldn't work for us because we never know what mileage we may need on any given day. So for me the BEV remains a non starter until the range can be brought into line with current ICE vehicles. I am sure that battery technology will advance and get us there but until it does the C5 will be my steed of choice!! :)
It depends what size supply you have into the house and what high power appliances you already have. UK houses are typically single phase at 60, 80 or 100 amps. I'm lucky as I have a 100 amp supply, however I also have a 10kW electric shower which can gobble up 40 amps by itself, an electric oven, and an electric hot water immersion element. (Although that never sees use unless the boiler is down for maintenance)

Although my car can only charge at a nominal 16 amps (13 actually) the charge point I have is rated to 32 amps for future proofing, and was deemed to be OK by the installer and DNO for the supply I have and diversity with my other appliances like shower.

Most houses are probably OK for a total of 32 amps for charging EV's, so if you have two cars there are several solutions:

1) Take turns charging on different nights. Not as feasible with short range EV's like mine that need a full charge every morning, but by the time you have EV's with 250 miles range alternating each day should more than cover most peoples needs if you're only doing say 30-60 miles a day.

2) Install two 16 amp chargers instead of one 32 amp charger. This of course doubles the charging time if you had a car that could charge at 32 amps even if only one charger was in use so isn't ideal.

3) Use two load balancing 32 amp chargers. These communicate with each other to manage the total power draw from the house. If you plug a single 32 amp car into either socket you get the full 32 amps and maximum charging speed. Plug a second car in simultaneously and it automatically drops both units to 16 amps to maintain the maximum draw from the house at 32 amps.

This is possible because the EVSE (wall charger) constantly signals to the car how much power it is allowed to take, and this can be varied on the fly, with the car responding appropriately.

So imagine the scenario that the first car arrives home and needs a lot of charging, gets plugged in and starts drawing 32 amps. An hour later the second car arrives home, needs some charging, so it is then plugged in - the EVSE's automatically throttle the first car back to 16 amps and allow the second car to also charge at 16 amps. Everyone goes inside for the night.

At some point one of the cars finishes charging first, as soon as it stops charging the EVSE for the other car will tell the car to go back up to 32 amps, so even though both cars are physically plugged in because one car is finished the other gets full power again.

This is the optimal solution. Load balancing is not that common among EVSE's at the moment, however it's a built in feature of both the Tesla wall chargers (which can be used with other cars) and the "Zappi" charger which is designed to be used with solar panels systems but can be used without them and supports built in load balancing.

Three cars - well you would just have to have one of the cars take turns with one of the other two. But again, if you had 250 miles range would you really need all three cars fully charged every morning ? You don't go to the petrol station every night before you come home I assume ? :lol:

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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by doctle »

I appreciate the comments both negative and positive. I still think hydrogen has a future use as a fuel. Plenty of data to say it wont but then again you can easily prove, on paper, that bumble bees can't fly...

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Re: Hydrogen Car Anyone?

Post by mickthemaverick »

As further, illustrated, information on this general topic you may find this interesting, at least the first 14 minutes of it!!

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