Hydrogen bus


General Electric says there is a limited future for hydrogen vehicles given the shortage of platinum. From ecomento we learn Vlatko Vlatkovic, chief engineer for the Power Conversion division of General Electric, says expensive platinum for batteries will make fuel cells a niche product for the foreseeable future. There is not enough platinum in the world to meet high volume production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.  Platinum currently sells for $1400 an ounce.

Carmakers can probably count on a few early adopters to scoop up their first fuel cell cars, but if they can’t bring prices down (or develop a refueling infrastructure), hydrogen may turn out to be a fad.

In a related post, Hydrogen Fuel News wonders if hydrogen cars will be affordable. With predictions that it will cost $100,000 to buy these vehicles, both auto companies and governments are beginning to introduce incentives to get American customers to purchase hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) vehicles this year.

Hyundai plans to include free fuel in its $499 per month Tucson leases, and many HFC leases offer free maintenance and service. This reduces the buyer’s overall operating expenses and can seal the deal for some. Several state-level incentives further help make these cars more affordable for buyers. For example, California allows HFC vehicle drivers to use high-occupancy lanes even if no other passengers are in the car. And at the federal level, consumers can receive a tax rebate of $4,000 through Dec. 31, 2014, with the purchase of a hydrogen fuel cell car, among other tax credits.

The most expensive input is the platinum for the battery and automakers like Toyota are looking at ways of reducing the need for platinum. Automakers have also reconfigured the design of the hydrogen fuel cell itself, so fewer components are needed to create the cell while simultaneously trying to make the engines more fuel efficient.

The European Union is taking steps to support the roll out of hydrogen vehicles reports Hydrogen Fuel News. The European Parliament plans to support the adoption of electric vehicles, particularly those that make use of hydrogen fuel. This will involve the development of a fuel and energy infrastructure that is capable of supporting these vehicles. However, this infrastructure is unlikely to be in place before 2025.

An infrastructure for battery electric vehicles is expected to be in place before a widespread hydrogen fuel infrastructure. EU officials anticipate that a comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure will not exist until 2025, well after many automakers plan to release their hydrogen-powered vehicles in Europe. EU officials expect that a region-wide infrastructure will consist of 143 hydrogen fuel stations, with these stations being no more than 186 miles apart from one another.

TheGreenCar informs us that the Scottish city of Aberdeen now has 4 hydrogen fuel cell buses. (see photo above)  Another 6 buses will follow in the next month or so. This will provide Aberdeen with the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses. Hydrogen refueling infrastructure will also be built across the city for theses buses.

FleetNews posts that a company in the UK city of London is testing a hydrogen hybrid van. Commercial Group is testing the new van to make deliveries across Greater London as part of a three-year trial which forms part of the London Hydrogen Network Expansion project. The van runs on diesel if the hydrogen runs out and there is no refueling station available. The  hybrid van is being used by Commercial Group’s office supplies division, which provides a next-day delivery service to customers.

Honda has opened a high-pressure hydrogen fueling station in the US state of California according to Green Car Reports. In preparation for the launch of its fuel cell car later this year, Honda has opened the hydrogen fueling station at its Torrance, California, research facility. The system–which operates at 10,000 psi– is able to more precisely regulate temperature which will translate into faster refueling times. Honda says average refueling time should be around 3 minutes under normal temperature conditions, similar to the time it takes to fill a gasoline or diesel vehicle.

Hydrogen Fuel News tells us a telecom infrastructure company in India is installing hydrogen fuel cells to power the telecom towers, boosting the reliability of its wireless network infrastructure in many parts of the country. As many of these towers are located in remote areas, their access to electrical power is not always reliable. Many telecommunications companies, such as Microqual Techno, have begun using these systems as primary power providers rather than for backup energy.

Portable hydrogen fuel cells will be used in the US state of Hawaii next year to reduce fossil fuel emissions from idling ships in port. The Green Optimistic notes the fuel cell power system fits in a standard shipping container. The shipping container is self-contained, with four 30 kW hydrogen fuel cell modules, hydrogen fuel storage tanks, and power conversion equipment. When a ship docks for loading / offloading, the container can be parked on the deck, hooked up to the ship, providing enough power for the ship, without resorting to the use of the onboard diesel generators. The project is expected to produce a dramatic decrease in fuel consumption, refueling costs, and greenhouse gas emissions.



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