Is hydrogen really the future of car fuels? asks techradar. Or “is automobile fuel cell techology a wonderful world of water emissions or just vapourware?” The post finds, as with all other auto fuels, there is a chicken and egg problem: car purchases depend on the extent of existing refueling infrastructure and vice versa. The one major advantage fossil fuels have over all potential competitors is the ubiquitous and enormous number of petrol and diesel stations around the world. To compete in any country, the emerging fuel (whether hydrogen, electricity or natural gas) will have to replicate that refueling infrastructure to diminish range anxiety among drivers as well as be price competitive. So while hydrogen vehicles can essentially be refueled just like a petrol or diesel powered car, hydrogen refueling stations are largely non existent currently. Toyota’s recent estimate of $200 million price to set up just 20 hydrogen stations in California gives us a good perspective on the massive investment needed to shift the world from diesel and petrol to hydrogen. It will be massively expensive and it will take years and years, if it happens at all. In addition to the refueling problem, production of hydrogen would also have to be massively ramped up to supply all those filling stations and in turn fuel the cars. And deriving the hydrogen fuel out of seawater is very energy intensive and hence expensive.
The Green Optimistic looks at the future of the electric vehicle vs. the hydrogen car.
Toyota representatives say their hydrogen fuel cell prototype is “going to change the world.”…I’m cool with all that, but I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around how few hydrogen refueling stations there are out there. Maybe Toyota’s got some plan they’re keeping close to the chest, something like the Tesla Supercharger network?
Further to the previous post, auto-types says Toyota is standing firm on developing hydrogen fuel cell technology with the first vehicle expected to be sold in Japan and California by 2015. Meanwhile, Ubergizmo says the company is working on a hydrogen station network, most likely in Japan and California. Bob Carter, Toyota’s US group vice president, said last week, “We’re throwing everything against the wall. We know we have to push the infrastructure.” See also, SingularityHUB, Hydrogen Vehicles, Long Promised, Finally Hit the Road.
The Wall Street Journal tells us about Life With a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Honda as a driver takes the FCX Clarity for a spin around Los Angeles. (See photo above.)
The car has an electric feel. It has good acceleration and provides comfortable highway cruising speeds. There’s very little noise. The downside? Although hydrogen is the most prevalent element in the universe, getting it into this form is time-consuming. Like any nascent technology, the cost to produce the cars and the fuel is very high. And the infrastructure isn’t there. I can’t drive this car, say, to San Francisco. There are no pumps.
From TRUCK NEWS we learn FedEx Express is converting electric delivery trucks to hydrogen hybrids in the US. Fuel cell technology company Plug Power Inc. is adding 10-kW hydrogen fuel cell range extenders to 20 FedEx Express lithium-ion battery-powered trucks. By using the fuel cells, FedEx Express will be able to almost double the range of the electric trucks. which can currently travel approximately 80 miles on a single charge.
Plug Power expects FedEx Express to experience a 50% improvement in overall fleet efficiency when the hydrogen cells are added. It also expects the trucks will demonstrate a 35-40% reduction in fuel expenses when compared to similar diesel-powered vehicles.