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Why Hydrogen Cars are Less Efficient Than Electrics

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toyota-mirai-chassis

The efficiency of hydrogen cars versus battery electrics has been debated for a long time in the past decade. However, despite of all that talk, these days Toyota unveiled the first widely-available commercial hydrogen fuel cell vehicle hybrid, the Toyota Mirai.

I have nothing against hydrogen itself or the hydrogen cars currently produced – it’s clean, burning it produces water and it’s the ideal solution for our oil-hungry transportation system. But that’s it, hydrogen is only ideal – when trying to put it in cars, hydrogen causes a lot of trouble, when compared to batteries.

So, we have to take into consideration four aspects:

1. How hydrogen is produced

These are the two mainstream ways that hydrogen is being produced nowadays:

  • natural gas reforming
  • electrolysis, done with:
    • electricity produced by burning coal
    • renewable resources such as solar / wind / hydro etc.

2. The compression of hydrogen

In order to be loaded in tanks, hydrogen has to be compressed or liquefied. Current compressors, as good as they are, have their own efficiency leaks.

It’s a rule of thumb that every operation you do when handling energy is made with costs. This rule is true for both electricity, hydrogen and even gasoline. Since you can’t use energy right away, you have to store it and transport it. And that’s where the big trouble really is. You can’t compress or liquefy hydrogen with 100% efficiency – energy is being lost through the energy spent by the very compressors that liquefy hydrogen. It is being put in at compression/liquefaction and lost at decompression. You can experience that first-hand when you use a spray – you feel it getting cold as it decompresses, because decompression sucks heat out of the environment – that’s the trouble even with compressed air energy storage – but that’s another story.

3. How hydrogen is transported

Well, these days they carry oil with diesel-powered trucks, and the same is going to be happening to hydrogen. The theoretically clean-burning, carbon-free energy carrier (for hydrogen is not an energy source, it’s only a carrier) is going to be transported with losses from the production site to the delivery stations. Trucks are going to lose energy, pipes are going to lose energy, accidents can happen with disastrous circumstances.

4. Fuel cells heat up

Hydrogen fuel cells have historically been used in spacecraft since the inception of the space program – they do a good thing, theoretically, but speaking efficiently, they’re hydrogen guzzlers. Besides the fact that hydrogen fuel cells are very, very sensitive to carbon, which can ruin them in time, hydrogen fuel cells produce a lot of heat.

And guess what that heat is? Energy. You use heat to make your home comfortable in winter, and you pay for that heat. Guess what? You pay for the hydrogen wasted through that heat, as the car cools it down. The Toyota Mirai even has two big and (in my opinion) ugly air intakes in the front that ruin both the aesthetics and the aerodynamics of the car. These two inlets are being used to cool down the hydrogen fuel cell stack, which would otherwise melt down.

Now, I’m not saying batteries don’t heat up when used – but not as much as fuel cells, by a large measure.

A hydrogen fuel cell has a 50% energy conversion efficiency. Diesel engines are not far away – the best of them have 35%.

And that’s just in the fuel cell!!

Tony Seba, a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Disruption and Clean Energy at Stanford University, a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author of “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation”, “Solar Trillions” and “Winners Take All,” put up a graphic that clearly depicts, with solid data, how much less efficient fuel cell car configurations are, compared battery ones.

Here it is, below:

tony-seba-Hydrogen-vs-EV
(c) Tony Seba

 

As you can see, a hydrogen car is roughly 19 to 23% efficient, which is way, way lower than a modern diesel engine. I’m not keeping the devil’s side here, I’m against diesels, they’re responsible for maybe more pulmonary diseases than tobacco, but this is not how a so-called “disruptive” technology should behave, even if we get hydrogen for free from solar power.

And imagine how simple Tesla’s supercharger network is, compared to the whole hydrogen distribution chain. Put some solar panels to power the chargers and there you go, free energy for life, from the free solar power we have. And that scenario is already here, people are working to implement it worldwide, as I write this.

Elon Musk clearly stated once that “hydrogen is bull**it.” He even told me in an interview that he’s a great fan of ultracaps and that may mean hydrogen may not even make any sense once that technology matures.

I’ve been a hydrogen advocate for a long time, I’ve seen it in use from those pesky Joe Cell generators to BMW’s direct-burning experiments and the Toyota Mirai.

I’m also not saying Toyota has done a bad job with the Mirai, as a car – they’ll be betting their future on this technology, after all – but what Tony Seba and Elon Musk are saying finally makes sense. We don’t want gasoline version 2.0, we want to run our cars with energy, not fire, and we finally want to do that efficiently. We want our cars to move, not waste heat.

When fuel cell stacks will be 90% efficient and when we’ll be able to produce, compress and store hydrogen much more efficiently, then yes – hydrogen is an option. But by then supercaps and batteries will have evolved and who knows what they may be capable of in, say, 20 years?

I drive a Prius – and while it may not be the most efficient car in the world right now, in 2004 it was built in what was then the right direction. The Toyota Mirai may be electric, after all, but I’m afraid that after a few years people will hack them to put bigger batteries or supercaps and turn them into battery electrics, the only energy storage for cars that makes sense, at least in the foreseeable future.

Update:

I just read that Elon Musk explained his point against hydrogen cars, in January, in Detroit.

“Hydrogen is an energy storage mechanism. It is not a source of energy. So you have to get that hydrogen from somewhere. if you get that hydrogen from water, so you’re splitting H20, electrolysis is extremely inefficient as an energy process…. if you say took a solar panel and use the energy from that to just charge a battery pack directly, compared to try to split water, take the hydrogen, dump the oxygen, compress the hydrogen to an extremely high pressure (or liquefy it) and then put it in a car and run a fuel-cell, it is about half the efficiency, it’s terrible. Why would you do that? It makes no sense,” he said.

http://youtu.be/Y_e7rA4fBAo?t=10m28s

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35 COMMENTS

  1. “Put some solar panels to power the chargers and there you go, free energy for life, from the free solar power we have.” THIS STATEMENT IS INCORRECT. Solar panels are one of the most expensive way to create energy, they’re definitely not free, and don’t last for life. Tesla 300 miles range battery pack is 90KWh. A 5KWh Residential Solar Array cost about $10,000. Average 7hrs sun a day = 35KWh. So about 3 days to charge. But to rapid charge in an hour you’d need 18x residential solar arrays costing around $180,000 plus the land to put them on.

  2. Here in the UK, there is a lot of interest in the development of hydrogen-powered trains.

    A train leasing company; Eversholt Rail Group, has a fleet of around a hundred reliable 100 mph trains, that are no longer needed by the operator as they are being replaced.

    These trains may be thirty years old, but like some actresses of a certain age they scrub up superbly well!

    On hydrogen power, they will probably do several hundred miles on a tankful.

    The problem in the UK, is that only a small proportion of our rail network is electrified and these trains are being proposed for routes where electrification would be difficult, very expensive and just unpopular to electrify.

    As an example take the Northern part of Scotland, where routes are up to 200 miles through scenic countryside.

    This area also has lots of offshore wind power, which like solar in California often provides more energy than can be stored locally, especially at night.

    So creating hydrogen generators in rail depots, with wind turbines nearby, is an efficient way of getting the hydrogen fuel.

    The hydrogen powered trains would also leave the depots with their batteries full.

    Add in the fact, that these trains will be able to run silently with no pollution on existing rail lines without electrification and the economics are much better than hydrogen powered vehicles.

    In a month or so Alstom will start running hydrogen-powered trains in the Bremen area of Germany.

    I shall be going and will report on my blog.

  3. using H2 is in operation less efficient than a battery vehicle, but you cant ignore the simplicity of the fuel cell vs the battery, the cell is only a membrane while the battery is full of lithium and cobalt, which must be mined , refined, etc, the battery must then be manufactured, and at some point recycled. if you consider all facets throughout its life cycle, the fuel cell is pay me now and the battery is pay me now and later. in true cleanliness, the fuel cell has NO equal, it is a membrane. will last indefinitely and is clean–clean–clean…. ideally when electrolysis is used to create the H2 and O2..both will be captured/liquified and used in the fuel cell, this will allow fuel cell efficiencies of 75-80%.. but for now the O2 is dumped, and H2 is compressed. but at NO time is any hydrocarbon energy used. this can go on indefinitely….not so with a battery…they must first be manufactured, then they must be recycled.

  4. E-cars are great but the range is too limited to drive >800 miles and charging is very time consuming. To solve that problem, simple solutions are available but are not used at all for the majority of car users.

    Why aren’t e-cars equipped with solar film embedded in the roof, or even better, painted with solar paint which makes the cars charge itself constantly during daylight.

    Another possibility with e-cars is a built-in micro gas turbine which acts as a powerplant to charge the batteries (range extender). Let the turbine spin at its most efficient rpm, less noise and vibrations, the processed heat can also be converted in electricity through a heat exchanger. The fuel needed can be anything (regular gas, kerosine, butane, LPG, vegetable oils…) and the combustion can be set as lean as possible due to the fixed rpm.

  5. AYN – Hydrogen is not a fuel source. Elemental Hydrogen to react in a fuel cell or burn in an internal combustion engine. (Its actually the same chemical reaction) does not exist in nature. You have to make it by putting in energy. Hydrogen is an energy storage medium. It is not an energy source.

    Another thing is that there is no magic to a fuel cell. There is no fundamental difference between running hydrogen in a fuel cell and burning it in a converted internal combustion engine. NONE. Yes there are some efficiency benefits to a fuel cell, but they are not huge. And the emissions are the same whether you burn it in an engine or catalyze it in a fuel cell – Water.

  6. People in the discussion have severe lack of knowledge in chemistry and diversity of renewable energy, I guess. Making electricity has diverse option but transmission of this energy is a serious issue. Here comes Hydrogen, which can produced by the remote renewable source and transported and distributed easily and cost effectively. Moreover, as far as I know the voltage, frequency might vary also in the distribution line from country to country.

  7. Hydrogen is not the future, and hydrogen economy will never be. Hydrogen is abundant on Earth but not in the form you need it and you need to put in lots of energy to make it.
    It takes around 300kWh to create hydrogen needed to fill up Toyota Mirai (5 kgs), and Mirai can do 300 miles. With 300kWh, electric car can do 900 miles (I am not talking about tank capacity, but how much energy is needed per distance).
    This is why Toyota is never talking about hydrogen price, and even giving it for free with vehicle, because when people realize that will cost 2-3 times more to fill it up than petrol car and 5-6 times more that electric car (for the same distance), nobody would event thing about buying it.
    You can say, we will put solar panels, wind turbine or any other renewable and make hydrogen that way for ‘free’, but that also does not make sense, because with the same solar panels or wind turbines you can support 3-4 times more electric than hydrogen vehicles.

    Alternative is to make hydrogen from natural gas (95% of hydrogen is created today this way), so technically hydrogen is fossil fuel, and this process releases huge amounts of CO2. Natural gas mostly comes from fracking. So hydrogen does not solve environment issues.

    • You’re way behind in your knowledge. H2 production is advancing to the point of not relying on fossil full. There are scientists and teams at the threshold of a break though. It’s inevitable and just a matter of time(a year or 2). Search Hypersolar for example but there are more like them.

      • Vaporware. They will be on the threshold of breakthrough for a long time and it helps their stock price (LOL just checked their stock price, it is 0.01$, 1 cent! and on the way down). Even if it becomes real product, you are stuck with efficiency problem. They are mentioning photosynthesis, but that is around 5% efficient, so you need enormous number of panels to cover your needs.

  8. If you type “Honda FCX Clarity” into your browser, a basic diagram & explanation of how it works is available & it shows a lithium ion battery that’s charged by regenerative braking. I just wish Mercedes had left their detailed diagrams & videos on their International website, rather than those ads they’ve replaced them with!

  9. Sinking my mind into all this info, it does look like Leon Musk has been very busy, especially in the USA, rolling out his supercharging stations that use PV solar panels to recharge the batteries. If the batteries can be secured in the car safely yet be swapped quickly for recharging, whilst selling the customer another fully charged set, “refueling time” can be kept to a minimum. How much would be charged for the swap over I wonder? It could be advantageous in having more than 1 type of electric car technology on the streets. I,personally, still prefer hydrogen fuel cell technology, but let’s not fight children, the global marketplace is big enough for all! The main thing is to get away from dependence on fossil fuel because it’s a limited non renewable resource & it pollutes plus the greenhouse gas problem! Electric is so much better! The only noise being the tyre noise & therein is a safety issue. These cars are SO quiet pedestrian accidents will probably increase. To solve this, these cars should have a suitably sized & positioned speaker under the bonnet that makes a “car noise” to warn of their approach! Just think, your car could sound like a Chevie Impala one day & a Ford Mustang the next! It might even develop an identity crisis! [Just joking!]

  10. I went looking on the Mercedes Benz International website because they once had an excellent series of videos showing in detail just how this car works.Unfortunately they’ve removed them. God knows why! These also showed the lithium ion battery under the back seat. With a fuel cell you can only charge it with hydrogen. You can’t charge it from the mains supply or from another battery, hence the need for the lithium ion battery for storing power produced by regenerative braking.

  11. Don’t you just love Tony Seba’s comparison chart of hydrogen fuel Cell versus battery electric car? It doesn’t include regenerative braking in the fuel cell vehicle which definitely do have regenerative braking & a lithium ion battery to store the power so generated!<< That's only the first inaccuracy! They talk about transporting hydrogen to service stations, but why? The hydrogen could be made on site & stored in a vessel about the same size as LPG is now, ready for sale. The bowser nozzle doesn't screw on like LPG, but clips on with 2 levers having to be squeezed [for safety] to release it from your car's filling nipple. You, as an individual, can buy hydrogen making units the size of a bar fridge today & all you do is add water, plug it in & switch on. So commercial units to cater for the through put at a service station would naturally be larger & the hydrogen produced is then fed to storage tank/s ready for sale! I just love that chart by Tony Seba! I bet he could make a convincing argument that a circle is really a square!

  12. When I said Honda made 600 FCX Clarity fuel cell cars, naturally I meant annually! When I think of all the “road blocks” that are being devised to deliberately hinder the roll out of hydrogen powered fuel cell cars, wouldn’t it be good if some enterprising individuals or companies pooled their resources, imported these cars themselves & then resold them to customers in capital cities & major regional centres with appropriate advertising, stickers & media coverage. Wouldn’t THAT set the cat among the pigeons? Once customers saw for themselves how cheap they are to run, their 380 kilometre range before needing refueling, that they can carry 5 people[not just 2 like the Tesla Roadster], that they’re very nimble with a top speed of 170 kph[& that’s with electronic limiting]& it only takes just a few minutes to fill their tank, just like petrol driven cars,[Not having to wait around for batteries to be recharged or even swapped<< THAT IS very time consuming!]then there would be a stampede to buy. People with vested interests can lie & rubbish a product all they like but once the motorist sees the truth for themselves, nothing else matters! The proof of the pudding IS in the EATING! These cars DO exist right now & for me that's the most frustrating part. They're in other countries & NOT yet available in Australia!

  13. Even the behaviour of some car makers had me scratching my head. I asked Honda why they only made 600 of FCX Clarity cars. Surely they’d want to ramp up production to recover their R&D costs, then turn a healthy profit?No reply!! Mercedes Benz had a global tour for the B Class F Cell & Australia was the only country in the southern hemisphere it visited. 4 were driven from Sydney to Perth across the Nullabor. This car toured all 3 northern hemisphere continents & generated enormous interest wherever it went. The 1.8 petrol engine version has been available in Australia since 2012 but Mercedes NOW can’t put a date on when it will bring this money saving eco-friendly car to Australia! Ask them just why they’d promote this car in a country & NOT follow through with releasing it in that country & you get “We really can’t say!” Speculating, it looks like even those making at least some of these cars have been induced to go slow on increased production & delivery! After all oil companies like their profits & governments their revenues both of which would take a sharp dive if their came a technology into the market place that cost the consumer significantly LESS to run! See just how much both these entities really don’t love us?Profit IS all that matters to them! We can go jump!

  14. “Hydrogen isn’t an energy source”, oh really??? Incidentally, hydrogen isn’t burnt in a fuel cell, but is combined with atmospheric oxygen in a PEM with water vapour being released & the resultant surplus electrons providing electricity for the motor. Also who would truck hydrogen to a service station when it could be made on site???People want a close replacement to what they have now. They certainly wouldn’t be willing to wait around for their batteries to be recharged or for that matter swapped. That’s still very time consuming. With hydrogen it’s fill her up & you’re set to go just as now. Just a few minutes! Musk et al know this! I see a lot of disinformation being deliberately circulated to discredit fuel cells. The oil companies must be pleased! Also where the Tesla Roadster is a 2 seat sports car, cars like the Benz B Class F Cell & Honda FCX Clarity are 4 door sedans made to carry 4 or 5 people. What DOES concern me is how the chain is being deliberately dragged when it comes to hydrogen infrastructure roll out. When diesel gained widespread appeal roll out seemingly happened overnight & also with LPG. So considering how easy hydrogen is to make, people should demand to know exactly where the problem is with hydrogen roll out! Eco-politics I think is the problem. Oil companies don’t want to turn their back on oil when it gives them much more profit & similarly governments don’t want to know about a fuel that yields them less revenue. It’s so much easier to talk the talk & NOT walk the walk. We could have been driving more of these fuel cell cars right now but for those who only consider their profits.

    • Spot on. Its all about profits and power. Unless a world wide revolution takes place with the help of social media, these OIL Companies and Government wont allow it happen. UN is mum on this issue. Very sorry state of affairs.

    • You seem to forget that the Tesla model S exists.
      Also, what he means by hydrogen not being an energy source is that elemental hydrogen is rare, you have to electrolysise water to get it(well there are a few other ways) and electrolysis uses electricity. Basically the hydrogen acts as a battery, you have to put the energy in in the first place, whereas an electric car directly stores it, and at more than double the efficiency.

      • It is the same with electricity. You have to produce it, make a potential difference (electric charge build up) and then it flows. It is just energy stored in the battery for which energy was first used.

        Same concept!

      • The hydrogen example above is a worst-case scenario leaving out the real advantages of hydrogen while suggesting that the future holds great promise for supercapacitors and batteries. Let me give a counter argument first off in 10 years new cars will all be autonomous that means that rollover protection side impact protection front and rear Collision protection will no longer be necessary. An internal combustion engine car could weigh as little as a thousand pounds and so could a hydrogen fuel cell car. On the contrary a battery powered car like a Tesla has over 1,500 lb of batteries and by the time you add structure to support the batteries you’re talkin 2000 lb add the rest of the car and you’re getting close to three thousand pounds. Now compare a 1000 pound car going up a hill compared to a 3000 pound car or compare them accelerating from 0 to 65 miles an hour or even just compare the rolling resistance of the two cars going 65 miles an hour on a straight level Road. So let’s just say the 1000 pound car only requires half as much energy to operate. In this scenario a 50% efficient hydrogen car will be equal to a 100% efficient battery powered car. In this scenario the hydrogen car wins by 20%. Other advantages of the hydrogen car the system is lightweight it can be refilled within minutes the technology is available today remember 7 lb of hydrogen equals the same energy that a Tesla 1600 pound battery pack can carry. If we are designing for the future hydrogen definitely has a place. One more thing if we are producing hydrogen from solar cells the energy is almost free that goes whether you are driving a battery electric car or a hydrogen car the battery car is 80% efficient where producing hydrogen and compressing it to 10,000 PSI is about 40% efficient I don’t believe liquid hydrogen is a reasonable way to go and since you are producing the hydrogen on-site there is no transportation energy loss. So it works out that either way you go battery or hydrogen the total amount of energy you use will be about equal but Bean the hydrogen car only weighs a thousand pounds the cost of production will be 1/2 or 1/3 actually with batteries maybe 1/4 that of a battery powered car. And the social bonus is that a 1000 pound car will very likely produce half as much wear and tear on road surfaces that a 3 thousand pound car causes, lower taxes. There are other issues that need to be explored for instance when you compress hydrogen you are creating enough Heat to possibly heat the water for your house or heat the entire house in the winter time then when you are driving your hydrogen-powered car decompressing the hydrogen from 10,000 PSI to may be a hundred PSI might produce enough Refrigeration do air condition your car in the summer while battery electric car is drawing power from the batteries to air condition your car shortening your range and increasing your battery requirement more weight. The hydrogen car is producing much more heat than the battery car so hitting the car will not be an issue and require no extra energy this may or may not be possible with a battery electric car. a typical car requires about 3 horsepower to air condition it that’s about 5 kilowatts a four hour drive will require 20 kilowatts something like an extra 500 lb of batteries so by the time you add the structure to support that 500 lb the electrically operated air compressor and the condenser and Associated parts you are 3000 pound car is now getting close to 4,000 lb and heating the car in the winter might be almost as bad probably not but I imagine you will need at least a 500 watt heater to assist the heat from the batteries to keep you from freezing. If you’re going to make the car comfortable you probably want 1500 watts maybe 2000 to keep you warm until the batteries heat up. Anyway my point is that this is not such an easy choice to make even if you are creating a lot of humidity if this is in the Southwest where is humidity is typically down around 10% this is not an issue but in the east cities might be constantly raining due to vehicular traffic. With global warming and the possibility of the East Coast drying out this might not be such a bad idea. The other possibility is with radiators and a cooling system the hydrogen exhaust could be cooled and reclaimed as water I’m guessing this is about two or three gallons of water every hundred miles not an issue. I think people like Ian Musk have a vested interest in touting the superiority of batteries over hydrogen both financially and for the sake of his ego. I think unless there is a huge breakthrough in Battery Technology batteries have no advantage and if you’re counting on a huge breakthrough in Battery Technology why not a huge breakthrough in Fuel Cell technology why couldn’t a fuel-cell be 90% efficient. or why couldn’t you double the efficiency of compressing hydrogen. Japan has said they intend to convert over to hydrogen I think in less than 30 years that means all energy no more fossil fuels. Look at other forms of transportation air transportation in particular hydrogen ways 1/3 that of jet fuel Jets often carry 50% of their weight in fuel imagine only caring 15% of the planes weight and fuel. There will be a lot of development in the hydrogen economy I suspect there is a better chance of hydrogen becoming more fuel efficient by Leaps and Bounds then for batteries.

  15. The writer of this artical is no brain and anti technology.

    I believe you are from the mountains tribe of india that doesn’t know how technology evolves and through R&D it improves.

    The good side is people involve in hydrogen technology advancement are people with wide imagination that can be transform into reality.

    Don’t drag down those people in hydrogen cars because at the end of the day we consumers are the beneficiary of their effort.

  16. Musk retoric and poor statistics. Electric vehicles are less economical viable then this Musks marketing suggests. waiting 30 minutes with a fast charger is to long and the range is to short. carrying all that extra weight for the batteries and the environmental damage of producing and eliminate the old batteries are not in the statistics.

    We should leave oil behind asap.
    Any way is ok, there should be no competition and dirty marketing techniques to get there.

    hydrogen and batteries will be much better in the future. No one knows what the scientist will find but there is no one with a bigger interest in a battery future then musk with his mega battery factory under constructing. That musk comes with oneliners like ‘fool-cells’ and ‘hydrogen is b*llsh*t’ makes him only more unbelievable and unreliable.

    Al big car manufacturers are aiming for hydrogen. And the OPEC knows the real danger of a hydrogen economy. coincidence that the same week the New hydrogen toyota car the mirai is announced the opec comes together and the oil price drops?

    Think about these words when your Tesla batteries are empty and Tesla stocks are evaporated.

    • We’re not affiliated with Tesla nor have we received a dime from them or Elon Musk. I was not saying hydrogen couldn’t be a viable solution for the distant future, it really isn’t one right now. Elon Musk has worked on loss for 10 years with Tesla, and SpaceX is in itself a long-term liability, if we take it by the profits.

      This is not about money, and many people don’t get that. Elon Musk is not about making a profit with Tesla, he could have retired long time ago. On the contrary, he invested his own cash to save it from going bankrupt, just because he had a vision and he believed in it. And he made it real, eventually.

      That’s why I believe in what he does, because he materialized his dream, while everybody else (including us) did nothing but talk talk talk.

      A while ago, when they shut down the GM EV1 project, nobody was thinking of hydrogen, batteries were all there was, commercial fuel cells were a distant dream. Long-range batteries were too. Now that batteries are starting to be everywhere, everyone wants hydrogen. I bet when all vehicles will be battery and fuel cell powered, everyone will be fantasizing about gas again.

      This is not Elon Musk marketing. He could do it properly if he wanted, just like GM, Nissan or BMW. He could sell through dealerships, but, no – his cars sell like crazy directly, without ads, just through word-of-mouth advertising and user-made youtube videos. Why do you think that happens? There’s much to talk about this, but I’m going to stop here.

      So, bottom line:

      – batteries – doable, viable and already implemented.
      – hydrogen – doable, but not yet efficient, nor infrastructure developed
      – ultracaps – not yet viable, but science advancing quickly. By the time these will catch up with batteries, the infrastructure will already be there. Fast recharging times, long life span.

      Cheers.

      • Your small tesla can be purchase by the 2billion dollar toyota and evaporate it in the market. But toyota will not do that because tesla is not a threat. EV is no much to hydrogen car.

        Hydrogen car is a power plant.

        Hydrogen car can power your house for a week.
        Does your Tesla EV can do the same?

        Hahaha…

    • Agreed good points! Hydrogen is making huge strides. It’s just a matter of time when scientist can make h2 cheaply. Very very close now. Then the game will change and infrastructure can be made much cheaper. Electric cars are way ahead but H2 can come back and pass them. Electric cars still rely on fossil fuel remember? They’re aren’t 100% green energy. Elon Musk is going to be eating those BS words down the road I’m sure of it. But he is a pioneer so I give him credit.

  17. Couple of things were passed upon in this article:

    1) Hydrogen currently mostly comes from splitting natural gas, and while it can also come from electrolyzing water with poor efficiency, it could also be made from biomethane, digesting vegetal and animal waste into methane, which is basically natural gas too.

    2) “Hydrogen cars” are not just fuel cell cars, you can also directly burn the hydrogen into a regular internal combustion engine, just with a few tweaks. The result of the combustion is water, heat, and noise, which is why I also favor electric vehicles. Some of the arguments against hydrogen are still valid, but it would be interesting to see what’s the efficiency of this technology too.

    Another thing to consider to improve EV efficiency: The conversion from solar panels DC into AC and then back into DC while charging the EV batteries can probably be made more efficient by charging the car directly from the solar panels or battery energy storage, which is becoming more common. Tesla for instance, or rather its affiliate Solar City, gives away recycled Tesla car batteries for free to their customers. I don’t know if some solar hackers or Tesla have already explored this possibility.

    You also need much more than “some” solar panels to fuel a Tesla supercharger. More likely a few acres of them, or a big electricity storage facility to supercharge outside of sunlight hours.

    • hi Chimel,

      1) The only viable way of producing hydrogen on a large scale are solar or wind power. The rest is just dust in the eyes, just like ethanol, bioethanol and so on. The destructive environmental effects they have outweigh their benefits (in this case, hydrogen).
      2) BMW, as far as I know, has been the last to test this setup in their Hydrogen7, which has been a flop. That’s why they eventually resorted to batteries.

      Sure, used batteries can still perform well in non-pretentious conditions, such as grid energy storage – both hackers and institutions could use this to make money for themselves by uploading the stored cheap electricity back to the grid big time.

      Indeed, you need more than a couple of solar panels to fuel those superchargers, but because those superchargers are usually along important roads, where there is plenty of space to build, I don’t see a reason why Elon Musk should not take advantage and use his Solar City.

      Thanks for reading and replying.

    • chimel, I think that’s a main problem for solar/ electric is the space needed for them. That is another plus for the hydrogen concept is storage- fuel cell power plants are noiseless and take up minimal space and they can use all different fuels besides hydrogen and emit no pollution.

  18. The problem with batteries is the physics of the chemical process- you make them charge faster and your destroy the battery faster, you then need to enlarge the battery in the process. When the battery is over it needs to be put in a landfill causing environmental problems, the electricity made for the battery is as dirty as the process that’s used to make it. Hydrogen production will soon be made from sunlight only making it a pure green energy, therefore no need for large low energy density batteries. Hydrogen future is finally coming!!

    • Nice dream…were but it was true! Traction batteries do take energy to create; but, that’s where it stops as the fuel(electrons) can be made from renewables that are easy on the Earth. Not so with hydrogen which must continually be created from polluting natural gas, transported, stored and dispensed; some say it’s really the energy wasting gasoline model all over again…gasoline 2 if you will. Solar Electrolysis to split hydrogen and oxygen from water is still a lab experiment and is likely to remain so for decades because of it is an very inefficient process. Experts say that quick charging does shorten the life of certain battery chemistries; but, not to a great extent and is expected to be feasible beyond expectations as traction battery tech matures. Also finally, batteries have a life as power storage devices after they are used in cars…a decade of more and when finally scraped their recycling process is well defined with a high percentage of materials reuse.

      I believe Hydrogen has a future; but, not in cars. It would be a welcomed energy for aircraft, perhaps to generate electricity for electric motor driven props or ducted fans. Anything to prevent burning hydrocarbons in the upper atmosphere where they do the most harm. At any one moment, there are 5,000 multi engine airliners flying and polluting the atmosphere. Want to do something about GHGs, switch to hydrogen.

    • The comparison between fuel cell and battery is really not the correct one.

      The true comparison is between a battery and a compressed hydrogen tank.

      These are the two storage mechanisms.

      Let’s compare them…a chemical battery is a heavy, leaky and prone to fire.

      Kevlar sheaved hydrogen tanks have been tested in battle by the Army for use in Jeeps and have been found safe!

      The most important thing is this. With a battery, energy storage is proportionate to Volume, or direct mass and weight. To add a unit of storage, you have to add a cube of battery — no way around that. R-cubed.

      But with a hydrogen tank…it’s proportional to surface area. R-squared! Thus you can add capacity with very little increase in material or weight. The reason is…the tank isn’t the energy carrier, it’s the lightweight H2 molecule itself!

      The fact that this is never talked about shows how a fundamental engineering principal for why hydrogen is vastly superior to batteries is little understood. But should be.

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