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Aluminum doped with titanium was able to catalyze hydrogen

We already know that hydrogen is a green fuel that can power automobiles. The catch is that hydrogen is dangerous to store both at fueling stations and aboard the vehicle. The catalyst material used in a hydrogen fuel cell is often platinum or other rare and very expensive metal. A team of researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas and Washington State University think that they may have found a much cheaper catalyst material to advance the adoption of fuel cell technology.
The new catalyst material that the researchers are investigating is a doped aluminum alloy surface. The aluminum alloy is doped with titanium. The titanium is used sparingly in the new catalyst material. 
Using controlled temperatures and pressures the team studied the titanium doped aluminum surface searching for signs of catalytic reactions taking place near the titanium atoms. To discover the catalytic reaction the team used the stereoscopic signature of carbon monoxide added to the test to specifically help locate signs of a reaction.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class hydrogen fuel cell vehicle 

"We've combined a novel infrared reflection absorption-based surface analysis method and first principles-based predictive modeling of catalytic efficiencies and spectral response, in which a carbon monoxide molecule is used as a probe to identify hydrogen activation on single-crystal aluminum surfaces containing catalytic dopants," says lead researcher Yves J. Chabal of the University of Texas at Dallas.
The titanium added to the aluminum advances the process by helping hydrogen bind to aluminum to form aluminum hydride. When used as a fuel storage device, aluminum hydride could be made to release the hydrogen stores it holds by raising the temperature of the storage medium.
Other researchers have been studying composite materials for storing hydrogen.

Source: Eurekalert

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By NellyFromMA on 11/1/2011 2:33:13 PM , Rating: 2
Of all the alternative energy sources the automotive industry is trying to harness, the only one in my mind that has the potential for success is and has been hydrogen. Everything else simply just doesn't seem to have the physical or economical practicality.

Good news.

RE: Hmmm
By Aikouka on 11/1/2011 3:02:53 PM , Rating: 2
I thought I heard something about the energy required to perform hydrolysis didn't make it that practical. Can anyone chime in on this?

RE: Hmmm
By Gurthang on 11/1/2011 3:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
It depends on the application. I beleive most hydrogen is made from syngas or other chemical techniques. Rather than from cracking water.

RE: Hmmm
By bah12 on 11/1/2011 4:22:17 PM , Rating: 2
Correct the vast majority of it is from syngas (usually from natural gas or methane), so contrary to popular belief it is NOT a green fuel (as it stands today at least).

RE: Hmmm
By Solandri on 11/1/2011 8:42:11 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, if you make a big chart of all naturally occurring hydrocarbons, and sort it by most hydrogen atoms vs. least volume at room temperature, guess what you find at the top? Diesel, gasoline, and kerosene, with alcohols not far behind. We've basically come full circle. Petroleum-based fuels were deemed bad, and pure hydrogen was suggested as an alternative. But pure hydrogen has massive problems with storage and volumetric energy density. If you then look at hydrogen compounds with high energy density and which store easily, you find that the best candidates are... petroleum-based fuels.

If there's going to be a green hydrocarbon-based fuel, it's most likely going to be biofuels. Photosynthesis is basically hydrolysis. Plants take H2O, combine it with energy from sunlight and CO2 to separate out the hydrogen atom to create O2 and sugars (CH2O)n. Those sugars can then be decomposed into alcohols (Cn H2n+1 OH) and hydrocarbons (Cn H2n+2). Instead of building all sorts of fancy equipment and burning electricity to split hydrogen from water, why not just grow a bunch of plants to do it for you?

The one area of hydrogen fuel research which may pan out is using fuel cells instead of an internal combustion engine. The ICE is limited by thermodynamics to about 35%-40% efficiency in something the size of a car (that is, 40% of the energy in the fuel spins the engine, 60% gets converted into waste heat). Fuel cells have exceeded 90% efficiency in the lab, with more practical versions hitting about 60%-70%. But as for hydrogen as a fuel, I don't see it becoming green unless we either massively expand either our biofuel capacity (cheap fuels for hydrogen fuel cells) or our nuclear capacity (cheap electricity for hydrolysis).

RE: Hmmm
By Paj on 11/2/2011 8:54:19 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for that - very informative.

RE: Hmmm
By m51 on 11/2/2011 11:56:15 AM , Rating: 2
There are a number of flies in the ointment when it comes to Hydrogen fuel cells that are constantly glossed over. The hype tends to exceed the reality.

1) Storage and transportation of hydrogen. The best viable storage mechanism is compressed gas in high pressure cylinders. Compressing the hydrogen cost you about 12% of the embodied energy in the hydrogen. However the density is still so low that it would take 20 tanker trucks of hydrogen to transport the same amount of effective fuel as 1 tanker of gasoline. This increases the cost of the fuel. Even pumping gaseous hydrogen in pipelines is surprising energy intensive because of the very low density and can consume a significant amount of the embodied energy.
Liquifying isn't really an economical option because it takes 30% of the embodied energy in the hydrogen to liquify it and then you also have cryogenic boil-off issues. Storage by adsorption in solid materials (eg Paladium) is an interesting phenomenon but all the materials that can adsorb a significant amount of Hydrogen also bind quite strongly to it and it takes a significant amount of energy to release the hydrogen. Again you lose too much efficiency. Also the storage density is low.

2) Cost of hydrogen production - Currently almost all commercial hydrogen is derived from steam reformation with Natural gas. This is fairly efficient at around 80%, but converting natural gas to hydrogen and running it in a fuel cell is still less efficient well to wheels than a diesel hybrid car. If you want to get away from fossil fuel sources of hydrogen things get a whole lot worse. If you try to do electrolysis of water it's only around 50% efficient, however after you add in the extra required steps of drying the gas and compressing it and all the other details actual Hydrogen electrolysis systems for generating vehicle fuel consume about 75-80 Kwh per kilogram of H2 produced. In an automotive fuel cell you can recover only about 16 Kwh from that kilo of hydrogen. This is only a 20% system efficiency,and again it negatively effects the fuel cost. Battery powered cars on the other hand can achieve about 90+% efficiency. Batteries of course have their own problems in costs, weight, and longevity.

3) Fuel cell efficiency quotes are often misleading. 90% Laboratory efficiency numbers have almost no relation to real world numbers for an automotive fuel cell because they are achieved at incredibly low current densities. You have to run much higher current densities for an actual fuel cell that has the weight and size constraints needed to fit in a car. Actual efficiencies are more on the order of 50-55%.

4) Expensive. Currently the catalyst of choice is platinum. It achieves the highest efficiencies. Much effort has been put into finding cost effective alternatives and there are some but they all perform significantly less efficiently that platinum. All the top end efficiency numbers you see are with platinum catalysts.

5)Catalyst poisoning. The source of oxygen to run the fuel cell comes from the air, unfortunately there are a number of sulfur and nitrogen compounds in the air also that poison the catalyst and degrade the capacity and efficiency of the fuel cell. This vulnerability is an additional headache.

6)Infrastructure - or lack of. To build up a wide scale hydrogen fuel delivery infrastructure will cost into the Trillions of dollars. You have a chicken and egg problem, Fuel cell cars and a widespread fueling infrastructure to fuel them, we have neither and can't afford to build them.

If you include all the losses from well to wheels, even though IC engines only have about 30-40% efficiencies, the much lower losses in the rest of the fuel chain mean that fuel cells are actually less efficient over all.

Fuel cells still have a broad appeal though probably because the paradigm of a 'gas' tank and fueling up at a station like we do now with gas is something we are already comfortable with. Fuel cells are in reality just another form of a Battery. The difference being that if you double the size of the 'gas' tank in a battery powered car you double the cost, doubling the size of the tank in a fuel cell vehicle is much less costly. The basic problem though is that production and delivery of Hydrogen is just too expensive and is constrained by physics from significant improvement.

As for Biofuels, I find it very disturbing that nobody addresses the problem that our fresh water supplies are already maxed out. There is no fresh water to supply the enormous requirements that growing biofuels on a significant scale would require. Nor is soil erosion losses addressed. To achieve economical yields per acre requires intensive tilling and soil loss rates at 1 inch per 10-20 years. Topsoil replacement rates are around 1 inch in 500 years. It's sacrificing our future farm land for fuel, it's not sustainable.
If you go with covered aquaculture your infrastructure costs go up and you might as well go with solar panels. The only viable biofuels growth areas seem to be the oceans.
/rant off

RE: Hmmm
By JediJeb on 11/2/2011 5:29:42 PM , Rating: 2
As for Biofuels, I find it very disturbing that nobody addresses the problem that our fresh water supplies are already maxed out. There is no fresh water to supply the enormous requirements that growing biofuels on a significant scale would require. Nor is soil erosion losses addressed. To achieve economical yields per acre requires intensive tilling and soil loss rates at 1 inch per 10-20 years. Topsoil replacement rates are around 1 inch in 500 years. It's sacrificing our future farm land for fuel, it's not sustainable. If you go with covered aquaculture your infrastructure costs go up and you might as well go with solar panels. The only viable biofuels growth areas seem to be the oceans.

I'm not sure about the fresh water supply being maxed out. Maybe in certain areas but not everywhere. You could simply build offshore structures out past the point where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico, then pump fresh water from the river, through the biofuel growing platform with the excess going into the Gulf, it would still end up at the same place only take a different course.

Also if you are using algae for the biofuel production then there shouldn't be any problem with topsoil erosion, since that type of facility can be placed anywhere, on an offshore platform, on rocky less fertile ground, or even on rooftops of industrial plants. If you place an algae biofuel plant on top of a building you would shade the building by capturing the sunlight used to produce the fuel which would lower the energy needed to cool the building. It will take a little creative thinking but overall I believe biofuels can be made to work without too large an impact on the environment.

RE: Hmmm
By Quadrillity on 11/2/2011 6:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, algae is looking really good right about now.

RE: Hmmm
By m51 on 11/2/2011 9:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
The problem lies in the sheer scale of biofuel production needed. Energy capture and storage by plants is very low in efficiency. Coupled with the enormous fuel requirements we have dictates fresh water requirements far beyond any available supply. I agree that algae has probably the best potential of the biofuels and that seawater based algae may be the only potentially workable direction for biofuel production.

Unfortunately with conversion efficiencies so low, area requirements so large, and the energy and materials costs to harvest and economically extract from such a low density energy source the problems are formidable.

There are many alternative energy sources that are technically feasible, but very few of those are economically feasible, and even fewer can be accommodated within our sustainable resource limits. Any workable solution must meet all three requirements. Biofuels may supply a small percentage of the energy puzzle, but it currently doesn't look to good at large scales.

It's a difficult problem with no clear winning answers, and anybody who tells you there is a clear solution is just ignorant of the over all picture. The clear answers evaporate before you when you look into the details.

RE: Hmmm
By JimHorwitz on 11/2/2011 1:46:48 PM , Rating: 2
Using methane via steam reformation in a PEM or PAFC fuel cell is a much cleaner and more efficient way to produce power than by burning it in a large power generation plant. Only 20-30% less CO2, and no other pollutants at all. It has just been more expensive. The Bloom Box 100 kW SOFC are even more expensive but even more efficient. And SOFC technology has the potential to get much cheaper very quickly - Bloom's customers include FedEx, BofA, Google, Apple, WalMart, and others. They are just one of many global SOFC developers (Ceres, CFCL, SOFCpower, Acumentrics, Topsoe,...) including Lilliputian making a 10-100 watt SOFC on a chip.

RE: Hmmm
By werfu on 11/1/2011 3:16:44 PM , Rating: 3
Newer aloy enable low power hydrogen production. There's also a new solar panel based on photosynthesis that can produce hydrogen.

RE: Hmmm
By Quadrillity on 11/1/2011 5:01:25 PM , Rating: 2
There are literally hundreds of different methods to split/harvest hydrogen. Algae farming is one of the most promising.

On a side not, the article mentions that the storage of hydrogen is very dangerous; but that's not necessarily true. That was one of the first problems they fixed. If I'm not mistaken, storing hydrogen is as safe, if not safer, than gasoline.

I really hope to see the world using hydrogen for commuter transport in no less than 50 years. It's pretty much the perfect technology.

RE: Hmmm
By Aikouka on 11/1/2011 5:13:10 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you (and everyone else) for the information on methods for harvesting hydrogen. :)

I've always had a bit of fondness toward hydrogen, because of how the entire reaction is very cyclic (I think that's an accurate word...). I think it'd be interesting if the day came when we could fill our car with water, it separates the hydrogen, uses it for the reaction, and the byproduct of the reaction (water) goes back in the fuel tank. Of course this isn't going to be perpetual, and I have no idea when such a thing would be feasible, but it is an interesting concept. :)

RE: Hmmm
By Quadrillity on 11/1/2011 5:24:23 PM , Rating: 1
Actually, the only hindrance right now is a lack of development. What little they have worked on it (and I mean in terms of total, world wide collaborative research) has yielded very promising breakthroughs.

But, the single largest obstacle right now is invested interest in oil based transportation. Hydrogen would be so much of a good thing that it would devastate our economies (sounds stupid, but it's true). Think of how many jobs would be instantly lost if the only moving parts of a vehicle were the electric drive-train? Cars would probably cost a LOT less too.

I'm starting to sound a little bit like a hippy now, so I'll stop while I'm ahead :D

RE: Hmmm
By Kurz on 11/2/2011 9:52:37 AM , Rating: 2
It wont devastate anything... since the money and focus of our economy will just shift since now we have a more efficient system. If anything our economy will improve and more people (especially the poor) will have access to more energy.

Though I will argue that Hydrogen is currently less efficient what we have currently. It only will become more efficient when it can compete price wise with Oil. Hence why we have a system based on money, it makes it easy to tell when technology has progress far enough for it to replace what we currently been using.

RE: Hmmm
By senecarr on 11/3/2011 10:50:14 AM , Rating: 2
Long term it would help our economy, certainly. I believe the original poster is referring more the short term pains that would happen, and how it would affect those who hold a lot of power right now (people in oil industries).
I'm of the belief that we could get off oil and thus remove our involvement in the Middle East if we spent a fraction of our budget that goes into the military into a lot of these alternative technologies.

RE: Hmmm
By Kurz on 11/4/2011 11:57:44 AM , Rating: 2
The government choosing Winners and Losers is more devasting to the progress of our technology. There are so many hopeful technologies that can make it to the consumer market. However, if it doesn't get government funding its seen as a waste of time and effort.

Though we can both agree our meddling in the world needs to end.

RE: Hmmm
By Solandri on 11/1/2011 8:51:13 PM , Rating: 2
Being cyclical is not enough. The problem is hysteresis. The water->hydrogen step is the reverse of the hydrogen->water step, but it has a large amount of hysteresis. That is, there's a large gap between the energy put into the first step, and the energy given off in the second step.

Currently the hysteresis is enough to make hydrogen fuel cells no more efficient or only very slightly more efficient than an ICE.

RE: Hmmm
By tng on 11/2/2011 11:11:26 AM , Rating: 2
Being cyclical is not enough.
I understand your point, but if the HFC can be developed to the point where it is just as efficient as the ICE, then the point is the cycle. I don't think that they are there yet myself, but it is good to see people are still working on it, pure EVs will only go so far I think.

The pollution alone would favor the HFC.

RE: Hmmm
By Kurz on 11/2/2011 11:23:19 AM , Rating: 2
EV's have a more promising future than HFC.

RE: Hmmm
By tng on 11/3/2011 9:14:53 AM , Rating: 2
You are assuming that battery tech will make an advance or what is needed is a leap forward. I don't (personally) see that happening.

However there is not nearly the research money invested in Hydrogen Fuel Cells as there is in battery tech. The chances of a small advance in HFC research making them practical is a better bet than a leap forward in battery technology.

RE: Hmmm
By mars2k on 11/3/2011 4:48:02 PM , Rating: 2
Electrolysis is not the only way to separate Hydrogen and Oxygen from water. There are also chemical and thermal processes along with photosynthetic processes using algae or bacteria.
There is lots of research on catalysts used in the electrolytic process to bring down the cost. Further if your goal is only to lower carbon emissions the source of the electricity would be important. Wind, Solar, Geothermal or Nuclear sourced power could provide enough electricity without producing CO2 as a byproduct.
Hydrogen has a lot going for it.

RE: Hmmm
By Gurthang on 11/1/2011 3:04:22 PM , Rating: 2
Not really, although they got it to work no mention was made of its efficency or power output ability. Even platinum based fuel cells have problems meeting the instantanous power requirements of electric vehicles so most designs use some sore of super capacitor so if this tech is inferior to existing hydrogen cells it may make them unsuitable for EV use. And that still does not solve the question of how to store the hydrogen in the car.

RE: Hmmm
By Quadrillity on 11/1/2011 5:33:17 PM , Rating: 2
And that still does not solve the question of how to store the hydrogen in the car.

That issue has already been solved.

RE: Hmmm
By FITCamaro on 11/1/2011 3:11:56 PM , Rating: 1
Except hydrogen isn't economically viable without nuclear power.

RE: Hmmm
By Keeir on 11/1/2011 3:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
Even with getting the Hydrogen "Free" from Nuclear Power, it might be more efficient to immediately turn the Hyrdogen into electricity on site using large scale efficient Fuel Cells rather than attempt to distr. the hydrogen for use in small scale relatively inefficient Fuel Cells.

RE: Hmmm
By matty67 on 11/1/2011 8:21:36 PM , Rating: 2
And that is the second "problem" with hydrogen. They calculate figures based on the need to transport it from distribution centers.


It's not like oil that has to come from X, go to Y, refined at Z, then ship to A, be distributed to B, and finally pumped into your car at C. They should be no reason why they couldn't create it at the distribution point.

RE: Hmmm
By Solandri on 11/2/2011 1:27:50 AM , Rating: 2
Yes there is a reason you don't want to create it at the distribution point. The amount of energy stored in gasoline/hydrogen is huge compared to electricity. A car requires about 25 hp (about 18.5 kW) to cruise at highway speeds. If you figure it goes at 60 mph and has a 360 mile range, that's 6 hours. If its hydrogen fuel cell is 75% efficient, that's 6*18.5/.75 kWh or 533 megajoules each time you fill up the tank.

If you figure the average gas station is filling up 3 cars at a time, and it takes 5 min to fill the tank, then that's on average 5.3 MW being passed from the station to the cars. Fairly good hydrolysis is about 50% efficient, so the gas station would need power lines capable of delivering 10.7 MW. At 240 Volts, that's 44,400 Amps. The typical home has a 100-200 Amp breaker, so your one gas station will on average be drawing as much electricity as about 300 homes at max load to generate enough hydrogen to fill up those cars. It's more practical to generate the hydrogen at a central location next to a power plant, and pipe it or truck it to where it's needed.

People really underestimate the amount of energy that's in that innocuous clear liquid you pump into your car's gas tank. (Incidentally, 533 megajoules is about 4.5 gallons of gasoline.)

RE: Hmmm
By NellyFromMA on 11/2/2011 4:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
I had said hydrogen has the most potential for success, not the clear winner. Pros and Cons are rife throughout the entire array of options and not one is good enough to be a clear winner. Potential, however, seems to be most prominent with hydrogen based technologies.

Bio-fuels dip into food supply chains, which we need for actual food.

Electric cars completely seem to leave out the part about where the electric energy is made, and it still doesn't seem clear that its economically beneficial to the actual drivers even just looking at the cost of units of energy, nevermind maintenance and the like.

Hybrids are doing ok, but I've heard nightmares about even current gen Prius's drivetrains from a friend who happens to work at an undisclosed Toyota dealership. Maybe biased somehow, but he's quite technical and is typically pretty neutral in conversation.

The alternative hybrid (electric motor, gas generator aka Chevy Volt) may or may not be a better hybrid alternative, but it is a stop-gap, not an end point.

Maybe I'm misinformed, but I thought huge gains were being made regarding hydrogen based fuel cells, we just don't hear about them as much in a lot of news outlets as its a little diluted with all of the other alternatives being mentioned.

RE: Hmmm
By JimHorwitz on 11/4/2011 10:54:10 AM , Rating: 2
I've studied the global fuel cell industry for five years and published two comprehensive reports on hydrogen production and hydrogen storage. You are not misinformed - there are huge gains being made everywhere involving commercialization and pie-in-the-sky research. As an example, check out Jorg Weigl's fuel cell motorcycle. He's German, but had to move to Malaysia to get the support for his incredibly successful global project. You can Google him, myself (+fuel cells to get presentations), bio production of hydrogen, or hydride hydrogen storage to get more information.
You don't hear much because the research and commercialization is well distributed world wide, and fuel cells being just stack of anode+electrolyte+cathode with no moving parts or combustion are just not very sexy.

Just hit the brakes there.
By Amiga500 on 11/1/2011 4:27:32 PM , Rating: 2
The catch is that hydrogen is dangerous to store both at fueling stations and aboard the vehicle.

Hydrogen is safer in a vehicle than petroleum. It is also safer in an aircraft than kerosene.

<If anyone is thinking of replying based on the Hindenburg; your way out of your depth so please don't bother wasting the bandwidth>

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By inperfectdarkness on 11/1/2011 4:56:37 PM , Rating: 4
both hydrogen and gasoline are very explosive. yet hydrogen is a gas (at room temperature) and gasoline is liquid. naturally, this means that more fuel can be obtained from any given volume of gasoline than from hydrogen.

the problem lies in the fact that hydrogen has to be COMPRESSED considerably to even hope to match the storage capabilities we expect from gasoline. this compressed state makes hydrogen MUCH more dangerous than gasoline, should an accident occur.


jp-8 is so much safer than hydrogen, it's not even a fair comparison.

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Quadrillity on 11/1/2011 5:17:56 PM , Rating: 1
You're talking apples and oranges here. Current storage technologies don't rely on compression, rather they use sequestration. The particles are absorbed in (magnesium?) based materials until ready for release. This can be done a low temperatures as well. Even if you were to puncture or totally destroy the storage tank, I don't think you could make it any more deadly than gasoline.

Also, lets take into consideration that hydrogen fuel cells are 100% pure electricity transferred to a drive-train, therefore you don't have an engine (which is no moving parts). This allows for a VERY lightweight frame which can last for literally millions of miles. Instant torque to the wheels, all wheel drive would be just as cheap to make as two wheel drive, the emissions are freaking water vapor too! I could go on for hours about how promising this technology is.

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Keeir on 11/1/2011 5:31:13 PM , Rating: 5

Current Storage Technologies do not work for most cars.

Here are what some concepts have
BMW Hydrogen 7 uses Super Cold Liquid Hydrogen in 30! Gallon Tank
Honda Clarity uses a 5000 PSI tank
GM Equinox uses a 10,000 PSI tank and only has 200 miles of range...

This allows for a VERY lightweight frame which can last for literally millions of miles

What? You do realize that a Fuel Cell DOES weigh something as well? And you will still need an electric motor? And the Voltage Converters and Likely a significant Super Cap or Battery to give level set?

GM's Equinox weighs 500lbs more than an ICE version!

I could go on for hours about how promising this technology is.

You sound like you need a deal of reality.

Hydrogen is an energy carrier. At this point we still are looking for a cost/energy effective way to make hydrogen without using Natural Gas or Nuclear Plants. Its true Natural Gas Hydrogen is pretty economical in some cases, but the question should be asked why we are turning Natural Gas into a more difficult to use substance. Just use the Natural Gas!

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Quadrillity on 11/1/11, Rating: 0
RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Keeir on 11/1/2011 7:07:04 PM , Rating: 3
When I said current storage technologies, I did not limit it to those in the market/production.

A technology is not "proven" until there are actual production parts. Since we don't even have concept parts for these storage technologies on car, they are not solutions... just potential solutions.

it will beat the pants off of current internal combustion designs in every measurable way.

Your counting you chickens a little early there.

The "best" comparing one is the GM Equinox. Currently it uses 10,000 psi tank with a maximum range of 200 miles. Clearly much worse than the ICE. Its acceleration and general performance is about the same as the ICE. It masses a good 500 lbs more than ICE version. Its get at first glance an impressive 47.6 miles per Kilogram. But once you understand its really a Hybrid on LA04, it becomes less impressive.

I've seen figures as high as 90% for hydrogen fuel cell

WHOA. Slow down there. In automotive applications, I have seen no number higher than 50%, even in Steady State. Performing an actual cycles (such as EPA) its much closer to 40%. A Toyota Prius is 30-33% efficient. A Honda Clarity is 35-38% efficient. A Nissan Leaf is 65% efficient which includes the cost to get the energy into the tank... without that its more like 90% efficient. If at a future time we can harvest the heat in an automotive application, we may be able to break than 50% barrier.

If I want to drive 100% emission free today with Hydrogen over 100 miles I must

Generate 70 kWh of Hydrogen on site from Water using at best 70% efficient. Compress said Hydrogen to 10,000 psi which means I would need an extra 7 kWh of Energy. Total Required Energy would be 107 kWh. If I used a BEV, I could drive up to 300 miles on the same energy. 3! times the amount. And I am being generous to the Hydrogen Car! And guess what? I can do it TODAY not at some future date. All of this technology for the BEV is available today.

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Quadrillity on 11/1/2011 8:36:05 PM , Rating: 2
A technology is not "proven" until there are actual production parts

You are right in part. It doesn't have to be on the mass market to be a proven technology. But considering the context here, you are right in saying that it much be mass marketable. I am fully aware of this.
Your counting you chickens a little early there.

Maybe, but I have been stating the "penitential" of the concept rather than the actual products invented thus far. Look how far the gasoline engine has come!
In automotive applications, I have seen no number higher than 50%

This is probably my fault, but what I was referring to is the efficiency of the actual fuel cell itself. Not total power to wheels. That is somewhere in the range of 65% or greater in the lab as compared to 20% of the ICE.

I'm definately not saying that the technology is proven yet, but it is looking pretty good so far. You can't really compare a highly developed concept like the ICE with something that is still in its infancy. But, you made some valid points. Overall, I think hydrogen fuel cells have a really long way to go, and they are also depending on other major breakthroughs in renewable energies as well. Time will tell.

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Keeir on 11/2/2011 2:41:03 AM , Rating: 2
It doesn't have to be on the mass market to be a proven technology.

To be proven, something must absolutely demonstrate the ability to perform in its target area. For mass-market cars, the storage technology must be shown to work for 5-10 years on an actual mass-market car. The simple fact that no car manufacturer has even created a working concept with these fancy hydrogen storage systems yet should tell you there is a LONG LONG way to before these technologies are proven.

Look how far the gasoline engine has come

Listen, the bar is pretty high. On one hand we have the Leaf and Volt, both of which are in the consumer market right now, that leverage technologies useful in other applications. These technologies (Electric Production and Battery) have a proven history of improvements in cost and size being rolled out to the market place.

The very best current path one could even conceive of for Hydrogen is

NG --Mining--> Tank --Pipeline--> Home --Steam Reform--> Hydrogen --Compressing--> 10,000psi --Transfer--> Car Tank --Fuel Cell-->Forward Motion

Compared to Leaf/Volt

NG --> Mining --> Tank --Pipeline--> Power Station --Combustion--> Electricity --Transfer--> Battery --Motor--> Forward Motion

Steam Reformulation: .7
Power Station: .6
Compression+Transfer: .9
Electric Transfer: .9

The Honda Clarity gets 1.7 Miles/1kWh (LA04). This means for each mile of Clarity Travel, in a best case scenario, .94 kWh of Natural Gas was Required.

The Leaf gets 3.03 Miles/1kWh (EPA post 2008 Combined). For each mile the Leaf travels, only .6 kWh of Natural Gas was Required.

Seems to me that a Mass Market, affordable, BEV or PHEV is beating the best Fuel Cell Car by nearly 40%! Thats a huge number. I am sorry, but I just don't see Hydrogen Fuel Cells as practical for Automobiles, when BEVs and PHEVs are at once further along and high a higher ceiling.

As I have stated before, even if the source of Hydrogen is somehow "free" its probably better to use a Large Steady State Fuel Cell capable of 70-80% efficiency to simply turn the Hydrogen into electricity use it in BEVs than in Fuel Cell Cars.

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Quadrillity on 11/2/2011 10:42:20 AM , Rating: 2
To be proven, something must absolutely demonstrate the ability to perform in its target area.

Um, no it does NOT need to be on the mass market to be a proven functional technology. By your standards, something needs to sell X million amount of products in order to be functional? Sales =/= functional, and that's been my point from the beginning. You should have picked up that context clue when I said "in the lab". Now, does it have a long way until it can reach mass market? Absolutely. But that in, no way, means that it isn't or can't be a functional piece of technology. I remember creating simple radio PCB's in my electronics classes that didn't hit mass market; yet they were still functional lol. Don't get me wrong though, I know what you mean. A better word for it is a "useful" technology. But we see things all the time that are WAY too expensive to meet any market, yet they manage to make it there in time. Look at the personal computer for proof of that.

Seems to me that a Mass Market, affordable, BEV or PHEV is beating the best Fuel Cell Car by nearly 40%!

That's because battery technologies are long since proven and profitable. HFC's are still very much in infancy. I think somehow we are still pretty much comparing apples to oranges here when talking about a matured and un-matured tech. Also, lets not forget all of the massive amounts of energy that it takes to make the batteries (mind you there are always new battery technologies coming out every year it seems). In fact, I have heard several estimates that it takes far more energy to make them; more than they can ever put out in their lifetime (which is still pretty short, keep in mind). Then again, current HFC's have a relatively short lifetime too.

Maybe I'll buy into the BEV theory when we are all running on nuclear power complemented with a maximum amount of profitable renewable's. Until then, we are still buying our oil from unstable countries who hate everyone and everything but money. I'm looking forward to any solution that would free us of those binds, really.

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Keeir on 11/2/2011 12:55:44 PM , Rating: 2
m, no it does NOT need to be on the mass market to be a proven functional technology.

Did I say that?


If any technology for mass market cars is going to be called "proven" it must be demonstrated to work in that enviroment. IE, please show me a demonstrator car with 50,000+ miles and 5-10 years of use. Not some lab test is ideal conditions. Until there is an ACTUAL car that uses the product, its just potential. For years Carbon Fiber on Commerical Aircraft had potential (50+ years). Now finally we might call it "proven" technology since 1 actual aircraft was delivered to a customer.

I'm looking forward to any solution that would free us of those binds, really.

Whelp, look no further. A family of Volt type with 25, 50, 75 AER would eliminate close to 80% of the oil used for transportation. Using a Lotus Omnivore engine as Range Extender would reduce it even further by allow use of E20/E50/E85 in place of gasoline. (Ethonal can not hope to supply 100% of our transportation needs, but right now it supplies close to 5%. If we reduce the needed gasoline, we could dramatically increase the percentage of ethanol used, further reducing oil usage).

Best part? Not really needing new infrastructure or any new technology. No adjustment in your lifestyle (besides pluging in).

There are challenges. The old outdated power grid needs fixing up. It needed that anyway, and it will happen anyway. Lets just make it stout this time. Power Stations will of course have to increase thier output... by about 15%. But Power Stations typically use Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear, or Renewables. Each of these is far better than imported oil.

Battery technology will also have to become lighter and cheaper. Thankfully they are already proven to do so! It might not be until 2020 that a PHEV reachs essentially price parity with an ICE engine, but that date looks much more promising than 2025-2050 timeframe given for HFC

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Jeffk464 on 11/1/2011 9:56:45 PM , Rating: 2
Thats what I'm saying, people don't understand how nice electric cars are going to be to own. The main hurdle right now is cost, not performance.

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Jeffk464 on 11/1/2011 10:03:44 PM , Rating: 2
Electric whether fuel cell or batteries. Who knows which one will win out in the end, currently batteries seem to have the lead.

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By JediJeb on 11/2/2011 6:33:23 PM , Rating: 2
the problem lies in the fact that hydrogen has to be COMPRESSED considerably to even hope to match the storage capabilities we expect from gasoline. this compressed state makes hydrogen MUCH more dangerous than gasoline, should an accident occur.

Really it isn't that much more dangerous if any. If you puncture a compressed hydrogen tank you would get a flame jet like a cutting torch which would be localized, or after enough oxygen managed to get into the tank as it emptied you could get an explosion which would be similar to one from a gasoline tank. The thing that makes hydrogen better than gasoline in an accident is that hydrogen is lighter than air, thus leaking hydrogen rises above the vehicle and either dissipates or causes an air borne fireball, while gasoline forms a pool under the vehicle and when it ignites it literally cooks the vehicles occupants if they haven't managed to escape.

Some would cite what happens when you knock the valve off of a compressed gas cylinder and make a "torpedo" with it, but if you attach that "torpedo" to a 3000 pound vehicle then the tank isn't going to launch itself across the highway, maybe move the vehicle a couple feet before the compress gas escapes if it is pushing in the direction the wheels will move, I doubt it would move it much pushing perpendicular to the direction the wheels move.

RE: Just hit the brakes there.
By Kurz on 11/1/2011 5:37:40 PM , Rating: 2
Hydrogen is hard to store though. It has alot of volume for so little energy.

Hydrogen != Fuel
By ppardee on 11/1/2011 5:39:03 PM , Rating: 2
Hydrogen is effectively a battery. We 'charge' it by converting water to hydrogen. We discharge it by burning it, which then converts it back to water. There is a net loss of energy in the process, which kinda makes it an anti-fuel in my book.

RE: Hydrogen != Fuel
By Quadrillity on 11/1/2011 6:03:31 PM , Rating: 2
Except for the fact that it's the most abundant, stable element in the entire universe... And yes, everyone here probably already knows that hydrogen is not a fuel.

Also consider that we can use stand-alone renewable energy to harvest it.

RE: Hydrogen != Fuel
By Jeffk464 on 11/1/2011 9:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
"hydrogen is not a fuel"

The universe tends to disagree with you.

RE: Hydrogen != Fuel
By Kurz on 11/2/2011 9:37:47 AM , Rating: 2
Only in terms of Nuclear Reactions its a fuel.
We are speaking primarly about Chemical Reactions here.

RE: Hydrogen != Fuel
By Onimuto on 11/2/2011 10:12:39 AM , Rating: 2
The sun in the sky disagrees with you. She says she defently uses hydrogen as fuel to create heluim and photons of light.

RE: Hydrogen != Fuel
By Quadrillity on 11/2/2011 10:45:25 AM , Rating: 2
Get back to me when our cars have a fission rector...

RE: Hydrogen != Fuel
By Kurz on 11/2/2011 2:44:00 PM , Rating: 2
fusion Reactor you mean.

RE: Hydrogen != Fuel
By Quadrillity on 11/2/2011 4:59:21 PM , Rating: 2
lol, yeah fusion. Not fission. Edit button DT,... edit button.

RE: Hydrogen != Fuel
By iowafarmer on 11/2/2011 7:46:32 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking of fusion. I find these interesting:

RE: Hydrogen != Fuel
By Kurz on 11/4/2011 11:53:37 AM , Rating: 2
Way ahead of you. ;) This sparked my interest.
500Kw~ per hour in the size of a cargo container. Not bad at all, needs more validation, science and public acceptance.

By texbrazos on 11/1/2011 6:35:09 PM , Rating: 2
Hydrogen is in it's infancy and seems to have been stuck there since the 70's. I found a cool old video of Jack Nicholson showing off a hydrogen vehicle in 1978.
Anyway, just think how far we could be with it, if everyone would focus on it. You could acutally go outside a take a big deep breath, and not suck in car exhuast.
I guarantee big oil and gas are gonna fight it to the end.
Hydrogen is so simple and easy to produce, that any avg. joe can do it with ease. I use a solar panel, salt, plastic water bottle, and water. GM and other's already have home hydrogen stations that use solar panels. I believe one of the problems with it, is gonna be how to tax it and profit from it. You have two big entities that will lose big, and that is the govt. and big oil. The technology is here, but the hold up is alot of feet dragging by those who will be on the losing end. They are putting up the road blocks and preventing this great, abundant source just out of reach, on purpose.

RE: Hydrogen
By Quadrillity on 11/1/2011 6:49:57 PM , Rating: 2
You couldn't be more correct. Spot on.

RE: Hydrogen
By Kurz on 11/2/2011 3:25:25 PM , Rating: 2
The only reason why its not being used right now is the Physics behind it. The amount of energy we have to collect/produce to switch us from Oil economy to a Hydrogen economy is substantial. Its Economic sucide to do this.
The Cost of the Fuel cell=high,Cost of producing Hydrogen, High. Price to store it High.

EV's Only have the cost of the Batteries and Electricity to worry about.

Though I will agree that the Government probably played a signficant hand in slowing innovation down. If we had a more free market economy we probably would have Electric cars right now in mass. Instead we are constrained by our own devices of politics.

By Quadrillity on 11/1/2011 6:06:34 PM , Rating: 2

Here is a pretty cool fact-sheet for those who might not have a basic understanding of the tech. It's from 2006.

Speaking of Algae
By YashBudini on 11/1/2011 7:00:02 PM , Rating: 2
Lindsey is going to pose for Playboy. That slimy feeling when addressing either subject a coincidence? I think not.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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