Print 44 comment(s) - last by ghost49x.. on Mar 27 at 9:48 PM

No fuel cell vehicles from VW on the horizon

A few years ago there were a number of automotive manufacturers putting serious money into hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. These vehicles promised to have a driving range similar to a conventional gasoline-powered automobile, but produce no emissions to pollute the atmosphere.
However, the vehicles faced several daunting challenges, including the lack of a hydrogen fuel infrastructure and the fact that hydrogen is highly flammable and difficult to store.

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn stated this week that hydrogen fuel cells have failed to live up to promises and are unlikely to become an efficient and cost-effective way to power cars in the near future.

Winterkorn said, "I do not see the infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles, and I do not see how hydrogen can be produced on large scale at reasonable cost. I do not currently see a situation where we can offer fuel cell vehicles at a reasonable cost that consumers would also be willing to pay."

While Volkswagen doesn't see a near-term future with hydrogen vehicles, other manufacturers continue to move forward with the technology. Mercedes-Benz reached a deal with Ford and Nissan-Renault with a goal of selling the first production fuel-cell vehicle starting in 2017.
Back in 2010, a study was published predicting 670,000 fuel cell powered vehicles would be sold annually within a decade. So far, that prediction doesn't seem likely to come true.

Source: Auto News

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By Jim Vanus on 3/22/2013 10:53:19 AM , Rating: 2
As skeptical as I've been of battery-powered vehicles, I'm lured by the potential of hydrogen fuel cells.

Promising fuel cell technologies are still being developed but without much fanfare.

For example, UK-based ACAL Energy ACAL Energy has reengineered the fuel cell design to replace the platinum catalyst with a liquid regenerating catalyst system. The result is claimed to be cheaper, simpler, smaller and more durable than any other hydrogen fuel cell currently on the market. ACAL's press release:

What I haven't researched: Is there any hope of developing a technology for producing economical supplies of hydrogen? (Or does one already exist?)

RE: Hope
By Griffinhart on 3/22/2013 12:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
The most economical way of producing Hydrogen still involve the use of Fossil Fuels. Natural Gas or Coal mostly. Specialty Nuclear reactors can be used to split Hydrogen from Water, but that's not a popular method.

Algae based production is being researched, but it is nowhere near the point of being viable and economical. It's estimated that the process needs to hit about 10% or better efficiency to hit that mark. Current ability is just below 1%.

The biggest problem, however, is probably distribution. Without the infrastructure to deliver Hydrogen to consumers, there is little chance for the technology. There is no point in Hydrogen vehicles if there are no places to fuel up.

RE: Hope
By Dr of crap on 3/22/2013 12:44:56 PM , Rating: 1
"Without the infrastructure to deliver Hydrogen to consumers, there is little chance for the technology. There is no point in Hydrogen vehicles if there are no places to fuel up."

The best part is the last line -
"There is no point in Hydrogen vehicles if there are no places to fuel up."

Also relates to battery powered cars.
If it takes to long to recharge you NEED a gas powered car as well as the battery powered golf cart, either owned or rented!

RE: Hope
By Rukkian on 3/22/2013 2:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
While you want to lump them in, they are not the same thing.

While it is an inconvenience to have to wait for a charge, there are few places that do not have some sort of electricity. A large portion of houses have electricity. How many people do you know that have hydrogen available at their house? Their work?

RE: Hope
By mjv.theory on 3/22/2013 3:26:28 PM , Rating: 4
The only likely way to produce hydrogen on the scale required is with nuclear power, at which point you already have the electricity generating capacity for electric vehicles.

Building infrastructure and "delivering" electricity is way easier than distributing cryogenically cooled liquid hydrogen.

When battery technology reaches a real-world 300-500 miles range with a sub-15minute recharge time, then all barriers to EVs replacing ICE will be removed. It is quite likely to happen in the next 5-15 years. So by 2040-2050 all new vehicles will be only electric....the writing is already on the wall.

RE: Hope
By M'n'M on 3/22/2013 8:08:33 PM , Rating: 1
When battery technology reaches a real-world 300-500 miles range with a sub-15minute recharge time, then all barriers to EVs replacing ICE will be removed.

I think you need to rephrase that as not when but if. And even if a battery that's economical can be made to do that consider what's required for the charger.

Tesla says their S model goes 3.5 miles/kW-hr. For a 400 mile trip, that's about 114 kW-hrs. The present charging systems (J1772) can supply 90 kW max and so that's a 1.25 hour recharge time. Even with the proposed standard of up to 600V and 400A (!!!!) that's 240 kW and about a half-hour recharge time. Sub 15 mins is a dream for the forseable future.

RE: Hope
By Reclaimer77 on 3/22/2013 8:21:48 PM , Rating: 1
Translation: EV's will never be a reality for the masses.

People need to just accept that and move on. Yes, I know you "hate" oil, but so what.

RE: Hope
By CeriseCogburn on 3/23/13, Rating: 0
RE: Hope
By Mint on 3/23/2013 12:58:48 PM , Rating: 1
rare earth metals strip mine production vehicle
NiMH batteries used rare earths. Lithium ion batteries don't.

Permanent magnet motors use rare earths. Induction motors don't.

Stop being a propaganda tool and educate yourself.

RE: Hope
By Mint on 3/23/2013 12:16:25 PM , Rating: 2
You mean pure EVs will "never" be ready for the masses.

They will work for a substantial minority, though, which is why Tesla is a $4B company, and more importantly PHEV will work for everyone.

RE: Hope
By Jim Vanus on 3/23/2013 1:36:02 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks. Duh. Good point on the nuclear power. That kills the idea of hydrogen-powered vehicles for me.

Most of the greenies don't seem to understand basic chemistry and physics. If it takes more energy to produce a fuel than the fuel yields, it's not a viable fuel.

Energy scarcity plays into the hands of politicians and those providing the current fuels, which may be the biggest barrier to abundant, cheap, clean energy.

Some form of nuclear power is likely the answer.

RE: Hope
By maugrimtr on 3/26/2013 11:20:36 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear, esp. modern Nuclear, IS the answer. Unfortunately, governments correctly assume that their voters will never go for it. Many voters are morons when it comes to Nuclear Energy.

Look at Japan and France's recent reactions to a disaster striking outdated ancient reactors that should have been off-lined long ago. Voters think all future reactors are the same as those designed in the 1950s to 70s.

RE: Hope
By ghost49x on 3/27/2013 9:42:55 PM , Rating: 2
If it takes more energy to produce a fuel than the fuel yields, it's not a viable fuel.

In theory this only becomes 'nonviable' when it costs more for the consumer to buy the fuel he needs to get to work than he makes from work.

In practice people (or at least smart people) would look for other options (or adjust their lifestyle) if they can't maintain their lifestyles while using their preferred option.

In ether way there needs to be more options out there to break the monopoly oil has on our lives, they would only benefit the market as oil companies would have to deal with competition and thus have to balance profit and consumer loyalty. Also economies would be more stable as they wouldn't be as dependent on the oil market.

RE: Hope
By inperfectdarkness on 3/22/2013 3:36:11 PM , Rating: 2
No. The biggest problem is that Hydrogen fuel-cells require a high pressurization in order to provide acceptable fuel economy. This spells a huge problem for vehicles in an accident, where you can generate a HUGE explosion from a 35mph head on collision.

No fuel-cell ever designed is impervious to rupturing.

RE: Hope
By Odysseus145 on 3/24/2013 1:53:22 PM , Rating: 2
You're absolutely right. That's why considerable research is going into ways to store the hydrogen within a solid framework, which eliminates the need for high pressure tanks.

RE: Hope
By mars2k on 3/23/2013 9:10:19 AM , Rating: 2
There is hope. VW is not the final word on hydrogen. Just because they don't see it doesn't mean others can't.

RE: Hope
By zephyrprime on 3/25/2013 11:44:23 AM , Rating: 2
Splitting water is no good since you spend half of your energy producing oxygen which is unavoidable. For this reason, I don't think a hydrogen economy will ever happen. It's just too energy inefficient to waste half of your energy producing a useless byproduct.

RE: Hope
By ghost49x on 3/27/2013 9:48:41 PM , Rating: 2
You can still sell this oxygen to other sectors like medical and emergency responders, even exploration (underwater and mountain climbing). It's not as useless as the by-product pollution coming from refineries and traditional fuels.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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