Print 26 comment(s) - last by Mint.. on Jul 4 at 1:59 PM

Duo hopes to commercialize fuel cell technology by 2020

GM and Honda have announced a long-term definitive “master agreement” to co-develop fuel cell system technology and hydrogen storage technologies with the goal of commercializing products within the 2020 timeframe.

The two automakers believe that by sharing expertise and economies of scale they can bring the technology to market. GM and Honda also plan to work with other stakeholders to advance the hydrogen refueling infrastructure that is critical for the viability of fuel cell powered vehicles.
Honda and GM together hold more than 1,200 hydrogen fuel cell-related patents between them.

General Motors Vice Chairman Steve Girsky (L) and Honda North America President Tetsuo Iwamura (R)

“This collaboration builds upon Honda and GM’s strengths as leaders in hydrogen fuel cell technology,” said Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO. “We are convinced this is the best way to develop this important technology, which has the potential to help reduce the dependence on petroleum and establish sustainable mobility.”
GM and Honda also point out that fuel cell vehicles have a range of up to 400 miles, need only about 3 minutes to refuel, and the propulsion system can be used in small, medium, and large vehicles.

GM has been working with hydrogen fuel cell-powered extensively over the past decade and launched Project Driveway in 2007. That project has a fleet of 119 hydrogen-powered vehicles that have accumulated about 3,000,000 miles of real-world driving. Honda began leasing the Honda FCX in 2002 and has 85 units in use in the U.S. and Japan, including the FCX Clarity.

Honda also plans to launch a hydrogen fuel cell-powered successor to the FCX Clarity in the Japan and the U.S. in 2015 (the vehicle will hit Europe at a later date). 

Source: GM

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What happens first...
By Ytsejamer1 on 7/3/2013 8:18:08 AM , Rating: 1
While I commend both companies for looking forward, I'm not sure why they'd want to go for hydrogen fuel-cell technology when there's absolutely no infrastructure there to support it. They're fighting two different uphill battles.

Honestly, the only other infrastructure that is readily available, is electrical. Unfortunately it needs some serious updating to deal with the potential demand.

Both need the technology to mature in order to provide the "fuel" for the vehicles. My question is what comes first - an entirely new hydrogen refueling infrastructure or an upgraded electrical one?

RE: What happens first...
By BRB29 on 7/3/2013 8:27:39 AM , Rating: 2
I could see hydrogen being a better alternative for larger vehicles like work trucks and semis. Having a heavy battery will kill their utility potential and it would take a lot longer to charge since large trucks would need a lot more energy.

RE: What happens first...
By tat tvam asi on 7/3/2013 10:15:42 AM , Rating: 1
How viable are those Bloom Energy bricks in autos?

RE: What happens first...
By BRB29 on 7/3/2013 11:20:20 AM , Rating: 2
it's an immature tech. Stop being so pessimistic. It only decades ago that most people didn't believe in quantum mechanics. Now our lives are dependent on it.

RE: What happens first...
By shmmy on 7/3/2013 3:56:04 PM , Rating: 3
Bloom is still working on a residential unit so autos are very, very far off, if ever. They have a 100kw system and it weights 11 tons. I think the problem with a Bloom "brick" is that it needs to also be heated to temperature for the reaction to take place, so that adds a bit of weight. Hydrogen fuel cells work at ambient temp if I am not mistaken.

Hydrogen fuel cells were used in the space shuttle, and are currently used in German attack subs (or sub, not sure how many they have). From an automotive standpoint, hydrogen fuel cells used to fit in a cargo vans back in the late 90's. They have since been shrunk down to fit in the floor of a car, so the size is workable for even small vehicles.

As for the no infrastructure nay sayers. Nobody is going to build an infrastructure until there is a market. The same was said about charging sites for EV's. Let them work on the market side, and the possible income will create the infrastructure. (that would be a great place for the government to step in and help out. Since importing millions of barrels of oil from foreign sources is not that great for the countries wealth)

The real problem I see is that Oil, and even electricity are huge markets, that has backing by big money. Who makes hydrogen? How will they make it? Electric cars just use the grid, no big deal and it is taking quite a while to catch on. Fuel cells have that problem and much more, since the best way to make hydrogen is with large amounts of electricity.

Hydrogen fuel cells also have the greatest reward. Great range, no\few moving parts, very customizable. (see GM's "skateboard" design) On an economic standpoint, we can focus less on importing oil, and more and creating our own hydrogen. Keeping more wealth in the US. That is a win hat trick. :)

RE: What happens first...
By muIIet on 7/3/2013 11:34:00 PM , Rating: 2
How much does it cost for a car?

RE: What happens first...
By Guspaz on 7/4/2013 12:43:18 PM , Rating: 2
NASA has been using fuel cells since the mid 60s; the ones on the Space Shuttle weren't much different than the ones used on Apollo.

RE: What happens first...
By othercents on 7/3/2013 8:48:21 AM , Rating: 2

There are hydrogen fueling locations and hydrogen can be created on the spot, so creating a fueling location should be as simple as creating an electric fuel station.

RE: What happens first...
By Mint on 7/3/2013 11:16:32 AM , Rating: 2
LOL 10 stations across the country?

Tesla is building 10x as many superchargers by itself by the end of this year, and they need just a few square feet of land. It's not remotely as easy to build hydrogen stations.

I really don't see the point of pursuing hydrogen at this point. The cheapest way to produce it is with steam reforming of methane, so why go CH4 -> H2 -> FC -> motor when we can just put CH4 straight into a bi-fuel vehicle? It'll be far more efficient.

Want to do electrolysis from a green source? Then you have electricity -> H2 -> FC -> motor, far less efficient than an electricity -> battery -> EV.

Hydrogen was a nice fantasy while it lasted, but it's pointless now.

RE: What happens first...
By tng on 7/3/2013 12:10:19 PM , Rating: 4
Hydrogen was a nice fantasy while it lasted, but it's pointless now.
Nice to see where your loyalties are, LOL.

I think that it is important to do both. Both techs obviously have issues that are being worked on and it would be nice not to be funneled into only one alternative for a change.

RE: What happens first...
By Mint on 7/3/2013 12:43:05 PM , Rating: 2
Both? You mean all three? You were so quick to jump on calling me biased that you didn't notice that I mentioned methane (basically natural gas).

The gov't qualified the FCX for a $12k tax credit
and it still didn't get anywhere, despite gov't funded refueling stations. You're wrong in thinking we're funneling everything into one alternative.

Obviously GM and Honda are free to research what they want, but my opinion is that there really is no end game for it to succeed, let alone a path to get there.

If we settle on a non-gasoline chemical fuel, how is H2 better than CNG from well to wheels? CNG even has a big lead on infrastructure.

RE: What happens first...
By Ahnilated on 7/3/2013 1:48:43 PM , Rating: 2
If we settle on a non-gasoline chemical fuel, how is H2 better than CNG from well to wheels? CNG even has a big lead on infrastructure.

Well for one, Hydrogen is the most abundant fuel source on our planet. You really should watch some of the shows and read about some of the issues from getting natural gas out of the ground.

You seem to be extolling the benefits of CNG but not the downsides. Talk to some of the people that have flaming water coming out of their faucets. Oh yeah, that isn't from CNG messing up their wells...

Give me a break...

RE: What happens first...
By Mint on 7/4/2013 7:29:46 AM , Rating: 2
First of all, hydrogen is the most abundant element on earth, not fuel source. We have to produce H2.

I'm fully aware of the downsides to the way we extract natural gas, which is why I'm pro-nuclear, but that doesn't change the fact that we're doing it and will continue to do so.

And as long as we do, steam reforming will be the most economical way to produce hydrogen. Even when natural gas cost 3x as much as it does today, it was still the most common way to produce hydrogen.

RE: What happens first...
By JediJeb on 7/3/2013 2:27:41 PM , Rating: 2
There is also the possibility that fuel cells using methanol can be developed instead of just using hydrogen ones.

Also as far as not having infrastructure in place, if you go back 100 years, there were a lot more places selling oats than selling gasoline, so why did automobiles ever become popular over horses as a means of transportation? You can't ask what comes first, the fuel infrastructure or the vehicle technology, they both must mature together just as gasoline and ICE powered vehicles did. And there will be roadblocks along the way to be over come just as how power and efficiency was limited on the first automobiles until antiknock agents were discovered.

RE: What happens first...
By Mint on 7/4/2013 8:03:34 AM , Rating: 2
100 years ago we didn't have battery technology worth a damn or natural gas distribution everywhere.

The problem with hydrogen fuel cells is not that building infrastructure is impossible, but that it provides almost no benefit to alternatives. It's either an intermediate between natural gas and mechanical energy, or an intermediate between electrical energy and mechanical energy. For the former, there is no advantage over direct CNG combustion. For the latter, you get range at the expense of 50%+ efficiency loss vs using a battery.

As for methanol fuel cells, it's even more inefficient.

RE: What happens first...
By Samus on 7/3/2013 3:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but a hydrogen vehicle IS an electric vehicle without a battery pack. It takes all the benefits of EV's with non of the drawbacks. You get torque and reliability, while also getting fast <5 minute refueling similar to a fuel pump and lighter weight than a battery pack.

The only problem is infrastructure and how to produce hydrogen inexpensively. Nuclear power plants emit thousands of tons of hydrogen as waste. It could be captured and delivered to hydrogen stations just like gasoline.

Of course we'd need more than the 104 nuclear power plants we have operating in the USA today to maintain a steady supply of hydrogen to eventually replace petroleum fuel. But with the 104 plants we have, we could likely provide sufficient fuel for at least 50,000 hydrogen EV's.

Hydrogen EV's are a great stand-in until battery technology matures, because lets face it, Lithium is the best we've got (for energy density, charge time, and weight) and it is FAR from being good enough for mass adoption. It is sensitive to heat and cold, it can be unstable\unreliable and its very expensive.

RE: What happens first...
By Mint on 7/4/2013 12:47:39 PM , Rating: 2
No drawbacks?

Producing hydrogen from clean power and then back to electricity through a fuel cell is less than half as efficient as a battery.

I need more info about this nuclear plant H2 waste, but 50k is not enough for a bridge to EVs. There's already 100k+ EVs/PHEVs on the road in the US. That amount of H2 per plant probably isn't worth capturing anyway.

In reality, hydrogen will be produced from natural gas. Honda's own Home Energy Station produces hydrogen this way. NREL did a paper on H2 cost:
The raw production cost can be $1.57/kg (1 kg H2 has almost exactly the same energy as a gallon of gas) for $4/MMBtu gas (industrial price is now $5/MMBtu and expected to keep going up a bit), but compression, storage, and dispensing adds another $2.46/kg.

While fuel cell vehicles get a bit more mileage than a Prius on the same energy, you're still looking at fuel costs pretty much the same as gasoline's $4/gallon (though I'll admit that Honda's 60 miles/kg is better than a Prius). Add in the fact that fuel cells are still very pricey (Honda's FCX costs $600/mo to lease), and it's disingenuous to say batteries are too expensive by comparison.

The EV comparison is besides the point, though. Why do you think it's better to go H2 instead of directly with CNG when the most economical way to make H2 is with CNG?

RE: What happens first...
By TheEinstein on 7/3/2013 9:10:19 AM , Rating: 2
When government will subsidize electric charging stations where private industry ones failed then why would these two companies used to major huge government pork not expect infrastructure to be made for them?

RE: What happens first...
By djcameron on 7/3/2013 10:22:04 AM , Rating: 2
They should team up with Tesla and make a combined infrastructure. Real estate is expensive, this would cut the cost for both technologies.

RE: What happens first...
By flyingpants1 on 7/3/2013 10:27:48 AM , Rating: 2
Tesla does not pay for real estate.

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