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November 06, 2007

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eric

Can't say that any of this surprises me. I suppose in retrospect it was worthwhile to investigate fuel cell cars, just to see where it would all lead.

I know many who have thought that this was a dead end and diversion.

I don't even see much public discussion about this any more.

G. Holland

The challenge with fuel cells and hydrogen is much more about perception and public policy than technology. There are no technical show stoppers with fuel cells. They will be cost competitive when mass produced. The trash talk comes from people who have an agenda. There is no basis for concluding that the sale of Ballard's automotive technology to Daimler means anything negative about fuel cells, unless of course one's purpose is to undermine a competitive technology.

eric

It depends on how you define show-stopper.

First question - where does the hydrogen come from? Current production methods use natural gas, but we want to get away from that. It can be made from water, but that is energy intensive, and if you are starting from electricity, then BEV/PHEV are a more efficient use of the electricity.

There aren't any technical obstacles to having a national distribution network, but nonetheless one would still need to be built. Contrast this to BEV/PHEV, where the distribution network already exists.

Will they really be cost-competitive? Hard to day right now. It is easy to speculate about it, but much harder to say with certainty.

Thus my gut says that in the near term, people see BEV/PHEV as a far more promising approach.

30-50 years from now? Who knows. Things may come around. But in the past hydrogen had been sold (oversold, IMO) as something that we would be able to use in the near-term, and I just don't see that happening.

bigTom

I've always rolled my eyes when hydrogen is touted, especially as feedstock for fuel-cell based autos. Unlike some here, I think the feedstock is not the showstopper, i.e. envirnmentally sound generating solutions could be developed. But the cost of fuel cells has always been high. And the need for ultra-clean fuel to avoid fouling of electrodes. And frankly I've seen graphs of fuel-cell eficiency versus unitsize of the fuel-cell, and automobile sized units don't look very efficient.

This stuff has always felt to me to be more of a PR distraction "we are doing research for hydrohen cars, don't worry" then a serious prospect.

G. Holland

Eric, I am not against PHEV technology. I think its great technology. I think the playing field should be technology neutral, without the disingenuous trash talk. The people that talk trash about hydrogen have an agenda. They want public policy to turn away from hydrogen, so they aggressively crap on its potential with baseless techno-drivel. Isn't it interesting that both GM and Ford introduced their showcase PHEV technology with fuel cells on board. Is fuel cell technology dead? No way. Is the FCPHEV the best iteration to confront climate change? Could be. For the sake of our children, can't those of us who favor different technologies just learn to get along?

Paul Dietz

Isn't it interesting that both GM and Ford introduced their showcase PHEV technology with fuel cells on board.

The problem with FC-PHEVs is that the backup generator in a PHEV provides less of the total energy over the operating life of the vehicle than in a FC-HEV (or a IC-HEV). As a result, it is more difficult to amortize the higher capital cost of a FC vs. an IC engine (there is less energy going through it to be saved). A FC really 'wants' to be running most of the time, not just on occasional long trips.

mjtimber

Hey, the same discussion here, verbatim, as Clean Break! Geoff Holland seems to accuse everyone but him of having an agenda, though my guess is the only person here who has a monetary agenda toward any technology we're discussing is him. I know I have a 0% chance of making any money off what I say here, while he might sell another book or movie (check Amazon). For the sake of your children, you will continue to hype an inefficient hydrogen economy, but that's understandable. For the sake of OUR children, I will push for the option that might actually improve things. I've already laid out your agenda, so I'd appreciate you doing the same for me, because I'm too close to see it.

Nathan

Haha. Who doesn't have an agenda?

Myself, along with most who frequent this site want to see the quickest, simplest, and most economical path to clean energy independence. Unfortunately for you, that does not include hydrogen.

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I agree with one of the posts above and it all depends on what "show stopper" really means. Thanks for sharing the article.

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I don't think the fuel car is dead, just on terminal hold wading through bureaucracy. The government has it's hand in it.

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