back to article Hydrogen motoring too heavy for pundit

As a way of getting yourself crossed off Honda President Takeo Fukui's Christmas card list, a recent LA Times story about the Honda FX Clarity hydrogen EV is going to take some beating. Writer Dan Neil's bottom line is that “hydrogen is a lousy way to move cars”, a view based on two main criteria. Honda FX Clarity Honda's …


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  1. Neil

    Missing the big point

    It takes friggin hours to charge a leccy car. It takes minutes to fill it with hydrogen. For that reason, leccy cars are crap and are not the way of the future.

  2. Steve

    Hydrogen in Sheffield

    It's not on a forecourt, but maybe filling up with hydrogen in Sheffield isn't as far fetched as the quote makes out.

  3. andrew mulcock

    does it matter ?

    To be honest, does it matter ?

    we're going to run out of petroleum, sooner or later. so we're going to have to change something.

    we did not get lead free petrol for a long time after it was easily possible because 'the cost of conversion was too high', then one tax change later, and ha presto, it's done.

    we did not want north sea gas, it would only last a few years, so why change from town gas ? but we did because some one said lets do it.

    Same can be said for mercury, once upon a time we used to use it allover the place, now if I break a mercury thermometer I have to evacuate the lab. Just because some one decided so.

    Same will happen for the petrol vehicular, it and us will evolve, when we want to.

  4. David
    Thumb Up

    Nice to see a motoring journalist who gets it...

    Ahem, Top Gear.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Californian car journo are cluless dolts

    how long does it take to "refill" a Tesla with avfull charge - about 6 hours - compared to 3-4 minutes with the Honda. What other feature does the Tesla have that the HOnda lacks? - the abilility to break down for no reason in the middle of the road due to an "unkown" surge on the power draw.

    The hydrogen fuel cell engine is also a fraction of the weight of the multi 100kGs of the non environment friendly Lithum batteries of the Tesla.

    Paris, becuase even she can understand the difference.

  6. Lionel Baden


    They just cant charge you for water

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One advantage of hydrogen

    Is the time it takes to refuel. Because it's a liquid, refuelling times aren't much more than with good old-fashioned gasoline. Recharging a Tesla is an all-night affair. Now if super and ultra capicitors become a commercial reality perhaps that will change, but until then, hydrogen cars fit our needs better than electric.

    But perhaps methanol is the best fuel for the interim - it's liquid, it doesn't need new engines, it can be made from fossil fuels and it has a fabulous octane rating.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Does it matter?

    If its clean energy?

    so is using 200Kwh of Hydro Generated electricity worse than using 100KwH of Coal Fired Powerstation Energy?

    One of the beauties of the Hydrogen system is the storage, hydrogen can be produced by wind turbine energy when its windy and stored until its needed.

    Is Dan convieniently forgetting the 20% Transmission Losses on his Mains Electricity and the 40% inefficiencies in Battery Charging? Tsk Tsk..

    Admittedly the Hydrogen economy does really need a simple hydrogen sponge like technology to eliminate the high pressure requirement. but this needs users before investment will flow.

  9. Pete James

    Decent point made

    Dan does make a valid point about the energy required to generate hydrogen, although he only faintly touches on the local production of the stuff at the station - this would help to reduce some of the costs otherwise incurred by centralised production and transport. Dan forgot to mention that hydrogen escapes from the storage, so unless you are a frequent user then it's entirely possible to see your money literally disappear over time as the fuel gradually seeps away. He's also rather more bowled over by the Clarity than you perhaps made out Alun. He seems to have a ocean-deep emotional bond with his example, quite out of kilter with a brand that makes some superbly efficient but not really loveable vehicles.

    But Dan leaves out the one big overriding issue with plug-in technology; convenience. Filling up with petrol or diesel takes mere seconds. So does hydrogen by the same token. Plug-in, even for the most advanced cell technology, requires a lot more time. Now of course if people had a bit of a sit down and offered recharging points at supermarkets, or installed free wireless internet at fuelling stations then you could continue with your daily routine, doing those chores while your car gets charged up. But that then means your life revolves around your car, and that's a pretty upside-down way to run your life.

    An option here is to offer swappable power packs, a little like a portable drill; slide out the flat battery pack and push in a charged up one to get you back on the road. But that idea comes with a whole heap of issues by itself, and would be a labour intensive process ( a bit like the the early days of petrol stations, with attendants to do the job for you).

    When plug-ins become as convenient to use in the real world as hydrogen then we may see this to be the cul-de-sac it certainly threatens to be. Until then however both are alternative energy ideas with substantial hurdles to overcome.

    Besides, neither will ever work anyway. The unsprung weight is too high.

  10. Frank Bough
    Thumb Up

    Neal is Precisely Right

    Plug-in electrics will not directly replace cars in the way we use them now - in some ways they will be significantly better, in terms of range they will be inferior (though petrol/Diesel/LPG hybrids can fill that niche), but we neither need nor want to replace oil with hydrogen. It's absurd, and it's promoted by the industry forces that see their death in the widespread adoption of plug-in electrics.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Living in the real world?

    In the real world not every journey is less than the Tesla's 225 mile range, and not every driver can take a four hour brake to recharge their batteries. This is particularly the case in large countries like, oh let's stick a pin in a map, the USA.

    In the real world not everybody has a power point in their garage capable of pushing 70 amps at 240v for four hours. In the real world of my house that current would stop everything else working. Hell, the lights dim if you switch on the shower.

    In the real world lots of people park on street and so won't be able to recharge overnight.

    In the real world the Honda is a reasonably sized family car (by european standards, anyway) and so comparisons with the efficiency of the Tesla are somewhat wide of the mark. When Tesla start building a family car then you can make a worthwhile comparison.

    I don't think hydrogen is the answer, but until somebody comes up with a way of charging plug ins really quickly then plug ins are are not a real world solution either. Even then the real world simply does not have the electrical infrastructure to support plug ins. Consider a reasonably sized family plug in my have a 100KWh battery, charging that in five minutes would mean even 415v 3 phase would have to deliver almost 1000A per phase (assuming the charge is 100% efficient, which it isn't). At any given filling station you may see a dozen cars being fuelled at any one time. Does anybody really believe that the national grid can cope with this? In order for plug ins to be a real world solution we need a massive upgrade of our electrical infrastructure starting with a whole lot more generating capacity, working through the grid to carry all that extra current right down to the massive cables feeding every "filling" station. Is this going to happen? Who is going to fund it?

    Oh and all that assumes the batteries can actually take a charge in that time (with current technology they can't) and that we could actully lift a 3 phase cable that would carry that current (we can't).

    There may be a problem with deploying a fuelling infrastructure for hydrogen powered cars, however there are also massive problems with deploying the infrastructure for plug ins too. I don't have the answer, but I don't think that either hydrogen fuel cells or big batteries offer a real world solution as they stand today.

  12. michael

    never realy a goer

    there is only 2 advantages that h powered cars have over battries

    1. refule time

    2. life span of compents (and even this is debatable)

    and battries are catching them up on both counts wheres the disadvantages of h powered cars are laws of phisics (compresion and energy dencity)

    but my bet is still on some sort of artificle bio petrol maby made of some sort of algi that could be force gown in fatcory like conditions

  13. Tim Hale


    But what's the recharge time on a plug-in? I don't want to have to plan an overnight stop after 220 miles because it will take that long to fill-up!

    Of course, I don't want to have to plan my journeys around where I can get hydrogen either, the commute from Bristol to California to fill-up is going to be a right pain in the arse.

    Reminds me of Jeremy Clarkson's Ford GT that would do slightly less on a tank than the distance to work!

  14. Ian

    Give me hydrogen or death

    For once, Top Gears review of a car was spot on.

    They get the point of the Clarity.

    Its a car, that just happens to run on hydrogen.

    Trickle charge battery tech is a waste of time.

    I live in the middle of a victorian built and planned city.

    No way, no how, am I ever going to be able to find a place to plug my car in every night for 8 hours to charge. Hard enough just to park somewhere, never mind somewhere I can run a flex to.

    Yet at every out of town shopping centre, which I can drive to at my convenience, is a nice big pumping station just waiting to have a tank of hydrogen installed.

    Its not about the efficincy of the electric. Its about the convenience of filling it up.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Hydrogen vs. Leccie

    I'm surprised that the reg, thurough as they usually are, decided not to include the obvious omission made by the original article... namely to include the energy/cost needed to supply the battery for a leccie version of the car. I doubt it would be significant, given that the cost would of course be divided by how many charges the battery will hold over its lifetime, but as the energy storage mediums are very different wouldn't it have been prudent to include it none the less?

    I'll let the rest of the regmentators fight over which tech is best in the real world :P

  16. Phil Hare

    As James May pointed out...

    ...the efficiency of Hydrogen extraction will increase in line with the economic driver. No pun intended but, happily, stumbled upon.

  17. Andrew Cooper

    Narrow view

    > getting 1kg of hydrogen from water takes about 60kWh of electricity

    Maybe so, but then water is an extremely stable molecule. At present, don't we get our FCX hydrogen by cyphoning it off natural gas before it's fed into the mains gas supply?

    > setting up a hydrogen filling station infrastructure of any meaningful size is going to be Biblically expensive

    If only we already had a filling station infrastructure in places like Swindon and Sheffield...

    Bottom line, the charge-times on the electric vehicles are going to have to be reduced to a single digit number of minutes, not a number of hours to be practical, and that's where the Hydrogen vehicles have got 'em beat.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    mythical hydrogenised future

    ...May not be all that mythical with a very slight stretch of imagination.

    The negative points of the article are written with the assumption that hydrogen will always be produced using an inefficient form of electrolysis. This is where current efforts to develop biological (algae based I believe) techniques and other chemical conversion methods would yield dividends - potentially making hydrogen based transport more efficient than leccy-only in the medium term.

  19. Vlad The Impugner

    H production

    What about this:

  20. Dave


    Personally, I think you are both wrong: light fuels such as Methanol and Ethanol are a much better idea.

    These are easily synthesised, easily handled by the same style of infrastructure as for Petrol and Diesel, has similar energy densities, are inherently less polluting both in raw form and after combustion/passing through a fuel-cell.

    Plug-ins are a silly idea unless we have cheap electricity, and if we do, then it is better used for synthesising fuel.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    If its difficult to do, but if we need to do it...

    then surely legislation is the way forward. If the market solved everything we wouldn't need government.

    I take it you can't package hydrogen in swappable bottles, otherwise you could do that and take spare bottles on extended trips.

    Selling the car with a gps showing hydrogen facilities would mean you could start with relatively few stations.

  22. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    getting hydrogen into a car is horrible inefficient

    And what if, just now, we had suddenly invented petroleum powered cars and had to build an infrastructure to a) get oil out of the ground, b) refine it, c) transport it to filling stations?

    Exactly how efficient would that be starting from scratch?

  23. Niall Campbell

    Fuel cells suck..

    The actual cost of a fuel cell stack to power the hydrogen car is astronomical. They use very precious metals as catalyst to split electrons from the hydrogen, creating water and DC electricity.

    A single cell will generate at best 0.7v at 80 per cent efficiency. Numerous cells are required to make a workable voltage and that's before it even goes through an inverter to change it to AC.

    Then the usable electricity is only 63 per cent efficient. Factor in the small loss through the motor and then friction through tyres and other bearings, and it isn't such a wonderful thing.

    You haven't even started on the actual cost of production of Hydrogen, in monetary or environmental terms.

    Much better to put this Hydrogen around two hemi spheres of plutonium bomb with a shaped charged to crash them together and release all that energy in one fell swoop, preferably on California!!!

    Mine's the lead-lined one in the concrete bunker 500 metres below ground (zero)

  24. Tim Hughes
    Thumb Up

    Recharge DOES NOT = HOURS

    Spend oh, I don't know, maybe 5 minutes looking on the web regarding the latest advances in battery tech (see Altair Nano for one), and you will see there are an awful lot of models in the pipeline with recharge times claimed around 10 minutes.

    Now that is not a particular hardship, is it? People who can,will charge cheaply overnight, and others will go to fast recharge stations and go buy a paper or a cup of coffee.

  25. Dan delaMare-Lyon

    Hydrogen Infrastructure Costs

    I seem to recall an article, may even have been on el-reg tbh that mentioned the costs of a "usable" hydrogen filling infrastructure in the core EU countries as costing less than the first round of bail-outs to the banks (<£25bn)......perhaps we should have just chosen one bank in each country and cut it loose and spent the money on that......

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    battery recharge time

    Batteries already in production can do 10C charging (1C= 1 hour, 10C = 6 minutes empty to full). Even batteries not rated to do a full charge at 10C can be fast charged from 10% to 90% without effecting the life of the cells.

    The Tesla uses A123 cells which are rated @ 10C and could be, if they were cooled correctly, fully charged in 6 minutes.

    The technology to fast charge EVs is going to be rolled out in cities in the UK a lot sooner than hydrogen pumps, and once its there people will wonder what we were smoking to think hydrogen would ever be used to power cars.

  27. John

    Electric cars need infrastructure too

    It might be ok to recharge your electric car at home - *if* you have a garage to park it an and *if* it has the right power set up but what if you are away from home? Is your hotel going to let you charge your car free while you run an extension cord to the car park (hope it's not raining!). Happy to wait overnight every time?

    Electric cars need easily interchangable (and lighter/smaller) fuel cells to work effectively. Both hydrogen and electric cars would need new supporting fuel infrastructure to work. It's just that the hydrogen infrastructure seems much more practical to add to our current petrol stations. I'm just hoping they have addressed any flamability issues.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "One of the beauties of the Hydrogen system is the storage, hydrogen can be produced by wind turbine energy when its windy and stored until its needed".

    Not at the moment it cannot, hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, there is no industrial sized hydrogen-from-electricity producing plant in the world. Now batteries can be charged up when it is windy and discharged when it is not windy.

    Making hydrogen from electricity is something that you do in the chemistry laboratory to fill up a half-testtube or so, if you want a tank of the stuff then you get it from cracking methane with water. The funny thing is you can run the car FURTHER on the original methane than you can on the hydrogen you produce. In addition hydrogen is much harder to store than methane. So currently a "hydrogen" car is just a means to take a relatively easy to handle fuel and make it 1) harder to handle 2) less energy efficient overall - in oher words its completely stupid which is maybe why Clarkson likes them ;)

    On a final note, why do the Hydrogen-lovers always say that "extraction will become more efficient", sure its true enough (maybe), but battery technology will also (maybe) become more efficient too.

    I reckon we need some means to convert biomass directly into usefull motion for transporting people. You know something like a "horse"

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Frank Bough

    "Plug-in electrics will not directly replace cars in the way we use them now"

    I just love the way some people totally ignore the involvement of human nature in such a change. There are two reasons why plug ins will not replace IC power any time soon.

    People use motor vehicles for their perceived convenience. As far as the consumer is concerned a day to day appliance is more convenient than the old one. An automatic washing machine is much more convenient than a twin tub. When automatics became widely available do you think people would have coughed the extra wedge for an automatic had it been less convenient than a twin tub? Of course not.

    The plug in is less convenient than a traditional IC powered car in most ways that matter for the vast majority of drivers. Don't imagine that being cheaper to run will seduce many punters. Public transport is cheaper than driving, but it is less convenient so the majority choose to drive.

    Hydrogen fuel cells can replicate the convenience of IC power, plug ins cannot.

    The other issue of human nature is the resistance to investment. The TCO of a 'leccy car may well be lower than that of an IC powered car over the whole period of ownership, but if the initial investment is significantly higher than the cost of the IC alternative then human nature means that the average punter will still opt for IC. It matters not how much you explain the reduction in TCO the vast majority of people will plump for the lower initial investment. I supposed this is reasonable when most people have to borrow money to buy a car.

    These are the two main non-technical reasons why we are a long way from large scale uptake of 'leccy tech. I know that there are those who believe that people will happilly make massive changes to their use of their car in order to save the planet, but these people really are living in cloud cuckoo land. If people were that concerned about the impact of their cars on the environment then there would be a lot more people taking the bus and fewer cars on the road.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Petrol Stations? Petrol Stations?!

    How can anyone expect petrol-driven cars to take off when it would require almost every major town in the country to have a place where petrol was available over the counter (presumably in specially made bags)? To say nothing of the difficulties faced by the rural driver! Who thinks of this nonsense?

    Clearly, steam driven cars will remain the only feasable option, as both water and coal are already easily available everywhere already

  31. David
    Paris Hilton

    A few extra substations...

    @anonymous coward.

    "At any given filling station you may see a dozen cars being fuelled at any one time. Does anybody really believe that the national grid can cope with this? In order for plug ins to be a real world solution we need a massive upgrade of our electrical infrastructure starting with a whole lot more generating capacity, working through the grid to carry all that extra current right down to the massive cables feeding every "filling" station. Is this going to happen? Who is going to fund it?"

    Do you really think our national grid can cope with 4 times as much demand to make all the hydrogen you envisage?

    What's harder and more expensive to install, a national hydrogen infrastructure or a few extra 11kV grid connections? The latter is pretty easily added wherever you have a new row of shops or houses. The latter will cost millions per station and probably have the NIMBYs out in force.

    Paris, for all the people that think hydrogen is the answer.

  32. Marcelo Rodrigues
    Thumb Up

    Hot Swap batteries?

    How come everybody imagine that a battery operated car would have to be recharged like a cell phone? Why not just change the battery?

    Think about it:

    1) Drive untill the charge runs flat.

    2) Go to a "battery station"

    3) Pay for the charge, not for the hardware. You leave your exausted battery there, and goes out with another one - full charged!

    No more complains about duration of the charging process. A unit can be charged while stored, and a big station can have batteries enough to cycle through the 8 hour charge time.

    Yes, the city power grid would have to be adapted. But the hydrogen solution would require something to be done too. So... I'd go with batteries (or supercapacitors or whatever).

  33. Charles

    Question about hydrogen

    This weblink asks a few interesting hydrogen questions:

    As I recall, hydrogen at room temperature is a gas and therefore requires significant amounts of pressure to liquefy (that or extreme cold). Which means the tank must be able to withstand that pressure, and that by default creates safety risk not unlike your average gas or SCUBA cylinder. Doesn't that pose a potential safety risk should said tank leak or be ruptured by accident or sabotage?

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Screw it scaletrix is the future

    why drag the weight of the batteries around?

  35. Eddy Ito


    If water were the only source of hydrogen, he might have a point. It isn't and Mr. Neil doesn't. Converting plain old sucrose, yes table sugar, into it's constituent elements gives off about 2 megajoules, about .57 kW/hr. It takes about 62 kg of sucrose to make 4 kg of hydrogen gas and in the process you get some 35 kW/hr. You then drive the car 270 miles. Granted it isn't as simple as all that and 62 kg of sugar isn't free but the point is, with apologies to Mr. Shakespeare, there are more things with hydrogen on earth, Dan Neil, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  36. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    But ...

    everything that hydrogen is "supposed" to be - clean, convenient, yada, yada, yada - can be said of Methanol. The difference is that Methanol :

    - doesn't need expensive new distribution infrastructure (it's compatible with the existing low-tech tankers and plumbing). And it's compatible with existing storage and dispensing equipment so just about any petrol forecourt could carry methanol without huge expenditure.

    - is compatible with EXISTING vehicles with minor modifications, and new vehicles could be made flex fuel for a trivial cost (I've heard of perhaps £100 on the sticker price)

    - can be made anywhere you've got leccy and carbon dioxide (photovoltaic panels in sunny areas anyone ?). And once made, can be easily transported in unpressurised tankers.

    - can be carbon neutral for the whole cycle, and if used as a feedstock for plastic production can even be carbon negative.

    - is mixable in any proportion with petrol and methanol, so if you can't find methanol supplies, you can use what's available.

    - is much safer in handling and use than either petrol or hydrogen.

    but isn't "politically fashionable" so there's no interest in doing something useful when there's "research grants" to be had for the hydrogen white elephant

  37. Drunken

    Electric Cars are Better

    Compared to hydrogen powered cars, electric cars are simpler, cheaper and more efficient. The only real problem with them is the storage of electricity. However the storage of hydrogen is also a big problem.

    If your argument is that it takes ages to charge, well here is a simple idea, exchange the batteries!

    The hydrogen powered economy is a dream, one which has got surprisingly far despite reality. There again so is carbon sequestration yet they will spend billions on it (before shelving the idea) even though it is obviously not economical.

  38. Stuart Van Onselen


    The excess heat from nuclear power-plants can apparently be used to help crack water. So while it is true that it takes a shed-load of energy to produce H2, it doesn't matter as much if much of that energy would have been wasted anyway.

    And producing H2 from natural gas is not a long-term strategy, either, because we'd still be relying on fossil fuels and still pouring CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Does anyone know when or if methanol fuel-cells will scale up to car-powering sizes?

  39. Mr Bear


    "Neil's second, and more obvious, point is that the cost of setting up a hydrogen filling station infrastructure of any meaningful size is going to be Biblically expensive."

    And just how expensive is it going to be to put some kind of charging system in every parking spot in the world, along with credit card readers and cash machines in order for people to pay for recharging.

    Currently I wouldn't be able to charge my car up as I park on the street and having a charge cable go across the pavement would be a health and safety violation. And then you have to take into account that someone could just come along during the night and unplug my car and plug their's in and then switch it back before I get up and they have a nice full car and mine is running on empty. Charge up cars have so many problems beyond the charging up to deal with that it's going to be ridiculous to go down that route.

  40. Neil

    Further missing the point

    Screw all this electric/hydrogen crap - where the hell is my flying car?

  41. marius


    we're going to run out of petroleum, sooner or later. so we're going to have to change something.

    we did not want north sea gas, it would only last a few years, so why change from town gas ? but we did because some one said lets do it.

    Same can be said for mercury, once upon a time we used to use it allover the place, now if I break a mercury thermometer I have to evacuate the lab. Just because some one decided so.

    -- end quote--

    We're going to run out of oil in 20-50 years

    So let's make electric cars and power them by electricity ... Oh wait, electricity is made by coal and oils and coals will run out in about 100-200 years and they can't be regenerated...

    So what's left... well we have nuclear power but that nuclear fuel will only last for a short time, there's not enough out there... and then there's the sun which is always there above your head.

    So I guess we need to use the sun better but the current solar cells use some rare metals which are not in unlimited supply so we have to research alternative ways of getting sun energy... I don't know, maybe thinking of some genetic mutations on plants to replicate somehow the photosynthesis process to our advantage?

    Also probably the best bet would be to get people used to smaller cars, and make them lighter therefore easier to drive with less fuel... the only reason for cars being heavy and chunky now is for protection purposes but let's make cars drive themselves and prevent accidents this way and we'll be able to have lighter and simpler cars.

  42. WonkoTheSane
    Thumb Up

    How to do it...

    I recently saw a show called "Renovation Nation" on Discovery, which featured a man

    who had dropped a sizable lump of cash (6 figures IIRC) on the perfect way to do this.

    He'd built a solar farm to crack H2 from H2O drawn from an on-site well

    (no water bills), a tank farm in the back yard to store the hydrogen, and installed a

    fuel cell in the garage to power his house.

    He was also able to bleed the odd kilo of hydrogen off to run his (converted) car.

  43. Brian Whittle

    better solutions will become available

    The fuel from algae seems a much better prospect to me as does biomass fuel when they get organisms to break down cellulose , which will come then the cars we have now could be used with some modification

    Fuel from fuel is not a solution but from green plants , fuel from your garden clippings now that will be good

  44. Brian Whittle

    it seems odd anyway

    would not a car that actually runs on hydrogen be better

    not one that uses the hydrogen to make electricity which turns electric motors

    . basically the clarity is an electric car that generates its own leccy with a hydrogen generator , seems a bit arse about face to me

  45. Steve


    You've got to give them credit for producing something.

    How many cars running on alternative energy sources have the big American car makers made?

  46. Steve Hodson

    Not so far fetched...

    I see plug in cars as a viable alternative for a second or third car....I forget what the average stats are but here in Cali, it seems the minimum is one car for every member of the household plus one for every recreation or other use vehicle 'needed' :

    Mums Car

    Dads Car

    Kids Car

    Dads Truck of those parental runabout cars could easily be a plug-in vehicle where it's not a major emergency if the car is charging (since there are multiple choices of vehicle available..)

  47. Simpson


    How many cars running on alternative energy sources have the big American car makers made?

    In the U.S., most of their cars come out of the factory (no modifications needed) ready to run on 85% booze / 15% gasoline. It's called E85 here, and it tastes terrible.

    GM, Chrysler, Ford each had at least one E85 vehicle/motor combo in 98/99. In 2009 Chrysler has 15, Ford 8, GM 24. Toyota has 2, several other brands have 1 each. Re:

    E85 is pushed as a lower cost per gallon alternative to gasoline, but E85 gets lower mileage than gasoline. So the 1/1 comparison doesn't work so well when MPG is tossed in.

    For Hydrogen, anyone who thinks that "their car runs on Hydrogen from water" is misinformed. Hydrogen is currently made in a "looney tunes toaster" way. It uses NG + the electricity to convert the NG to Hydrogen. According to the D.O.E. "95% of the hydrogen produced in the U.S. is made via natural gas reforming in large central plants".

    The next line is even better: "The hydrogen produced is used predominantly for petroleum refining and ammonia production for fertilizer"

    But I would support an attempt to convert to a H2 from H2O economy. I would guess that we would need 3+ nuclear reactors in every state, for local production. So even if a promised H2 from H2O economy wasn't feasible, at least we would have 150+ new nuclear reactors, and plenty of electricity to fall back on. It seems like a more realistic plan than a windmill based economy (no offense to the Dutch, or their dykes).

  48. michael

    hydrogren inforstructor

    the problem is that hydrogen <> petrol for any trype of storage or transport petrol is a nealy liquid at room temp and presser where as hydrogen is a gass till you squees or frees it a LOT so we will need new storage tanks new pipes new everythign execpt the buildings and that is the same sort of cost accocet with having a lecky infrostructor they only way we are goign to get by with the same infructor is by having a fule with very simlur chemical properties

    @mirus and other

    for pepol looking into energy stanibility try this I think he says there is actuality plenty of uniaium left

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    In what way does that help the environment? If you burn ethanol you still produce C02. And how is the ethanol in E85 produced anyway?

    What the world is looking for is a way of powering cars that reduces the emissions of greenhouse gasses. Using electricity whether directly as a plug in or indirectly via hydrogen generation, is favoured because there is a lot of research into producing electricity with low greenhouse gas emissions. Hydro, tidal, wave, wind and geothermal generation are all getting a lot of attention at the moment.

    What the US is looking for is a way to reduce it's reliance on oil from the middle east. E85 is not a green alternative to derv and petrol, just an alternative.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hold on a mo. The guy usued solar generated electricity to crack hyrdrogen from water in order to power a fuel cell to run his house. That seems a very expensive way of doing it. Wouldn't it have been a lot cheaper to use those solar cells to charge batteries? The guy has spent more than my lifetime's household energy bill there. So all this demonstrates is that his way of doing things is stupidly expensive.

  51. Peter Snow

    Hydrogen Filling Stations?

    There are many people around the world already running their cars on hydrogen and there is no need for any filling stations. The name Daniel Dingle comes to mind, who has been running his cars on hydrogen for more than 30 years, in the Philippines.

    There is no need for a filling station, because you don't fill with hydrogen, you just fill water. You have an onboard hydrogen generator which is powered by the car's standard electrical system and extracts the hydrogen from the water. It's a very simple process and there is much information online regarding how to convert any vehicle to hydrogen. There are also kits available (although most of them only go half way, in that they allow you to convert your car to a hybrid).

    There are online groups and forums for those interested in persueing this. On such group that springs to mind is the Yahoo! group "Watercar".

    The technology is available, it's just that car manufacturers won't admit it yet. I beleive the reason for this is political.

  52. DRendar

    @Peter Snow

    I call BS on that. Unless Mr Dingel has somehow broken the laws of physics!

    The amount of electricity required to crack hydrogen from water FAR exceeds the energy that can be harnessed from said hydrogen, be that in a Fuel Cell, or by burning it.

    IF (and it is a HUGE IF) he has figured some way of doing it, then he has done the impossible and created the perpetual motion machine.

    You see, even if someone devised a 100% efficient method of cracking water, AND a 100% efficient method of harnessing the energy from the Hydrogen (Both of which are completely impossible), you would still only get back the same amount of energy you put in. (In this case, a 12V battery)

    I hope I'm wrong. I really do. But that will also make Newton, Einstein, Hawking and every other physisist in the world wrong too.

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