L.A. Times: “Hydrogen fuel-cell technology won’t work in cars.” Duh. Time for Obama and Chu to kill the program.

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"L.A. Times: “Hydrogen fuel-cell technology won’t work in cars.” Duh. Time for Obama and Chu to kill the program."

Honda’s striking, amazing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle may be the most expensive, advanced and impractical car ever built.

Honda FCX Clarity - front view

So writes Dan Neil, the L. A. Times car guy in “Honda FCX Clarity: Beauty for beauty’s sake,” (vehicle details here).

You will never buy a hydrogen car. And I say that mostly because I know that in the unlikely event a major car company actually ever tries to sell you one, you are just way too smart to bite or even nibble. And I say that not because you read ClimateProgress, but because you are breathing at all. Hydrogen cars are simply too impractical.

It is time for President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu to drastically scale back the federal hydrogen fuel cell vehicle program, to a small basic research program focused on long-term breakthroughs in hydrogen storage, fuel cells, and renewable hydrogen. This could free up some $1 billion in Obama’s first term alone for more important R&D and more urgent deployment efforts (see “An introduction to the core climate solutions“).

The hydrogen emperor has no clothes. This isn’t news overseas (see “The car of the perpetual future” — The Economist agrees with Climate Progress on hydrogen). Nor is it news that the Honda FCX is a lemon, tangible proof of the futility of pursuing the commercialization of hydrogen cars (see “The Last Car You Would Ever Buy — Literally“).

But it is a big deal to see the car guy of the L.A. Times — in the home state of many of the last remaining hydrogen diehards, the state that had until recently seriously entertained building a “hydrogen highway” — dismantle the vehicle in his review, so I’ll reprint it below:

I’ve driven lots of cars. I’ve wallowed like a Russian oligarch pig in the gorgeous mud of a $1.6-million Bugatti Veyron. I’ve spit tailpipe fire across the midnight Mojave at the wheel of a Lamborghini. I’ve brushed gape-mouthed peasants aside with the chrome cowcatcher grille of a Rolls Royce Phantom.

Yet I have never driven a car half as advanced, as futuristic, as blind-with-science as the Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.

Nor one so expensive. More on that in a moment.

But first, let’s get this out of the way: Hydrogen fuel-cell technology won’t work in cars. It’s a tragic cul-de-sac in the search for sustainable mobility, being used to game the California Air Resources Board’s rules requiring carmakers to build zero-emission vehicles. Any way you look at it, hydrogen is a lousy way to move cars.

Face it: Fuel-cell technology has been eclipsed by vastly cheaper, here-now advances in batteries and plug-in electric vehicles. To knit together even the barest network of H2 refueling stations would cost billions. And, in any case, the fuel itself, whether produced by cracking natural gas or hydrolyzing water (consult your freshman chemistry texts), represents a horrible energy return on investment.

Some illustrative math: It takes about 60 kilowatt-hours of electricity to gin a kilogram of hydrogen from water. The FCX Clarity’s tank holds about 4 kilograms of H2 and that gives it a range of about 270 miles on 240 kWhs.

The all-electric Tesla Roadster has a 53-kWh lithium-ion battery and a range of 220 miles. So the Tesla’s per-mile costs in electricity are roughly one-quarter what they are in the FCX Clarity.

Should hydrogen partisans care to debate these questions — and go down like Zeros over the Mariana Islands — I’ll meet you on the field on honor. Calculators at dawn.

If any other company but Honda trotted this thing out, I’d barf with skepticism. But Honda is dead earnest about hydrogen, and it is only its relentless, year-after-year improvement in this technology, and the extraordinary treasure Honda throws at it, that makes me think that the company knows something I don’t — well, that and the army of PhDs at its command.

Yet as I see it, there are only two reasons to build the car. First, major manufacturers must begin complying with California’s mandate that each sell 7,500 zero-emission vehicles between 2012 and 2014. Fuel-cell vehicles get extra points in meeting this quota.

Of the 200 FCX Claritys Honda intends to build, it will lease almost all of them in Southern California. (Interested customers can apply for a lease online at www.fcx.honda.com.)

The carmaker won’t say what the program cost for the vehicle is, but I estimate about $400 million, which pencils out to $2 million per vehicle. That makes my four-door test car the most valuable automobile I’ve ever driven by a margin of about one whole Ferrari 430.

The second reason Honda might have had for building the FCX Clarity: Nothing invested in this project goes to waste. The car’s state-of-the-art fuel cell can be amortized in Honda’s portable power generation division (the company makes awesome generators). And since a fuel-cell vehicle is essentially an electric vehicle with a hydrogen heart, all the technology — the glossy aerodynamics; the powerful, quiet and compact 100 kW (134 hp) electric motor; the new space-saving coaxial gearbox — can be rolled into future electric and plug-in electric projects.

Perhaps obscured by questions of practicality and cost is the fact — and it is a fact — that the FCX Clarity is the most beautiful car to ever wear the big H on the nose. It’s just gorgeous, a big garnet-red teardrop falling from the cheek of the future, a sweet stanza of robot-written poetry.

The reason the FCX Clarity could take such a compelling shape is that it didn’t have to be molded around the big, immovable lumps of a conventional sedan. There’s no gas engine up front, so the cabin could extend dramatically forward like a mid-engine car. The large and steeply raked windshield falls away from the driver, and the roof-supporting A-pillars are exceptionally thin. The result is a wonderful cab-forward view, a panorama you won’t see anywhere else but on the back of a motorcycle.

Likewise, with the small fuel cell stack (about the size of a desktop PC) situated between the front seats, and the lithium-ion battery and hydrogen tank stuffed over the rear axle, the car’s cabin has room to stretch out. The FCX Clarity is huge on the inside, like Lincoln-Town-Car huge, and the trunk is a spacious 11 cubic feet. The whole is encapsulated in singlet of wind-swept modernism.

To underscore the car’s eco-friendly mission, Honda uses petroleum-free resins and bio-based fabrics to construct the interior, and it really is wonderful stuff. Rich textures abound, including a tasteful wainscoting of walnut on the dash and doors. God only knows what all this costs. When I think about all the tooling used to build a mere 200 cars, I feel faint.

The other bewitching thing about the FCX Clarity is the instrument panel. The 3-D display centers on an animated ball. When you are driving efficiently, with gradual acceleration and long coast-downs to recharge the battery, the ball is small and blue and happy. When you start horsing around, the ball gets big and yellow and angry, as if to say: You’re wasting hydrogen, stupid. Do you even know what hydrogen costs?

How does the FCX Clarity drive? Exactly as you’d expect an electric Honda Accord to: eerily smooth, flawless in operation, confident and lively. The whack-bang of an internal-combustion engine, with the myriad second-order vibrations and gear whine, is supplanted by the ghostly murmurings of distant electrons, and so the gestalt of the car is serene, even tranquilizing.

Behold, the grand and lovely futility of the FCX Clarity. It’s hard to scold something so wonderful, so I won’t. Just bring me one that I can plug in.

Don’t worry, Dan, the plug-ins are coming:

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31 Responses to L.A. Times: “Hydrogen fuel-cell technology won’t work in cars.” Duh. Time for Obama and Chu to kill the program.

  1. why is the car parked in the ocean?

  2. Joe says:

    Bill — Where do you think they got the hydrogen?

  3. Greg N says:

    Because there’s a lot of H2 in the ocean? You just need to filter out the salt and the O2.

    In the meantime, Honda is launching their new Insight hybrid next month. Similar in size to the Prius – but the price is expected to be significantly lower and the mpg is very nearly as good.

    And they have styled the Insight on the Clarity’s looks – so the fact that the reviewer loved the car’s style is excellent news!

    If the Insight hybrid is rated at 104 grams CO2 per kilometre (and costs $20,000 to $22,000), why spend millions on a hydrogen car that will still emit plenty of CO2 per km, assuming the H2 is made by electrolysis off the existing generating mix.

  4. charlie says:

    Joe: first came to this blog because of your hydrogen book. Excellent stuff. The Top Gear review of the Clarity was disappointing: even if you like hydrogen cars it it years away from being real.

    Anywho, I had a thought: if we do develop a significant wind power economy in the future, couldn’t you use the wind power at night to make hydrogen? I’d love to see trucks and fleet vehicles using hydrogen and/or natural gas — not from a CO2 but from a pollution angle. I don’t think the diesel-hybrids will make effective city buses and trucks in the next 20 years.

    Hydrogen cars, however, will always be a wet dream.

  5. Carl Yee says:

    Are you kidding. None of that is true? Why are you intentionally trying to damage hydrogen. This sounds like Bush Fake Science.

  6. Joe says:

    Read the links.

    You lose 75% of the wind power plus you pay for an expensive electrolyzer and fuel cell (and storage). You can go three to four times as far by using the wind power to charge up plug-in hybrid batteries — and you don’t have to waste money on the fuel cell and electrolyzer.

  7. Jonsi says:

    I’ve long been convinced that fuel cells are not the way to go for cars, but what about buses/large construction equipment? Are there any links comparing efficiency losses and pros and cons across ALL types of vehicles?

  8. charlie says:

    Joe: Thanks.

  9. Sasparilla says:

    Great Idea about freeing up the wasted development dollars for this stuff, I’d love to see it put into something worthwhile.

  10. GreenPRGuy says:

    Be nice to Dan Neill at the Times. He’s the best car writer out there – who else bags a Pulitzer for automotive criticism? – and at the end of the day, I think, generally sympathetic with the cause.

    Even if he is a petrolhead.

  11. Maarten says:

    H2 can be produced from (wet or dry) biomass, through pyrolysis with steam. Efficiency of biomass transformation into H2 around 85 %.

  12. Geoff says:

    Maarten: Forgive my ignorance but I have not seen that suggested before.
    My immediate reaction was about the energy required to produce the steam, and would that cancel out the benefits of the process. I’m no scientist, but I recall that it takes a lot of energy to change water to steam.

    A partial solution might be to use geothermal heat to produce the steam even if this places some geographical limits on the applied practicality of pyrolysis.

    Nevertheles it might provide an option for hydrogen power. Then again steam produced from a geothermal souce might be more efficiently applied to generating electricity, and permit more electric car charging, or even clean power for industry.

  13. vfx says:

    Yeah, I have seen Dan at more than one green car event here in LA. He has reviewed the Tesla electric Sports car several times over it’s growth. Now that the company is delivering he gives it some quality prose worth a read:
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-neil6-2009feb06,0,2583284.story

    By the way, March 26th Tesla introduces it’s 2011 sedan.

  14. Rick C says:

    [Shill Alert on] : )Joe,

    I learned how lousy hydrogen would be to fuel cars when our local Houston Electric Auto Association president discussed in 2½ years ago on a local radio program as part of a promotion for “Who Killed the Electric Car.” As a longtime fan of hydrogen as fuel for cars I was dismayed and disillusioned. As I read more about it I was awe struck over the EROI for hydrogen. I read your book “The Hype About Hydrogen” and I enjoyed it, if that is appropriate to the subject, because it detailed the false promise of hydrogen. So I get annoyed now that there is still any push for hydrogen from the big auto manufactures. [Shill Mode Off]

  15. Bob Wright says:

    What it would take is a number of GenIV nukes dedicated to making H2 from H2O, electrically or by chemical hydrolysis at about 1000 C. The H2 could then be distrinuted to compression stations in dirigibles. Trucks or even rail would probably consume too much energy. Pipelines? Leaks??? Boom! Sounds crazy. Yes! H2 dirigibles will be the supertankers of the future! Just remember the Hindenburg.

    H2 has a short life in the environment, but is possibly an ozone depleter. Might not make us popular down under.

  16. carey says:

    i wouldn’t write off hydrogen entirely. The mainstream car media, who don’t have much interest in green cars, are very enthusiastic about this car because of its performance. The mainstream car media is what drives market demand and if the demand is there the supply will come and so it could be a realistic future for cars

  17. Mike says:

    Actually we could save a lot more if we cancelled a the oil company subsidies and tax breaks. That would amount to hundreds of billions. If everyone knew the actual cost of a gallon of gasoline that is hidden in their taxes they would think that Hydrogen is a bargain. The International Center for Technology assesment in DC has added up the taxpayer subsides to oil companies, the cost to taxpayers that the emissions have created in health problems, protection costs in oil shipments, environmental costs, etc.. and concluded that we have been paying between $5 and $15 a gallon for gas from year to year.

  18. Mike says:

    Forgot to mention, if you are concerned about energy returned on energy invested you should be concerned about gasolines NEGATIVE 20% EROEI.
    Remember oil companies spend a lot of our money searching for oil, drilling for oil, not findind oil, searching again, drilling again, not finding again. When they do find it not only is a lot of energy used to extract it but oil is also consumed in almost every step of oil processing so there is a lot more oil in every gallon of gas than the oil companies will ever tell you.

  19. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Hello Joe!

    As mentioned in a previous post, the Honda folks aren’t coming clean re the hydrogen strorage tank. Since it is a high-pressures storage tank, it will have to be removed at periodic intervals (e.g., every few years) and sent to the manufacturer for structural integerty testing. Who is going to pay for this service? If defects are found in the tank, who pays the cost for a replacement? These high-pressure hydrogen tanks are made from
    an expensive alloy containing chromium that is resistant to hydrogen metal embrittlement and they cost a bundle.

    Since hydrogen is a dangerous good, any commercial vehicle carrying
    it is required by law to come to a full and complete stop at all railroad crossings, and transport officials won’t give the car a free pass on this requirement. If potential buyers of the car learn about this rule, they would never buy it.

  20. Jeff says:

    I guess I will have to be one of the few hydrogen supporters on this site. I too have read The Hype about Hydrogen, and found a lot with which I agreed–but also a lot with which I vehemently disagreed.

    Joe, I think that you might be guilty of Luddite-like behaviour exasperated by the certainty with which you draw your conclusions. Fuel cells have been in serious development for a lot less time than both ICEs and batteries–really only in earnest since the early ’90s. It would be unreasonable to expect them to match the performances of these two incumbent technologies that have not only been in development for a century or more, but continue to improve. Having said that, unless there is a revolutionary breakthrough in electrical energy storage technology (a la EEStor that is thus far vapourware), batteries just won’t get vehicles the range that a combination of fuel cell and battery (and ultracapacitor) can and, dare I say, will.

    It’s disingenuous to compare the Tesla Roadster and the FCX Clarity: the former is a two-seater! But even in vehicles of the same weight and size, battery vehicles will win out in terms of efficiency. No one should dispute this.

    But it’s important to point out the disadvantages of batteries as well as fuel cells in this forum. Batteries are prone to self-discharge (so you can’t leave them sitting too long), performance degradation (especially if you discharge them too quickly or too deeply), and voltage degradation (meaning that you can’t get the same power at the end of a discharge that you can at the start), among others.

    Fuel cell and hydrogen storage technologies have come a long way in the past few decades, as the FCX Clarity shows. But it’s not there yet, as the FCX Clarity also shows. However, unless the average consumer is willing to accept that they will have to stop to “fill up” their vehicle every 200 miles or so (and even this distance is very optimistic with battery technologies in anything larger than a sports car), battery vehicles will never become dominant, and fuel cell-battery-ultracapacitor hybrids seem like a promising way to dislodge the ICE from its pedestal.

    The mistake that battery vehicle enthusiasts make, IMHO, is that they see fuel cells and batteries as competing, rather than complementary, technologies. These two need each other to make up for their weaknesses. Only when the public is offered a vehicle that is as good and as cheap as the ICE vehicle will these replacements be embraced on a large scale.

    So fuel cells need to drastically improve their power densities, lifetime, and especially cost. Hydrogen storage needs to increase the energy density and cost. And we need to figure out a way to produce the hydrogen. I happen to agree with Charlie above that renewable energy such as wind power would be ideal for producing hydrogen, often at night when the electrical demand is otherwise very low. Producing hydrogen could conceivably be part of the solution to the storage problems inherent to many renewables.

    I would argue to Joe and the people of this forum to not be like Lord Kelvin (I have read he never said this, but I like the quote too much to stop using it) who said,”Heavier-than-air machines will never fly.” As a fuel cell researcher, I have seen first-hand how much progress has been made. I don’t believe the remaining problems are intractable; they simply need time and effort and we will get there.

    Oh, and Bob Wright: the Hindenburg disaster was not caused by H2 but rather by the jet fuel-like paint that was used to coat the dirigible. This myth has been debunked for a long time, and I believe it’s time to put this baby to bed.

  21. Bob Wallace says:

    “But it’s important to point out the disadvantages of batteries as well as fuel cells in this forum. Batteries are prone to self-discharge (so you can’t leave them sitting too long), performance degradation (especially if you discharge them too quickly or too deeply), and voltage degradation (meaning that you can’t get the same power at the end of a discharge that you can at the start), among others.”

    Self-discharge is a minor problem for today’s batteries.

    Batteries do have a problem of losing ability with multiple charge/discharge cycles, but that’s figured into the math. Once their performance has started to reduce range they can continue to be used for grid storage. The car owner is going to buy the first few years of battery usage and then sell it on to utility storage.

    Battery voltage does drop as power is withdrawn. That simply means that more amps are pulled over unit time to make up for the lower voltage. Volts x amps = power.

  22. jake says:

    @Jeff

    I’ve been a big BEV enthusiast for a while and I’ve grown to adopt a more moderate view of Hydrogen. Even with it’s drawbacks, if they can get the prices of everything down to affordable it is still a fairly decent alternative to BEVs, esp if BEVs don’t evolve enough to address it’s weak points (cost, range, charging speed) or if they don’t get adopted. The Toyota FCHV is a eye-opener in terms of range (350 miles claimed), so it does show the promise hydrogen can hold.

    Of course being a BEV enthusiast, it’s pretty obvious that Hydrogen & BEVs do compete for attention in the media. It seems Hydrogen is held a lot higher than BEVs in some parts of the media, more to the Holy Grail of automobiles (see Top Gear’s popular hydrogen piece). It’s impossible as an BEV enthusiast not to get jealous of that attention and try to shoot it down.

    And there is also a real fear that if the public (through the media) put bets on hydrogen, necessary steps to get BEVs on the market will never happen (rapid charge and street charging infrastructure, further automotive battery development, and more importantly BEVs from mainstream automakers). I guess that kind of explains why basically any BEV enthusiast will put down Hydrogen every chance they get. I imagine the situation will get better as BEVs get on the market; a large reason why I’m more moderate toward hydrogen is BEVs are slated to move into market soon.

    And I do feel hydrogen & BEVs do compete in the near future, the main example being GM & Toyota’s shift from big hydrogen supporters to at least supporting partially BEVs. It’s clear if it wasn’t from fallout from the “Who Killed the Electric Car” (which I realize was full of inaccuracies) with the combination of the Tesla Roadster reigniting public interest in BEVs (& PHEVs), the companies would have been content with solely working on hydrogen, while, on the other hand, even when supporting BEVs now, research on hydrogen vehicles continues (since as you said it is newer technology).

  23. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    ATTN: Jeff

    The Honda folks also aren’t saying that these cars can’t be use in cold climates because water from the fuel cell freezes in the exhasust pipe and too much juice is required to heat the passenger cabin. There are also problems with the electrolytes required for cold weather service.

    Fuels have a thermal of about 60% which is a little better than a modern Diesel engine which is about 50%, the highest of all themal engines

  24. harold burbank says:

    Honda is not in business to lose money, so it is foolish to think they do not know and think about a great deal more than newspaper writers. Those PhDs DO know a lot more than what is released by Honda. Further, it is a fact that hydrogen represents a ubiquitous source of clean fuel. Conversion to exclusive hydrogen energy tech worldwide would theoretically eliminate energy wars (ie Iraq) saving trillions (if not saving us from nuclear war extinction; priceless), provide millions of new energy jobs and industries, and reverse climate change. Perhaps Honda sees this big social costs savings picture and presses forward accordingly, for profit,
    not altruism.

    Fuel cells based hydrogen tech is unwise for all reasons posters suggested. This is why I keep studying the efficacy of hydrogen gas as fuel, to be used in modified car engines of today. I do not see why these cars would not be reasonable substitutes for petro-fueld cars. Such hydro cars have existed for decades in car corp labs. Economies of mass scale would bring their costs down. Infrastructure building costs could be justified for the social reasons I stated. What’s missing is the incentive to go forward with such massive work and costs. Enter the so called worldwide economic meltdown, that Nobel economists like Paul Krugman say need a 1 trillion infusion of “something” for stabilization. Since the taxpayer “owns” Detroit via bailout today, I say compel them to build the hydro transport tech required to guarantee our great grandchildren’s energy independence and security, while pulling our financial feet from the depression fire, and saving the environment. If we do not do it, I think Honda will and IS.

  25. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    ATTN: Harold!

    I have said this before here and elsewhere and I will say this here for the last time: The main disadvantage of hydrogen gas as a transportation fuel is low energy density. You just can’t beat Diesel for high energy density. For example, the VW TDI’s can go 900 km on a tank full of Delightful Diesel.

    In a recent post I briefly described the commercial processes of winning hydrogen away from ores such as methane and water. These processes are highly endothermic: enormous amounts of energy are required to “smelt” methane and water.

    Don’t worry about sources of “crude oil” for transporation fuels. There are about 10-15 trillion barrels of unconvential oil in the ground. Go over to the Oil Drum and read about Shell’s R and D projects in northwestern Colorado for recovery a crude oil from oil shale using in situ resistive heating. GO: http://www.heavyoilinfo.com and learn about methods of enhanced oil recovery of heavy and extra heavy crude oils.

    As I have mentioned before, boats, planes and trains, etc will always require and use hydrocarbon fuels not only because of these fuels have high energy density but also because these fuels can be easily prepared from crude oil by physical processes with the requisite physical and chemical properties for any particular use, e.g., jet fuel.

  26. Jeff Wishart says:

    Jake: I see your point, and I agree that in certain sectors of the media FCHVs get a lot more play than do BVs. My hope is that supporters of both will realize that neither batteries nor fuel cells alone will be able to provide a vehicle that can deliver performance as good as the ICE, and that mankind has rarely (if ever) gone backwards in terms of what we expect from our technology. Of course there are a myriad of other reasons to move to electrical powertrains, but until a price premium is put on the ICE, the average consumer will go with what is cheapest and works the best.

    Bob: The point I was trying to make in discussing some battery disadvantages is that when combined with a fuel cell and ultracapacitor (AFS Trinity is one company that has made significant progress in pairing Li-ion batteries and ultracaps), the disadvantages of both can be compensated for by the other. For example, fuel cells don’t handle high transient power very well, while the battery-ultracap energy storage system does this quite well. On the other hand, having enough energy storage in batteries to go 400+ miles would be prohibitively expensive and heavy, and the higher energy density of hydrogen can give vehicles the range that people expect.

    As for your specific points, I would argue that: the 5-10%/month self-discharge rates of Li-ion and 30%/month rate for NiMH are not insignificant; your discussion about batteries being used for grid storage doesn’t change the fact that performance degradation is a serious issue that can be vastly improved through the hybrid configuration (with a fuel cell) that precludes deep discharges; and drawing more amps when the voltage has dropped means that the capacity is reduced and also that the battery can’t put out as much power.

    Can’t we all (battery and fuel cell enthusiasts) just get along?

  27. matthias says:

    I think that in 5- 10 years fuel cell cars are normal on our street. Because the oil price will achieve the old maximum price. And a lot of people will crying for an alternative engine. I read an interview from the CEO of Daimler and he said, that the fuelcell is the best appropiate alternative engine for cars in the future. Daimler will build from next year on about 100.000 pcs. of fuelcell cars. In 2009 Daimler will start series production of fuel cell cars. I think this is the best argument for fuelcell cars. I think Daimler and all the other automobile manufacturer know what they do and from what they speak ! And no outstanding people can estimate the current situation, because the automobile manufacture are not disclose the secret about the status quo. I deal with this matter for more than 10 years and I read a lot of books and articles to this issue. My opion is, that we are not far away from series production of fuelcell cars !!! A lot of automobile manufacturer are designing with high pressure cars with fuelcell stacks and reducing the costs for these cars. For example in Germany , here started several support programms from the state to improve the fuelcell engines and the infrastructure. I think the world is waiting for a long time and now we are on the point for making free the way for new cars with fuel cells.

  28. Jeff Wishart says:

    Harold Pierce:

    Nobody with any sense will ever argue that liquid fuels don’t have a higher energy density than gaseous ones (although fuel cells are more efficient than diesel engines, offsetting the difference in overall vehicle range potential). And I agree that there are enough nonconventional oil resources (probably becoming reserve as demand and price rise) out there to allow us to continue to use fossil fuels for transport for a long time.

    The point I think you are missing is that continued use of fossil fuels, i.e. business-as-usual, is exactly what we don’t want. We want energy security and fewer environmental disasters (from nonconventional source extraction (i.e. tar sands) and also from oil tanker spills). And even if one is a climate change denier, one must agree that the local pollution effects from fossil fuel combustion are really unacceptable (ever biked behind a diesel-fueled truck?). The point to the exercise is that we need to re-think our transportation sector, and that BVs and FCHVs are two options that respond to this need. ICEs, even if fueled by diesel, are a technology that we must move past.

  29. Konstantin says:

    PAC-Car II, fuel cell car project students from the Technical University of Zurich Switzerland.
    1L fuel cartridge 2 is labeled about 11 hydrogen-compressed using a 2g with a crowbar, which is equivalent to gasoline 8ml. 12V, maximum output of 900W and a fuel cell system with power supply, a maximum speed of 32km/h. The equivalent petrol 5385km/L !!
    FC EXPO 2009

  30. Charlie says:

    This article is too negative and is biased. It assumes that Hydrogen will only be manufactured by known conventional methods, but that is false and very short sighted. Today’s R and D is coming up with greener and cheaper methods practically by the week. MIT scientists have discovered that Hydrogen can be harvested from water by using solar power. Other projects have studied Hydrogen harvested from algae ponds, with photosynthesis doing the work. It is unlikely that Hydrogen will continue to be split off from Natural Gas… that requires too much energy. Putting money into continued R and D is the answer.

    Batteries have to be disposed of. This adds to their energy footprint.

    Hydrogen Fuel Cells can also be used passively when a car is not in use. If you think futuristically, you could envision a power economy where the collective auto fleet could double as a ghostlike power plant. The point being, there are nearly limitless advantages to a hydrogen economy. The investment can hardly fail to pay off in the long run. Isn’t that what we should do? Make the earth sustainable?

  31. Hello, i’ve been browsing around your site and it looks really really neat. I’m building an automotive home page and struggling to make it look good, everytime I touch something I mess it up. How hard was it to build your site? Could someone like me with no experience do it, and add update pages without wrecking it every time?