• Apr 15th 2010 at 11:19AM
  • 73
Honda next-generation solar hydrogen station – Click above for high-res image gallery

The hype for hydrogen as a fuel has quieted down substantially over the past two years as momentum for building out a fueling network has ground to a halt. The global economic crisis and skepticism from the Obama adminstration has pushed hydrogen infrastructure down the priority list.

Germany, on the other hand, still likes the idea of fuel cells. The German government has committed to spend $2 billion over the next decade and wants to have at least 1,000 hydrogen stations in action by 2017. Many major automakers remain convinced that fuel cells are a better long term solution than batteries for full-function vehicles. Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Honda and General Motors are all planning series production fuel cell vehicles by 2015. Among them, they have committed to delivering over 40,000 fuel cell vehicles in the southern California market by mid-decade. So, the chicken and egg battle for hydrogen continues.

  • Honda's next generation solar hydrogen station prototype began operating today at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. The system is ultimately intended for use as a home refueling appliance capable of an overnight refill of fuel cell electric vehicles, such as the Honda FCX Clarity.
  • Honda's next generation solar hydrogen station prototype began operating today at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. The system is ultimately intended for use as a home refueling appliance capable of an overnight refill of fuel cell electric vehicles, such as the Honda FCX Clarity.
  • Honda's next generation solar hydrogen station prototype began operating today at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. The system is ultimately intended for use as a home refueling appliance capable of an overnight refill of fuel cell electric vehicles, such as the Honda FCX Clarity.
  • Honda's next generation solar hydrogen station prototype began operating today at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. The system is ultimately intended for use as a home refueling appliance capable of an overnight refill of fuel cell electric vehicles, such as the Honda FCX Clarity.
  • Honda's next generation solar hydrogen station prototype began operating today at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. The system is ultimately intended for use as a home refueling appliance capable of an overnight refill of fuel cell electric vehicles, such as the Honda FCX Clarity.
  • Honda's next generation solar hydrogen station prototype began operating today at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. The system is ultimately intended for use as a home refueling appliance capable of an overnight refill of fuel cell electric vehicles, such as the Honda FCX Clarity.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Seems like a colossal waste of money to me...

      Again, I think fuel cells are great if they provide a more efficient way to use the fossil fuels that we are going to continue to need as we transition to renewables. But _hydrogen_ fuel cell vehicles make very little sense given the alternatives. They might as use CNG ICE.
        • 5 Years Ago

        From your last comment, we are in basic agreement, but you are clearly misunderstanding me.

        I agree that efficiency isn't everything. There's also cost and practicality. There are many alternatives, and BEVs are not a complete solution in the near future. It's just that specifically hydrogen is a poor choice given the alternatives.

        "We will need liquid fuels too."
        I am in total agreement with this. But guess what. Hydrogen is not a liquid fuel. It's a gas with an extremely low energy density per unit volume. If you really want it in liquid form it has to be at cryogenic temperatures and yet still has a lower energy density than that of even methanol. (Yes room temperature methanol volumetrically contains more hydrogen then even pure liquid hydrogen.) Either way It requires an entirely new and expensive infrastructure to store, transport, and distribute it. Room temperature liquid fuels such as bio-fuel, ethanol, methanol, DME, etc make much more sense in this context because they can leverage the existing infrastructure. Just a different liquid coming out of the pump. (Yes it's a bit more complicated than that, but you hopefully get the point.) Eventually that liquid could even be used in a fuel cell.

        I may have focused on efficiency because you mentioned producing hydrogen with wind and solar. Since a BEV is 3x more efficient, that means building 3x as many solar panels and 3x as many wind farms to travel the same distance in a HFCV. That's 3x the cost, 3x the land mass used, just to produce electricity. That is a real problem.

        So now we're back to making the hydrogen from natural gas. But at that point, I suggest using the natural gas directly in a CNG ICE. There is much less of an infrastructure issue since natural gas is already piped all over the place for heating and cooking. That gas can be compressed on site and pumped into cars at fueling stations. It's clean, efficient, and a HECK of a lot cheaper.

        So again, _hydrogen_ fuel cell vehicles make very little sense given the alternatives. RIF
        • 5 Years Ago
        Doug is correct. This is a huge waste of money and the German authorities are displaying a shocking level of gullibility.

        Even fuel cell advocates have to admit, hydrogen will never be as efficient as other means of powering cars - even petrol:

        Every politician in Germany should be forced to read these papers from the European Fuel CEll Forum:


        • 5 Years Ago
        yes I did read what you said.
        You concentrate on energy efficiency as the only metric for evaluation, and others insist on taking the price of prototypes as the final production price.
        Neither seem a valid argument to me.
        The fact is that batteries can't do everything, and we will need liquid fuels too.
        Where the trade off point will be is subject to what progress is made in the various technologies, and possibly hydrogen/methanol will be limited to aircraft and heavy trucking, but maybe they will be the best solution for going long distance in private vehicles, neither of us can really know at this stage.
        I prefer to keep my options open rather than trying to arrive at some wholly theoretical 'optimal solution'.
        Reality has a way of falsifying those.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't really care to get into this debate again. But if you're using electricity to produce the hydrogen (as you suggest from mentioning wind and solar) then a BEV ends up being about 3x (three times!!) more efficient (well to wheels) than a HFCV. So that means you'd have to build three times as many wind turbines and solar panels. Why waste so much energy?

        HFCVs only approach the efficiency of BEVs if you use natural gas to produce the hydrogen. But at that point, (as an example) why not just use the natural gas directly in a CNG ICE vehicle. You end up with similar well to wheels efficiency, and no where near the infrastructure, storage, and distribution headaches of hydrogen. The car is a hell of a lot cheaper too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ---Why?you can use nuclear or even solar or wind to produce hydrogen and that has a much higher fuel density than batteries

        And in the process you'll use 3x as much energy compared to EVs.

        Anyway this entire discussion is pointless. Fact is even with mass production a "cheap" hydrogen fool cell would still run you $200-300K...for a car that performs no better than a Camry, but will see half its tank vaporize in your garage in a couple days, and a fuel cell with a lifetime of no more than 3-5 years MAX.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You should inform yourself of the most viable means of converting hydrogen e. g. from water and not from fossil fuels (NG) before jumping to unbiased conclusions. Thankfully, technology does not come to a stand-still as some peoples way of reasoning does. Take a look at
        This method is benchmark worldwide for hydogen conversion from an unlimmited source (water) but perhaps you personally can do it better.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @David Martin

        I object to the over-simplified notion that you seem to coin frequently:

        That "batteries can't do everything" yet hydrogen (or any other fuel) can...

        Gasoline can only do what it does because of 100 years of development of engines and the slow evolution of fueling infrastructure. Ranging from drilling, extraction, refinement, distribution, and retail stations.

        Luckily for gasoline, the automobile itself evolved in parallel.

        Hydrogen cannot do this within reasonable time.

        And hydrogen cannot "do everything" that gasoline does until billions are spent and decades go by to build an infrastructure from scratch... building FCVs are easy and quick by comparison.

        BEVs may not be able to "do everything"... but they can "do most things"* within the next few years. They don't need to wait for an expensive and timely infrastructure to be built.

        *"most things" refer to 90% of transportation needs of the light-duty fleet.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not really:
        That is beside the fact that the German eco-loons are really running their grid on coal, whilst pretending to run it on renewables, to little practical effect but at vast cost.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @David Martin
        Not really what? Did you even read/understand what I said?

        Call me when it gets out of the lab.

        These pro-hydrogen arguments always seem to make the same logical fallacy:

        "Hydrogen can be made from renewable energy."

        "HFCVs are as (or more) efficient than BEVs"

        Turns our both these statements are not true at the same time. I'll say it again and more slowly...
        Both these statements are not true at the same time.
        And if you're going to use fossil fuels, why bother going through the trouble to make hydrogen given the alternatives.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Germany has a very similar energy mix profile for their electricity as the U.S.
        Especially in respect to coal. About 48%.

        I would advice folks who cannot get off coal power to NOT buy a BEV. Buy solar panels first.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why?you can use nuclear or even solar or wind to produce hydrogen and that has a much higher fuel density than batteries, which you can't use everywhere, so why not?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Germany already has 800 CNG fueling stations (Wikipedia). This would put Hydrogen on par with Compressed Natural Gas, which is far from diesel and gasoline, and is no guarantee of mainstream adoption of Hydrogen.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They are not going to build more than 20 of these stations IF THAT. There aren't even 1,000 hydrogen cars in the world, and I doubt Honda is going to build thousands of their $1-2million Clarity FX.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Can I borrow your crystal ball Polo? Seems like you have the answers to everyone's problems and future actions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well good for them, they need to get a move on, building about 12 stations a month from now until 2017 and spending $1.4 million on each station, according to my math which may well be dodgy!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hydrogen fueling technology is NOT in it's infancy the same way fuel cells or batteries are.

        Hydrogen compression, transport, storage, and distribution are VERY MATURE.

        There is no room for a miraculous discovery or invention that will revolutionize the technology involved with fuel stations. Pumps, compressors, fitting, tanks, land costs, logistics, etc... cannot be improved much. The same goes for gas stations, which still cost in the millions to build and several thousand $ per year in operating costs.

        And gasoline and diesel (being liquid) are much easier and cheaper to deal with than hydrogen gas.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It doesn't make any difference whether they start of expensive and get cheaper or stay the same price. The value is based on a simple math that took 2 billion, multiplied it by 0.7 to get 1.4 billion and then divided the result by 1000. So each station will cost *on average* $1.4 million, by their own estimates.

        As for cost reductions, some things are not mass produced and never will be, fuelling stations be it hydrogen or gas fall into that category, that doesn't mean costs won't come down, they will, but that there is far less scope for cost reductions on economies of scale alone.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No it matters a lot because this is technology driven. As technology develops and drives costs down, subsequent installations will get cheaper.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I doubt they'll pay the same for each station as time goes by....it'll get cheaper and cheaper.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Another 2 billion for nothing.
      Germans are i***ts. :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a bet on with a guy at work, who is a very intelligent guy, about what will be selling in the largest numbers by 2019. EVs or HFCV. I bet on EV(including plug-in hybrids), he bet on HFCV. He'd seen articles in the mainstream press I'm sure of these fuel cell SUVs doing 300 odd miles on a tank. Filling up pretty quickly at a pump that looks quite like a gas pump and just assumed that it's obvious that HFCVs just slot in and replace ICE cars, you just build the cars and the station, you can make vast quantities of hydrogen at the station with solar cells, easy peasy.

      The problem as I see it is the liquid fuels industry is not going to switch off over night, we may well have been in the undulating plateau of cheap conventional oil since 2005 but at least the infrastructure is there already and the industry wants to keep on earning off that investment.

      So now you have EVs and plug-in hybrids, which come along and provide a neat low cost transition from expensive liquid fuel driven miles to very cheap electron driven miles. Where do hydrogen vehicles come into this? Will they initially be more expensive than an ICE car? I'd imagine so, but then the running costs will be lower than an ICE. Will they be much lower? Will there be plenty of places I can get the fuel? Well there may be one near me but if it's a new technology, higher upfront costs, less places to refuel and perhaps not significantly cheaper to buy am I going to go for this?

      Now for an EV/plug-in hybrid, you have much lower running costs than an ICE since you'll do a vast majority of miles on electrons. Yes you'll have higher upfront costs and a new technlogy, but still much less of an unknown than a HFCV and as for where to charge, on your driveway each night. There are always going to be some people who will never be able to accept the idea of charging their cars overnight, and for them they can continue to spend a lot on their motoring, for everyone else I think the appeal of such low per mile running costs of the EV/plug-in hybrid will just be too good to resist.

      Well we will see, the plug-in car industry is becoming reality now, HFCV will become reality in 2015 by all accounts, but it may be too late by then?!
        • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        Myself and the DOE both think that oil shortages will happen soon and prices will rocket:
        'The DoE predicts that the decline of identified sources of supply will be steady and sharp : - 2 percent a year, from 87 million barrels per day (Mbpd) in 2011 to just 80 Mbpd in 2015. At that time, the world demand for oil and other liquid fuels should have climbed up to 90 Mbpd, according to the presentation document.'

        So EV cars will become relatively more economic, and I want to see fuel cells researched and introduced when and if possible too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't disagree with a potential liquid fuels problem, but then any graph will show you world production essentially flat since 2005. Hydrogen vehicles will surely become an economically viable choice at some point, but my bet was based on my opinion that we won't be able to afford much of a transition to hydrogen by 2019 but we will be able to afford a largish transition to EV/Plug-in hybrid, especially for plug-ins since they can offset a large number of liquid fuelled miles at reasonable up front cost whilst still using the existing infrastructure for longer journeys.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Very interesting articles, but they have some flaws/issues that no longer exist. For one thing hydrogen fuel cells have already proven to be over 60% efficient. Hydrogen doesn't need to be transported as it can be made on site, so any transport losses are irrelevant. Stations can use mainly solar power and backed up by the grid when necessary to convert to hydrogen. It can be refilled in a normal amount of time (5-10min) unlike batteries which still require many hours to charge. MIT just created a virus which can split water into hydrogen and there are catalysts that reduce the energy input required so you are actually getting more energy out of the hydrogen than is inputted. Batteries can never reach more than 100% and even batteries have losses. All of the major manufacturers agree that hydrogen is more in line with what people expect from a personal vehicle! Every engineer from Honda, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and GM can't be completely wrong. BMW even has a hydrogen combustion engine!
      Unless batteries make a giant leap(more than they have in the past 100+ years) in the next 20 years hydrogen is the only option to maintain our current life-style.
      Germany is brilliant to understand this and implement it!
        • 5 Years Ago
        The energy content of hydrogen is well established. At 5000psi the energy content of a liter of hydrogen is 2.75 MJ. The energy content of a kilogram of hydrogen is 120MJ. There is really very little need to quanitfy anything beyond the facts that improvements are being made! My argument isn't that we switch entirely over to hydrogen, only that it is a viable alternative as well as battery electric. Once economies of scale kick in and mass production becomes easier the cost of fuel cells will definitely drop. However if everybody opposes it then we don't even give a promising endeavor a chance to succeed.
        We are in the same situation as we were in at the turn of the 20th century when internal combustion engines were battling with lead acid batteries and steam power. Imagine where battery tech would be today if we had decided to develop ICE's as well as batteries! My point is obvious, this is a viable alternative and shouldn't be so casually dismissed. I do appreciate this debate though, you have all brought up fantastic concerns and ideas. The more options that a person has the better in my view, and it would cost less than the cost of one day in the iraq war to give the entire US a hydrogen fuel structure. We are lucky that so many companies are developing hydrogen fueled cars and once they prove that they are competitive I think a lot of minds will change.
        Even the vaunted Zinc-Air batteries only have a theoretical energy density of 1.59MJ/kg (cited from dura-cell's website) and are most effective at low to medium usage rates, and the batteries don't scale well due to air diffusion problems! Not to mention what do you do once the zinc has reacted with air and is no longer viable for further reactions? A zinc-air fuel cell is certainly more attractive but it takes far more energy currently to remove the air from the zinc than you get when you combine them.
        Hydrogen at 5000 psi has nearly double the energy density of even the highest theoretical zinc air battery. So to get the same amount of energy as is stored in the FCX clarity's tank you would need to carry roughly 300 kg (660lbs) of theoretical zinc air. Or the same as 3.92 Kg of hydrogen. With a maximum theoretical output using cobalt-lithium the maximum energy density is 0.58 MJ/kg, and you would need to carry 810kg (1782 lbs) again at theoretical maximum. So not only is hydrogen energy dense it is also very light, both make it terrific for vehicular use. So while a zinc air battery or lithium ion battery would be smaller than the hydrogen tank their massive weight and difficulty recycling + the energy used during recycling are all factors that need to be considered.
        If you managed to read all of this post, I applaud you and hope for some more thoughtful discussion.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Electrolysis for hydrogen is never going to be better than about 50% efficient, counting the energy used to compress to 700 bar.

        All commercial hydrogen refill stations will use natural gas, not electricity.

        It remains cheaper (both on a initial capital cost and operating basis) to simply use CNG directly in an ICE.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Organosilane derivatives to be exact, which are really very cheap and could possibly be recovered and does allow for a huge amount of energy to be saved in breaking the bonds in H20, which means you are getting more energy from the remaking of the bonds in a fuel cell than it takes for you to break them. Batteries could never attain this efficiency. The energy density of even theoretical zinc air batteries is still lower than that achieved from 5000 psi hydrogen gas. 5kg of which would take up a mere 5 L or so, which is far from bulky and quite a bit smaller than the amount of batteries which would be required to make up the same energy content. Even laptops are getting into fuel cells because of the the incredible energy density and lack of recharge issues. Batteries lose their ability to hold charge over time, they are getting better but they are still behind hydrogen technologies.


        2 days from a tiny methanol fuel cell... at an average output of 20+ watts. That could power your phone for for the better part of a month, and I expect more things to start using this technology once it becomes mass produced and cheap enough.

        This is a home fuel cell generator sold in the UK, it can run a laptop for 11 days on 0.91L of methanol. It can generate 11kWh of energy from less than a liter of methanol, and it would work just as well with hydrogen.


        Rumor has it that Samsung will even release a fuel cell laptop this year.
        • 5 Years Ago
        kbot: The efficiency of fuel cells depend on their design. The highest efficiency is from alkaline fuel cells running on pure H2 and pure O2, but that really isn't practical for automotive use. PEM fuel cells using air for their oxygen are much less efficient, about 50%. But you should also include the efficiency and energy losses in making that H2 fuel, the overall efficiency is much lower.

        That "virus" is an experimental method trying to duplicate the first stages of photosynthesis, the efficiency is low and the system is vulnerable to bacterial attack and degradation. It is nowhere near ready for mass production. As for "getting more energy out than is inputted", that does not and cannot happen for the exact same reason batteries cannot reach, let alone exceed, 100% efficiency. As for the "catalyst" article you linked to, it is using a rhenium catalyst to react organosilane with water to produce H2 and silanol, the organosilane is used up. It isn't a practical method of producing H2, and since it takes considerable energy to produce the organosilane it isn't all that efficient, and organosilanes aren't cheap.

        It is not at all surprising that H2 research engineers would enthusiastically promote H2, their job depends on it.

        Batteries have already improved over old lead acid, with NiMH having nearly 3x better energy density and LiIon having 4x to 8x better energy density. Batteries under development in the lab could best lead acid even more, lithium/air batteries could reach more than 100x greater energy density! I'd call that a "giant leap".

        H2 is bulky and difficult to store and less efficient than batteries and more expensive than electricity. Even the supposed advantage of "fast refill" is being eroded by fast charging, and totally demolished by even faster battery swaps.

        "Few Thousand?" Nope. Honda plans to eventually produce just 200 FCX Claritys, they are nowhere near that figure now. The last count I saw totaled just 318 H2 vehicles from all manufacturers worldwide. Tesla Motors by themselves have already put more EVs on the road than that, about 1,500 at last count.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You have just given further proof of how fuel cells are not cost effective for automotive applications!

        Automotive fuel cells need to be at least 80 KW to handle normal operation... Even at that power, a small battery (NiMH usually) is needed for acceleration.

        EUR 3,329 (4,484.15 USD) for a 1.2 KW fuel cell
        = $3,736 per KW
        Cost for an automotive Fuel Cell = $300,000

        Your other 2 links provided NO comparison of cost nor efficiency because they provided no numbers of any kind.

        You are getting excited for nothing. When battery breakthoughs are reported, they include some numbers, like energy density, cycle life, and charge/discharge efficiency. But these "hydrogen production" research articles are still too "theoretical" to even make estimates. They say words like, "more", "better", and "improved" WITHOUT quatifying!


        It will ALWAYS be more efficient with fewer conversions of energy. And Battery electric will ALWAYS top the overall efficiency of FCVs because they keep energy as electric charges rather than convert to chemical energy fuels.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Also as to my comment about 60% efficiency.

        Cites a report from honda about a 64% tank to wheels efficiency.
        Not bad for only the second generation of a technology, and prototypes are getting even higher efficiencies.

        Granted that does not take into account the energy needed to compress the gas, Honda uses a lower compression of only 5000 psi instead of 10,000 psi which also saves energy there.

        According to Honda 171 Liters of H2 at a pressure of 350 atmospheres can allow the current FCX to travel over 350 miles (570 km). Which works out to about 5kg of hydrogen in the tank.

        I'm not bad mouthing electrics here, merely saying that hydrogen is an excellent alternative as well and we would be silly to overlook its merits out of hand like so many people do.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ---Unless batteries make a giant leap(more than they have in the past 100+ years) in the next 20 years hydrogen is the only option to maintain our current life-style.

        I guess this is your first day on ABG. At least you spaced it out 20 years, because we all know affordable hydrogen is DECADES away. Only problem is 20 years is too late to the game. Batteries prices are expected to crash by the middle of this decade...at around the same time global oil prices are expected to hit record highs and continue on up from there. I guess I have to wait 5 more years before the oil propagandists finally shut up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Honda's stations are purely solar powered, so that should tell you something right there. I was referring to the efficiency of fuel cell conversions relative to internal combustion which is roughly 30% for gas and 38-40% for diesel. Of course you are going to need more stations once there are more cars on the road! Honda already sells the FCX to a lucky few thousand in California so technically there are currently more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road than the pure electrics that you stated, and using one of the more efficient uses of converting water to hydrogen will require less area than charging a BEV. Not to mention home charging is still a great part of the equation!


        Nissan doesn't rank among the biggest manufacturers, if you wanted to talk about Renault the company that owns Nissan you still wouldn't be talking about one of the biggest manufacturers. I believe firmly that companies will choose both avenues and I think that is beneficial for everybody in the long term. The leaf is an exciting vehicle and I am excited for it to be released, but it also carries a huge amount of batteries to travel... batteries = waste when the vehicle is done or the batteries wear out.

        Here is the link to the virus for H2O splitting.

        Here is the link for the hydrolysis catalyst.

        Your gut instinct about getting something for nothing is correct, but a catalyst simply changes the reaction pathway allowing for you to break it down with less energy input. So when you recombine them in a fuel cell you still get the same amount of energy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        kbot, I'm gonna have to give up on you till you do some math and more fact checking.

        "Honda's stations are purely solar powered, so that should tell you something right there"

        Again, do the math. The stations you linked to are for home fueling. Meaning just one car per day. If you did the math, you'd see you need three times as much energy to fuel a HFCV than a BEV. That means three times the solar panels. How big is your house? Now consider the supposed solar powered public hydrogen fueling station that is supposed to serve many cars a day.

        "Honda already sells the FCX to a lucky few thousand in California so technically there are currently more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road than the pure electrics that you stated, and using one of the more efficient uses of converting water to hydrogen will require less area than charging a BEV."

        Everything in this statement is wrong. Please look up how many Honda FCX Clarities are actually out there. A "few thousand" is over estimating about two orders of magnitude. Also please learn that these cost somewhere between $1-2 million each to make. They are not sold to anyone, they are only available for lease.

        Until then, I give up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        " you are actually getting more energy out of the hydrogen than is inputted."

        This sort of statement should set off warning bells.

        "Stations can use mainly solar power and backed up by the grid when necessary to convert to hydrogen."

        It would be a useful exercise for you to calculate the size (surface area) and cost of the solar panel required on a typical sunny day to generate enough electricity (in kWh) to produce and compress the hydrogen needed for a single HFCV to travel 250 miles.
        Now how large and expensive does it have to be for 10 HFCVs to be able to fill up a day?
        Now 20, 100?

        You should be able to figure out that on-sight hydrogen production with on-sight solar is just green washing for folks that can't do math.

        Of course roof top solar for home BEV charging works out just fine if your roof is big enough.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They are going to build 1,000 stations for "over $2,000,000,000". Or they could roll out 50,000 EV fast chargers for that same price. And if they are going to use electricity to create the H2 on site, then they could get three times the miles out of each kWh by charging an EV as they do for the H2 they produce and put in FCVs.

      Oh, anyone care to wager whether there will be more EVs or FCVs running around in 2015??? LOL

      Sounds like a really "interesting" idea folks. But hey, it's not my tax money so I'm just going to sit back and watch...and laugh at how stupid they are.

      Do they want to displace petroleum use or do they want to a PR stunt?
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1 to Dave D! At least I tried but by the time I got to it he was already maxed out. Add more stars please!!!

        Anyway, justa gonna say so, so true! So true!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interesting debate. I personally believe that there will be a mix of BEVs and FCEVs, and I don't understand why people are fighting so hard against one or the other...

      I was wondering why people always speak about powertrain efficiency and never about vehicle efficiency ?
      I read "BEVs are at least 3 times more efficient than FCEVs". BEVs powertrains are 3x more efficient than FCEVs powertrains, but if you factor in the weight of the batteries, then the difference in vehicle efficiency would be more debatable.
      I believe you would need a lot more energy (from the tank) to move a 300miles-capable BEV than a 300miles-capable FCEV, simply because of vehicle weight.
      And there should be a range limit when FCEVs would be more efficient than BEVs.
      What do you think ?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The debate exist because of the title of this article "2 billion" given to develop hydrogen stations (for cars that only exist as $300,000 lease vehicles). When that is tax payer money that would be better spent on 50,000 charging stations (for cars that are either out already or due to arrive shortly).


        True, battery cars weigh more than FCVs. But FCVs have batteries too since the fuel cell s too weak to handle peak loads. Also, the storage tanks are BIG and Heavy because they need to handle a large volume of hydrogen and keep it under high pressure or have cryogenics to keep it cold enough to be liquid.

        After all that, FCVs are often pretty heavy themselves.

        And the ultra high efficiency of the pure electric drivetrain of BEVs make up for the losses of being heavier.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "I read "BEVs are at least 3 times more efficient than FCEVs". BEVs powertrains are 3x more efficient than FCEVs powertrains, but if you factor in the weight of the batteries, then the difference in vehicle efficiency would be more debatable. "

        They are 3 times more efficient (only if the H2 is made from water electrolysis and compressed, most H2 is made from natural gas at a much lower cost) INCLUDING the weight of the BEV batteries. Imagine as time goes by and batteries get lighter.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There are two factors that cause an increased fuel consumption with increased weight:
        1) Rolling resistance for the tires increases, but the increase is slight and can be compensated somewhat by increasing tire pressure. A minor factor.
        2) It takes more energy to accelerate a heavier mass, and in most vehicles that energy is converted into heat and lost when braking. However, hybrids and EVs can use regenerative braking to recover most of that energy instead, wasting far less as heat.

        For any vehicle with regenerative braking, weight has far less effect on fuel economy, and the efficiency boosting techniques possible for hybrids and plug-ins are far more significant. Result, hybrids and plug-ins can get better fuel economy than vehicles that weigh quite a bit less!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yep.... $2 million dollars for each Hydrogen station... and that is only for small sized stations fit to handle 50 or so FCVs.

      And lets not forget that it costs about $250,000 per year to keep them running and to pay the cost of the property.

      Charging stations are so damn cheap in comparison. $6,000 for each Level II charger that puts 220 volts @70 amps on the street or parking lots. Or $50,000 for each Level III DC charger with 480 volts @ 150 amps at existing gas stations or at shopping malls, restaurants, etc.

      Hydrogen stations NEED to be built from scratch because they require everything to be made for compressed gas and/or cryogenically liquefied gas. They cannot be placed with existing gasoline stations. And hence, cost so damn much.

      Level III DC fast chargers cost about the same as an additional commercial grade gasoline pump that services 2 - 4 cars. And have the same profile as one.
        • 5 Years Ago

        I didn't think you could change your profile name on ABG. :)

        The numbers I gave were using the "average" metric. Meaning although each car would fill up about 5 kg, they would only go to the pump every 5 days. So the number was given as if the car would go to the pump every day. 1 kg per day per FCV.
        *Buses would be much higher of course.

        It looks as if the numbers from the site you linked are accurate.
        "about five to ten fills" But those cars would be fueled for, lets say median of 7 days (given normal 40 mile/day driving). So if another set of 7 FCVs were to come in to fuel up each day. That's 49 fills before the first car had to come back for second fill up.


        Now that I have thought about it some... calling it "cars per day" is a bit confusing.
        "Fills per day" is accurate if the tank size is standard. And "cars serviced per day" is accurate if the consumption is standard.

        My numbers were regarding "cars serviced per day". As if the FCVs that got filled up with hydrogen, would be counted each day they are able to run without refueling again (i.e. "serviced"). And it works well for comparing the number of FCVs on the road with the number of stations available.

        Either way, your numbers look even worse for the hydrogen advocates who love to ignore the high costs of these stations and the costs to keep the hydrogen flowing.

        "Actual operating and maintenance (O&M) costs vary depending on the size and type of station. This analysis assumes annual average O&M costs are 12 percent of the station capital costs, including maintenance, insurance and taxes. Land costs for hydrogen stations in the Southern California area are assumed to be $130,000-$430,000 per year, depending on station size." -page 11 CaFCP Action Plan
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The fueling station has a capacity of 25 kg per day—about five to ten fills"
        from: http://www.airproducts.com/microsite/h2fuelingstation2/

        "San Diego. Hydrogen will be produced on-site by electrolysis, powered by a 600 kW solar photovoltaic array installed at a middle school. The station will have a storage capacity of 100 kg and will dispense up to 39 kg of hydrogen per day... able to fuel five cars per day."
        from: http://www.altenergymag.com/emagazine.php?issue_number=07.08.01&article=hydrogen

        Long list here, none of which fuels more than 25 cars/day.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Please provide your data source for the information that the stations will only be able to service 50 cars a day each.
        • 5 Years Ago

        This is from the California Fuel Cell Partnership:

        page 2 (see note 5) showing "50,000 vehicles will require 50,000 kg/day hydrogen"

        page 8 confirms
        "To project the demand for fuel, we assumed that each passenger vehicle will use 1 kg per day, which includes actual projected use plus a small reserve supply"

        page 10 includes a lengthy discourse on the costs of a hydrogen station.

        page 11 shows a chart describing the capital costs relative to the capacity of the station.


        50kg/day "Portable Fueler" would service about 50 passenger FCVs per day and would cost an average of $1.5 mil

        While a "Permanent Station", such as the kind proposed, would cost $3 million but service 100kg/day. Since they want to build 1,000 permanent stations for $2 billion, that is only $2 million per station.

        So I did do some averaging. But yes, perhaps they can make them cheaper and get that number to 75.

        *** But if they did, that would still leave no money left over for the annual maintenance costs outlined in the sections I have referenced.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Excellent. Let Germany spin their wheels on that boondoggle. Our crappy car companies need some way to catch up to them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is precisely why they ahead and always will be....because they're willing to invest in an alternate future while you sit around and play with yourself.

        So while they're actually "spinning their wheels" for the next 10 years building an infrastructure that many of you here are constantly bitching about not existing, they'll be busy using that new infrastructure while you're still having multiple orgasms about what do to next and scratching your a$$ about where all your jobs went.

        Good luck.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Nobody is arguing the that point. Are you trying to build a straw man?

        Everybody here on ABG knows that Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles are cleaner, cheaper to operate and better than sticking with the current system of gasoline and diesel engines.

        We are simply debating how HFCVs compare to pure Battery Electric Vehicles. And how time and money that could be going to our BEST alternative is going to our second best.

        • 5 Years Ago
        LOL! This reminds me of what happened in the early '80s, France developed a fancy new digital phone directory/information service called "Minitel", with terminals supplied by the government to every phone line in France. They were proud of their invention, and even tried to sell it overseas. Meanwhile, the US continued development on something called the "Internet", which didn't have free government supplied terminals and was slow to catch on, but was far more versatile. Fast forward 2 decades, and Minitel is all but forgotten, and the Internet is worldwide and universal, even in France.

        This hydrogen project might well turn out to be Germany's "Minitel", while plug-ins will end up being the universal "Internet", even in Germany.
        • 5 Years Ago
        --This is precisely why they ahead and always will be....because they're willing to invest in an alternate future while you sit around and play with yourself.

        As someone said they could build 50,000 EV stations for what they are going to waste on a tech that cannot be produced outside of R&Ds. The cost is simply too prohibitive. Germany WILL NOT be ahead of the game when it comes to the next generation of automotive transportation (EVs). That award is going to go to China, which is subsidizing the tech and pushing for it in a big way, and even getting oil rats like GM to plan big EV rollouts.

        I can't wait to see what the hydro-nuts say when gas costs $6 a gallon (sooner than you think) and Car Company A is saying their hydrogen fool cells are just 5 more years away! Will you fall for your own talking points or buy an EV? Come on, we all know what the answer is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        --Contrary to that which many here assume, fuel cells and hydrogen, and batteries are complementary, not mutually exclusive, although the emphasis will naturally vary from place to place.

        And that "variance on emphasis" is usually equal to lobbyist pressure in the form of $$$. The fact is consumer-ready, affordable hydrogen cars DO NOT EXIST. Nor is their any reasonable forecast for when they will (industry predictions on expected technological breakthroughs are not reliable). The fact is foolcells and EVs are two completely different technologies that require their own infrastructure, and every dollar that goes into fantasy hydro-fool stations is a dollar taken away from battery charging infrastructure. This is exactly what the (oil) industries opposed to EV adoption want, and is why they are pushing governments to pursue extremely expensive development plans for vehicles that will not available for sell to consumers for decades, if ever.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why on earth do some on this forum assume that Germany is not going to build out an electric charging infrastructure as well as hydrogen? They are being slightly slow, perhaps, but plans are in train:

        Contrary to that which many here assume, fuel cells and hydrogen, and batteries are complementary, not mutually exclusive, although the emphasis will naturally vary from place to place.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Costs go down with time and development....it's not always going to cost as much as it is today.

        There'll be a time when using IC engines will cost the same if not more than H2 but they won't have the benefits of being as clean. The world in general is getting more and more we expensive. Fuel prices aren't staying the same either so I'm not sure what you're complaining about.

        Just because H2 isn't viable for YOU doesn't mean it's not viable for your children and grandchildren.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "So, the chicken and egg battle for hydrogen continues."

      I'm not so sure that analogy applies any longer. The automakers have all announced their plans to build and commercialize FCVs in the next few years. The hydrogen suppliers have proven that they can deliver H2 at gasoline-equivalent prices (and since H2 is twice as efficient as an ICE your costs are effectively halved vs. gasoline).

      Now it's up to the governments to provide the regulatory framework in which to sell, tax, and dispense H2 so that the stations can be built to the appropriate standards. The SAE standards have been finalized, so, we're getting really close to seeing a major growth in H2 infrastructure.

      The Germans are showing us the way.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A H2 fuel cell is twice as efficient as an IC engine, regardless of fuel, but that's only part of it, the efficiency of making that H2 has to be taken into account as well. Since steam reforming of natural gas is only about 70% efficient, and some energy is required to compress the H2 for storage, comparing the natural gas efficiency of a H2 FCV with the efficiency of a CNG-ICE vehicle yields about 32% for FCV and 13% to 20% for ICE. An improvement, yes, but not much, and no better than what some non-plug hybrids can achieve.

        As for making H2 from electrolysis, the efficiency discrepancy becomes far more glaring when comparing H2 FCVs and plug-ins. The combination of electrolysis, compression and H2 fuel cell is only 27% efficient at storing electrical energy, the combination of charger and batteries is 85% efficient - more than 3x better. Even if stationary batteries were used to store electricity to recharge an EV, the overall efficiency would still be 72%, still 3x more efficient than the H2 method.
        • 5 Years Ago
        These sort of very theoretical calculations of relative efficiencies and so on have almost nothing to do with the take up of a technology.
        No doubt in around 1900 there were lots of very earnest chaps running around 'proving', to their own entire satisfaction, that electric buggies were far more efficient than those petrol jobs.
        The better range of the gas cars killed them.
        Hydrogen/methanol can offer a lot of flexibility that batteries can't.
        Natural gas cars are fine, if we had an infinite source of natural gas.
        Since we don't, at some stage artificially made hydrogen seems likely to prevail.
        If you already have hydrogen/methanol, it seems silly not to use it in fuel cell, as long as the use of precious metals can be minimized.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Just noticed you wanted cng ICE numbers:


        I don't know that what you burn in an ICE makes a huge difference in the efficiency of the engine itself, but generally, the point is to stop burning anything in ICEs, so that we can eliminate GHGs at the tailpipe. FCVs and BEVs are the only way to eliminate those GHGs from the tailpipe.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Bis 2015 sind warscheinlich schon so viele Elektroautos auf der Strasse das selbst der deutsche Michel versteht dass es viel attraktiver ist das Auto Zuhause, bei der Arbeit oder in der Parkgarage beim Einkaufen nebenher aufzuladen als regelmaessig zur Tanke zu fahren und aufzufuellen. Die Wasserstofftankstellen koennen dann friedlich einstauben, als ein weiteres Denkmal fuer politische Steuerverschwendung!
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Mark
        The appeal of the hydrogen car over the BEV is that it allows people to keep the same kind of driving style they have gotten used to in the gasoline car (which is station based refueling). If you try to analyze costs and efficiency, it may not always win out, but in terms of public appeal, this is a huge thing.

        It will take a while to consumers to adjust to the plug-in style of refueling (and hopefully eventually see the benefit of home refueling); with the hydrogen vehicle, consumers don't have to. This is why automakers see so much appeal in the hydrogen vehicle, there is less doubt about consumer acceptance (again putting price and infrastructure aside).

        The only thing I resent about hydrogen cars is that it pushed back BEVs for about 10 years, but now that BEVs are starting to get on their feet, I kind of want to see what automakers are going pull out of their hats and if they will keep their promises.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Natural gas is not going to run out overnight, and the actual build time of a nuclear power station, political faffing around aside, is 50 months, for a cost in China and South Korea of around $2,500kw.
        If you allow double the price in the West for higher wage rates and general inefficiency, it is still much cheaper than anything else, except possibly NG and coal as long as you give the latter a free license to pollute without hindrance, which is what it basically has at the moment.
        I agree with many here that most of the light vehicle miles will be done on batteries, but you can't do that for air travel, and it is difficult for things like heavy trucking.
        Fuel cells would be better for those purposes, as it is more efficient, and if you are reducing costs enough to use them for those purposes ( I know air might be doubtful) then why not use them when you go on longer car journeys?
        Anyway, running the figures for France, the car fleet of ~30 million would need an energy flow of ~7GW or so.
        If you assume that you need the same quantity of hydrogen by energy, then at a 50% efficiency that would take around 15GW or so.
        The rest of the inefficiencies don't matter too much, as it is simply excess heat from the nuclear plant.
        This 22GW is not far off of the spare 30% of power that France can generate by nuclear power, which runs at around 70% capacity.
        They have about 60 plants, so the increased capacity needed can simply come about as they replace their existing nuclear fleet if they use rather larger ones.
        Of course, the rest of us are behind France, but they built all theirs in around 25 years, and there is no reason that the rest of us can't do the same.
        Sweden built 12 nuclear plants in 13 years - and they have a population of 8 million.
        The top build in the US was about 14 plants completed in a year.

        Actually, since we have a lot of NG, then the more efficient thermochemical process could be used in high temperature reactors.
        China is building a Pebble bed reactor, for completion in 2013, which is a design which can be high temperature.

        Fossil fuels won't last forever, so we need to ready technologies to move on from them, CO2 aside, and nuclear can do the job.
        I am happy to use batteries whenever and wherever that is an adequate solution, but that is not everywhere, and fuel cells would be a very efficient way of using liquid fuels.
        I'd prefer to process the hydrogen into methanol and DME, but the mix of the fuels is just something we will have to wait and see, depending on how the various technologies pan out.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "generally, the point is to stop burning anything in ICEs, so that we can eliminate GHGs at the tailpipe. FCVs and BEVs are the only way to eliminate those GHGs from the tailpipe."

        What difference does it make where the GHG's are emitted? It's all the same atmosphere.

        The point has nothing to do with killing the ICE, it has to do with moving as quickly towards renewable and environmentally friendly fuel systems (well to wheel, not pump to wheel) that minimize cost to the consumer and maximize their freedom from the vagaries of international energy markets.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "H2 is twice as efficient as an ICE your costs are effectively halved vs. gasoline"

        Care to provide some numbers to support that assertion? And compare it with natural gas ICE, not gasoline, to compare apples to apples.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "generally, the point is to stop burning anything in ICEs, so that we can eliminate GHGs at the tailpipe. FCVs and BEVs are the only way to eliminate those GHGs from the tailpipe."

        If you believe in it, global warming is a [ahem] global phenomena. GHGs from the tailpipe make no difference (unless you're going to do CCS) and don't affect local air quality. CNG ICE is rather clean burning, so all things considered (affect on local air quality, energy density, cost, existing infrastructure, etc) it makes a lot more sense than HFCVs using hydrogen from natural gas.
        • 5 Years Ago
        But they aren't theoretical! That's how you analyze things! If someone says that one technology is way more efficient than another, and it turns out it ISN'T, then that's what efficiency calculations are for!

        Efficiency translates to cost (as does technical complexity). Cost is a very important factor that the consumer bases decisions on. Therefore, efficiency is important.

        Where is this artificially made hydrogen going to come from? I will grant you the argument that using excess electricity from nuclear makes sense, but how long will it be before we have enough nuclear power to do that? By then, what will be the range / price of BEV's? 400 km for $30,000? Then why would anyone need hydrogen since you'd only need to go to a half hour quick charge station ONCE per day if you're driving across the country? Why is it so difficult to rent a genset trailer twice a year? Why do people have to make things so much more complicated than they need to be? The point of engineering is to deliver the best bang for buck. As the old saying goes something like, "any damn fool can produce a widget for a dollar. The goal of engineering is to produce it for a dime", or something to that effect.

        • 5 Years Ago

        If it hasn't been drilled into your brain that ICEs have an average efficiency of around 25% and that FCs have an average efficiency of around 50%, then you really just don't have the most basic understanding of what we're talking about.

        FCVs generally get 2x the mileage from a kg of H2 that a similar gets from a gallon of gasoline. So, if you buy a kg of H2 to put into your Honda FCX, you will go about 60 miles, while a typical full-size five passenger sedan would be doing well to get 30 mpg. Effectively, even though that kg of H2 costs about the same as a gallon of gas, your actual fuel costs are halved because the FCV is roughly twice as efficient.


        • 5 Years Ago
        big oil strikes again. but we'll see how it turns out : )

        as chicken headed as people are they tend to pick up on things like the hydrogen coming from fossil fuels anyway and that it's less global warming to drive gas cars. combined with technical complexity/cost and distribution difficulty I'm not so concerned it will gain wide appeal no matter how many ignorant propaganda servants like James May they have promoting it.
        and if they pass a law that hydrogen can only come from renewables then by all means bring it on. when noone buys the cars they can burn it in coal power plants. that would be good.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks for the links but they don't say much. They concentrate only on the end products ready to go in your car, but not the differences in efficiency of producing them.

        I prefer to not have things drilled into my head because most times when people try to do this they are promoting an agenda. I prefer to analyze things myself back to the underlying principles and see whether those are correct.

        "ICEs have an average efficiency of around 25% and that FCs have an average efficiency of around 50%"

        I would have hoped that by now you would realize that there is much more to analyze than the simple efficiency of the energy conversion device. To your fuel cell you need to add a battery pack, of say 75% efficiency. Also, as is pointed out here so many times, you have to produce and distribute the hydrogen first. This eats up a lot of efficiency. I am still trying to find reliable numbers for this, they seem to be about 50%. So if you compare a FCV using hydrogen produced from natural gas versus running the natural gas through an ICE, your 25% / 50% comparison goes to something more like 20% / 15%. Not so efficient now.

        And yes yes yes I know that H2 could be produced via electrolysis from excess nuclear electricity, which compares more favourably, but in this case you should really be comparing it to an EV, in which case FCV's look even worse.

        And regarding the costs to drive, you should really be comparing a FCV with a natural gas ICE, not gasoline. It's not saying much if hydrogen is half as expensive as gasoline right now! And I am sure you are aware by now that, depending on where you live, charging an EV costs 5-10 X less than filling a gasoline tank, and when you factor in the lower cost of maintenance of an EV, it is even cheaper. FCV's are complex and will inevitably break down, with longevity and replacement costs as yet undetermined. To be fair, I need to include the cost of replacing the battery in an EV after 10 years. But overall, EV's are still way cheaper than anything else.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I guess it's our turn to experience schadenfreude when the Germans eventually wake up and realize they've poured billions down a rat hole waiting for fuel cell vehicles.

      Ach, du lieber!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nothing's going away?

        What about the $2 Billion the Germans just threw down a bottomless pit.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It is not all or nothing. It is not a contest to be won or lost between two types of transport. Germany has cars on the road with gasoline engines, diesel engines, hybrid engines. They even have bicycles, motorcycles and public transportation. No doubt, in the future, they will add EVs AND fuel cells to the mix.

        It is obvious that we are just slowly adding stuff and that nothing is really going away, at least until, economies collapse due to world wide flooding and famine. Perhaps that is the only way our self destructive behavior will end.
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