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Honda next-generation solar hydrogen station – Click above for high-res image gallery

Earlier this year, Honda unveiled its newest prototype home hydrogen station for fuel cell vehicles. Susan Carpenter of The Los Angeles Times recently drove over to Honda's Torrance headquarters to check out the unit installed there. The system consists of three components: a vehicle filling unit, an electrolyzer to split tap water into hydrogen and oxygen and a six-kilowatt solar array to power it all.

The whole system can generate about 0.5 kilograms of hydrogen from eight hours of sunshine. That's enough for about 30-35 miles of driving, which should meet most people's daily commuting needs. If they need to use the full 270 mile range of the FCX Clarity, they'll have to stop by one of the handful of hydrogen stations in the Los Angeles area for a complete fill-up that takes about five minutes. You can check out the video of the demonstration after the jump.


  • 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.

[Source: Los Angeles Times]




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  • 74 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Getting totally hung up on energy efficiency is focusing exclusively on just one metric:
      'Everything takes more energy than you think. I’ve seen, far too many times, the lament that our current electrical generating plants “waste” one-third of the energy in their fuels. Welcome to the Carnot cycle! It’s one of the first things thermodynamics students calculate, a sequence of energy generation and use. And the result that those students get, largely a consequence of the Second Law, is that about a third of the input energy goes to entropy, not usable. There are other cycles and other ways to use energy that are more efficient, but if you’ve got a Carnot cycle, the most common cycle for power plants, you’re stuck with that one-third entropy. The Second Law says that there’s always going to be some left-over, not-usable energy, and that there will be even more when you try to reverse a process, like turning carbon dioxide into something else.'
      '

      http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6681

      Sure, more energy efficiency is nice, but in any case in debate about FCVs vs BEVs we are not comparing like for like, as the greater range/weight carrying ability of are simply not accessible for the BEV.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Quick question: when you produce hydrogen from natural gas doesn't that produce more CO2 than water electrolysis? Assuming we'll have much more solar generation in the distant future wouldn't the ultimate goal be to produce most hydrogen through electrolysis even though that process is much less efficient?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @badamsfx. Yes, if reducing fossil CO2 is your objective then reforming natural gas is a bad idea. The problem with H2 by electrolysis is that it is terribly inefficient. You waste even more energy when you compress the gas to a bazillion PSI. Much more efficient to store that energy in a battery and release it using an electric motor.

        On the other hand, if getting off foreign oil is your objective, or if burning government research funds is your objective, then H2 technology looks excellent.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It depends on the source of electricity. If the electricity source is "no carbon" such as nuclear, hydro, wind or solar, then electrolysis would also be "no carbon". If the electricity source is fueled by natural gas or coal, then the steam reforming would produce less CO2.

        But complicating matters is that electricity used for electrolysis isn't available for other uses, including displacing fossil fuel use. It might actually result in less overal CO2 production to use steam reforming of natural gas for H2 supplies and reserve the limited supply of "no carbon" electricity for other uses, including displacing fossil fuel used to make electricity and heat.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Exxon has the ability to put 22.5 BILLION dollars into Solar every year for the next 10 years. But, they are doing nothing.

      Maybe in 10 years APPLE can get into the EV game and wipe Exxon off the table.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I've insulated my attic, and replaced half my windows, what I can afford to do.

        Exxon has Not done what it can afford to do.
        Exxon can Change The World.

        You have to wonder, with the gulf disaster, and global warming, we keep sticking with Energy systems with Huge, Catastrophic Down Side Risk, or, "Negative Externalities".

        - We can see a 4 state recession, and an ecological disaster, poisoning our food supply, thanks to BP.
        - We are continuing to build Nuclear, where one serious accident could take all past profit and wipe it out. But, protected by the Supreme Court and congress with a Maximum Liability Cap.
        - We can see the massive pollution Coal is producing, with mercury in every lake and stream in the US. Plus, coal requires water, lots of water, that it pollutes.

        We are at the crossroads where we now have Solar and Wind technologies that are almost as cheap as coal, with No Down Side Risk. But, we have No Leadership from the "Energy Industry" bent on protecting it's Monopoly Position, instead of Innovating themselves into GROWTH Companies.

        You would think their shareholders would do something?
        Their shareholders are Wall Street.
        What's the problem? Wall Street.

        • 4 Years Ago
        I didn't choose Solar Panels first, not because of price, but because putting in R6 Windows and R90 attic insulation means I will need a smaller air conditioning unit, a smaller heating capacity AND Fewer Solar Panels.

        They now make R16 doors!

        First you trash "builder grade" crap, and then you upgrade.

        But, if money were no object, you could Build your own home with 2*12 stud walls and much better floor and roof insulation....
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's what I'm saying.
        Just like APPLE can develop a product that looks like it came from 5 years into the future, so, to could Exxon Give Us Solar Panels as Cheap as Roof Shingles, or cheaper.

        22.5 Billion * a 10 Year commitment = 225 BILLION Dollars.
        That's More then It cost for Nasa to put a Man on the moon, in todays dollars.

        [ And That's Just Exxon. What could happen if the Whole US Energy Industry decided to Innovate? ]

        Why is Exxon acting like a Monopolist instead of an Entrepreneur?
        We have to ask Wall Street.
        Then, we'd have to ask Wall Street who thought it was a good idea to erode manufacturing jobs back to 1929 levels.

        Only Incompetent Nations let their Financial Systems Destroy the Economy.

        • 4 Years Ago
        I've insulated my attic, and replaced half my windows, what I can afford to do

        So you agree .. Solar is not cost effective

        At the cross roads? I saw my first solar cell when I was 8 years old as a cub scout .. It was the coolest thing ever FREE POWER !!! the guy said it would not be long before they were so cheap everyone would put them on there houses

        I'm now 54
        • 4 Years Ago
        Humm you could put solar on your house right now and not wait for Exxon. Have you?
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      There are no electric vehicles that will go 270 miles on a single charge or will refuel in 5 minutes. You're comparing apples to oranges.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Mike!!ekiM
        A gas hybrid is not zero emission. And you can't just assume that battery technology will magically become infinitely better and hydrogen fuel cells will not improve.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hydrogen isn't Zero Emissions either. The emissions are just down stream, and because you lose during the conversion from natural gas to hydrogen, you make more emissions.

        Sticking with gas hybrids, and then going to EV's, skips the wasteful and expensive step of converting to hydrogen, when that money could be better spent investing in better electric motors and better batteries.

        Ultra capacitor batteries are nearly here, meaning, we will be able to capture More Energy from Braking, and use that energy to accelerate.

        Hydrogen is just a ball of problems.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's why a purely GAS Hybrid would be cheaper and better for the next 10 years then this vehicle, in the next 20 you could just go battery, and dump the Hydrogen.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That doesnt sound too bad when you consider that this is the most absurdly expensive way to produce hydrogen.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Natural gas may also be used in fuel cell technologies that rely upon chemical reactions to create electricity at much higher levels of efficiency than can be obtained from fossil fuel combustion. "

      [url] http://www.powerscorecard.org/tech_detail.cfm?resource_id=6[/url]

      "When fossil fuels are used to produce hydrogen, other byproducts are produced, such as CO2 and in some cases small amounts of NOx, SOx, and particulate matter. These byproducts are much less than those produced by burning these fuels to produce electricity. Fuel cells are much less polluting and about twice as efficient as typical steam-turbine electricity production.

      [url] http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Electrical-Electronics/chp-fuel-cell[/url]

      its actually more efficient and less polluting to use the NG to power the FC to make electricity then it is to burn the NG to create the electricity. With NG pumped to your house you can use it to make Hydrogen for your car AND the waste heat for heating your water at a better efficiency than just burning it to heat your water.


      some people keep saying EV or FCV. A FCV is an EV. The discussion seems to be to power an EV using on board batteries of a fuel cell. USING a FC doesnt preclude the use of batteries or vice versa. research one doesnt preclude research on the other. There are near , middle and long term goals and research. Highly Distributed local generation of power should be the goal and ther will be different ways to reach that goal in different areas. The American SW might make a better place for solar charged batteries but other places with abundant NG resources, Norway, Hydrogen Fuel cells make more sense.

      This Hydrogen effort in Hawaii for instance makes SENSE because its a workable solution FOR THERE.

      http://www.autoblog.com/2010/05/11/general-motors-to-establish-pilot-hydrogen-infrastructure-in-haw/
      • 4 Years Ago
      wardialler,
      I am hardly to know whether you are familiar with the Carnot cycle or not, and imagining personal disrespect from my bringing it up is oversensitive in my view.

      The assumption that H2 use is energy inefficient is fallacious in two respects, I believe.
      Firstly we are not comparing like for like. A FCV has range and load capabilities that a battery car simply does not have, and so comparing their efficiencies is chalk and cheese if you use both appropriately.
      Second although present prototypes are fuel cell only, for simplicity one imagines, for the excellent reasons of efficiency frequently mentioned on this site and because FCVs need a large battery anyway a plug in version is surely the way to go, which would obviously greatly increase the overall efficiency.

      Polo,
      For many users the range of an EV may be fine, but for others, especially those who use vehicles in the course of their work, they just do not cut it.
      I know a lot of builders, and one week they may have a job a couple of hundred miles away, and need to get a large, heavy vehicle with all their tools there speedily.
      It is not simply selfish or perverse, just a case of different transport needs. Driving a modest little car on British roads though I do get hacked off with school mum SUV barges crowding the roads myself!
      But some undoubtedly need that level of size and performance.

      On the question of hydrogen stations, it is an expensive game, but I would argue hardly a show stopper as you don't need so many as petrol stations:
      '"The vehicles have progressed more quickly than the fuel providers," said Tim Brown, technology manager for sustainable transportation at UC Irvine. "The cars are marketable, but the question is the fueling."

      Part of Brown's research involves the siting of future hydrogen stations, which he says don't need to be nearly as prevalent as gas stations. "If you optimize where you put them, eight hydrogen stations can ensure the same level of service as 34 gas stations," he says.'

      http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-hydrogen-20100625,0,332248.story

      And this is for straight FCVs. Using plug-ins would reduce this by another large factor, as I have consistently advocated.

      I am a great BEV fan, but to me it seems simply foolish to try to rule out alternatives at this early stage of the game.
      Theoretical considerations can be an organized way of going wrong.
      It seems perfectly plain to me that fuel cell technology and battery technology go hand in hand, and together they are more formidable than apart. That is certainly Nissan and Renault's view, as when the subject was brought up they said that they were developing electric cars, and that was what would pay dividends. Certainly most of the parts are identical. When they have fuel cells ready they said that all they will need to do is slot in the different drive-train, vehicles like the Leaf will already have provided the base to provide most of the vehicle from the parts-bin.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Have fun recharging your electric car for a few hours when the battery drains : P
      • 4 Years Ago
      @letstakeawalk

      Do I pick a restaurant based on efficiency? huh?

      If I want to charge my new car at home....I don't want to pay triple what I could be paying, and If I'm paying for a solar panel setup to charge it I don't want to pay triple to cover it.

      How callous and reckless do you have to be to not only completely disregard the societal impacts, but also set yourself to take a financial hit that will raise your costs by a factor of 3?

      I've seen this same kind of short-sighted, knowingly destructive, reckless pathology come out of the mouths of those who caused our economic crisis by handing out sub-prime loans to unqualified families, and selling junk securities to pensions and municipalities and it disgusts me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "but both technologies are GOOD for the environment, so we should support both of them... except one uses less than 1/3 of the energy of the other to travel the same distance."

      No. Because we can't afford the infrastructure for two different alternate vehicle technologies. At this point we have to go with whats available right now, and its just our luck it happens to be the cheaper, more efficient technology that people can actually pre-order now.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Greetings,

      6kw Solar PV would povide on average 30kwh of energy a day.

      If it takes 30kwh to produce .5kgs of hydrogen that allows a car to drive 30 mils, then we are seriously working in the wrong direction and going backwards. This would be a case of requireing more energy to produce than the amount of energy produced.

      The same 30kwh can propel a battery electric car 120-140 miles a day. this is 4 times greater thant the hydrogen car. Why? The electric car is very efficiant compared to Hydrogen

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8d/Battery_EV_vs._Hydrogen_EV.png

      Cheers
      Peder
        • 4 Years Ago
        It isn't a problem. Just buy a similar equipment and charge a battery car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bad argument.

        Your BEV is at work in the parking lot while your home is making hydrogen for use on the next day for a FCEV. I agree that this isn't the best use of the energy but i'm tired of EV advocates saying that the power could be better put to use charging a car that isn't within reach of the solar cells. BEVs aren't attached to the grid during peak solar power generation hours and the infrastructure costs to attach them are not trivial (not saying that it can't be done but the BEV folks complain about hydorgen's infrastructure costs as being "billions" when they have their own issues).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Augustus, it is possible to use solar power to charge stationary batteries, then use those batteries at night to recharge an EV. Such an installation would likely be less expensive and store more energy (H2 is very bulky), and best of all it would still be 3x more efficient than using H2 for energy storage! With 3x better efficiency, that means more electricity available for other uses and/or smaller, less expensive solar panels.

        A "grid tie solar" approach can work without batteries, lowering costs even further and saving even more space, and giving plug-ins an even bigger advantage over the H2 approach.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @augustus

        Wrong. Your BEV can be at work (charging, depending on how eco-conscious management is) while your solar panels are charging a battery for you. This means BEVs don't have to be sitting in your garage charging during sunlight for you to power with solar, you can do it at night when you get back home. KB Home is already testing solar home systems with a battery.

        California Solar Home to be First with Battery Technology

        Los Angeles-based production builder KB Home has started construction on the prototype dwelling that not only will run on solar power but also capture it in a lithium-FE battery for future use.

        Stored in a four-battery charging cabinet in the garage, each 2-foot-by-3-foot battery will hold enough energy to power the house for two to three days, according to Craig LeMessurier, KB Home director of corporate communications. The 15-pound, 10 kWh batteries can be tapped at night or on cloudy days when solar panels can’t generate enough energy to meet the home’s needs.

        “With the battery backup system, it will be simple for consumers to understand how they can save money on energy bills by saving energy and then using it at non-peak times,” says Steve Ruffner, president of KB Home’s Southern California division. “We think this will have a long-term effect on their utility bills.”

        If the system is as effective at lowering energy bills as the company predicts, Ruffner says, it will become an option on homes in the Southern California market, although a pricing structure has not been worked out yet. In some areas of the country, the company offers related options such as solar panels and pre-wiring to accommodate electric vehicles.
        http://www.builderonline.com/solar-power/california-solar-home-to-be-first-with-battery-technology.aspx?cid=BLDR100505002

        and their 10kWh battery pack only weighs 15 pounds.... I wonder how long before portable battery packs start being offered that can be charged at home and hooked up through the trunk as a quick way to double range.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ergo....hydrogen is a crock. Worse yet, it's big oil trying to ween us off cocaine by giving us heroin!
        • 4 Years Ago
        @augustus,
        Most people put solar cells on your roof to *offset* their electricity use, not to disconnect themselves from the grid. Presently electricity demand is higher and generation is most polluting during the day, so it's better for the environment to supply power during the day and recharge your electric car after midnight.

        Eventually the power generation demand and mix may change so that people trying to do the most for the environment with their solar cells and EV will have to rethink their approach. But the cheapest way adjust would be a Level 2 charging station at work that can immediately "use" the electricity you're generating at home.
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