The UK's first public-access hydrogen fueling station – the one opened by Honda just days ago – dispenses hydrogen at 350 bar (5,076 psi) and 700 bar (10,153 psi). The reason is that these are the two standard filling pressures adopted by the world's major automakers, and it requires a lot of technological work to keep the H2 in a tank that pressurized. But what if 500 psi becomes the standard?

That's the pressure that a group of scientists believe will take hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to the next level. The team argues that storage units designed to hold hydrogen at 10,000 psi are quite expensive and claims the moderate 500 psi is far more practical.

In the online issue of Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, a group of scientists published a paper titled, "Hydrogen Spillover Effect of Pt-Doped Activated Carbon Studied by Inelastic Neutron Scattering." Omitting most of the technical details (which you can get here if you have the right credentials), the team's paper concludes that a vessel lined with activated carbon with platinum would allow hydrogen to be safely stored at 500 psi.

According to the team's paper, 500-psi storage tanks could, at least in theory, cost less than tanks engineered that need to withstand 10,000 psi. But there's one major issue before we're all cruising around with "low" pressure H2 tanks under our seats: they require platinum, one of the world's most expensive materials.


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  • 103 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      You certainly claimed that not finding the 16kwh was due to those who looked 'not opening their eyes' and did so without yourself looking- 'opening your eyes' - as no such reference existed in the link given. I do not however like the claim that ARR is lying. He simply had no idea what he was talking about, made claims he could not back up and then has not got the guts or sense to admit that he was wrong, and has made a mistake, as no doubt all of us have from time to time. It appears to me that you are equally in error in your claim that those who looked for the link simply had not looked properly, and it is that which I would suggest that you should retract, and were I in your position I would certainly do so.
      Timo
      • 3 Years Ago
      That text didn't account in the initial production efficiency (because it really doesn't matter in some cases). It counted only the process of getting that energy to end-user. If you count that in then that 25% drops to about 13%. How can FCV take less energy to manufacture? It has exactly same components as BEV + hydrogen tank and fuel cell. It is more complex than BEV and costs more to build, it is way less convenient and loses the range-war in volumetric energy density race.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      even if that happened tomorrow without the use of platinum, HFC cars propably wouldn't happen anyway. but it would certainly help it. lithium at 100$/kWh is just hard to compete with. too elegant, too simple, too stable.
        methos1999
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        And who exactly is producing packs at $100/kWh? Last I checked, Tesla had the lowest "claimed" cost of $250/kWh - and please take some meds before answering DF, I want to see a citation of who is producing packs in the REAL world, not wild conspiracy theories of the cost being suppressed by evil corporations.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 3 Years Ago
          @methos1999
          who are making cheap platinum filled 500psi hydrogen tanks. always assume I am right. you'll make fewer mistakes. 100$/kWh is what it will be. not what you can buy right now. same as this article is not about what you can buy right now. see how that works..
        Andrew Richard Rose
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        And probably too cheap !
      Andrew Richard Rose
      • 3 Years Ago
      A servere drawback to HFC's is that the life of the cell is dramatically reduced when exposed to the high levels of particulate pollution found within many of our cities . Apart from the fact that the fuel cell need an amount of Platinium who's price is always linked to the gold price , currently at $1500 troy once . And that the storage is going to need a spun carbon fibre tank which will probably have to be changed after 4 years of use in the car to retain an insurance certification . And coupled with the fact that the HFC needs a sizable battery anyway in the system to achieve smooth operation ! If it was not for the insistence of Big Oil this tech would be dead !
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Andrew Richard Rose
        The point of this method of storage is precisely because it does not use expensive carbon tanks. As for the platinum comment, you obviously have not been following the technology, likely because you have already made up your mind against it. The latest fuel cells use no more than that in the exhaust of a petrol car, and there is prospective technology using none at all.
          Andrew Richard Rose
          • 3 Years Ago
          David , I have got my info from the people currently testing the technology on several car platforms here in Italy for the European Union . Strangely most of the test cars are sponsored and in some cases actually built at the behest of the oil companies ! And from what I understand from the above method it requires more platinium in the lining of the tank along with the aforesaid Carbon Fibre . This I can assure you will never be cheap to manufacture , but then maybe that is the point !
          • 3 Years Ago
          All manufacturer are reducing the precious metal use in fuel cells, as it costs a lot, and are on track to use similar amounts to that in a catalytic converter by around 2015. Here is GM: 'GM estimates that by 2015 they will be able to have less platinum in the fuel cell than is used in a catalytic converter from a gasoline car, so platinum demand would actually go down. ' http://blog.chron.com/carsandtrucks/2009/10/fuel-cell-technology-commercialized-by-2015/ (See comments, did not bother to dig out the GM full press release)
      Letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      "I can't find (at least with fast googling) the battery capacity of Honda Clarity either, but the size it takes in the pictures would be consistent to 16kWh battery, so I wouldn't dismiss that as a "lie". 16kWh Li-ion battery takes about 15-20 L space with packaging, cooling etc.. That fits nicely under the seats just like it is in the picture." There's no way the Clarity battery is 16kWh. Here's the Volt Battery (16kWh): http://gm-volt.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Brownstown0419.jpg The Clarity battery is a fraction of that size, and it was specc'd several years before the Volt. An honest estimate of the Clarity's battery would be 1-2 kWh. It's primary purpose is to store power regenerated from the brakes.
      Timo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Volt battery is oversized and low-end energy density one. It's actual capacity is much higher than 16kWh, IIRC it leaves more than 20% of its maximum capacity unused so actual capacity is more like 20kWh. Volt battery pack is quite bad design example for electric car battery anyway, it is just a hybrid, not a BEV. 16kWh doesn't use much space if you use proper high energy density batteries. Honda Clarity is already using way more expensive parts than ordinary people would ever buy, so using high-cost high-energy density batteries is only consistent with the rest of the car. Obviously that battery would be this year Clarity, not the original one with supercaps or the first one with batteries instead. Remember that one liter is only 10cm^3. 20 liters is small space, 20 x 100 x 10 cm. Even 30-40 liters would still fit under the seats just nicely. High-end volumetric energy densities of lithium-ion batteries are over 1kWh/L. Not that this is necessarily the case. It's just wrong to say that someone is lying if what he says is possible and there is no evidence of contrary. You could say that you don't believe he is correct in his statements.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      "How can FCV take less energy to manufacture? It has exactly same components as BEV + hydrogen tank and fuel cell." A full size car with a 200 mile range will have a ~2,000 lb battery pack while an FCEV will have a ~100 lb fuel cell
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      I like turtles!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Chris M: My reply seems to have disappeared. I have previously searched the linked pdf and it does not specify the battery size, and specifically makes no mention of 16 kwh. Please therefore withdraw, as I will certainly do if you find this on the pdf.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      I find it very ironic that Chris M, who thinks that any reasonable amount of hydrogen has to be stored in an improbably large tank, has no trouble believing the premise that a 16kWh battery can be smaller than a suitcase. LOL! Chris M - why not at least correct an obvious error on the part of ARR; why even try to back him up - with a nonsensical comment, no less?
      BipDBo
      • 3 Years Ago
      500 psi was obviously a mistake. They meant 5,000.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        Joe Viocoe The scientists seem to be confident that flow rates will be adequate. "This storage system, once tuned to achieve the desired capacity, should be capable of storing hydrogen under moderate pressure (possibly around 500 psi), then releasing the gas on demand simply by releasing the pressure, Chen says. “When you break the hydrogen molecules down to atoms” using the spillover effect, “it binds with the material with much less binding energy, so you can pump it out easily,” he says."
          Timo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Question is what is considered "adequate". If it is for example enough for 100kW worth to fuel cell, but no more than that, that is only about twice as fast as standard L3 charger.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Heating when it is filling? That sounds a bit like batteries! The question is 'how much?' and it is plain that the scientists involved find that the rates should be capable of being reduced enough to manage.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          The fact remains that heat is produced when the material adsorbs H2, therefore cooling is necessary during the fill process, and that heat production is what slows the fill time. Moreover, the opposite occurs when releasing the H2, slowing the release rate unless heat is applied. If the adsorbent gets too cold, it won't release the H2 at all. Of course, since it takes far longer to use up that stored H2 than to store it, the "release rate problem" is less of a problem than the "fill rate problem".
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Voting down an actual quote from the scientists who have conducted the research? LOL. Stay ignorant.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        No mistake. You increase bulk for the hydrogen by low pressure storage, but save much of the weight and bulk of the tank which can be much lighter.
          Timo
          • 3 Years Ago
          Joeviocoe, that's what this is about. Absorbion tank. I agree with you that it is non-solution to problems, it just makes filling HFCV as slow if not slower than recharging an BEV.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          LTAW, If they were talking about an adsorption tank... that would bring up an new issue. Refill time! Adsorption is a MUCH slower process to fill up... and also to release it's precious fuel to be used in the Fuel Cell. Which means that you STILL need a very large tank in order to provide enough power to move.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          Actually, an adsorbtion tank can hold an equal amount of hydrogen at both reduced volume and pressure compared to a standard compressed H2 cyclinder tank.
          BipDBo
          • 3 Years Ago
          If it's no mistake, then they're trolling for comments. 500 psi would increase storage volume by a factor of 10. That would leave you 2 options; either a car with a stupidly short range, or a blimp on wheels.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      Timo, please end this nonsense - you only make yourself look more foolish! "It's actual capacity is much higher than 16kWh, IIRC it leaves more than 20% of its maximum capacity unused so actual capacity is more like 20kWh." No. The Volt's battery is 16kWh, and the Volt only actively uses about 10.4 kWh of this capacity. You are wrong in your assessment of the Volt battery. "It's just wrong to say that someone is lying if what he says is possible and there is no evidence of contrary. You could say that you don't believe he is correct in his statements." Likewise, just as you are wrong about an easily provable point regarding the Volt battery, you are wrong in your assessment of the Clarity's battery. Nothing in the presented facts give any reason to believe that the Clarity has a battery capacity in excess of other FCVs with similar systems. It is reasonable - in light of specific data from Honda - to extrapolate that the Clarity battery is around 1-2 kWh in capacity.
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