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Hydrogen cars could be headed to showroom

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By TOM KRISHER and YURI KAGEYAMA

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well that will be an interesting feat, as electricity is many times more cost effective than converting that same electricity to hydrogen and then saying it has more energy than the electricity it came from. ( I'm having 2nd law of thermodynamics flashes ). Sure, you can use hydrogen, but why?

If highways and roads become the battery then all hybrids and electrics can have as much range as they want. That has to be researched but that has better potential (no pun intended) and would mean all vehicles on the road now could be connected rather than replacing vehicles. Replacement is too expensive and a colossal waste of even more energy.

The oil companies want hydrogen to work because it uses the same payment fuel system as their gas, which is why they support the research. Otherwise local cheap electricity (cheaper than gas) removes their global monopolies.

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@sf2k

I see your point, although I don't yet completely understand the concept of road as battery. Do you have a reference?

I think there may be some advantage to hydrogen as a medium of energy storage. Inconsistent wind energy can be used to produce hydrogen fuel on offshore windmills; no expensive undersea cables required. Solar power in equatorial deserts can be used to produce hydrogen fuel and ship it to rainy cloud covered industrial regions. Etc.

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It's my understanding that hydrogen is not cheap to produce. I'm just guessin that it's not all that environmentally friendly if it costs more (in fuel) than it gives back.

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sf2k the problem is there is no local cheap electricity and cabling up the planets roads is impossibly expensive. An evolutional development of the gas station infrastructure paid for by the oil companies is at least realistic.

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@craighicks

battery in this case is the electrical grid. The grid behaves like a battery but it's not. Energy is made to match the load required of it.

By using the grid it then doesn't matter what the car is powered by, as long as it's electricity. How we make the electricity is then the issue that keeps improving rather than the replacement of the vehicles!

reference: Moving Freight Without Oil, 2007 I think. Also bumper cars, and electric car sets. NFC, and microwave transmission. If we threw as much research into the ideas as supporting the oil companies I"m sure it would work.

@SwissToni They don't say how there are making the hydrogen. My guess is natural gas, and if so it would have been cheaper to make natural gas vehicles since so much of it is lost in making hydrogen. Best denominator of any energy source should be its ability to make electricity, then we don't have to care what the car runs on, since that would be electricity, only care about how to power the grid to run it. Then those energy sources can update innovate transition and change over time without having to replace all the vehicles. Vehicles would last much longer and not need as many replacement parts as well.

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Um I maybe stating the obvious, but in high impact collisions, isn't hydrogen not the safest fuel choice.

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These will be rendered redundant almost immediately by Graphene capacitors. Charge almost instantly and hold a vast amount of energy.

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Instead of spending VAST amounts of money "defending" us from them guys over there who are spending equally VAST amounts of money "defending" them from us guys, wouldn't it be a good idea to call it quits on the "defence" and pour money into developing new sources of energy, hydrogen, graphene capacitors, or something completely new?

Just a thought.

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I look forward to a vehicle powered by Mr. Fusion. Meanwhile, ...

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the flux capacitator is looking really good right now. it only needs 1.21 gigawatts to make it work.

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Sf2k, you're right to a point, the majority of industrial hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels. At this time. There are of course some promising technologies for renewable sources though, even enabling production in oil poor countries. Battery cars are proving themselves only marginally useful, and they are no friend of the environment. Graphene super capacitors do look interesting but size and capacity issues are a long way from being solved.

Some form of road based inductive power transfer to a moving vehicle sounds attractive. It does make for simpler vehicles and moves co2 emissions to the point of materials and power production but it is an impossibly complicated and expensive proposition. And power losses in the process are also significant.

What's needed is a little realism. Utilising known technologies and improving an infrastructure that exists is probably the least worst way to concentrate co2 production. At least in a time frame that allows industry to consider a return on its investment.

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What's the point of buying a Hydrogen-powered car if there are no refueling stations? It seems as if Japanese and Korean car manufacturers are getting ahead of themselves.

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@SwissToni

The thing is electric systems can be gradual versus suddenly needing thousands of hydrogen refuelling stations. Also if the refuelling trucks themselves are hydrogen powered we'd need lots more trucks 5x? 10x? If you thought people hated trucks on the roads now. It might have to be pipelined and that could be an entirely different safety issue.

Hydrogen is the universe's solvent. It corrodes everything. Not a great design choice! Lots of chemicals to transport and change it, losing energy in the process.

Hydrogen sublimes, so there's also a time-to-use it issue. Add as well an unknown scaling deficiency with hydrogen use (going down not up) whereas the electrical load loses are well known. We have the technicians for electrical systems not hydrogen. No one would need to be retrained. Otherwise who is going to service hydrogen vehicles?

Positively hydrogen can work at larger scales, trains I think work out economically.

Land around highways and railways though are great locations for renewables as it would go to power the grid which would power vehicles on an electrical grid transport system. Land use planning and energy generation are concerns for both systems. We already have the infrastructure for electrical.

Given the two, I feel the electrical grid transport system is far more scalable, can be locally generated, can be transitioned in size over time (thus cheaper), should as a design requirement be able to connect existing hybrid and electric vehicles, and can be scalable as dirty or as clean as we like depending on what we choose to power it.

We can't start the transportation networks across the planet all over again. Electricity grids are a network in use today and it will be these grids that will power our future not just replacing one fossil fuel with a battery. Hydrogen isn't a fuel after all, just a conversion of some other energy source.

Hydrogen is fun, it can do work, but if I have to lose most of the energy it takes to make it just to use it, it doesn't make sense to not use electricity instead that has much less loss in conversion, is known, and already has a grid.

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Hydrogen cars will take a while for public to accept. One of the most important benefits of hydrogen cars is that fuel cells are nonpolluting. Hydrogen economy is going to provide the Japan with a future free of pollution and reduce 99 percent dependence on foreign oil. It's unlikely that the rapidly diminishing supplies of fossil fuels could keep up with this demand, so new energy resources will be crucial. The improvements in hydrogen production and storage will lead to a sustainable hydrogen economy in a few decades.

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sf2k, we'll see. But don't hold your breath.

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