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Thread: Elon Musk electric cars or H2 fuel cells?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2010
    Location: A Former Orange Grove

    Elon Musk electric cars or H2 fuel cells?

    I prefer H2. More portable. Quicker to refill, etc. What do ya’ll think? Power to density for batteries is getting better, but still sucks. Charge times for EVs are still pretty bad. Fluid electrolyte replacement is not the pipe dream that was once dreamed about. Hydrogen is the ticket in my view baby. Yeah!

    So really, are there any engineers here working on either of these technologies? If so, what is your opinion. In my view it is all about who will get the powers that be to build the supporting infrastructure for one or the other. Since Musk is going “Apple” with the Tesla (in reference to his proprietary charging plug), he’s backing himself in a corner. H2 is H2. Getting it from CH4 is the norm, but there are better sources. Surplus solar electricity?

  2. #2
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    I'm betting on electric, at least in the mid-term. To put it simply, hydrogen is still pretty deep in the "yeah, it can be done" phase, while electric is already gaining traction, with cars out on the road as we speak.

    Regardless of advantages and disadvantages, whichever tech gets infrastructure out on our highways first is the one that'll win.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Battery cars need to come down in price a bit.

    Hydrogen cars need to solve several fundamental problems with generating and storing fuel in addition to needing to come down in price a rather more substantial amount.

    I'm not convinced there will ever be a hydrogen moment. Indeed, I'm fairly convinced that the only reason anybody's pushing hydrogen at all is to try to distract attention from battery powered vehicles. As I understand it, right now, any significant amount of hydrogen is going to be produced from fossil fuels and not electrolysis, at a profit for oil companies and the detriment of the world. So, eff that.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2010
    Location: A Former Orange Grove
    Orange County, California, USA is home for a lot of high tech. We have H2 stations here (when they are on line...) and lots of compressed natural gas and other alternative fuels. Musk though seems to think we are not worthy of a super charger station, at least where the main populace exists.

    I am not so sure of Renzatic's prognostication. Steam and Electrics were first before gasoline and who won that war? The most convenient and cost effective wins, unless there is outside collision.

    For me, waiting 20 to 30 minutes to get 180 miles of charge is shite. I can fill up my tank in just a couple minutes and go. H2 allows a similar experience to gasoline. And you don;t have to fight with the Prius plug in weenie for your parking spot.

  5. #5
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by bjack View Post
    I am not so sure of Renzatic's prognostication. Steam and Electrics were first before gasoline and who won that war? The most convenient and cost effective wins, unless there is outside collision.
    Hydrogen does have some distinct advantages over electric, basically giving you all the perks of gas (quick refills, longer driving distances), while still providing all the clean energy warm fuzzies.

    But that still doesn't change the fact that electric, as of right now, has a much, MUCH greater presence in the marketplace. You can pick up an electric car now for a not-too-astronomical $30-40,000. A hydrogen car? Last I checked, prices had only just dipped below the 6 figure range for what's basically a hobbyist toy.

    Electric has its problems, but it's here now, ready to roll and fairly affordable. Hydrogen is only now getting off the ground. Barring some unforeseen advancements over the next few years, I don't see it becoming the favored choice here.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: London / London / London
    Don't you also need a heavy and hot (like 1000c hot) catalyser for h2 cells? They sound like they might work on trucks and coaches but not cars. We have h2 cell red London buses now. It's the future.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2005
    Both technologies suffer from the high discrepancy in energy density compared to a combustible fluid. I guess electricity wins. Its great advantage is its preexisting low-hazard distribution network aka power grid. The investment costs for a hydrogen distribution and storage system capable of providing the same coverage seem to eat up any advantage hydrogen might have in energy production.

    The implementation of new technologies isn´t the major problem here. The biggest challenge will be the establishment of a different economic system that does not rely on constant growth associated with increasing use of natural resources. If you exclude (low energy) nuclear reactions, no renewable climate neutral energy source, how clever it may be designed, will be able to sustain an ever growing energy demand.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    I'm not convinced there will ever be a hydrogen moment.
    Transport had its hydrogen moment in the 1930s. It didn't end well.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    I don’t think Hydrogen is going to catch on for the reasons Hesche already mentioned. We already have the industry to produce gas/petrol, diesel, propane/LNG, and electricity on a very large scale. We also have the infrastructure to deliver those energy sources to end users. Both of those things are lacking with Hydrogen.

    I also think we’ll be relying mostly on petroleum-based fuels for a while. We keep decommissioning nuclear and coal plants, relying more and more on natural gas for base load power. The supply of electricity seems like it will lag behind demand and electric rates will go up. Unless the government significantly increases taxes on petroleum-based fuels, there isn’t a big cost incentive to drive sales of electric vehicles.

    My wife and I are looking at new cars right now and we need a family hauler, so the new Chrysler Pacifica hybrid came to our attention. I ran the numbers and given our current electric rate and cost of gasoline, it will be cheaper to drive the vehicle on gas than plug it in. It is also more expensive than the regular gasoline model, but the $7500 tax break for buying a plug-in will make up for that difference.

    I am somewhat disappointed in the lack of diesel cars in the US. I spent a lot of time in the UK from 2010-2014 and drove all sorts of rental cars, nearly all diesels. They have nice torque and good fuel economy. I especially liked the VW and Ford 2.0L diesels which are pretty sporty in a light car. I also rented a Golf with the 1.6L Bluemotion for a couple weeks and averaged about 65 MPG (imp) and had no trouble keeping up with the 90 mph traffic on the M3. That’s about 54 MPG US which is better than I can get from any hybrid under similar conditions.

  10. #10
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Problem with hydrogen = it's highly explosive, so you need layered failsafes to stop cars being a bit Fallout 3.
    Problem with electric = the energy still has to come from somewhere, so it doesn't solve the bigger problem, though it's a decent enough intermediate solution.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by SD View Post
    Transport had its hydrogen moment in the 1930s. It didn't end well.
    Funny business, this biased risk assessment, isn´t it? 10e2 people killed in one incident leads to the renouncement of a whole technology branch while a technology causing 10e6 deaths per year is accepted just fine for decades now.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I think it's disingenuous to say that "the energy still has to come from somewhere" with electric while failing to say the same for hydrogen. I keep hearing about promising electrolysis technologies, but AFAIK it's still grossly inefficient, and anyway that's just another step in the chain. Right now hydrogen is produced from natural gas with CO2 as a byproduct, so same-old same-old as far as global warming goes. At least with an electric plug-in car I can recharge it from my solar panels (or a home battery charged from said solar panels). Really, in sunny places like where I live, the problem of clean energy production is actually less than the problem of car and battery costs.

    Honestly, people talk a lot about infrastructure, but I'm really looking forward to being able to charge my car at home instead of having to stop at stations. For anything other than the occasional long road trip, it's a lot more convenient.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2005
    Oh, hydrogen will definitely play an important role in energy production, storage and distribution. There are a lot of interesting things you can do with hydrogen. You could produce it from (photovoltaic) electrolysis of water and let it react with CO2 (from, let´s say a biogas plant) to methane which is a carbon atom carrying 4 hydrogen atoms, so basically a molecular hydrogen balloon. Much easier to transport than pure hydrogen. And that´s just one application. However, I just don´t see hydrogen as source of energy for an automobile.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    The energy density of hydrogen or methane is certainly higher than a Li-ion battery, but the Li-ion battery wins on efficiency. Large scale electrolysers are maybe 60% efficient, and hydrogen fuel cells are more like 50% efficient, so the overall charge-discharge efficiency is only around 30%. Li-ion batteries are 80-90%.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2010
    Location: A Former Orange Grove
    These are for sale about 2 miles from home. I see at least 2 a day, but probably the same test drivers.

    https://ssl.toyota.com/mirai/fcv.html

    They are about $60K US. Much more than a Chevy Bolt, but far less than a Tesla. There are a few fueling stations near me, but they are suspiciously offline a lot.

  16. #16
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    I think it's disingenuous to say that "the energy still has to come from somewhere" with electric while failing to say the same for hydrogen.
    Totally agree, that's just not hydrogen's biggest problem - my post was a drive-by.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    Quote Originally Posted by Hesche View Post
    Funny business, this biased risk assessment, isn´t it? 10e2 people killed in one incident leads to the renouncement of a whole technology branch while a technology causing 10e6 deaths per year is accepted just fine for decades now.
    On balance I think I'd probably rather hitch a ride in a Prius than the Hindenburg, but each to their own.

  18. #18
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Wimp.

  19. #19
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    You mean whimpenburg.

    Hydrogen is the future is so 2000s.

    These days, I'm thinking the future of energy is going to look more like roving gangs of bandits with spiked jackets driving hobbled dune buggies and hustling gasoline from rusted abandoned Prius's in the desert.

  20. #20
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    It might be a good idea to invest in an indoors hydroponics farm, so you can still grow your food when the nuclear winters come.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by SD View Post
    On balance I think I'd probably rather hitch a ride in a Prius than the Hindenburg, but each to their own.
    What can I say, blimpin´ain´t easy.

    If I presented you a new transport technology that would get you quickly from A to B but would be responsible for around 1,750 casualties per year in Great Britain while seriously injuring around 22,000 would you put your money on that? That´s around 4 British Airways A380 crashes per year.

    But still I guess everybody would rather choose being attacked by a lion than be in an airplane which is about to crash. Because there´s so much that could be done against a lion attack: you could run, you could fight Gladiator-style, you could tame it with a lvl 4 Beast charming spell...

  22. #22
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    Quote Originally Posted by Hesche View Post
    Funny business, this biased risk assessment, isn´t it? 10e2 people killed in one incident leads to the renouncement of a whole technology branch while a technology causing 10e6 deaths per year is accepted just fine for decades now.
    On balance, I don't think anyone really has reason to be afraid of planes exploding by being caught in a mooring mast and then having the combined mass of propellant catch fire and blow up.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2005
    But what a plane can do is run over a titanium alloy strip (435 millimetres (17.1 in) long, 29 to 34 millimetres (1.1 to 1.3 in) wide and 1.4 millimetres (0.055 in) thick), cutting a tyre and sending its drebris into a fuel tank with leaking fuel catching fire, damaging one engine and disintegrating the port wing sending 107 people in a building at 370 km/h.

    Accidents happen. They just stick better to memory when a lot of people die in one rare accident compared to few people dying on a regular basis.

  24. #24
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    Even if that chain of causality and maths check out for the <1% probability of occasions where punctured tyre debris reaches a fuel tank, I think it's safe to say that planes have better manoeuverability and safety regulations in place for that not to happen 99% of the rest of the time.

    When you have a low manoeuverability vehicle that has a comparably higher mass of flammable material contained within a body that's not as durable as the metal used in today's aeroplanes (I assume, not being a zeppelin expert), I'd say safety probabilities weigh in favour of the aeroplane.

    That said, I don't disagree with accidents happening regardless of the mode of transport. The Hindenberg model didn't work because of a mass of things planes are simply better at, but the explosion does stick out in most people's memory.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 23rd Feb 2017 at 06:44. Reason: duralumiwhatsitnow

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    I read up about the Hindenberg a while back, and the problem was that it was filled with hydrogen (flammable) when it should have been filled with helium.

    At the time, the USA was the biggest source of helium, and they wouldn't sell any to the Germany-based Zeppelin company, so they had to improvise and use hydrogen.

    Seems a bit silly that it ended all airships just because one with various design flaws exploded in film.
    IRRC a lot of the passengers were actually evacuated safely, unlike a plane crash which generally kills everyone on board.

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