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Thread: A new kind of electric car

  1. #1
    Blogger Bernard Murphy's Avatar
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    A new kind of electric car

    Fuel-cells powering electric cars have some interesting potential advantages in range over battery power, especially where electric charging stations may not be widely available on long-range drives. Of course hydrogen stations aren't exactly thick on the ground either but there are some, especially in California (I recently saw a Toyota Mirai merging onto 101 in San Jose). And there's now startup interest in building more where hydrogen is generated locally at the station. Interesting idea. There are plenty of downsides to fuel cells today but that was equally true for battery-operated cars not so long ago.

    https://www.economist.com/news/scien...head-batteries

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    Bernard, there have been a few fuel cell cars built. I always thought a series electric car somebody built with a Capstone micro turbine was interesting.

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    Blogger Bernard Murphy's Avatar
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    Agreed Arthur - I think a couple in Japan and also one in Korea

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    Blogger Daniel Payne's Avatar
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    The issue with the Hydrogen fuel cell concept is that Hydrogen has to be generated through an expensive process like electrolysis, which takes more energy to create than it returns as a fuel.

    Of course, I would love an EV that emits water vapor as exhaust, and the range for fuel-cell cars is greater than battery-driven EV.

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    For overall well-to-wheel (or renewable-to-wheel) efficiency, fuel-cell hydrogen cars are a lot worse than battery EV, and hydrogen IC cars are a lot worse than fossil fuel IC cars. If we're trying to increase transport energy efficiency (because renewable capacity isn't unlimited and energy isn't free) both are pointless, regardless of how nice the "only emits water vapour" slogan is.

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    The electric infrastructure is pervasive, starting with your garage. An EV leaves home every morning with a full charge and many people will drive all year never needing any other charger. For Tesla owners when they bought the car they also bought into a charger network which makes long distance journeys practical. It is a huge climb for a hydrogen infrastructure to get to a similar level of convenience because you cannot charge at home. So while the EV needs a charger network to solve a 1% problem, hydrogen needs it for a 100% problem. Very different.

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