Published on December 6th, 2015 | by Michael Barnard


Hydrogen Refuelling: Expensive & Ineffective

December 6th, 2015 by  

main-qimg-b3af6064a066c63a2d50eac196a6d7cbCompared to gas, diesel, or electric options, hydrogen distribution and fueling will be more expensive, lose a lot of hydrogen, be harder to use, be dangerous in a way people aren’t familiar with, and won’t deliver any environmental benefits to speak of. Yet major automotive vendors and some politicians continue to speak in favour of it.

It’s worth reviewing the major challenges related to hydrogen distribution and refueling to get a sense of what hydrogen fuel cell car manufacturers are up against as they try to find anyone to build the refuelling infrastructure that they need.

Hydrogen Is The Slipperiest Molecule In The Universe

main-qimg-2a0b7214865b12ac4e0a10896a944fa9Hydrogen escapes, with distressing ease and speed, anything which isn’t built to extraordinary tolerances. Expanding a complete distribution network to tolerances a couple of orders of magnitude above those required for gasoline is expensive.

An existing industrial distribution network exists, but it doesn’t need to provide similar coverage to gas stations — and there are about 168,000 of those in the USA right now, about one for every 1,900 people. That’s at least one order of magnitude above current hydrogen outlets for industrial use at anywhere near the scale of gas stations, and likely more. Maintaining that network so that normal degradation of seals, hoses, couplings and tanks doesn’t result in unacceptable losses will be expensive.

By comparison, gasoline can be carried in a pail and poured through a cheap plastic funnel into a gas tank with a crappy twist lid. Electrical outlets exist everywhere and don’t spill electricity, and batteries lose charge very slowly.

Most hydrogen advocates don’t seem to understand the technical aspects of this at all, and few of the ones who do seem to understand the economic implications.

Untrained Humans Have To Use The Nozzles

As a corollary to the first point, the point of getting hydrogen from a storage tank into a car’s tank is still going to require a human being who expects that it’s going to be pretty much the same as putting gas into a car. But it won’t be. Effective hydrogen couplings are more complex and tight fitting, and require interlocks that gas pumps don’t have today.

At minimum, people will have to take a heavier and bulkier nozzle, insert it correctly into a more complex fitting, and twist something until the fittings lock precisely. The large mass of people in the world are going to be the weakest link in this process. It will get screwed up regularly with significant losses of hydrogen.


Nozzles Likely Won’t Be Standardized

Right now, the tolerances for pouring gasoline or diesel into vehicles are extremely loose. Gasoline is a liquid at pretty much any temperature humans are going to be pumping it and it doesn’t vaporize particularly quickly. Gas pump nozzles can be a bit bigger or smaller with no impacts. Gas can intakes can be a bit bigger or smaller with no impacts.

But hydrogen nozzles will be much more technically specific and many countries and manufacturers will have their own ideas about what the ‘best’ nozzle is. Standardization bodies exist just as they do for electric cars, but they will be just as routinely ignored. Countries will go their own ways. Manufacturers will go their own way.

There will be multiple coupling technologies, not one. And hydrogen refueling stations will have to choose which subset they support. And those pesky humans who are going to be doing the refueling are going to get confused and will be pissed off that their particular car won’t be able to be refueled at half of the hydrogen stations.

If you think this is overstated, look at electric car charging plugs. There are two competing international standards — CHADeMO and SAE — and at least three vendors are going their own way with completely different charging approaches, or appear to be, most notably Tesla (whose approach is superior and was necessary to achieve the necessary recharge times for its Supercharger network, but still…). Many electric car owners end up carrying around at least one and probably two adaptors so that they can plug into different networks. And adaptors for electricity are cheap and easy compared to adaptors for hydrogen.

You Can’t Underestimate Human Fear

If hydrogen vehicles actually took off, a variety of parties for their own reasons would start running clips of the Hindenburg 24/7. Various types of irrational instincts would kick in with a large subset of the populace who don’t and won’t understand that gasoline is more dangerous than hydrogen.

There would be backlash. Social license battles would be constantly fought over siting of hydrogen refueling stations. People who think nothing of living next to a gas station would be terrified about living next to a hydrogen station. A bunch of people would refuse. There would be protests. From The New York Times:

WHEN Rebecca Markillie of ITM Power in Sheffield, England, attends trade shows to promote her company’s ambitious plan to build hydrogen fueling stations for cars in Britain, she sometimes must calm skittish consumers. “You get people saying, ‘Oh, no: hydrogen. That is dangerous,’ ” she said. “And you go, ‘Well, why do you say that?’ And straightaway, the only knowledge of hydrogen would be the Hindenburg.”

And because of the second point above, there would be accidents. Someone would have a crappy, sparking electronic device and misuse the complex coupling and a bunch of hydrogen would escape into the air unnoticed — and poof, you’d get a little hydrogen air-fuel bomb going off and everyone would freak out, ignoring all of the gas station fires over the years.

And that doesn’t even begin to deal with intentional misuse. To paraphrase the immortal words of Derek Zoolander, “it doesn’t mean that we too can’t not die in a freak [hydrogen] fight accident.”

It Won’t Reduce Climate Change Emissions

main-qimg-0f2befc714da734c48455681f9fb093f-2All of the arm waving in the world doesn’t get around the reality that the only industrial source of hydrogen is steam reformation of natural gas, and that hydrogen vehicles will have about 15% higher CO2 emissions than diesel engines per 100 km.

“According to a 2001 NREL full lifecycle assessment, the total CO2 emissions for a kilogram of hydrogen produced from natural gas is 11.9 kg, with 25% of total emissions coming from process, storage and transport.”

And that’s if the natural gas is actually carefully pumped and stored so that there are no methane emissions, which are much worse in the short term for climate change than the CO2.

Diesel cars get better mileage than gas cars, but diesel emits more CO2 for the same energy, with the result being that diesel cars are a bit better for CO2 emissions than gas cars. Hydrogen cars are going to be in the same range or worse than gas cars well-to-wheel. They will have no tailpipe emissions, but they will depend on fossil fuel extraction and processing with high resulting CO2 emissions nonetheless.

This is why the US looked at the entire thing and intelligently shifted to supporting electrification of transportation. And why intelligent consumers looking for a non-polluting alternative to cars are scratching their heads over why anyone is still promoting hydrogen-fueled transportation instead of electric vehicles.

And before electrolyzation of water using renewable energy is trotted out, electricity still costs money, hydrogen cracking from water requires a lot of electricity and “well”-to-wheel comparisons of hydrogen electrolysis to fuel cell vs battery electric vehicles clearly show 3-4 times greater efficiency for battery electric vehicles. Why would a consumer pay 3-4 times as much for the same service, especially when it’s less convenient?

Expensive And Ineffective

The first four points lead to one inescapable conclusion: hydrogen distribution networks will be very expensive compared to gasoline, diesel, or electrical distribution networks. They just won’t make economic sense. And the last point makes it clear that there is no good reason to spend the money.

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About the Author

For the past several years Michael has been analyzing and publishing reports and articles on decarbonization technologies, business models and policies. His pieces on electrical generation transformation and electrification of transportation have been published in CleanTechnica, Newsweek, Slate, Forbes, Huffington Post, Quartz, RenewEconomy, RenewablesInternational and Gizmag, as well as included in textbooks. Third-party articles on his analyses and interviews with Mike have been published in dozens of news sites globally and have reached #1 on Reddit Science. Much of his work originates on, where Mike has been a Top Writer annually since 2012. He also has published a climate-fiction novel, Guangzhou Future Tense.

  • david bruner

    It seems that : If it doesn’t cost a lot of money it is not interesting … HOHOHO!

    • Bob_Wallace

      If it doesn’t make sense it isn’t interesting.

      That’s a clue….

  • david bruner

    It seems most of the commenters have a mental block when it comes to the simplicity I speak of … Hydrogen is everywhere ! It is in the air in the form of humidity .. In all the waters of the Earth … It is the most abundant atom in the Cosmos ! You simply produce the Hydrogen fuel at the point it enters the ICE ! No storage except possibly a water tank , No expensive gas stations , no expensive Platinum lined car parts needed to contain the Hydrogen because you don’t contain it ! A Hybrid Electric/Hydrogen ICE vehicle could do it !

    • Jenny Sommer

      Come on…are you serious?

      I assume you are driving that mysterious machine you are talking about?

      • david bruner

        :0)…. It is already running smoothly in my mind … The greatest inventions were made to run in the greatest inventors mind before they hit the ground …

        • Bob_Wallace

          You’re a legend in your own mind, Dave…. ;o)

    • Bob_Wallace

      David, you’re repeating yourself and you aren’t tuned into the cost of what you suggest.

      Your idea of producing hydrogen at point of use will not work. You can make hydrogen, you can burn that hydrogen or use it in a fuel cell, but you’ll use more energy to produce it that you’ll end up with.

  • david bruner

    I believe it is a pathetic time in world history when the greed of mankind overtakes their desire to leave a better world to our children’s children ! So we kill some in the womb and leave a mess for those who survive … We are a truly pitiful species of Humanoid life ! MARANATHA !

    • Bob_Wallace

      Read the site commenting rules.

  • david bruner

    All this negative banter about hydrogen fuel forces me to go back to my original conclusion that the governments of planet Earth depend upon the fossil fuels to generate a very large part of their tax revenue and they go so far as to plant stooges to talk down any debate about it’s benefits or it’s clean non polluting use … I rest my case … I learned not to debate with a fence post a long time ago … but it is sad

    • Bob_Wallace

      Governments could tax hydrogen. They could increase taxes on electricity.
      You are grasping for straws in order to maintain belief which is not supported by facts.

      Find your inner objectivity.

  • david bruner

    I cannot understand why there is so much negativity about hydrogen ? Is it because no one thinks without being sure about the Political correctness of their answer ? Or is it that no one thinks past the end of their nose ? Or is it that no one can think ?

    • Jenny Sommer

      It’s because of thinking.

    • Bob_Wallace

      David, honestly, you are the one who is not looking beyond their nose. You’ve been given factual information about why hydrogen is expensive and you just wave it away.

      Hydrogen would be a wonderful way to store energy is 1) it wasn’t such an inefficient storage technology and 2) the infrastructure wasn’t so expensive.

      Take off the “faith” blinders, Dave. Don’t just “believe” in hydrogen. Learn the facts and build your opinions on a firm foundation.

  • david bruner

    Well Bob Wallace …this is interesting …I told Bob in a comment how to by pass the great expense of Hydrogen fuel use and they took my comment off the post … I hate to be right any more cus they are afraid of the truth in any forum … But the short version is you do not store Hydrogen you use electrolysis to make it just b4 you burn it ! Just like a carburetor… I hope I don’t have to rewrite this all nite @!*6&3%# it

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, Dave, no one took your hydrogen comment down.

      There’s a problem with returning to a discussion in Disqus from an email. Previous comments may not show. But they are still there.

      Copy this link into your browser and you should see all the comments. Except for the one where you went way off topic.

  • david bruner

    Life aint easy but future generations are screaming back in time to us ! “You are our only hope … Please don’t take the easy way as those who were before you did . Don’t leave us an even bigger mess to deal with” !

  • david bruner

    Why is it a High School drop out must explain to all you geniuses about things you should know ? You don’t store Hydrogen in large amounts ! You make it out of water or air ( humidity ) and use it as you go ! The technology is there ! Our government is simply hoping no one is smart enough to utilize it . Or even think of it LOL ! You see the tax base for almost every nation in our world depends on fossil fuels and gasses . However ! Hydrogen can be made for free ! I know because I have done it ! So the big problem is that they cannot tax water or the air ! This fact sends them into a panic mode every time Hydrogen is mentioned ! So they must pretend to hate pollution on the one hand . And refuse to promote something that could do away with almost 100% of man made air pollution . Using obtuse logic , misinformation, fables , Lies , and then count on the gullibility of humanity besides ! All because they can’t figure out how to tax a gas that can be made for free ! That is a genuine conundrum ; I think ! It is the reason I knew they were telling a cock and bull story from the beginning of the Al Gore Global Warming panic with Henny Penny theatrics ! HOHOHO ! They never did care about pollution or even what really causes Global Warming . It is all about the political power they are seeking ! ( and also a wag the dog diversion so they could move a large number of Muslims into the USA !) I guess it worked … At least they convinced you geniuses LOL!

    • Jenny Sommer

      Frickin freeeeee Hydrogen1¡11!!!1!eins!

      Trololololoooo ^^

    • Bob_Wallace

      David, the electricity for electrolysis is not free.

      The equipment needed for electrolysis is not free.

      The electricity to compress the hydrogen is not free.

      The compressor is not free.

      The storage tanks are not free.

      On an industrial scale even the water used would not be free.

      Cars will likely need to pay some sort of a road fee. Either that or we’ll have to raise taxes somewhere else to keep our roads usable.
      I’m guessing that we’ll pay a use fee based on a combination of vehicle weight and miles driven. That’s how we do it now, more or less. The more you drive and the heavier (less efficient) you vehicle is the more you pay in gas (road use) taxes.

      • david bruner

        BOB…So every morning you put on yur shirt and walk out into the light furnished for free by a Hydrogen powered furnace that runs 24/7/365 ….. Forever !
        The water that falls out of the sky is n/c except for a bucket to catch it in. ( It is H 2 O falling from the sky !)
        Once the engine begins burning Hydrogen from a free source of fuel such as rainwater or humidity ( or even if a small amount of Propane must be used to start ) the rest of your power you can get from free fuel h2o . But I speak on a tiny scale compared to industrial production . However if everyone had a hydrogen powered generator in their possession collectively we could all be selling power back to Electric companies . Then that would be on an Industrial scale ! And all using free fuel .
        I realize that the entire Capitalist idea of success is to make lots of money and put the “people” in a type of slavery to your product . However there are multitudes of humanoid life forms that would rather live without stuffing their money down the Capitalist black hole of endless profit . Amish do just fine without it .
        Indeed this type of industrial production and use of Hydrogen is counter productive in a few ways… However compared to the cost of fossil fuels and the incredible damage to our Earth that these fuels are causing when extracted and used ; then Hydrogen is incredibly cheap even on an industrial scale . Even long before fossil fuels get to the customer their cost to many innocent people is their health !
        Fossil fuels are cheap and easy because ( like the sickening idea of nuclear energy) the consequences of their use in $$$ and health of future generations of our children is apathetically pushed aside ! This does not make them cheaper to use it just means we are more sadistically hypocritical to our future generations ! That are depending on us to leave them a free clean planet to inherit . That is if they are allowed to have the choice to live and inherit it at all ! It is time to stop polluting our children’s future at any cost ! ANY COST !
        I have never heard of any pollution associated with Hydrogen… no matter how it is used . We should never forget this whole debate got it’s start when Al Gore started screaming the sky is polluted !
        So now I scream BACK an answer to this hypocritical government ! Hydrogen can and will work ! How much is clean air worth ! BHO wants a legacy ? Here it is !

        …..I was a interstate Truck Driver for thirty years so I have some knowledge about the road taxes ! The hypocrisy in government associated with them is atrocious ! I have no doubt they will find a way to get their tax revenue and as always make it disappear ! Like they did to the trucking industry they will probably get tax revenue from the ones with the least $$$ political bribery / graft / (contributions?) tied to them .LOL!

        • Jenny Sommer

          Where does the energy for your hydrogen come from?
          I guess you burn it then?

          • david bruner

            Ok …Jenny … Hydrogen is an atom , the smallest atom there is , it is an element ….. Like gold, silver , or copper . Only it is usually gas in our world . If you combine hydrogen with oxygen you get water molecules H2O . The hydrogen is in each water molecule in every drop of water every where on Earth (including humidity as water vapor) . Even you are mostly hydrogen atoms . You can separate the hydrogen from the oxygen in water with a process called electrolysis . Then the hydrogen is a gas that can be burned as a super clean non polluting fuel for any need . This is what the sun does . It burns Hydrogen and makes light , energy , and various other magnetic and electrical reactions . Hydrogen is the most common element in the cosmos … almost all fossil fuels contain hydrogen as their basic power source . The hydrogen is perfectly clean but it is all the other ingredients in fossil fuels that make the pollution ! The complaint about Hydrogen seems to be that it costs too much to make with electrolysis . Compared to what is the bigger question ? How much is our planet worth ? I think the major reason they refuse to use hydrogen is the fact it is possible to produce it on a small scale for free (For a car , generator, or home furnace needs )… So governments could not tax it if it is made with water …. However other reasons seem to proliferate on this subject ! I feel it is simply a matter of time b4 a wealthy philanthropist sees the great value in universal free energy !

          • Jenny Sommer

            I know a smaller one.

            You say it costs too much but yet it is free? That confuses me.
            Where does the sun get the power for electrolysis from?
            The hydrogen has to come from somewhere when it burns so much of it?
            Could we just get the hydrogen from the sun?

        • Bob_Wallace

          David, you can rail on about how rainwater is free, etc. but you totally miss the point that there is a real cost for converting water to hydrogen and getting into car tanks.

          • david bruner

            Bob … We have a problem with our perspective on this problem… You keep saying in order to utilize Hydrogen as a source of energy we must go through several very expensive procedures to get the pure hydrogen gas into the combustion chamber of an engine … I say it is similar scenario to using gasoline ; only water is the fuel to be used to produce the hydrogen… You do not turn gasoline into fumes before you put it in your tank ! You put the gas in the tank and your carburetor / fuel injectors take it from there ! Likewise you do not put the Hydrogen gas in the tank …You use water to produce hydrogen when it is at or near the injectors of your engine ! The Hydrogen is only converted by electrolysis from water to hydrogen for a few micro seconds and never is there enough to go poof or bang or any other type of explosion…Turn off engine and hydrogen goes away ! Vehicle catches on fire it will never burn the water ! And the compressor and the expensive platinum coatings may not even be needed at all let alone coating the whole tank for storage with it ! Are you getting my point yet ? You use the power of the engine generators to operate the process of electrolysis ! R we communicating yet …? Good luck to those who see the incredible $$$ potential in this ! But I have others even more spectacular than this…. so don’t forget my kickback!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Cool, Dave, love your concept.

            Now tell us, where does the electricity come from that turns water into H2 for you to burn in your ICE?

            I’m sure that you misspoke when you posted this – “You use the power of the engine generators to operate the process of electrolysis ! ” because that would mean that you’ve invented the perpetual motion machine.

            Let’s review the problems with perpetual motion machines (Wiki).

            In any isolated system, one cannot create new energy (first law of thermodynamics)

            The output power of heat engines is always smaller than the input heating power. The rest of the energy is removed as heat at ambient temperature. The efficiency (this is the produced power divided by the input heating power) has a maximum, given by the Carnot efficiency. It is always lower than one.

            The efficiency of real heat engines is even lower than the Carnot efficiency due to irreversible processes.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Dave, you’ve got some experience with motors. Do this.

            Take the belt off your alternator and disconnect the wires. Now spin the alternator by hand. That effort you have to put in tells you something about the energy lost when you use H2 or any other fuel to operate the alternator.

            Then take out the spark plugs, put the vehicle in neutral and turn the engine over by hand. That effort? The energy it takes to overcome inertia and friction.

            !. Start out with one cup of H2.
            2. Remove enough energy to spin the engine and turn the alternator.
            3. Feed the left over energy (in the form of electricity) into your H2 electrolysis device and you get less than a cup of H2 back.

            In fact you’ll get a lot less than a cup of H2 back. It takes a lot of energy (your generated electricity) to break the oxygen/hydrogen bond in H2O in order to free up the H2.

          • david bruner

            Batteries …. Bob . It is not meant to be a perpetual motion machine but it could be near it … You continuously charge the full potential of all the batteries that you can incorporate into your ICE . Just like your auto it has a full charge when you go to drive it in the morning …..Simply use an inverter for your AC needs for electrolysis and it will seem like perpetual motion … ( They already have almost this same hydrogen technology operating without the carburetor idea and they go a long way on tanks of free hydrogen ) we may be close to our answer !… with out the help of BHO!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Dave, it takes energy to spin the alternator. There is a friction loss which translates as an energy loss.

            There’s a roughly 10% energy loss when charging your battery.

            And there’s an energy loss when you separate oxygen from hydrogen.

            You’re idea fails.

          • david bruner

            BOB …. I believe I could find a hundred reasons why an ICE should never work . But it does ! Problems are made to be overcome and American technology can handle the details ! The first gasoline ICE did not take off running down the road at 75 MPH . We went from trying to fly a glorified kite for a few minutes to flying a space ship to Pluto and sending back really good pictures. In less than the lifespan of an old man. There may be a ton of electrical and design problems to be solved in the technology leading to using Hydrogen as a primary fuel on planet Earth ! However we must keep our eyes on the prize . 0 air pollution to pass on to the next generation ! Lack of encouragement from politicians is conspicuous by its absence !

          • Bob_Wallace

            Dave, you’re mounting your trusty mule, taking your spear and shield and fighting the Laws of Physics.

            Good luck.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Clever. You use the Power from the engine to create more hydrogen.
            Maybe you could start the motor with a crank to even get rid of the starting gas.

  • Bob_Wallace

    OK, let’s see what you’ve brought us.

    First link. 80 incidences of electricity dropping below $0 over a 6 month period. No indication of amount of electricity available at those prices or how long the incidences lasted so there’s no way to determine whether one could operate a fuel industry using those periods when supply exceeded demand.

    Do you really think you could run a fuel industry with operating only part of 80 out of 185 days? You’d pay staff to sit around doing nothing for most of the time?

    And a couple of things to throw into the mix. Part of the push below zero is due to wind subsidies, which are apparently at an end. As thermal plants disappear there will be fewer and fewer incidences of prices being driven low. Natural gas is very dispatchable compared to nuclear and coal. Gas plants will simply be turned off in order to save fuel.

    And during the time period in 2012 there would have been almost no EVs waiting to grab cheap electricity. EVs are likely to be lurking around the clock, looking for a low price signal to start charging.

    Second link. Texas negative prices largely go away once the transmission bottleneck is solved. No give-away electricity there to use to run a fuel industry.

    Third link. A few incidences of negative pricing in Belgium. Graph below from your source. Belgium reported about 15 hours of negative pricing over 19 months. About 3% of the time. How would the math work out for a plant that ran only 3% of the time? And would that 3% (or Germany’s 9%) survive the addition of EVs to the grid?

    Then your last link.

    “Negative prices are a comparably rare phenomenon, as several factors have to happen at the same time.”

    ” 56 hours on 15 days with negative prices were observed on the Day-Ahead market in 2012.” 56 / (365 * 24) *100 = 0.6%.

    A fuel industry that operates only 0.6% of the time? Do you realize how improbable that is?

    What you’ve bought is crumbs that were brushed from the table. There’s no supply of “surplus” electricity here on which one could build a hydrogen or synfuel industry. And even that small amount will almost certainly go away as subsidies fade out and EVs and storage come online.

    Now. Do your math using reasonable energy costs, don’t buy into the free electricity myth. If you can’t extract hydrogen from water, compress it, transport it, and dispense it affordably/competitively using industrial electricity prices you do not have an acceptable solution.

    Add in the infrastructure costs and the labor costs.

    Do real math, not pink unicorn figuring.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Oops. Forgot the graph.

      There ain’t much there there….

    • Ariel Panelli

      That is what do you understand from the links and all my comments?

      Ignoring and forgetting hundreds of stuffs like the fact that you dont need negative energy cost to make hydrogen production affordable?

      Or the fact that each time you add a renewable source replacing/or not the base load you will need this more and more…

      This time I would not even bother to explain you. You may have a mental damage, or you are willing to said any silly comment just to avoid said I am right; so lame…

      But of course you can’t, you insult me many times, there is not turning back dont you?

      I am also confident that if you start this discussion we somebody else (not here), you will repeat everything that I told you as if they were your words

      Here a full study on negative energy prices.. With predictions.

      Well, thanks of my part to all the CleanTechnica team, because their lack of understanding will gave to my personal future site a great bonus.

      • Bob_Wallace

        OK, lay out an honest financial plan for powering our personal transportation with hydrogen and fuel cell cars.

        Show your math.

  • Bob_Wallace

    You are pushing the bogus idea that there will be enough surplus/unwanted electricity to allow H2 to be produced with no, or almost no, input costs.

    That’s a crock. EVs will suck up any cheap electricity and create a floor price.

    Toyota is giving away two years of H2 for their Mirais. Why? Because, as Toyota states, it costs 17 cents a mile to drive their FCEVs. Between the high purchase cost, lackluster performance, and difficulty in finding a H2 station they are desperate to find a place in the market. They’re watching billions of dollars in investment going nowhere.

    “If you have only electric cars, you need another way to storage, batteries are not cost effective to storage big amounts,”

    Our fallback, our safety net, is pump-up hydro. Efficiency is much higher than hydrogen. If one loses more than half the input energy vs. a system that is 70% to 85% efficient then there is significant cost savings.

    Storage? Storing water is cheap. Storing hydrogen is expensive and difficult. Hydrogen packs very little energy per volume. Have you ever considered how much tankage it would take to hold a meaningful amount of hydrogen?

    Try setting aside your beliefs. Spend some time looking at the facts. The facts do not lead to a significant role for hydrogen in our future.

    • Ariel Panelli

      There is already excess of energy at some moments, as the note said, you need at least 12 hours to shut down and start again a fossil thermal plant, 48 hours a thermal nuclear. There is a lot of moments where the cost of electricity is negative.

      And even if you can manage extra load, that means the frequency of the net change, which produce energy loses in any artifact.

      About Toyota and why they are doing this, I already told you, but if you think that I am wrong and they are wrong.. well go and tell them.. Their only objective is to win more money… maybe their hundred of specialist does not know what are they doing.
      The same for the other big car companies.. weird.. there are all wrong.. 😛

      About pumped hydro, the landscape just help in limited cases ,and the energy density is not enough, make the math of how much energy you store rising each m3 of water 100m. Also the efficiency is close to 92%, you can have also electrolysis by 80% to 90% or more using waste heat from other process.

      About that your EV cars will suck up any excess of electricity..
      First is not the same to a factory or company to have an automated smart electric meter than a house.
      Then your car needs to ensure a full load in the morning, and they dont know what would be the best time in that night (or day) to charge the battery .

      Second.. we already talk about this, even if all cars are EV-battery, that is still only a 10% of the energy consumed in road vehicles, is not enough as storage energy, but it helps.

      With the electrolysis way, even if there is few h2 vehicles, you inject that to the natural gas net, how much? TWs which just increase the pressure a little.
      And even if you need to make a h2 tank.. The volume increase ^3, meanwhile the surface (tank cost) increase ^2.
      Also, is just a tank which volume has 2 to 3 times more energy density than batteries.

      Let’s see if you understand.. I am an energy consultant. I don’t work with “beliefs”.
      You lose all your arguments, is time that put your ego aside and allow you to learn. In case you are really concerned by the climate change and economics.

      • Jenny Sommer

        A hydrogen-methane network won’t happen. Not for fueling cars.
        While hydrogen heavy “Stadtgas” (as called in Vienna / 51% hydrogen) has been distributed in some cities, such a mixture is nothing to run fuel cells on.

        Onsite electrolysis won’t happen either.

        The volatile fuelcell is probably the reason FCEVs are only leased out in Europe (80k€ for the Mirai, a 4 seater with not enough range to go from one fueling station to the next).

        I can’t see how hydrogen could fuel ships, planes or even trucks. Cryonic hydrogen would also stress the helium reserves like addressed in some the above discussion. At 5000psi it needs a huge truck to transport fuel for just some cars.
        Imagine the volume it would take up in a plane or ship.

        Take some hints from an engineer…

        • Ariel Panelli

          Lol.. when people talks about clean energy in combination with hydrogen-methane, they are not saying they will sale hydrogen-methane for fuel cell vehicles 😛

          But you can use hydrogen methane (any mix) in any car with combustion engine, you just need to do some mods by 500 dollars, this allow the car to work with gasoline or gas. In Argentina 1/5 of the cars had this mod because the natural gas is subsidized for some silly reason.

          But this does not mean they will do this, they inject methane-hydrogen mix in the natural gas net, so people can heat their homes or cook with that. Thermal plants that use natural gas can also burn hydrogen mix, so the co2 is reduced.

          But electrolyzers only make Hydrogen, then you use this hydrogen for fuel cell cars, or to make fertilizers or you capture co2 from the atmosphere to produce methane or you inject it in the natural gas net mixed.

          Production on site hydrogen is already happening in japan, germany, norway, california is starting.

          Volatile Fuel cell??? Try to check more sources than this one please.
          Read all my other responses where I explain in detail why countries and car companies will get so much benefic with h2, even if today is still in development.

          Why ships or airplanes or any big vehicles would not be able to work with hydrogen? We sent men to the moon thanks to hydrogen.
          The only vehicle from the mentioned that it needs cryogenic are planes, of course you need a new plane design, any new blended body plane would work, you get extra volume and extra lift, with hydrogen a jet-turbine increase its efficiency because it can work a higher temperatures meanwhile you cool the metals with the cryo hydrogen and you get extra energy heating the h2 in the expansion. That blended body design already consume 25% less fuel, +15% from the h2 turbine, and then the plane weights 1/3 less due hydrogen mass vs jetfuel and the extra efficiencies.
          So you only need 2 times the volume in fuel, which is included in the new design.
          No only clean, you also save a 55% of fuel.
          Ships or other vehicles can use fuel cells, now they are testing tanks with fuel cells (not due co2 of course xd), so imagine.
          You tell me that a truck or ship does not have room for 3 times the volume of its gasoline volume? Also volume increase by ^3, so even few cm more in the tank for each side is a huge increase in volume.

          About the link.. I am an energy consultor, and I will not read 20 pages just to tell you in how many areas he is wrong.
          If you think that something that I said is wrong, search evidence to disprove me. Or just quote some points of that link and I will tell you if is right o wrong.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Injecting H2 in the natgas network is an insane waste if energy.
            You will always lose against pumped hydro economically.
            You are now talking about Hythane (Methane+21%H2).
            In your previous post you wanted to pipe the hydrogen to the filling stations. Now we have two pipesystems that leak hydrogene/energy.
            You want to create a huge market for cryogenic H2 (first planes in 30years?) which again would need non trivial volumes of helium for liquification.
            On site electrolysis+compression is a waste of energy/money.

            You really should read some other opinions. What’s your scientific background? Are you a chemical engineer too?

          • Ariel Panelli

            Why is a waste of energy? Gas also has a cost, it cost a lot to extract it from 1000 m deep using cracking methods, then you need to refine it and transport. Plus all those process + combustion produce co2.

            You can remplace all house gas-heat products by electricity products, that it will take a time, but you will be also adding a huge issue for electric companies for something called CosPhi, now electric companies ignore homes and they just control businees, factories, etc.
            This happen when you have many inductances without many capacitances.

            But even if that day comes and each home fix their cosphi, you still can sell the h2 to all the transport.

            I wanted to pipe hydrogen to the fuel stations? I never said that. You can produce the hydrogen in the same fuel station, you just need the electrolyzer (the government may give you that for free), water and electricity, then a tank to place the hydrogen, any excess and you can sell it to the natural gas net.

            i will said the first h2 planes with jet turbine and blended body design in 15 years.
            Lol, why I need helium? What it has to do with liquid hydrogen?

            Mostly all electrolyzers produce hydrogen under pressure (which increase the efficiency) and the hydrogen already leaves the electrolyzer at 700bar. You only lose 3% of the energy that way, the other way you lose 4 to 5%. Electrolysis has a efficiency of about 80 to 90%, so I am not follow you in that waste of energy and money, when in fact your country (in some words) is paying you to produce that hydrogen because it helps a lot as storage and load balance.

            System engineer, but I study energy in all their forms since 15 years, I am always looking in ways to increase the efficiency and cost of any process.

            PD: I notice that the link you gave me was from Zubrin, which I respect a lot, but that note is from 2007, so he ignores many things and he takes a very simple and parcial perspective.
            He uses the worst examples and change units or words to try to make a bigger case.
            I already read it, I disprove many of their points in my comments here, if you think there is one from those that are not answered, point them and I will answer.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Enough, Ariel.

            Bring your negative electricity cost data or go away.

      • Bob_Wallace

        There is excess energy at some moments. One does not build an industry that can fuel hundreds of millions of cars based on a bit of excess energy at some moments.

        I have seen no evidence of ” a lot of moments where the cost of electricity is negative”. That appears to be a common myth that floats around the H2/synfuel community.

        I’d like for you to provide backup for your claim of “a lot” of negative electricity prices.

        Toyota, wouldn’t be the first time a car company took the wrong path. I suspect it’s more a combination of corporate momentum and Japan wanting to be energy independent by tapping into offshore methane deposits. A desire which ignores climate change.

        There are no shortages for PuHS sites. Except perhaps in Belgium. And they’ve devised an artificial island solution.

        How about not cherry picking part of the electricity -> hydrogen -> electricity process? Give readers the overall efficiency. Include the electrolysis loss, the compression loss, the fuel cell loss. Well over 50% of all input energy is lost. Hydrogen is a lousy, lossy way to store energy.

        Waste heat from other processes. Again you grasp for straws. One cannot run a gigantic industry with a pinch of this and a pat of that.

        Charging EVs. Consider someone with a 200+ range EV and a daily 30 mile RT commute. They might want a 50 mile range charge at all times for emergencies. They might want a 100 mile range when they leave for work in the morning.

        That leaves 100+ miles that the utility could control time of charge and give the EV owner a very sweet price for charging in return. They could sell their extra power for a low, but profitable price. They are not going to give electricity to anyone for free, including a H2 plant.

        I have no idea what sort of energy consultant you are. Your lack of basic knowledge and understand suggests you are a very poor one.

        What do you do, sell LEDs at Home Depot?

        • Ariel Panelli

          why you are still very confident with your posture in spite of all the times that I already correct you?

          There are a lot of moments when electricity has negative prices in those countries this is regulated. This happen in all the countries with higher % of renewable sources, in weekends or when you have big weather changes. I can not make a list because there are a lot of cases. Just search in internet “negative electricity prices”, take a look to all sources.
          But there is not need negative prices to win money producing hydrogen, you just do it when the cost is low. The companies reduce the cost of electricity because they get benefic if you buy it. If the electricity cost is 30% of true value, you make hydrogen and you sale that hydrogen in the natural gas net (that is just one example).
          You need to read about load balancing in the electrical distribution and what problem they have with extra load and changes on frequency.

          Toyota and “almost all other car companies are interested in fuel cell cars”.
          New methods of methane cracking provide 75% energy efficiency with co2 capture selling that high quality carbon for the new carbon base materials as graphene.
          The whole process has a cost of 2 dollar by kg of h2, it will go down ones become more popular. Japan also build 3gw of wind turbines to remplace the reactors, that needs extra storage.

          About the shortage of locations on pumped hydro, that is way of reality.. just check your info before post.. wiki does not bite.

          About the hydrogen convertion efficiency: you said 50%?? Lol..
          Hydrogen compression 700bar takes only 3% of the energy, this is done in the same production process (electrolyzers work with better efficiency under pressure, so the gas already leaves at that pressure) If you compress after the electrolysis, then you waste 4 to 5%.
          Electrolysis had a 80 to 90% efficiency. so in average you have 83%, then you dont need to transport that, but in case you need to transport (hypothetic case), the energy lose would be equal to any fuel transportation, because the extra volume you need its compensated by the lower weight.

          About waste heat.. that practice is know it as “cogeneration”.
          If you have a factory, company, business that produce waste heat, then the producer always think if they can use it, so they can buy a electrolyzer and apply that heat to increase the efficiency. Or some other factory can sell you that heat at low cost.
          You can even use a reversible fuel cell, that works in both ways (they cost a bit more), but in fuel cell mode, you produce heat as waste, then you can use it again when you need to convert water into h2 again. This way instead selling any excess of h2 to the net, you convert again into electricity.

          About EV battery cars used as storage.. we already talk about that, I am agree that helps, and the owner might one some dollars with that, but EV cars are really really far to provide the energy storage needed for countries. I already explain you why.

          Now you pass to insults? are you joking? After all the things that I correct you? You should thank me to waste time in a lose case like you, if you would be smart, you will be learning a lot from this.. but your head is harder than diamond.
          Well, you know you already lost this discussion, bye.. deal with that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You correct me by declaring that you are right. It’s a fool’s game.

            Where’s your data for negative electricity prices? Bring the prices or admit you’re making stuff up.

          • Jenny Sommer

            It’s not even relevant if there are negative prices. The volume of the power sold is interesting.
            There is an Agora Study in German (maybe somewhere in English too)
            It’s just a price signal and negative pricing in 2013 occured for 64h at an average -41€.
            Not due to too much renewables but due to inflexible thermal plants. There was never enough RE to cover the full demand (max 65%).

            64h is nowhere near economical for electrolysis.
            If the hours would increase Germany would reopen pumped hydro reservoirs they closed due to bad economics.
            This won’t happen because politics will see to it that laws that hinder flexibility will get changed (its a regulatory problem not a technical).

            But maybe Agora Energiewende findings are just wrong 😉

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, that’s certainly the case. Once there are few thermal plants online there will be no negative electricity prices. Why would a wind or solar installation pay to dump power on the grid?

            All this negative electricity stuff is a temporary, at best, phenomenon. And we’re waiting for Ariel to present his data for how much there is now.
            The cost of electricity will have a floor equal to the cost of production + a reasonable profit + cost of transmission. And I suspect we’ll seldom see floor prices because there will be opportunistic users who will grab any power available at bargain prices.

          • Ariel Panelli

            Really? point me one discussion in which you were right? Or what part of my explanations were wrong?

            About the data, I already told you, search in google for (negative electricity prices), take a look to the sites on the first google page, read them.

            I can’t post links, because the site administrator does not approve my comments because he knows that disproves his article. I wait 3 days to see if he approves 2 of my comments, and nothing, so I remade those without links.
            If you look cases where the negative prices were equal (with different sign) to the average positive price for longer periods, then yes, those cases happen just 1 time for year. But negative prices (close to the zero) for short moments happen very often. And your electrolyzer can be programmed to produce hydrogen in those moments or always that the cost is lower than certain price.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s the deal, Ariel.

            It’s time for you to bring your data or lose commenting privileges.

            You bring links. They will get through if they are relevant. But summarize what it in the links, we aren’t interested in being sent on a fishing expedition.

            The reason your comments were held up for a couple of days was because I was changing continents and had limited access to the web.

            Now, bring us evidence that there is significant electricity being sold at negative prices on the web or admit that you have been posting crap about being able to produce cheap hydrogen by using “surplus” electricity. Don’t try to tap dance your way around your claims.

          • Jenny Sommer

            You can’t just inject hydrogen into the natgas net. Hydrogene is explosives class IIC, the comoressors and various hardware is layed out for IIB(IIA).
            How do you meter this mix especially when you have ever changing concentrations at various points in the system?
            More than 4% hydrogen is illegal in Germany at least.

            Lower weight, lower energy content, more transport. Nothing cheap there.
            H2 is a lousy energy carrier.

  • TmH

    Climate change may be controversial.

    Breathing cleaner air is not.

  • TmH

    Does anyone care that we have spent our whole lives breathing this toxic air?

    H2 is the way we have to go.

    H2 is being made with solar and microbes now.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Logic fail, Tim.

      You’d have done well were there only one alternative. But there’s two….

  • One-Of-A-Kind

    Hydrogen Is The Slipperiest Molecule In The Universe”

    Wrong. H2 is a larger molecule than He.

    That is why H2 systems are leak tested with helium.

    Yet; despite helium’s dire nature to escape, somehow at your local grocery store they will gladfully fill you up a few dozen rubber balloons if you so please.

    “Untrained Humans Have To Use The Nozzles”

    Wow …. Great point. Untrained Humans will have to also use high voltage charging cables.

    “Nozzles Likely Won’t Be Standardized”


    After 12 years of work, the SAE J2601 was released in 2014 as a standard. This is being accepted industry wide with no other new standards on the horizon. In other words, they have already been standardized.

    “… won’t deliver any environmental benefits to speak of”

    Wrong. Unless you completely ignore the constant mutilation of nitrogen and oxygen into toxic molecules. But that also ignores smog, increased levels of ozone, acid rain, as well as a large resume of negative human health effects.
    But sure; abolishing COMBUSTION “won’t deliver any environmental benefits to speak of”

    Do some research – this article is heavily flawed

    • Jenny Sommer

      I guess we all know that helium is smaller. We also know that helium is inert, does not burn or explode. That’s probably why we use helium and not hydrogen in balloons despite hydrogen would provide more lift.

      Do you believe that there is enough helium for leak testing a worldwide hydrogen system? After all helium is a finite resource.

      • One-Of-A-Kind

        Touting off topic seems to be your niche.

        I was simply pointing out that hydrogen IS NOT the smallest thing we have ever had to deal with. To make this grand case that its too small and ‘slippery’ is taking mankind back 150 years in advancements.

        But of course, you’re going to chime in, off topic, about how hydrogen is dangerous.

        And no, Helium is not a finite source. It’s constantly being replenished via radioactive decay. More interesting, the more natural gas we process, the more helium we can distill out of it.

        To answer your question, I don’t see any reason why helium cannot continuously be used for leak testing.

        • Jenny Sommer

          This is like saying oil isn’t a finite resource.

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            lol. that’s because oil is not finite. Unless of course, the sun burns out. Then we’re all nothing anyways, so what does it matter at that point?

            But seriously; educate yourself a little more. There is a constant supply of helium, I’m not sure where this myth comes from. You might be mistaking the word ‘limited’ with ‘finite’ ….. we do have a ‘limited’ supply, but certainly not finite.

          • Jenny Sommer

            I will overlook the childish parts of your replies for now.

            Which quantity of helium would you suggest could be used for anual leak testing in a world wide hydrogen economy.
            Would you also suggest using helium to liquify hydrogen or rather transport it in gaseous form?

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            Your entire anti – hydrogen argument has fizzled down to ‘Don’t think there is enough helium in the world for all this leak testing’

            Personally, I think the best form of distribution is through on-site electrolysis. A friend of mine is currently building out H2 stations that are 100% sourced from renewable energy. The station does not consume helium, nor does it emit carbon. This is possible today, for vehicles being sold today. The technology is only going to get better and safer. If it’s acceptable today with the promised benefits of a ZEV, then it will be more than acceptable tomorrow.

            Even with the high fuel cost fabricated in over 180k miles, it’s still less expensive to own a Mirai than to own the long range version of the Model S.

          • Jenny Sommer

            There was no anti-hydrogen argument. I am just questioning the feasibility of the hydrogen economy you propose.

            Isn’t onsite electrolyses also supposed to cost a lot of energy. This energy has to come from somewhere as it is surely not produced on site?
            The electrolysis probably can’t get shifted to night hours and would have to run 24/7 to be economically viable. Then the hydrogen needs to get compressed on site.
            Seems like a lot of inflexible load around the clock and especially at daytime when people like to fill up. Not so great with todays mix. Maybe in 20 years this would be cleaner.
            Do you have any more information on these stations? How many will there be? What will they cost? Who is financing them? How much electricity do they draw? What will the hydrogen cost?
            Surely it is a big risk to invest in hydrogen stations right now. Maybe some day we could produce hydrogen at home?
            In Germany the MIrai has been called one of the dirtiest cars on the road for now.
            I can’t compare the Tesla to the Mirai.
            The Mirai is not even in the same class as a Tesla S/X.
            Maybe you could compare the Mirai to the 2016 Leaf?
            But then I could not fit my family of five in the Mirai anyways.
            The price is the same as the entry Model S in Europe btw. and the Mirai can only be leased.
            I doubt that it is cheaper to own compared to a Tesla.

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            again, you are all over the map.

            Here’s how your discussion over the last 24 hours with me has begun:
            “All fine but isn’t there a fuelcell for liquids? Hydrogen is the problem.”

            But THEN you say: “There was no anti-hydrogen argument”

            You have had one thing after another to present why “hydrogen is the problem” including leaks, safety, production costs, helium demands being short, problems transporting hydrogen, etc. You have done nothing but argue against the idea of hydrogen fuel cells.

            Let me guess what’s next. Now it’s ‘big oil’ and the fossil fuel cartel that are pushing the hydrogen movement?

          • Jenny Sommer

            Just because their are so many problems with hydrogen doesn’t make me anti-hydrogen.
            The helium shortage can be somewhat circumvented by not liquefying it. That leaves on site production which needs a lot of energy to produce (or on site gas reforming) and to compress.
            Or trucking hydrogen in compressed form which would mean 40to trucks transporting 400-600kg of hydrogen.

            I like hydrogen. I even got a toy fuelcell-car. I am following this since the 90ties but can’t get my head around how it should be clean without 150% clean electricity first.
            There was talk about algae producing hydrogen. Biofuels from algea was also a thing back then.
            Maybe BEVs are a bridge technology and hydrogen will take over in 20-30 years from now.

          • One-Of-A-Kind


            We have a serious renewable energy problem in this world.

            There’s nowhere to put it when we don’t immediately want to use it.

            I live in Texas which is normally considered an oil and gas state, yet we actually have the largest wind capacity in the entire US. But in 2013, development came to a near halt. With the increased installation of wind generators came a problem. Intermittent spikes in electricity that were unwanted and poorly timed. (You can’t predict the wind though, eh?)

            There were times (this is even covered by Clean Technica) where wholesale electricity prices went to $0 / MWH via ERCOT. I do believe the theoretical price went negative, but all that did was hold it at zero a little longer. This is not one rogue incident either. This has happened several times, even though the renewable energy market is not that large yet.

            This isn’t the only place in the world this is happening either. In Germany, they have been aggresively building a P2G system to soak up the renewable spikes they were otherwise dumping to other countries unwillingly.

            You’d actually be surprised at how cheap electricity really is vs. batteries (why I believe the efficiency is not a big deal like you)

            In the US, the average wholesale price of electricity is around $40 / MWH… This is even a profitable rate for wind generation so its not like we’re asking renewables to each schit either.

            So let’s do the math on this. What does it take to create 1 KG, pre-cooled and compressed? Fortunately, I already know. The current unit Black and Veatch creates can produce and compress to 700bar 1 kg of h2 (from municipal water) with 55KWh of electricity.

            This doesn’t pay for the equipment, but we can do a valuation on the energy going in and what we get from it.

            at 55 kwh / kg, our one MWh can produce 18kg of hydrogen (rounding down).

            $40 / 18 = $2.22 / kg (cost of energy input)

            Amortize the equipment cost, station maintenance, etc, and that probably brings the price closer to $6-8 / KG

            Some people think this seems high, but they fail to forget: the fuel cell vehicle gets nearly 2X the miles per kg as a regular ICE gets per gallon of gas.

            That means a 300 mile fill up for the Mirai should cost between $30-$40 , which is really mediocre for what most people know or are used to.

            As far as the station making money…. gasoline is sold basically at cost to get people into the convenient store (the real money for them).

          • Bob_Wallace

            “That means a 300 mile fill up for the Mirai should cost between $30-$40 ”
            Perhaps, some day. 10 cents to 13 cents per mile.

            Now, why would someone pay the same or more than an EV for a FCEV, pay 3x as much per mile to operate, have to go to a filling station every few days, and drive a pokey car when they could drive a peppier car for a lot less money and simply plug in when they park?

            That’s the issue. Clearly EVs are well in the lead. Once in place why reason would cause people to move from the “better” to the “not as good”. Saving a few minutes on the rare day when one drives all day long is a very small gain, easily overridden by the convenience of just plugging in the rest of the year.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” it’s still less expensive to own a Mirai than to own the long range version of the Model S.”

            That’s a very questionable claim. What I’ve read is that it costs Toyota over $100k per Mirai and that they sell at a large loss.

            The Tesla S starts at $70k and Tesla makes one of the highest gross profit margins in the car industry. The long range version (85D) lists for $85k.
            That’s just purchase price.

            According to Toyota it will cost 17 cents per mile to fuel their Mirai.
            The Tesla S costs about 4 cents per mile.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Here – electric 18 wheeler.

    The range is a bit short but it’s possible to increase the range to 200 miles and make the range “unlimited” via battery swapping.

    • Ariel Panelli

      So this will “work” to transport loads in a radius of 20 miles, these trucks usually had a power of 500hp, but this is electric, so I guess with 350hp is enough –> 250kw * 1.5 hr – energy saved = 300kwh in batteries or close to that.

      Ok, this only allows you to work for 1 or 3 hours depending traffic, but then you need to recharge again (4 hours), you mention battery swapping, but this cost extra, and only gives you 1 or 3 hours more, but trucks should work at least 9 hours by day, so you need 2 extra pack of batteries.

      This is 900kwh total. 10kw cost 3000 dollars, then 900–> 270000 dollars in just batteries, plus the environmental impact of those batteries.

      And not sure what you drink to think you can have 200 miles with that XD

      Not even dream to have all the 900kwh in the truck, because the weight and volume increase a lot, and then you are using batteries to carry the weight of batteries.

      And you might think.. but it worth it for all the miles of fuel you save.. I just count 120 miles by day, that is nothing vs other trucks with 600 miles by day.

      For city trucks, better to use this hybrid:
      Search in youtube these videos including quotation marks:
      “Why Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles?”
      “How Heavy Duty Series Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles (HHVs) Work”

      But as I said, all the fuel consumption goes to long range heavy trucks, where regenerative braking does not help much, the only way to go green there is H2.

    • Bob_Wallace

      OK, I’m done changing continents. I can get back to this. Here’s my numbers for electrifying 18-wheelers…

      There are 37.87 kWh in a gallon #2 diesel (Wiki)

      An efficient loaded 18 wheeler can get 8 MPG (RMI), thus is using 4.7 kWh worth of diesel per mile.

      The 18 wheeler is about 45% efficient. Out of the 4.7 kWh used about 2.1 kWh is turned into kinetic energy, the rest into waste heat.

      Running on a 85 kWh Tesla ModS battery pack the 18 wheeler could travel 39.9 miles.

      In order to travel 200 miles the 18 wheeler would need a about 5.5 packs to allow for the 10% inefficiency of the electric motor/drivetrain. Round up to 6 packs per 200 miles.

      Actually this is overkill in terms of batteries. It doesn’t account for the energy recovered by regenerative braking. But let’s stick with 6 packs to be overly safe.

      One claim has been that batteries would be too heavy. The ModS pack weighs 1,200 pounds, so 6 packs would weigh 7,200 pounds.

      An 18 wheeler can carry up to 300 gallons of diesel. At 7 pounds per gallon that’s 2,100 pounds. The dry weight of a Detroit Diesel engine is 2,763 lbs. So at least 4,863 pounds for the ICE version. Add in cooling and exhaust system and you’d be well over 5,000 pounds. That’s a small percentage increase over a fully loaded diesel 18-wheeler. And much of the power used to put the truck in motion will be recovered during braking.

      Cost. Once the Gigafactory is running full speed cells should be $100/kWh or less and packs could be around $150.kWh Six 85 kWh packs would be under $80k. 20,000 gallons of fuel, 160,000 miles per year? At $3.50/gallon that is $70k.

      Not included, electricity for charging batteries. Oil changes (expensive), brake rebuilds and engine maintenance for diesels.

      Looks to me that the cost could work out somewhat better for battery powered trucks. At least they shouldn’t be more expensive which means that we probably have an affordable alternative to fossil fuels for long haul trucking.

      A designed from the wheels up battery powered tractor should be able to pull into a battery swapping station and pull out with a fully charged set of batteries in less than 3 minutes. Just slide the discharged batteries out the front and slide a charged set in.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Oh, don’t forget. That’s with today’s batteries. We should see a doubling of capacity over the next decade, if not sooner. A tremendous amount of research is going into batteries.

  • Jenny Sommer

    But who will buy the cars when they are more expensive to run and you need to go to a fuel station.
    Do you see any cost advantage over gas, Diesel or natgas cars?

    I rather buy an EV and fill it up at home or at some quick charger. If I save 50€ or more on a fillup I rather spend some minutes more waiting. After all I will only need to wait 3-4 times a year when I charge at home and just use qc on the odd long trip.
    I doubt people will buy a car that costs over 1500€/a and about 10h more just to refill.

    Who would buy such a car? Why?

  • One-Of-A-Kind

    “… won’t deliver any environmental benefits to speak of”

    Mike, do you not know anything about the nitrogen cycle? Do you know what causes smog?

    This is about combustion and the wicked and horrible process of mutilating our air for the sake of using fuels.

    Do some research into why the battery lift truck market is being uplifted by the new fuel cell lift trucks. When it comes to ZEV applications, companies like Sysco, Krogers, WalMart – they demand performance and reliability. They don’t want the hassle to accommodate battery swapping, or charging stations, and they don’t want reduced performance over the second half of the charge. In an enclosed, climate controlled warehouse, these ZEVs are a must.

    Fuel cells are the only answer to using a fuel if we want to do so responsibly and not compress and explode ambient air into toxic breathing soup.

    The problem with solid oxide fuel cells is the extraordinary high operating temperatures required. PEM fuel cells operate at lower temps than present day ICE engines. If this very fact wasnt so and h2 fuel cells required the outrageous high temperatures, they would probably have never been pursued. But, being what it is, they in fact are in safe operating temp, they become ideal as a ZEV. Especially in winter driving, you don’t lose range to trying to heat the cab. You can harness the (little) waste heat off the fuel cell.

    Where did the BEV crowd lose sight of all of the other emissions?

    Let me list off all the emissions of a gas mobile, and I will capitalize the emissions cared about on this “Clean” tech website.

    -pm 2.5 & pm 10
    -sulphur oxides
    -‘volatile organic compounds’ otherwise known as voc’s
    -nitrogen dioxide
    -nitrous oxide (turns to the more toxic nitrogen dioxide + ozone when combined with sunlight and O2)
    -carbon monoxide

    Out of the 7 primary toxic emissions, we’re going to only compare CARBON DIOXIDE numbers? Do we realize CO2 is not even toxic?

    Let’s get back on track. This is about clean breathing air that does not cause cancer. asthma, and premature deaths otherwise. Fuel cells are the answer. End of story.

    • The comparison is always to replacements for gas and diesel vehicles. Not sure why this is unclear.

      Battery electric vehicles eliminate more of the pollutants you identify at a lower price than hydrogen vehicles. It’s pretty straightforward.

      Are hydrogen vehicles better than gas or diesel vehicles outside of CO2? Sure. But since the biggest source of hydrogen by far is steam reformation of natural gas with attendant emissions challenges including carbon monoxide and methane leaks, it’s unclear why you think there’s any purity there.

      If you’d like to go to the electrolysis with clean energy argument, then the counter argument is that batteries are several times more efficient at storing electricity and getting it to wheels than the process of splitting water, putting the hydrogen into tanks and running it through fuel cells. That’s a very wasteful process that costs a lot more than just putting the electricity into a battery.

      You seem to have made up a straw man argument that I obviously wasn’t making in order to attack the article you don’t seem to have read. Pity that.

      • One-Of-A-Kind


        I’m sorry you assume I didn’t read your article. It must be your bias that makes you so assumptive and sure of your judgments.
        The reality is, You can’t even keep your facts straight.

        In the article you write “All of the arm waving in the world doesn’t get around the reality that the only industrial source of hydrogen is steam reformation of natural gas”

        In your comment you write “But since the biggest source of hydrogen by far is steam reformation … ”

        The real fact is that about 95% comes from fossil fuels, with coal gasification making up a decent portion of that. In no way is methane the “only industrial source” of hydrogen.

        Over 40% of the worlds electricity is powered off of coal. Combined, over 60% is from fossil fuels, and the number 1 growing sector in the world is coal, closely followed by natural gas. If the world keeps putting BEVs on the road (your way or the highway), how will we stop that trend?

        Maybe you should assume the sale and be concerned about the real nature of the paradigm you are seeking. It seems the BEV advocates spend equal time supporting BEVs as they do putting together ANTI hydrogen material such as this poorly written article. If you’re so obsessed with this battery utopia, instead of using your energy to wage war against a second ZEV option, why don’t you wage war with the continued growing use of coal as a means of power generation around the world. There are still over 1 billion people who live in the dark in this world, and for the most of these poor countries, the only thing that makes sense is digging up carbon rich dirt and burning it. Does Tesla feel bad about selling a Tesla in South Africa where over 90% of its generation is coal? I doubt it – I’m sure Musk would love to see those driving around his home country.

        The reason I hate coal so much is because its a backwards movement from oil / gasoline. Not only do you get a lot of the 7 major pollutants mentioned above, but with coal you also end up with radioactive emissions, arsenic, mercury, lead, and other various heavy metal emissions going airborne and also waterborne (in the form of slurry). People harbor fears of one day the temperature going up another degree or two and what the MIGHT do. What about the acid rain that happens TODAY? You think the acidification of the water channels are good for eco-system? The natural surface Flora of this Earth is what makes up the CO2 ‘sinks’ anyway, in which is responsible for soaking up the much larger source of CO2: the ocean. What about the horrible, cancer causing smog outbreaks we’ve continuously seen throughout the last century?

        It seems the environmental and clean energy crowd has become completely fixated on a capitalized fear of carbon dioxide that one day in the future it will kill us all and we will need a colony on Mars to make up for it. In the meantime, ruthless industry is getting away with REAL pollution, TODAY, that has horrible disease and death causing effects TODAY.

        Your focus is flawed, and I’m sorry to be brash, it’s just the truth. The Ca ARB was not formed for the purpose to someday combat climate change. It was formed by the alerts of doctors and physicians that patients (often children) were much more likely to have horrible cancers or respiratory illnesses in places with concentrated pollution from combustion. (ie, the Inland Empire)

        “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” That’s all I ask. Hydrogen vehicles are MUCH better than any form of combustion we have today. There is zero doubt about that.

        • Jenny Sommer

          All fine but isn’t there a fuelcell for liquids? Hydrogen is the problem.
          You would even need more (coal) electricity and a lot of helium if you don’t produce at the fueling station. Doesn’t compression also use electricity?

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            There are fuel cells for liquids such as gasoline, methanol, etc. The problem with solid oxide fuel cells is the high operating temperatures only make it possible / safe for stationary applications.

            The golden ticket is the PEM – it operates below the temperatures we’re already used to seeing in a typical ICE. The guidelines of the PEM fuel cell; it needs pure hydrogen, and both sides need pressure. The requirement for the H2 to be pre-compressed makes it advantageous to be able to quickly retrieve power from the H2 out of the fuel cell.

            And why helium….?

          • Jenny Sommer

            Transportation if hydrogen would be a problem. Wouldn’t you need to liquify it and use helium to seal adapters?
            Compression and liquification needs a lot of energy by itself.
            Hydrogen is rather dangerous. Its odourless and burns almost invisibly. Adding sulfur would destroy the fuelcell. Ignition energy needed is 20 times lower than for gas. Leaks are a major problem everywhere hydrogene is used. If your fuel line is damaged you can’t just drive to the next shop and have it repaired. If the fuelcell is damaged you need a new one right away. Maintainance would be crucial and far more complicated compared to gas cars.
            Gas cars are archaic in comparison and can be serviced everywhere all around the world.
            I am not against hydrogen, I just don’t see solutions to all these problems.

            Why not use hydrogen to produce liquids like the sunfire process? They can store the hydrogen and use it to produce electricity too.
            But it is still expensive and would only become viable at around 4€/l synfuels.
            For now BEVs are the most competitive solution to ICEVs.

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            You’re not even responding the the subject of my discussion; you’re just chiming in with your senseless fear of hydrogen.

            For instance, listen to yourself: “If your fuel line is damaged you can’t just drive to the next shop and have it repaired” Do you normally drive your petrol car with a damaged fuel line? And if your fuel containment is damaged and you leak your fuel – which is easier and cleaner to deal with? Gasoline vapors pool at ground levels, waiting either for the wind to take it away somewhere else, or for an ignition to consume its presence.

            There have been over 1 million successful fills of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle without incident. The last industrial accident related to hydrogen; there were no deaths As far as statistics go, you’re more likely to die installing a Tesla super charger than dealing with high pressure hydrogen. Do you not think 100KW+ of power is not dangerous? That’s the nature of large amounts of energy; if not properly directed, it’s VERY powerful and can easily kill.

            Take your FUD and find a meaningful cause to go after such as why is it we have parking lots at bars, yet drinking and driving is illegal.

          • Jenny Sommer

            I don’t know how I caused your rant but you don’t offer solutions to the problems on hand.
            Naturally you don’t “drive” a damaged car but you can have it repaired easily.
            My question was if you believe that servicing hydrogen cars will be easy or cheaper compared to ICEV and EVs.

            Those are the questions that I need to have answered before even considering a hydrogen car. Of course they are still too expensive and there is no infrastructure for now.
            I can’t see how it should become more efficient than 25-30%. You’d need 2-3 times the energy compared to EVs.

            I just want to understand.

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            Jenny, you’re all over the map. My discussion with Mike was about the fact the he is only paying attention to CO2 when entities like the CA Air Resources Board doesn’t give 2 cents about CO2. It’s not a smog producing agent. The point of ZEVs is to clean our air, not prevent global warming.

            And then here comes Jenny. Here is your first “rant” “Hydrogen is the problem.”

            Then; your second (off topic) rant – ” Maintainance would be crucial and far more complicated compared to gas cars.” HOW DO YOU FIGURE!? Do you have ANY knowledge about this, or are you just making an un-educated guess. If you truly understood how complicated an engine is; you’d realize HALF of the complexities are for emission reduction purposes alone. If Ford could sell a Model T in this day an age, you’d be able to pick it up for only a few thousand dollars. The fuel cell stack itself does not even have moving parts, needs zero oil, no tuneups, etc. In fact, when designed and assembled properly it’s quite a simple device.

            You’re full of fudgey FUD.

            Then, you try to back out your nonsense by saying things like “Naturally you don’t drive a damaged car”

            But then WHY did you make this point “If your fuel line is damaged you can’t just drive to the next shop and have it repaired”

            You’re upset you can’t drive damaged car; therefor hydrogen is not for you. But you say that well of course you don’t drive the car with a damaged fuel line, you need to have it fixed.

            Do you see how this doesn’t make any sense?

            I suggest you back off my comments if you don’t want me to call you out for being senseless.

          • Jenny Sommer

            I ask questions, you can’t answer. Are you suggesting any shop could repair a damaged fuel cell car?
            I don’t know. Maybe repairs on FCEVs are trivial and cheap compared to gas cars?

            When will it be cheaper to drive hydrogen cars?
            I am looking to buy a car right now.

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            No; you ask questions that don’t make sense. For instance “Wouldn’t you need to liquify it and use helium to seal adapters?”

            Answer to your question – no. You use helium to test for leaks in a hydrogen system, because helium is a better escape artist than H2. H2 is two hydrogens to make one molecule, while Helium is only one atom large. And yet; despite this, we manage to contain helium well enough to keep in stocked in your local grocery stores without issue.

            THEN you say

            “My question was if you believe that servicing hydrogen cars will be easy or cheaper compared to ICEV and EVs.”

            …. even though this wasn’t your original question…..

            I believe it will be comparable to serving a hybrid. There are lots of high voltage electricals that most mechanics are not familiar with. The fuel cell itself is not an item of maintenance. The rest of the car is just a car…. CV axles, struts, ball joints, wheel bearings, brakes, etc. Most of this will be just like a Camry. In that regard, only the POWERTRAIN will require certified techs. In any case though, anything new and different requires special training. Where do people take their Tesla’s to get worked on when it breaks down? (which is apparently quite frequent)

            “Why not use hydrogen to produce liquids like the sunfire process?” – You can… but this is even more expensive than just having to create hydrogen. Now you’re post-processing it, as well as having to acquire CO2 some way.

            Your questions dont make sense… Don’t be surprised if i’m not the only one to skip over them like they don’t exist….

          • Jenny Sommer

            Is it not a problem to transport hydrogen via truck to the hydrogen station? I read that is is best transportet in liquid form. Now that needs a lot of energy. It just seems like a waste of energy if you go from electric to chemical and back to electric.
            How much of the energy would escape in such a hydrogen economy?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Hydrogen is a problem to transport. It’s very bulky for the amount of energy contained.

            Compared to transporting gasoline or diesel we’d need more than 10x as many trucks (or pipe equivalents) to move compressed hydrogen. Liquified we’d need 3x to 4x as many trucks. (That may be on the low side as it doesn’t allow for the extra wall thickness of a liquid hydrogen tank.)

            It would take a lot of energy to liquefy hydrogen, making it even more expensive.

            Then there’s storage. The amount of real estate we’d need to store H2 at filling stations would be really, really large.

            There are some real problems with the idea of using hydrogen for an energy storage technology. I wish the FCEV advocates would pay attention to those problems.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Mr. Kind, you aren’t looking good here.

            Ms. Sommer has pointed out a number of problems. It is not adequate to just wave them away. She’s telling you some of the reasons that FCEVs are not likely part of our transportation future.

        • Oh, excellent. Now I get it. I’m biased! I wish I’d known that earlier.

          After all, it couldn’t be that I’d done a lot of research, analysis and math about hydrogen vs alternatives.

          It couldn’t be that I’d done the analysis and math on carbon-loading on grids in multiple countries and implications for well-to-wheel emissions of electric vehicles and have a sophisticated understanding.

          It couldn’t be that I’d pragmatically projected EV penetration rates over several decades to look at actual fossil fuel reduction scenarios.

          It couldn’t be that I had some knowledge of global decarbonization trends and strategies for the grid, and anything about the technologies underlying that transformation.

          It couldn’t be that I had a broad ranging understanding of the generation space and understanding of the policy measures used globally for decarbonization and transformation and an informed perspective on it.

          It couldn’t be that I have a good understanding of technical innovation in the automotive industry and how that’s likely to play out over the next few years.

          And it certainly couldn’t be that highly credible, informed and rigorous analyses by other people are in agreement with mine.

          No, I consider hydrogen to be an expensive and ineffective waste of time because I’m biased.

          Got it. Thanks for helping me with that foundational insight.

          Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to stop bothering chatting with you. You aren’t telling me anything I don’t know and you don’t recognize when you are projecting your weaknesses onto others. You assume ignorance, stupidity and bias in others instead of actually trying to understand what they are saying, in order to preserve your biased point of view. This is a fundamentally weak position to discuss things from and it’s a waste of time for me to try to communicate with you.

          I would recommend reading the links and all of the references that they draw upon in order to gain greater understanding and context, but really, why bother. Horse, water, etc.

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            I called you biased because you ASSUMED i didn’t read the article. Once somebody disagree’s with you, suddenly your entire angle changes to “You didn’t even read the article” and civil discussion goes out the window in place for your rude, ‘i know more than you’ mentality

            Guess what Mike, I did read it. And guess what else… People are allowed to disagree with you. I hope you don’t always throw a temper tantrum like this.

            You say stuff like “And it certainly couldn’t be that highly credible, informed and rigorous analyses by other people are in agreement with mine”

            Well Mike, on my side of the ‘informed and rigorous analyses’ I stand with company such as the US DOE, Argonne National Laboratories, NREL, the EPA, CA ARB, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, just to name a few. Do you really have the audacity to think your rigorous research is somehow more powerful and valuable then the billions of dollars in R&D just the few listed entities have spent into the cause?

            And your cute horse to the water joke. Horse won’t drink poisoned water. Maybe, if your water was pure and clean, instead of the koolaid you’re trying to push onto everybody…. just maybe

          • Bob_Wallace

            Just because some research money has been spent does not mean there is meat in the sandwich.

            Lots of research money is spent with no significant findings produced. That’s just how research works.

            Now, you seem to think that hydrogen transportation is affordable. What makes you think so when Toyota tells us it isn’t. Toyota has admitted 17 cents per mile to fuel their Mirai. A run of the mill 30 MPG ICEV burning $3/gallon fuel costs 10 cents. An EV charging with 12 cent/kWh electricity runs under 4 cents.

            Tell us, why would you expect car buyers to pay more per mile than they already do? Especially considering that H2 FCEVs offer no advantage over ICEVs and EVs.

  • One-Of-A-Kind

    CleanTechnica is more like the “Anti-Hydrogen Cult”. What a joke of an article. As clearly pointed out in the bio, Mike writes ‘Climate Fiction’ – it’s a whole new category of its own now!

  • Bob_Wallace

    Daniel, what do you not understand about hydrogen being very, very expensive.

    Even using the unacceptable method of steam reforming natural gas hydrogen is too expensive. Create clean hydrogen using renewable energy and the price goes up.

  • Bob_Wallace

    The median of $400,000 and $2.2 million is $1.3 million, more than $1 million.

    I just read an article that states that Japanese hydrogen stations are costing $5 million each to install.

    It’s highly unlikely that hydrogen will be added to existing gas stations. Hydrogen would take enormous tank space which just isn’t available at most stations.

    But even if we could just pump H2 into existing gas tanks and dispense it with existing gas pumps the cost of H2 pushes it out of the picture. Toyota has stated a price of 17 cents per mile to fuel their Mirai with a hope that might drop to 10 cents a mile sometime in the future.

    A Prius burning $3/gallon gas costs 6 cents per mile.

    An EV charging on 10 cent/kWh electricity costs about 3 cents per mile.

  • Ash45

    Let’s look at this from an economic standpoint. I’m sure some of my numbers are wrong, so correct me if I’m way off.

    I’d like to know the business plan for a hydrogen station being able to operate at a profit without massive government subsidies. Yes, we know oil companies get them too, but let’s look at hydrogen’s case.

    First you have to find a plot of land to build it on. It can’t be too far away from where people live, or else no one will want to go there.

    The station will require highly specialized equipment due to the nature of 10k PSI hydrogen being a lot different than gas. Additionally it’ll need a very large compressor to pressurize the tank back to 10k after each fill up. And if the hydrogen is made renewably on-site, then you’ll also need a machine to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen, which adds further costs. Trucking it in will still have its own costs, and if the truck runs on diesel, it’s defeating the “green” aspect of hydrogen even further.

    Toyota touts a 5 minute fill up time. But what they don’t mention is the time it takes to pressurize the tanks again for the next car, because if it’s not at 10k PSI, you won’t get a full fillup. Ironically they didn’t have any 10k PSI stations up and running for their Mirai, so they sent out mobile trucks that can fill up 5k and parked them at the dealerships, which can only half-fill the tank. So much for “no range anxiety” they keep promoting on it.

    But let’s be generous and assume it can be done in 5 minutes. That means you can serve about 6 cars per pump an hour, or about 144 a day if it’s a 24/7 operating station. If it has 3 pumps, then they can handle 432 cars theoretically. But will they have enough cars on the roads if Toyota is only predicting to have 3000 Mirai worldwide by the end of 2017? And that’s assuming the pumps aren’t broke. Oh, what about hydrogen embrittlement? As mentioned in the article, hydrogen has a nasty habit of sneaking through whatever’s containing it. How long will the equipment last before it has to be replaced? What will the costs be?

    Then there’s the cost of the hydrogen. The number I’ve seen floating around is $13/kg, meaning to fill up the Mirai’s 5 kg tank, you’ll have to spend $65 to fill it up. Sure, Toyota picks up the tab for the first 3 years if you buy it. But what about year 4 and beyond?

    A 50 mpg Prius can do that same 300 miles on $24 of gas, assuming $4 a gallon. Or a Corolla at 30 mpg will do it for $40. Heck, a 20 mpg car would only cost $60. Who wants to pay more for fuel?

    And what will electrolysis-derived hydrogen cost due to the extra electricity required for it? They have to pass the cost to someone.

    A Tesla currently can’t make that range unless they’re being driven slow (ha!), but it’ll cost about a few bucks in electricity, unless you have paid off solar panels, and then it doesn’t cost them a penny more (for now) to use a supercharger along the route. And since there are way more superchargers than hydrogen stations, you can also drive it almost anywhere you could with a gas car. The Mirai will have an invisible 150 mile tether from the closest hydrogen station.

    Tesla also built said superchargers completely on their dime, while Toyota wants the government and taxpayers to foot the bulk of the bill for hydrogen stations, even though they have billions more than Tesla.

    So tell me again why hydrogen for light duty passenger vehicles is so much better than plug-ins…

  • TedKidd

    Mikes on fire lately…

  • vensonata

    Why will hydrogen cars not make it? Because instantly a parallel network of CNG cars will appear. Their fuel will be 30% of the cost. The cars themselves will cost the same as a gasmobile…no new technology. The range will be superior, the emissions will contain, like hydrogen, no particulates. And of course there will be the same amount of carbon sent in to the atmosphere because the hydrogen is made from reformation of gas rather than extremely expensive electrolysis, which would actually be clean if it came from a renewable source, but it won’t.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Why will hydrogen cars not make it?

      Because there is no clear route to getting their purchase price down rapidly. There’s not enough demand to justify high production volumes.

      Because there is no fueling infrastructure nor anyone willing to pay for it.

      Because even if they reached price parity with ICEVs and EVs and it was possible to find fuel their cost per mile would drive people away.

    • One-Of-A-Kind

      Combustion does not solve our air pollution issues. I don’t think you understand the point of fuel cells. It’s to rid the process of nitrogen. This is why WalMart cannot replace their battery electric lift trucks with CNG, rather, they are using Hydrogen. Their situation is a little more immediate need of ZEV though. In a million+ sq foot warehouse, you can’t have toxic emissions. As clean as CNG burns off your stove, combustion is not the same with 79% of your explosive mixture that is compressed is made up of nitrogen. During the compressed explosion, it combines with excess O2 and creates your lovely death smog mixture of ‘noxious’ gases. A catalyst can only reverse this so far, never to a full level….

      • vensonata

        No one seems to care about air quality. You see, they buy diesel and gas cars. CNG is much cleaner and is actually cheaper per mile but no one cares! They care about convention. Their last car was gas, therefore the next one will be. I don’t advocate CNG cars, Ev is the way, but I am just pointing out that hydrogen is hopeless because it is sourced from natural gas because electrolysis, although it may be clean if sourced from solar or wind, is just too expensive. And now that EVs have adequate range, and are only growing in range and falling in price, the hydrogen dream car is receding to a tiny speck in rear view mirror of the electric car.

  • Jens Stubbe

    Synfuel is a drop in substitute option for both Diesel and Gasoline and the price of electricity from wind and later on solar is approaching the level where electricity and overly abundant CO2 becomes the cheapest building stones for the petrochemical industry.

    The Saudis has waged war against everybody else producing oil with idea that when the others are weakened or preferably bankrupted, they again control the market. The casualties are mounting up in all corners of a financially weakened fossil industries. Despite their best efforts the Saudis themselves seem to teether on the brink of bankruptcy, which will occur around august 2018 with the present oil price.

    The fossil fuel producers in USA has suffered immensely and the banks that has supported them are in a very dangerous game because it is not at all likely that oil will ever recover to the golden over priced days. To the contrary we all know what a fire sale looks like when desperate states have to sell what ever they can in an effort to stay afloat. Saudis has the cheapest wells and their stay out price will define the price of fossil fuels until eventually cheaper Synfuel will close the wells and permanently keep fossils underground where they belong.

    Mike Barnard is a wind energy expert and have as such seen the steady decline in wind power cost, which has not affected the majors in the wind industry that are doing just fine with fine prospects for continued price drops over the next many years.

  • Foxy

    I think no one mentioned a big reason why the automakers (Toyota, Honda, etc) are pursuing hydrogen vehicles in the US – the new CA ZEV credit rules, in which FC vehicles end up earning far more credits than BEVs. Hopefully this will be changed again in the future.

    • Michael G

      They are “pushing” FCs in Japan and Europe too where they are expected to catch on more quickly due to the high cost of gas there.

  • green.future

    >Hydrogen escapes, with distressing ease and speed, anything which isn’t built to extraordinary tolerances.

    They use carbon-fiber tanks in the current generation of FCEVs and do not have any leaks.

    >Expanding a complete distribution network to tolerances a couple of orders of magnitude above those required for gasoline is expensive.

    Hydrogen infrastructure is currently expensive, but its nowhere near a “couple or orders of magnitude.” It costs $1 million to build a hydrogen station. Gas stations do not cost $10,000 to build.

    >using nozzles

    If people can figure out how to plug in a BEV charger, you really think they cant figure out how to attach a fueling nozzle? Literally no article on FCEVs or hydrogen have ever said its difficult to figure out, in fact they all talk about how easy and simple the process is.

    >standardized nozzles

    Fueling for hydrogen is already standardized. They have SAE J2601 that provides a fueling standard for hydrogen. This is the same standard adopted in the US and internationally. Maybe try to research next time?

    >human fear

    People already drive around gasoline fueled cars that explode and catch fire. I think you are really trying to amp up a fear that is not really there. You really think people are going to fear a car thats backed by Toyota and Honda? Their brands are known for technology and trustworthy.


    lol, are you really trying to cite an article from 2001 as evidence? I honestly cant believe how hard you are trying to push this. I’ll just leave this here – http://blog (Dot) ucsusa (dot) org/dave-reichmuth/how-clean-are-hydrogen-fuel-cell-electric-vehicles-696

    • Ivor O’Connor

      Good reply with details. Hopefully though you aren’t trying to suggest FCEVs have a future.

      • green.future

        I do think FCEVs have a future. With a brand like Toyota behind them, with nearly every automaker seriously pursuing the vehicles and saying that this will be the long-term future of transportation I honestly do.

        There are legitimate hurdles to FCEV and hydrogen, but this article doesn’t accurately portray them.

        Right now there is the issue of hydrogen infrastructure cost. Its hard to finance the infrastructure with a small current market, but we have already seen states and automakers step up to help support it. If the federal government showed 1/10th of the support in developing BEV charging infrastructure it would not be a problem.

        The only other real issue now is cost of vehicles, which have come down 95% in the last 10 years from ~$1million / car to ~$50k – $60k / car. Once larger production happens, these vehicles are not going to be extraordinarily expensive, just like every other new technology that has hit the markets over the years.

        • Ivor O’Connor

          I think Toyota’s actions may have more to do with the head of the company than anything else. He’s old and his successor probably won’t have hydrogen on the brain.

          Physics makes hydrogen prohibitively expensive when compared to BEVs. Sure FCEVs get 50% more financial support than say Tesla’s and all they fossil fuel companies fully support them but that is not enough. As others have pointed out it takes far, ludicrously far, more energy to support FCEVs than BEVs. And BEVs are very simple compared to FCEVs.

          I liked your post because you addressed some of the issues. However BEVs are clearly the future despite a crazy old Toyota and marketing by the fossil fuel industries.

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            “I think Toyota’s actions may have more to do with the head of the company than anything else. He’s old and his successor probably won’t have hydrogen on the brain.”

            Bob Lutz didn’t retire until his 80’s. Akio Toyoda is only 59, and not just being a grandson to the original founder of Toyota Motors, but he also has a very deep history in Toyota starting at low level positions.

            How old are you? I’m sure your aged opinion is worthy… I think we all deserve to know.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I’ll look into it. I had the impression the family member with hydrogen on the brain was much older. At 59 this person is just coming into his best years.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Back several years ago batteries were very expensive, $1,000/kWh or more. Cycle life wasn’t good. Hydrogen fuel cells seemed to be the way off petroleum.

          Several car companies started FCEV programs. It seemed the right thing to do.

          But something unexpected happened. Consumer electronics (phones, cameras, laptops) created a huge demand for better and cheaper batteries. Lots of money was spent on research and lots of progress was made.

          Battery prices have fallen from around $1,000/kWh to under $200/kWh. Cycle life and self-discharge problems have shrunk. Battery prices are expected to keep falling to at least $100/kWh in the next few years and possibly go lower. We’re seeing the emergence of batteries with built in intelligence which will allow much faster charge times.

          Back ten years ago when FCEV programs were started no one could see the possibility of such rapid development in battery performance and price. But it happened. H2 FCEVs simply do not make sense in today’s world. They’ve been vastly outpaced by EVs and batteries.

    • Michael G

      Thanks. You should have written the original article. This guy knows nothing and it shows.

      • green.future

        Thanks. Dont get me wrong, there are some real obstacles with FCEVs / hydrogen, but these just are not them. This is so poorly researched I am baffled as to why it was allowed to be posted here. Doesnt CleanTechnica have editors?

        He also wrote an equally bad article this morning on “who are the people that dont like BEVs” and used a range of strawmen there too. Its just laughable.

        • Bob_Wallace

          So in your world you think people will purchase expensive FCEVs and pay 17 cents a mile to fuel them? (Toyota’s number.)

          You think people will give up cheaper ICEVs and 10 cents or less per mile operating costs and move to H2 FCEVs for what reason? Certainly won’t be range or speed of refill. Won’t be easier access to fuel.

          Why do you think people will pay more for less?

        • Michael G

          I agree there are problems with FCs but also with batteries. Both will be solved eventually.

          EVs (including PHEVs) at 0.8% US market share is not an overwhelming lead. A EV-FC hybrid seems the most probable outcome at this point, though the future is unpredictable.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The route to cheaper batteries is clear. Increases in battery capacity are almost certain.

            What’s the route to affordable hydrogen? Heavy wishing?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Oh, bullshit Michael.

        You are very biased in favor of FCEVs and reach for any twig that might support your opinion.

        Clearly hydrogen is harder to store and transfer than either gasoline and electricity.

        A million (or two million) dollars for a single H2 station would pay for a heck of a lot Supercharger bays, 50 to 100 approximately. And that’s only the dispensing station. It’s not the electrolysis and compression plant. It’s not the delivery trucks.

        “You really think people are going to fear a car thats backed by Toyota..?”

        Toyota has been damaging its brand name recently.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Michael, you are demeaning one of the best informed people who write articles on the internet. Don’t you realize how stupid that makes you look?

  • Ever use a gas bottle? Well, a gas bottle is hydrogen with some carbon in it. Add some kevlar and update it to the 21st century and we have our renewable fuel/renewable storage. Wait for it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Sure we can store hydrogen. And we could run our cars on it.

      But we have a much better option.

      • elucidate

        • Bob_Wallace

          EVs. Cost to operate is a fraction of any other alternative. Purchase price parity with ICEVs should be reached in less than ten years. Most of the charging infrastructure (the electric grid) is already in place. Range issues are rapidly disappearing.

          You need more?

  • TTopGun

    Think about planes ships and trucking we need hydrogen plain and simple

    • mike_dyke

      Isn’t it strange how every time the subject of hydrogen comes up in these discussions we get the same one-line comments from all these different people who never seem to post any other comments – not even answers to questions that we ask them.

      I reckon there’s a software bot somewhere which monitors these sites and whenever it detects the word “hydrogen” in the article title it adds these comments after a while.

      /Tongue-in-cheek-mode OFF

    • Bob_Wallace

      Why don’t you design a long distance passenger jet that flies on H2? Try to find room for fuel, passengers and baggage. Try to make the flying hydrogen tank aerodynamic enough to reach airliner speeds.

      I’m not even sure you could keep oceanic freight affordable if you had to give up a significant amount of cargo space to H2 tankage.

      I really don’t think you H2 advocates realize how little energy H2 carries per volume. And I don’t think you understand the inefficiency of H2 storage or the cost.

      Hydrogen must sound so gee-whiz, bright and shiny that it blinds people and they don’t dig in just a bit to find some facts. There must be a convincing YouTube video floating around that tells the glorious story of hydrogen and fails to present the inconvenient facts.

      • Harry Johnson

        It satisfies all the pyromaniacs and I’m being serious.

    • green.future

      Hydrogen generation on site is a thing. Either with solar / wind electrolysis or tapping into our vast natural gas infrastructure…

      • Bob_Wallace

        It’a thing. It’s a very inefficient thing.

        Using natural gas as a fuel source is a non-starter. We’ve got a massive climatic problem to bring under control.

        Using hydrogen as a storage method is also a non-starter. It’s simply too inefficient compared to available alternatives.

        • green.future

          >Using natural gas as a fuel source is a non-starter. We’ve got a massive climatic problem to bring under control.

          A phrase I like is “do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

          Yes, right now hydrogen is mostly from natural gas, but there is a huge amount of money, research, and development out there to make renewable hydrogen better and more cost-effective.

          If we wait until 100% renewable hydrogen is available, it will be too late.

          FCEVs still dramatically reduce CO2 emissions on a well to wheels basis compared to gasoline ICEs, no matter the source of the hydrogen.

          At the same time, most of our nation’s electricity comes from fossil fuels as well, arguably significantly worse being that 40% comes from coal (https://www (dot) eia (dot) gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3). That doesn’t mean that we should stop supporting BEVs, it just means we should help support more renewable electricity.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It is too late.

            EVs have stolen the march. Next year we get EVs with a 200+ range for roughly the price of the average new car.

            Roughly 90% of the infrastructure for charging EVs is already in place. All we need to do is to add charge outlets for the people who don’t currently have one where they park. We already have the ability to charge 70% to 80% of all US cars if they turned into EVs overnight.

            Before the manufacturing cost of an FCEV can drop to $50k we should have long range EVs selling for $25k. Toyota has said that they need to produce 50,000 to 100,000 FCEVs per year in order to create a price drop. Next year they plan on building 3,000.

            EVs will dominate ‘the hill’. To replace the King of the Mountain a new technology would have to offer similar function at a superior price or superior function at a similar price. H2 FCEVs can do neither.

            The only advantage of FCEVs is a faster refill time on long trips, but that is more than neutralized by the time it will take to refill the rest of the year and the fact that EV drivers can eat a meal while charging. No superior function possible.

            If FCEVs were to reach purchase price parity with EVs their extra cost of operation would make them economically undesirable.

            Unless magic happens and someone finds a way to make H2 that would allow driving for a penny a mile compared to 3-4 cent for EVs there’s no future for FCEVs. Just spend a little time and think about the economics. How would we get from 17 cents a mile to a penny a mile? That would take incredible magic.

            It takes 2x to 3x as much electricity to drive a mile with a FCEV compared to an EV. Physics.

          • green.future

            BEV sales are now about 100,000 a year. The total vehicle market in the US is about 15M. Thats less than 1% of total vehicle sales. It seems that there is still plenty of time / room for FCEVs to catch up.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, tell us.

            Toyota says they need production levels of 50,000 to 100,000 per year in order to bring manufacturing costs down to a reasonable level.

            1) Who will buy the half million or more expensive FCEVs it will take over a few years to build the market?

            Toyota says it will cost 17 cents per mile to fuel their Mirai.

            2) Who will be willing to pay that much per mile when they could drive an ordinary 30 MPG ICEV for 10 cents a mile on $3/gallon gas, have no ‘range anxiety’ due to hard to find fueling stations and have much better acceleration and performance?


            3) What’s the route to bringing the cost of hydrogen down to where it can compete with the current price of electricity?

            Magic is not an acceptable answer.

            BTW, Tesla expects to be selling 500,000 EVs per year by 2020. I expect GM, Nissan, and BMW plus others will push the number over 1 million.

            Toyota expects to manufacture 3,000 FCEVs next year.

            It’s a wide, wide gap and it’s getting wider….

          • Jenny Sommer

            Who would buy them when they are expensive, more expensive to operate and cost time to refill?
            No advantage otherwise.

          • Jenny Sommer

            The just use the natgas directly in Ships, Trucks and planes? FC Planes?

            Till all this transportation is converted to FC, batteries will be cheap and dense enough to take these markets too and hydrogene will still be the most expensive solution.

  • Erik Alapää

    Hydrogen cars are the future. Especially plug-in hybrids, which use batteries for maybe 70% of the driving distance to improve efficiency. Pure battery cars suck.

    • mike_dyke

      So how are you proposing getting the hydrogen to the cars?

      If pure battery cars suck, then why are you using them for 70% of your driving? Why not 80%? 90%? 100% even?

      • Erik Alapää

        Batteries do have at least one advantage – efficiency. So a hydrogen-battery plug in combines the best of both worlds, and creates a car that is capable of entirely replacing a gasoline or turbo diesel for normal families who own only one car.
        Hydrogen has several advantages, unlimited range, 3-minute fueling, storing energy for a whole winter if you use it in a house, being able to use fuel cells in heavy trucks etc.

        Building a network of hydrogen filling stations is costly, but necessary. If we really want a better environment including combating climate change, it is a small price to pay.

        • mike_dyke

          “Unlimited range” – Rubbish! What happens when the fuel cell is empty? Where do you get a new one from? Can I charge one at home? Can someone who doesn’t know anything about handling hydrogen charge one?

          When you have your hydrogen/electric hybrid with all it’s extra fuel tanks, etc which engine will you use first? the one that needs to be refuelled every so often at a specialised filling station as it’s contents is chucked into the atmosphere as water or the one than can be easily charged overnight at home with no emissions at all from the battery?

          Building a network of hydrigen filling stations is going to be ***VERY*** costly given the physical properties of hydrogen as compared to gas – why not spend the money on better batteries and get rid of the filling stations altogether?

          • Erik Alapää

            Batteries will never be good enough, especially in cold climates. Do you propose to use batteries for all heavy trucks too? Just not doable. The Toyota Mirai has 5kg of hydrogen and better range than a Tesla with extremely expensive and large batteries. Add 5kg more and you double the range. Like I said, a hybrid is THE solution.

          • mike_dyke

            The problem is still how do you get the hydrogen to the car?
            You say to build a new network of filling stations – Every filling station in the world is going to have to be refitted – That’s expensive. Fill up at home? dangerous – But batteries can be charged almost anywhere.

            Trucks powered solely by batteries? Yes
            For light trucks see
            for an example from Renault
            For heavy trucks – see
            Other trucks/buses?

            None of those vehicles require hydrogen engines.

          • Erik Alapää

            What are you talking about, hydrogen engines? And up where I live, we have heavy trucks transporting iron ore over 100 km in cold climate – that is just plain stupid to try to do with batteries. Hydrogen is a natural fit for trucks.

          • mike_dyke

            Oh, so you’re just using the hydrogen as a range extender to the batteries then are you?
            You said in your earlier post that you wanted batteries for 70% of the journey – If those trucks can get over 150 miles of range, you’d be happy? How about a bus/coach that gets 258 miles on a single charge?
            Batteries are getting better and cheaper all the time. I don’t think it will be too long before your trucks are running on them – without the need for any hydrogen.

          • Erik Alapää

            When I said 70%, I meant for a typical driver that may drive 70% of the year’s driving distance in his home city. The battery should be small, cheap and light, maybe lasting 40-50 km max. Longer distances should be driven on hydrogen.

          • mike_dyke

            So why should I settle for a car which has only 50km battery range when I can get a car with up to 330 Miles battery range (The tesla model S) Even my current ICE can do better than 50 km range before needing refuelling.

            It sounds like you’re after one of those small cars that someone was pushing a few months ago (I forget the name) but for main driving – give me a tesla (I can’t afford one – yet)

          • Erik Alapää

            The point is to make a hydrogen car approach the efficiency of a battery car by including a small battery. The battery is also necessary for regenerative braking, plug-in charging, and peak power output. I do not want a huge, heavy, expensive Tesla battery. For unlimited range, I use hydrogen.

          • mike_dyke

            So why can’t I have a big battery in my car and be much more efficient than a hybrid? They’ve got it in production already. I don’t want to make my tesla any heavier than it has to be – Hence why do I need to add fuel cells, tail pipe etc for something which isn’t going to be used?
            “Unlimited Range” is an oxymoron – If your car is “unlimited” in the number of miles it can do it wouldn’t have a “range”

          • Bob_Wallace

            And you’re willing to pay 4x as much to drive just so you don’t have to drive a slightly heavier car?

            The Toyota Mirai has a curb weight of 4,078.6 lb.

            The Tesla S has a curb weight of 4,647 lb.

            The Tesla Mod3 will likely have a 50 kWh battery pack as opposed to the ModS pack of 85 kWh. The Mod3 should weigh less than the Mirai.

            The problem you really overlook is the cost per mile to operate a H2 FCEV. It’s 4x that of an EV.

          • Erik Alapää

            Fuel cells have become radically cheaper and smaller the last 10-15 years, the current best is probably the new Honda. Toyota is the largest car manufacturer in the world and do not belive in pure battery cars. And they are the company who made hybrids practical, they know a LOT about batteries and electric motors.

            It is amusing how much people believe in the Tesla hype. One guy at this forum even suggested changing batteries in an 18-wheeler every 300 km… Laughable.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Fuel cost.

            Fuel cost.

            Fuel cost.

          • Erik Alapää

            So, let’s say you do 70% of your driving in a city, using the hybrid’s small battery, charged with a plug-in outlet. Then you get cheap driving 70% of the kilometers you drive in a year, and hydrogen’s superiority for long-range driving.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Your plan costs too much. Are you immune to data and facts?

          • Erik Alapää

            Maybe you are, reading too many of Elon Musk’s press releases lately? Fuel cells are still in an early phase of adoption, and already dropping radically in price.

            And still, batteries are simply NOT the way to go for heavy trucks, non-electrified railways, airplanes. Hydrogen is.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, last time. After this you descend into trolldom.

            Fuel cells are not fuel. Fuel is not fuel cells.

            It wouldn’t matter if fuel cells were free and came with a free box of popcorn. It’s the cost of hydrogen that makes H2 FCEVS a non-starter.

          • Erik Alapää

            OK, last time, you don’t seem to want to grasp the facts anyway. Plug-in battery-fuel cell hybrid solves the efficiency problem. And a pure battery car will simply NEVER replace diesel and gasoline cars entirely, much less replace heavy trucks or solve aviation’s environmental problems.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Promise that’s the last time?

            Because if it isn’t…..

          • Jenny Sommer

            The 18wheeler would rather stop to recharge once in a while and also charge while loading. Hydrogen would be to expensive. Fuel will be the number one cost factor once you get rid of the driver.
            Automatic charging is also be a lot easier than automatic hydrogen refueling. In fact buses are already automaticaly charging at bus stops.

          • Erik Alapää

            Hydrogen cost is already on par with gasoline in Europe. And abundant green energy peak output will enable cheap ‘cooking’ of hydrogen. Batteries for heavy trucks is a really stupid idea.

          • Jenny Sommer

            What does it matter. You have to compare it to electricity.
            There is one H2 station where I live in Vienna – 9.10€/kg. Then no opportunity to refill for 400km.
            Guess how many FC cars are using it…
            It’s a stupid idea to start something nobody will need when EVs can recharge 10x cheaper and save you some hours time every year.

            Trucks will be battery electric because it is more economical.

          • Erik Alapää

            Like I said before:

            – Battery cars are not a good substitute for diesel and gasoline cars, but fuel cell cars are.
            – Efficiency is not a problem, just do a plug-in hybrid with a small 50 km battery.
            – Heavy trucks are a really bad fit for large trucks.
            – Solving the world’s environmental problems cannot be stopped by lack of will to build a fueling infrastructure for hydrogen.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, hydrogen might be comparably priced with gasoline + taxes in Europe.

            Abundant green energy would make hydrogen cheaper but it will still be 2x to 3x less expensive to drive EVs. And a hell of a lot more convenient.

            Show us your math that proves batteries for trucks a really stupid idea.

            And then I’ll show you my numbers that prove you wrong.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That would be a super waste of money.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s not stupid. It’s wise.

            You’re operating with a light load of facts. Try learning more about batteries.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You can pre-warm your battery pack while it’s connected to the grid. In cold, cold places people already use block heaters – even where they park during the day – to keep their engines warm. Same thing can be done with EVs. On the coldest days just plug in when you park.

            When EVs are running batteries give off heat. Start warm. Stay warm.

            Heavy trucks? Right now we could use batteries and battery swapping for 18-wheelers. A battery swap every 200 miles would mean a <3 minutes stop along the highway. Battery capacity will improve so the range can extend. One doubling (should happen in less than a decade) would give a 400 mile range.

            Actually, the Mirai and highest range Tesla is roughly the same. Battery capacities are rising and ranges will grow, for those who really need more than roughly 250 miles. Musk is talking about 500 mile range EVs by 2020 and Tesla's Destination Chargers are engineered to charge over 500 miles in eight hours (at your hotel while you sleep). It's not likely that FCEV ranges will increase. It's a volume thing.

            Hydrogen could save the planet. Just like nuclear energy or vertical axis wind turbines could save the planet. It's just that those are not the optimal solutions, we have better options.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You cannot fill a H2 car in three minutes. You’re reporting only the optimal time for the actual transfer, you aren’t including the time from when you leave your intended route, stop at the station, get out, swipe your card, attach the filler, detach the filler, get back in, and get back to speed on route.

          That’s more 10 to 15 minutes.

          A 300 mile range FCEV is probably going to get refilled when the tank is down to 250 miles, on average. For a 13,000 annual mile driver that’s over 50 stops a year. Ten to twelve hours a year filling up.

          An EV driver will do 90% or more of their fill ups by simply plugging in when they park. And will spend only an extra 30 to 40 minutes on an all day 500 mile trip over what a FCEV driver would take filling. Add in meal and break time for the FCEV driver and it’s about a wash, time wise.

          Cost wise, the FCEV driver would get screwed.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Plug-in hybrids have a short future. Cheap battery prices wipe out PHEVs (except, perhaps, for a few niche uses).

      The prices below are battery pack price. By 2017 Tesla’s pack price should be about $170/kWh and GM’s pack price should be about $190/kWh. Use those numbers and look upwards to see if you can see an PHEVs in the picture.

  • Dallin Paul Jensen

    I personally worry about the potential of large quantities of Hydrogen harvested from our oceans drifting off into space over long periods of time even if solar powered electrolysis solve the carbon emissions problem. A large hydrogen powered global economy might manage to vent large quantities into space over many centuries. Messing with our planets geochemical cycling hasn’t gone well for us in the past…

    • Jens Stubbe

      Hydrogen is gone in hours so don’t worry. The atmosphere contain O2 that will react with hydrogen and form water.

      Do not read this as a support to hydrogen as an energy carrier, which I find stupid beyond belief.

  • Ariel Panelli

    Terrible note, the author does not understand reality or general purposes for hydrogen, lucky for us the whole world does it.
    All the thing mentioned on h2 here are incorrect, h2 will be the best storage method to increase renewable sources and let wind and solar produce all the energy used in the world included transport.
    H2 will be produced in the same fuel stations. Read about h2 safety and cost, all the data here is wrong. Worst site ever.

    • mike_dyke

      You’ve apparently been reading the comments here – what are your solutions to the problems raised? How would H2 for transportation work in practice?

      • Ariel Panelli

        I answer above.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Hydrogen is a very inefficient storage technology. You have to shove 2 to 3 kWh in the front end in order to get 1 kWh out the back. Compare that to batteries and pump-up hydro where one needs to start with only 1.1 or 1.2 kWh in order to pull out a usable 1 kWh.

      In order to do what you suggest we’d have to install vastly more wind turbines and solar panels.

      Worst site ever? Perhaps, if you’re short on facts and understanding and have a closed mind….

      • Ariel Panelli

        The only problem of hydrogen today is the cost of platinum, but there are at least 10 different tech approach that are close to solve that issue, replacing platinum with cheap materials without lose efficiency.
        You can convert hydrogen with 80% efficiency or 95% if you get some external waste heat, or even 125% with a really hot external source.
        But then you dont need to convert it again to electricity.
        A country may have all its energy coming from solar and wind (included transport and natural gas for houses), if each fuel station is a h2 generator, you can found those in japan and germany already that already produce the h2 in 2 standards (700b and 350b cryo compress), every time you have an excess of energy, you produce hydrogen, and with the hydrogen methane (capturing co2 from air) for those other apps that will still needed. You can inject h2 in the natural gas net (germany already does that). And then all the hydrogen produced is used for transport or gas on homes.
        There is not need to convert again h2 to electricity.
        And you dont need to transport the hydrogen, because you charge it in the same place where is made.
        Also all things mentioned about h2 safety, efficiencies, volume are wrong.
        Take a look to the honda clarity, 700km range, 150 liters in tank (only 3 times more volume) but the fuel cell and engine takes a lot less space, so you have the same space than any vehicle. And this taking into account that today fuel cells on vehicles are still new, in no time they will reach 60 to 70% efficiency. Also batteries are super expensive, no matter how much the price will go down in the next 10 years, just the batteries for big cars will still cost as a big gasoline new car.

        • Bob_Wallace

          No, the problem with hydrogen is the cost of hydrogen.

          It’s the cost of hydrogen.

          It’s the cost of hydrogen.

          It’s the cost of hydrogen.

          It’s the cost of hydrogen.

          It’s the cost of hydrogen.

        • You don’t seem to be following battery news.

          Tesla is expecting to reach 100 $/kwh in a couple of years. Even GM seems to be spending $190/kwh on the new batteries of the Bolt.

          This is hardly in line with your statements.

          ATM it very much looks like that batteries will simply eat all of the lunch of hydrogen in the automotive sector.

          • Bob_Wallace

            GM leaked the news that they have contracted a cell price of $145/kWh with LG Chem for their long range Bolt to be released next year. Rule of thumb, from what I know, is that it costs an additional 30% or so to turn cells into battery packs.

            Tesla is expected to enjoy a 30% drop in cell price from their $180/kWh reveal last year. That would make their cell price around $130/kWh and pack price around $170/kWh.

          • Ariel Panelli

            yeah is what I comment up. But hydrogen is still cheaper even using platinum. And the platinum age in electrolysis and fuel cells will be remplaced in short for cheap elements.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Bull. Just plain bull.

            Platinum has nothing to do with the cost of hydrogen. Only the cost of fuel cells.

            It’s the cost of fuel that kills the FCEV. Try to comprehend. It’s not a hard concept.

            Three cents a mile is cheaper than 17 cent a mile. Easy, simple math.

          • Ariel Panelli

            ok.. this happen when you read ignorant blogs like this ones..
            Platinum does not have nothing to do with the cost of hydrogen?
            Electrolysis needs platinum!
            and once you have that, you can convert electricity to h2 at 80% efficiency. You can also make hydrogen from methane at 80% efficiency capturing co2 in micro powder of good quality that you can sale to the CNT and Graphene manufacturers.
            This process will cost 2 to 3 dollars by kg of h2. 1 kg= 45 mile –> 4 cent the mile. Steam reforming is even cheaper, but right now does not capture co2.
            Also the cost does not end there. If you need very expensive batteries to use that electricity at 0,02 cent by mile.. then the real cost rise a lot.
            That is why when we compare different energy production tech, we use a levelized cost of energy. Where all factors are considered, lifetime, capital cost, etc.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Is the blog ignorant? Or could it be a commenter who has shown up with an information deficit?

            Electrolysis requires an inert metal such as platinum ,stainless steel or iridium .

            Here’s the problem with your opinion, buppy.

            1) We can’t use natural gas to make hydrogen. We have a climate to save.
            2) It takes far more electricity per mile to power a vehicle if we store it as hydrogen than if we store it in batteries.

            I guess I should have said “Here are the problems ….”.


          • Ariel Panelli

            Are you really so dumb? I am telling you that platinum remplacement is important to lower the cost of hydrogen, then you said that platinum does not have nothing to do, now you come here talking about the price of the platinum? duhhh… Also I told you than in 2 or 3 years the new materials will reach to the market.

            Second: I told you that methane cracking capture the co2 and also produce hydrogen cheap. In which you can reach 4 cents the mile (with lower cost for the h2 car in case you want a normal range as any other car, not to mention recharge time of 3 min.)

            Third: batteries had also loses, you lose a 23% in the charge – discharge.

            But like I said.. you need to include the cost of batteries (even taking into account that lithium batteries is a very mature tech vs fuel cells that just now! are starting to appear in market products) and guess what.. fuel cells + h2 tank are even cheaper!!

            Now just imagine what it will happen when platinum find its remplacement (search by “platinum catalysts remplacement”) you will see how many techs are in good patch with good results all rushing to be the first to achieve it.)

            Prices for production will drop a lot, prices of fuel cells will drop and their efficiency will increase.
            But the history does not ends there, because if the world does not invest in hydrogen tech, then they will need to use a lot of expensive storage tech, which you will need to convert and then convert again to electricity, also.. you will be not able to remplace all chemical vehicles, no big cars, no airplanes, no ships, etc.

            But as you see, that is not happening, because all car companies are investing in h2 cars, many countries are starting with heavy investments in h2 fuel stations and production.
            Why? Because is the most logic path to save money.

            PD: your links are broken, there were just to show me that platinum is a rare metal?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Look, I said zero about the price of platinum. I informed you that platinum was not a requirement for electrolysis.

            I explained to you that we cannot continue to extract methane and add more carbon to the cycle. And you’ve got your head up your hindquarters if you think we can drive with hydrogen for 4 cents a mile. Toyota, the main company pushing H2 FCEVs, says 17 cents a mile now and hopefully 10 cents sometime in the future. And that’s with reformed methane.

            I didn’t give you any platinum links. Are you having a break with reality?

          • Ariel Panelli

            No materials reach the efficiencies of platinum, but like I said energy is a matter of overall costs, so you may allow to lose efficiency using different catalyst if your production will be low, but if your production is really high then you will lose less money overall if you use platinum..

            Question, how you add more carbon to the cycle if you capture the co2???
            In usa, the kwh cost average is 14 cent by kwh, The Tesla does 420 km with 85 kwh, this is equal to 0.04 cent by mile. But you need to include the battery cost which is around 15000 to 20000 dollars.

            I calculate the production cost for h2 by mile, of course we can not know the real h2 cost because there are very few h2 stations.
            But then to the cost of h2, you need to discount what you save with a fuel cell system.
            Then you need to discount at the h2 cost, how much countries save using h2 to storage instead batteries.
            For example, you need a storage system able to provide 5mw of power by 24 hours = 120 mwh, if you only need to provide 5 mw by 1 hour, then batteries work fine. But if you want for 2 hours, the price of batteries double. Instead with hydrogen you are only increasing the tank side. The cost of the tank is nothing comparing with chemicals, hardware, metals and manufacture needed for batteries.
            In fact the volume of a tank increase ^3 vs the surface ^2.
            Countries needs systems to storage TWh, if they produce hydrogen every time they have excess of energy and then they sell that hydrogen for all ways of transport + gas for homes or industries..
            Then is a win-win.
            Batteries does not solve bigger vehicles needs neither storage.
            Yo need h2 one way or the other.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Batteries does not solve bigger vehicles needs neither storage.
            Yo need h2 one way or the other.”

            Show us the math you used to discover that “truth”.

            I’m getting tired of you simply throwing out claims as is you knew stuff.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Let’s check back when H2 fuel reaches the 4ct mark.
            My guess…never.
            Please choose a date, I will set my Google calendar and come back to verify your prediction.

          • Ariel Panelli

            the cost of fuel cells and electrolysis devices will keep lowering in cost each year by increased production and techniques, then we will see also medium jumps in the technology every 3 years. Just take note about all hydrogen related product cost, and then compare 3 years later. Lets see if batteries go down in cost as fast as h2.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It takes 2x to 3x as much electricity to move a FCEV one mile as it does to move and EV one mile.

            You’ve been told this multiple times.

            You’re trolling. Stop it.

          • Ariel Panelli

            Lol? really? why you dont detail all energy loses on both system to know how you reach those numbers..
            ALso there is something that is not entering in your head.. Energy is all about cost.. if is clean, then it does not matter how much energy you consume, meanwhile the whole process is cheaper and effective to give you the thing you need.
            And guess what.. batteries lose that fight by a big margin..
            Batteries are only good for light weight city cars with low range.
            But every time you want to increase the range, or increase the storage time for some energy source.. hydrogen is many many times better than batteries.
            Also.. batteries are heavier, so if you want to increase the range, you need to waste more energy to move the same car.. is almost like the rocket equation.
            I did all these maths a lot of time, is what I do. That is why I ask you to do the same, because you are just getting data from biased sources without analyse how they reach those numbers.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s bull.

            Electricity has a cost. If one mode of transportation uses less electricity then it costs less per mile.

            Obviously batteries are good for more than city driving. Witness the Tesla.

            I don’t know what sort of math you do but you’re doing something wrong. I suspect you put your opinion ahead of facts.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Additionally I have a feeling that fuelcell cars will need quite some maintainance. That should easily offset battery cost in cars and is even a bigger factor in trucks.

          • Jenny Sommer

            I would love to see your math.
            Feel free to post it.

          • Ariel Panelli

            I already did, check my other responces.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Batterie cost is not the problem. It is the fuelcost for trucks that do a lot of kilometers over their lifetime.
            Also maintainance cost. Hydrogen is not easy on the hardware, expect expensive maintainance vs BEVs.
            You say it will be cheaper to own and operate a FCV compared to a BEV in 3 years?
            I set my calendar alarm now…2018.12.08

          • Ariel Panelli

            You have any idea of what are you saying? You are mentioning trucks?
            Is possible to make a truck with batteries? No. Because trucks needs big range and they are heavy, so you will need at least 200000 dollars in batteries, this will also increase the weight of the truck by a lot which will reduce the range.
            Read my other responces, you are ignoring many factors on the overall cost and benefics for hydrogen. There is a huge economic benefic than countries get for each hydrogen station.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Trucks do not need big range.
            Trucks need to transport things from A to B as cheap as possible.
            If this involves recharging every 150km we will simply install automatic chargers every 50-70km.

          • Ariel Panelli

            Ok, we are talking of different types of trucks.. I am talking of class 7 or 8 trucks.
            In fact just class 8 trucks consume the 75% of the fuel, the other 25% are trucks from class 1 to class 7, cars, motorbikes, etc..
            So if you want to reduce the co2, you need to focus in all transport vehicles including ships and airplanes.
            For example, class 8 trucks have an average range of 1000km, this is because they want to waste the less time stop. This also gives them a way to select the best gasoil prices.
            There is not electric truck class 4-5 with higher than 100 km range.
            You will see many hybrid trucks (using hydraulic pressure or batteries), but not full electric unless they use fuel cells.
            Also there is no way even for small trucks be electric.. trucks are for people who work, they can not waste 5 hours charging each time they do 100 km. Trucks are in constant movement.
            Sorry. but your battery world is a dream.. batteries are good for short range and light vehicles. There is no way to be around that.

          • Jenny Sommer

            I am talking about trucks in terms of moving goods through countries. Those are not for people, they are for cargo. Time is just one aspect in logistics. The foremost is cost. The driver will be gone in some years.
            Then the only concern is how to get €/km down.
            If time is of less concern to the customer than cost she will happily pick the much cheaper transport.
            The truckfleets of the future could very well be owned by the original manufacturer.
            Why would Volvo sell the truck when they can manage, service and market them on their own.
            It would be very wise of Tesla to not sell cars to Uber but simply use the first fully autonomous taxis to push all others out of business.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Ariel, you simply are ignorant. There is no other explanation.

          • Ariel Panelli

            Those kind of responses comes when people realize that all their arguments crashed. You are out of words, nothing to disprove or prove, because your arguments does not match reality or logic.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Right now we can build 18-wheelers with a 200 mile range and swap batteries in less than 3 minutes along the route.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Prove your point with some numbers.

            Clearly you do now know what you’re talking about.

          • Ariel Panelli

            I am an energy consultor, I am very aware of all renewable news and techs.
            They have a long way, right now their batteries cost close to 20000 for the tesla S, the new gigafactory will reduce a 30%, let add few% in tech advance..
            They can reach 120 $kwh in at least 7 years.
            But the new fuel cell technologies had more potential to reduce cost than the new battery tech that are coming.

            Set in google alerts, news on hydrogen or fuel cell technologies.
            Then do the same on batteries technologies.
            There you will see the ones that are moving faster lately.
            The cost of shares on fuel cell companies vs batteries.

            We have Lithium batteries since cellphones. Now all the efforts are focus in remplace the platinum.
            If you want to store 1 kw or 30 kw, batteries are great. But if you need to storage a lot more without add much weight or rare materials.. you need hydrogen.. Even if your fuel cell stay in the same size, just increasing a bit the tank you get a lot of energy.

            Batteries only will be for city cars once hydrogen become more popular. Look Tesla, a lot of batteries, and the range is almost half than h2 cars and recharge time 20 m.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Panasonic/Tesla prices should be $130/kWh when the Gigafactory is running. They were $180 a year ago October. That’s $15,300 for the 85 kWh S and $12,600 for the 70 S. Only $20k if you’re adding in packaging costs

            Tesla should be down to $100/kWh well before seven years are up.

            It’s not the cost of the fuel cell. It’s the cost of the hydrogen. Producing hydrogen from NG is expensive. Producing hydrogen using renewable energy is even more expensive. The cost of a hydrogen infrastructure will add to those costs.

            Hydrogen is a crappy energy storage technology. How can you be an ” energy consultor” and not know that?

            The recharge time is a red herring. For most driving the recharge time is seconds. Plug in as you park, unplug when you leave.

            On a long trip charging might make the day a half hour longer. But the ICEV or FCEV driver is going to spend 10 to 12 hours a year at filling stations during the rest of the year while the EV driver will spend none.
            You aren’t giving your clients very good information.

          • Currently, the REAL range of H2 cars is nowhere near their advertised value since you have to account for the long trips to the very rarely spaced H2 refueling stations.

            Just see the recent articles of Toyota providing mobile refueling stations to avoid a complete marketing catastrophy.

            Their mobile H2 refueling stations can only refuel at 5000psi (345bars) instead of the intended 10000psi which results in a 150mile range for the Mirai. That is nothing to write home about since some of that 150 will be wasted to go to the refueling stations (so you loose 20-30 miles from this range which leaves ~120miles) In comparisson, all of the EVs can be refueled at home at night with ZERO hassle and ZERO extra travel + you have a quickly growing public charging infrastructure. That ~120miles of range is beaten by all of the Teslas and almost reached by the new Leaf (~107miles). All of the next gen EVs will beat this range (Bolt, Tesla Mod3). Range extended EVs and PHEVs like the Volt all beat this range, naturally.

            Currently, the H2 refueling situation is a horrific mess even in regions where it is available and it will take HUGE investment to improve it to a point anywhere near the convenience of EV refueling. Nobody in their right mind will invest into H2 refueling commercially independently from H2 car builders. They cannot sell H2 at a price appealing to the public (this is why Toyota now gives you free H2 because the market price would drive away consumers) and it would require huge technological breakthroughs and massive deployment efforts to bring its price down to viable levels.

            H2 related refueling problems look insurmountable ATM even without the still unacceptably high price of the fuel cell stack. I am wondering why Toyota is sticking to its H2 play and when they will drop it completely and switch to EVs.

          • Ariel Panelli

            you are wrong.. car companies does not need to provide for h2 stations.. countries needs to do that, because is the way they can storage at very low cost all the energy coming for renewables.
            In fact, they should encourage h2 products to all companies.
            Read all my answers to Bob wallace.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Someone would have to build the infrastructure. We’d need even more H2 stations than gas stations since range for H2 FCEVs will likely stay lower than ICEVs.

            The distribution and storage problem would be immense.

          • Ariel Panelli

            Now I will tell you the info that all car companies and smart countries know. This also will explain how this site not only gives wrong data, it also ignores the overall picture.

            Car companies does not need to invest in h2 stations.. Countries should do that.. because is a way to reduce the cost of energy and keep increasing renewable %.

            First you need to read this whole note, seriously you will not regret.
            Search in google: Graham Cooley + “itm power wants”
            Clic in the first link.

            This is being made in hawaii, japan and germany, many other countries are showing evidence that they want to start too.

            Batteries–> great to provide a good amount of power by a short time. We are talking of no more than 3 hours or less than 250km.
            Hydrogen–> not so good for provide high lv of power in short times. But very good for longer times or range.

            What decides that? like always the overall cost.
            Now.. you think that with low range cars you solve the co2 emissions? not.

            Only class 8 trucks are responsible for the 75% of the fuel consumed, the other 25% is from class 1 to 7 trucks, cars and motorcycles.

            Then you have airplanes, ships and the natural gas net which provide heat.

            Trucks are used to have 1000km of range and short refueling times, and we know that everything beyond 250km is out of question due cost, mass and volume.

            Now imagine how this will change when eventually in 2 or 3 years find a good platinum remplacement.

            The hydrogen production cost with electrolysis will drop considerably, the fuel cell cost will drop considerably and H2 cars will harvest these two benefic.

            Car makers know this and they want to be on top of the technology to capitalize the opportunity when arrived. Countries will save billions in storage and they will be able to accomplish the 100% renewable goal for 2050.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Someone would have to build hydrogen plants, transportation and fueling stations. Those costs would have to be paid by FCEV drivers, making the cost per mile even higher.

    • djr417

      worst comment ever!

    • One-Of-A-Kind

      Ariel; you are right. But prepare for the MODERATOR to personally attack you for disagreeing with their doctrine here.

      • Ariel Panelli

        ah.. already happen? well, it does not matter what they said.. it will be a hard punch for them when all readers learn how mistake they were.

  • Otis11

    Very nice article… Thank you.

  • Peter Egan

    Several companies sell hydrogen electrolysis plants in a shipping container – just plug-in tap water and electricity which could come from a nearby solar source.

    Connecting the hydrogen hose to a vehicle has the identified risks. I expect it will take an automated unit that can detect seals in the correct position and automatically operate the valve. From the customer perspective, it will need to snap-on and snap-off usability.

    The hydrogen fuel cell is still a range-extender in concept – a battery is still required. While it delivers adequate range, it is a whole lot of extra technology in an electric vehicle. Reducing vehicle weight works for every technology and will help with EV range.

    It’s hard to go past a wide range of highly automated EVs, with good distance capability, which only require the distribution model of white goods. Whereas, anything carrying a fluid fuel is going to require specialised distribution and maintenance facilities.

    Expect to see EV’s delivered to retail outlets in shipping containers as this eliminates all the “man-handling” of the vehicle between factory, storage yards, trucks, trains, ships and retail outlet. Delivery in containers means quantities as small as one vehicle are economical to deliver as they can use the general merchandise supply chain.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I think Tesla is packing three ModSs in a standard shipping container. But when it comes to hauling cars it’s hard to beat a car trailer. I’m seeing eight or nine cars per rig. Moving cars in number over highway is a pretty well worked out system.

      The container stuff may be more used for transoceanic shipping.

  • PoMo

    Sigh. As much as I enjoy reading most articles on CleanTechnica, there is a more than fair share of opinionated and negative articles about Hydrogen. I fully appreciate the fact that Hydrogen is way behind EV technology in regards to efficiency and handling, but the first three points made in this article are fairly superficial will be mitigated over time.
    1. Nobody carries gasoline in open pails these days. Most of the gasoline storage and fueling lines are fairly sealed. The regular end user does not come into direct contact with gasoline anymore. Sealing of Hydrogen tanks and fueling infrastructure is a technical challenge, but solvable.
    2. Nozzle standard? Come on, how many commercial hydrogen stations do you know of? This one will come over time as more stations will open. There is already a proposed standard with SAE J2601 (see also Again, this one just needs time. BTW, how many standards are there for fast charging your EV? Just look at the latest Porsche announcement.
    3. Fear. Yes, there is irrational fear out there. Actually EVs faced similar issues with the Tesla batteries some time ago. Education and usage will diminish the fear, but yes, this one will take quite some time before the stigma breaks down.

    Then of course, the whole discussion about efficiency and how it affects climate change emissions. Yes, with current NG reformation it doesn’t make any sense – I totally concur. But the advantage I see with hydrogen that are endless ways of generating it – all in their infant stages. But you have to start somewhere with this chicken and egg problem and I actually do applaud car companies going this route and start building up the infrastructure although I suspect they are doing it for all the wrong reasons 😉

    My problem is that most hydrogen articles on this site are a call for stopping any kind of research and investment in this field. I believe there is enough potential in hydrogen, even if the practical use is 20 – 50 years from now, that make it worthwhile spending R&D resources on it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “Nobody carries gasoline in open pails these days. ”

      Two point penalty for intentional misreading. Appeal to the judge if you think this penalty unfair. But read what was written first.

      The infant state hydrogen technologies are only a glimmer in the eye of the inventor. We can talk about clean, affordable hydrogen when someone actually figures out a way to make some.

      Hydrogen, vertical axis wind turbines, and GenFuture nuclear all seem to have built a falling of those who really, really, really want to believe. They want to believe so very much that they blind themselves to today’s realities and treat ideas of what might be as facts.

      ” most hydrogen articles on this site are a call for stopping any kind of research and investment in this field”

      Or, horseshit. No one that I can think of is against research. What people are opposed to is public money being spent on building hydrogen fueling stations. And there’s pushback against the hydrogen advocates who falsely state the advantages and superiority of FCEVs.

      If you believe in the potential of hydrogen then 1) you don’t know the physics involved or 2) you dream of magical happenings in which we find routes around the laws of physics.

    • A different Adrian

      I think the biggest problem for hydrogen is going to be its distribution.

      It’s a wonderfully energetic fuel (120 MJ/kg LHV) but it’s so damn tenuous that in terms of energy per unit volume it falls far behind diesel. For example, diesel is about 37 GJ / m3. But hydrogen, even at the obscene pressure of 1000 barg is still only 5.9 GJ / m3 and at a “low” pressure of, say, 40 barg that falls further to just to 0.4 GJ / m3. So even if we shift the stuff around the country in lorries pressurised to only 20 bar we’re still going to need 90x as many lorries and 90x as much storage volume as diesel uses in order to deliver the same amount of energy to the end user. And if we’re not going to use lorries then there’ll have to be a dedicated network of transmission and distribution pipes; which is fine for densely populated areas but more problematic for filling stations in remote areas.

      In theory we could overcome the volume problem by liquefying the hydrogen (a la LNG). But here things get nasty; LNG can be liquified relatively efficiently and “easily” by using either mixed refrigerant gases or else a nitrogen compander, either of which gases have lower boiling points than methane. But the only thing that’s got a lower boiling point than hydrogen is helium, and I doubt there’s enough of that for all the hydrogen liquefaction that would be needed. It’s also questionable, given how quickly we’re wasting the limited resources of helium on things like party balloons, that we should be using helium for the liquefaction process at all. Which leaves just the less-efficient direct compressor-expander method.

      And when hydrogen is in the liquid state it is *cold* (-253 deg C or 20 K), which is cold enough not just to liquefy but to freeze nitrogen, neon, argon, krypton and xenon. So the interesting question is: How do you purge and seal the connecting spaces for liquid hydrogen’s loading and unloading lines? For gaseous hydrogen e.g. purging a hydrogen-cooled generator, you just use CO2, and for LNG e.g. purging the unloading arms before unloading a tanker, you use nitrogen. But for liquid hydrogen the only possible gas you can use is helium. For example, rockets using liquid hydrogen (Saturn V’s second stage J2 engine, Space Shuttle’s RS 25 main engine, and the forthcoming Space Launch System’s engine) all use/d helium as the pressurising and sealing gas on the hydrogen systems.

      Storing LNG is hard enough, and the losses due to boil-off even when the tank is, say 180,000 m3, are considerable (typically 0.05% of the inventory per day). So the challenges of thermally insulating a small container of some tens, or hundreds, of cubic metres – with its associated high surface-area to volume ratio – plus the difficulties of sealing the loading and unloading systems mean it’s highly unlikely that anyone is going to contemplate distribution of liquid hydrogen for general use in vehicles. I feel confident in that statement because I don’t think any company actually *has* proposed a hydrogen-vehicle economy based on distributing liquid hydrogen.

      Which takes us back to needing 90x the number of lorries and 90x the storage volume of liquid fuels if we want to have the same energy delivery capacity. And even that’s assuming the hydrogen is pressurised to 20x atmospheric pressure, which is a major safety issue (because of the energy stored in pressurised gases; Google “ASME” “pneumatic testing” “stored energy” for details). Coping with pressurisation also adds significantly to the cost of the container. Sure the pressure can be reduced further, but of course the volume then shoots up – which is more and more construction expense.

      Overall, I can’t see a way for bulk distribution of hydrogen to be economic.

      Of course, you could distribute the electricity and generate the hydrogen locally by water electrolysis at each fuelling station, but that immediately raises the question of why not use the electricity directly to charge a battery, and cut out the middle man? Li ion batteries have a storage density of about 0.7 GJ / m3, which isn’t matched by gaseous hydrogen until the hydrogen gets to about 80 bar. So hydrogen-powered-vehicle proponents would be advocating that you’d distribute electricity in order to generate hydrogen at 80 bar, transfer it to the car, and then burn it (with all the thermodynamic inefficiencies that combustion implies; oh, and losing the energy of compression to 80 bar because for sure the cars cylinders won’t be operating at that pressure) rather than just use the electricity to charge the car’s batteries. It doesn’t make sense to me.

      Battery technology is getting cheaper so quickly that it’s hard to see how hydrogen could ever overcome its technological disadvantages and still be competitive. My bet is that within 10 – 20 years most new road vehicles will be battery powered and hydrogen-powered will become just a niche or novelty interest. Hydrogen-powered vehicles might well go the same way as the steam-powered cars of the early 20th century did.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Good stuff. This comment is being save for my future use. ;o)

        Let me add a graphic which illustrates how little energy H2 packs per volume.

    • Michael G

      Thanks for some common sense. The article is a waste of pixels – mostly unverifiable gossip. “Untrained Humans Have To Use The Nozzles” (is this hard?), “Nozzles Likely Won’t Be Standardized” (how do you know?), “You Can’t Underestimate Human Fear” (idle chatter devoid of content). Speculation, unverifiable, unquantifiable garbage.

      Here’s an actual scientific article evalutating FCs as the way to overcome the weight-density limitations of batteries for long distance driving:

      I’ve read many other articles from real scientists and engineers working on batteries and FCs who have come to similar conclusions but this crowd is so stuck on Teslas they don’t want to read anything that might counter their all-EV and only EV prejudices.

      • mike_dyke

        A quote from the first two paragrahs of that article (Empahsis mine):-
        “They begin by observing that the EU’s goal of 95 gCO2/km
        fleet average emissions by 2020 can only be met by means of extended range electric vehicles or all-electric vehicles in combination with theintegration of renewable energy (e.g., wind and solar). Based on other studies, they note that without an increasing percentage of renewables in the European electricity generation mix,*the only vehicle concept which could meet the 95 gCO2/km target is the pure battery electric vehicles. (Hydrogen produced via electrolysis using the EU mix or by natural gas reforming would exceed the target.*)

        *Theoretically*, with renewable electricity, the 95 gCO2/km
        target could also be met by extended range electric vehicles with 40 miles all-electric range if 50% of driving is powered by the battery, or by fuel cell electric vehicles (FECVs), with hydrogen produced by water electrolysis.”

        In other words – do your driving by BEV or (FCEV if you drive 50% of the time by BEV) – Nothing else is good enough.

      • One-Of-A-Kind

        Well said

  • Kraylin

    I dont think Hydrogen will ever become a transportation fuel replacement for gasoline. This article points out why in great detail, well written.

    I do still think it is important research that could still prove quite useful. Perhaps once we have an abundance of renewable energy you could use the “spare” electricity to extract hydrogen from water onsite and in turn use it in fuel cells when needed to power whatever you want, again on site. I am envisioning large scale factories and possibly even off grid factories. All they would need is solar/wind power, well water, and the equipment to handle hydrogen production, storage, fuel cells…

    • Bob_Wallace

      I’ll point out again, hydrogen is a very lossy storage technology.

      We seem to lose sight of the fact that hydrogen from wind or solar is simply a way to store electricity. For some reason a great halo has formed around hydrogen as if it were something entirely unique and worth worshiping.

      Hydrogen is simply a place to park energy until we need it.

      And it’s a crummy place to park energy because it’s inefficient and hard to contain.

      One clear competitor is pump-up hydro. Very efficient.

      • Kraylin

        Then hydrogen will have no place and should be abandoned completely. If battery technology keeps increasing (why wouldn’t it) and costs keep coming down, then you’re right, just store the energy in batteries.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’m for spending reasonable amounts of money on research to see if there might be some future use. Who knows what research might find?

          But I see no sense in building FCEVs and hydrogen stations at this point in time.

          Let’s put the effort into EVs and rapid charging systems.

          I’ve heard one million to two million for a hydrogen filling station. That would pay for 50 to 100 Tesla Supercharger bays. Taxpayers in California are going to pay for 40 H2 fueling stations. 2,000 to 4,000 Supercharger bays could be built with that money. Or we could install tens of thousands of charge outlets in school and workplace parking lots, along curbs where people park at night.

          We should be supporting Tesla and GM rather than Toyota.

          • Erik Alapää

            If hydrogen and pure battery cars are given an equal chance (media and fueling stations), hydrogen will win.

          • Bob_Wallace

            But dear, sweet Erik, they aren’t equal. They won’t ever be equal. It’s physics.

            And if EVs and FCEVs cost the same to buy and the same to drive per mile I’m not sure FCEVs would be the choice of most people.

            If you’ve got an EV you can simply plug in when you park and your batteries will be full when you leave.

            If you’ve got a FCEV then you’re going to have to go to a filling station about every week and stand out in the weather while your car fills. You’ll often have to wait in line while others fill. EVs drivers will laugh at you as they zip past.

        • Michael G

          EVs are currently at 0.8% of the US market which is down from last year. That is with a govt. subsidy of roughly 25%-33% for their purchase. Maybe we should wait while both FC and EV tech improve and see which one works out best?

          • Bob_Wallace

            We could do that or we could simply pay attention to reality.

          • Michael G

            EVs (including PHEVs) at 0.8% US market share and declining. Is that the reality you want to focus on?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes I do.

            EVs are being taken up faster than hybrids did when introduced.

            We are short years (<2) from affordable long range EVs and that should accelerate sales in a massive way.

            We are on a glide path to EV batteries cheap enough to reach purchase price parity with ICEVs, probably in no more than five years.

            You know all these things, Michael. You've been told them over and over and over. Try plugging some facts into your head and using the intelligence you have as opposed to letting your thinking be limited by a wish.

          • Michael G

            What I have been told over and over is “real soon now”. To which I reply: “let’s wait and see if Nirvana actually happens before closing the door on anything else.”

            Is waiting to see what happens too difficult for you? You are substituting press releases for thought.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Oh, Michael, you can be so silly at times.

            You have a heavy, heavy bias. Anything that hasn’t already been delivered when it comes to EVs is highly suspect to you. Any slight hint of an improved future for H2 FCEVs makes you tuminescent.

          • Erik Alapää

            Deploying super-expensive, heavy Tesla style batteries to billions of car drivers worldwide is just not feasible for many reasons. Why have a 600 kg battery when you can have 5 kg of hydrogen and get better range?

          • Bob_Wallace





          • Erik Alapää

            Cost is a good argument. If both alternatives are given equal chance in the marketplace, we will see 20 years from now if Tesla-style huge, high-performing batteries or fuel cells are cheaper. My bet is hydrogen. Look at the leaps the fuel cells have made last 10 years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Don’t bet money.

            Best bet something that won’t cost you anything. Like wearing a pair of girl’s panties on your head for a week.

            (You seem to have a major problem differentiating between fuel cells and fuel. Have you spoken to a professional about your difficulty?)

        • Erik Alapää

          You cannot store a winter’s worth of solar energy in batteries, but you can easily do that with hydrogen.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You can do it.

            I wouldn’t say easily. And I certainly wouldn’t say affordably.

            Plus, there is no need to store a winter’s worth of solar energy. You really should learn more about RE.

            Stick around, we’ll catch you up.

          • Erik Alapää

            I was offended by this site’s opinionated style, like a Tesla newsletter. I prefer to get my facts from research papers from good universities.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, for the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s sake read some papers.

            Read up on how much energy it takes for electrolysis and gas compression. If you would just understand that small amount of physics you could probably figure out why hydrogen FCEVs are very unlikely to play a role in our transportation future.

    • TedKidd

      Absolutely. Hydrogen will power launch vehicles, and probably find many stationary storage uses…

  • sjc_1

    It takes $1 of natural gas to make a kilogram of hydrogen at point of use. One hundred years ago people might have said gasoline was dangerous.

    • Bob_Wallace

      1. How much does the energy and equipment cost to turn $1 of NG into a kg of H2?

      2. Gasoline is dangerous. Hydrogen might, in fact, be more dangerous.

      • Ronald Brakels

        It takes about 3.2 kilograms of natural gas to produce a kilogram of
        hydrogen with the normal about 80% efficiency of a steam reformer. With an international price of about $5.10 per gigajoule of LNG that will come to about 28 cents. The capital cost of the steam reformer also has to be paid for, but that shouldn’t be very high for a large unit used at high capacity.

        For hydrogen produced from water using potentially renewable energy at about the highest efficiency achieved in practice, take whatever electricity costs per kilowatt-hour and times by about 33 to produce to work out the electricity cost of producing a kilogram of hydrogen. And then if you want to compress that, or liquify it, more energy has to be spent. Not sure how much more.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You’re going to use 2x to 3x more electricity to produce enough hydrogen to drive a mile than you’d use driving a mile with an EV.

          Hydrogen as an energy storage method for cars is totally inefficient.

          • Ronald Brakels

            About 2.2 times is probably around the best possible in practice for compressed hydrogen. But much more if liquid hydrogen is used and the boil off not utilised. However, the percentage lost to boil off can be greatly reduced through the simple expedient of making cars 4.25 meters wide, 9 meters long, and 4 meters high.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Not going to get that puppy through the drive through at the Greasy Arches.
            Car wouldn’t sell….

          • Ronald Brakels

            Well I’m sorry, but the nation has a choice. Either raise the Greasy Arches and turn all double lane roads into one way streets or never fit 3.9 meter diameter, insulated, gold plated, stainless steel spheres inside your cars. It’s your call, America.

          • mike_dyke

            Can’t you make the spheres light enough so they float like massive balloons?

          • Its still cheaper than bombing iraq for oil. Subsidizing an industry that is in decline. We have not seen the last of those efficiency figures, I do follow the science. And we still haven’t solved the storage issue for renewables.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’ve solved the storage issue. We have batteries (lihium-ion and zinc) that are working well for short term storage and we have pump-up hydro for long term storage. If we developed nothing better we’d be perfectly fine.
            What we are doing now is looking for ever better (cheaper) options.

            As for the ‘bombing Iraq for oil’, that’s a statement of no value. It’s like the nuclear advocates posting “Nuclear or coal?”. The correct answer is “Neither, they’re both dumb compared to the alternatives”.

          • Erik Alapää

            And the obvious answer is use a small battery for city driving and regenerative breaking. A 600 kg battery is just plain stupid. Fuel-cell-battery plugin hybrids are the future, period.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s see, who should I believe, you are a major research organization?

            I’ll give you the answer. There’s very, very little chance that we’ll use PHEVs except for possibly some small niches. And there’s almost no chance their range extenders will be fuel cells.


          • Erik Alapää

            Shall we believe that chart or look at what Toyota, Honda, Hyunday, Mercedes, BMW and Audi are doing? Fuel cells are just way superior to heavy, expensive batteries in so many ways.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Several car companies started FCEV programs back when there was little hope for EVs/batteries.

            Now some companies are selling a few FCEVs to get those sweet, sweet ZECs.
            It’s the money.

          • Erik Alapää

            Like I said, if the 2 alternatives get an even chance in the marketplace, we will see who wins. But I do believe hydrogen cars need a smal plug-in charged battery to compete efficiency-wise.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How many times are you going to say the same thing?

            We know your opinion.

            We know the facts do not support your opinion.

            Now how about moving on to another topic. Read up on battery prices and the Gigafactory.

          • Erik Alapää

            Read more research on hydrogen and fuel cells and you will maybe change your opinion. The facts speak for hydrogen.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, Chariie.

            You’ve turned into troll. Stop or be shown the door.

          • ROBwithaB

            You need a battery in any case for a FCEV, to take advantage of regen braking and to provide higher power output (during acceleration) than the fuel cell is designed to provide.

            You can perform a thought exercise for yourself, called “Would it make sense to put in a bigger battery?” Start with perhaps a 5kWh battery in your hypothetical vehicle.
            Depending on your matrix of criteria (vehicle cost, fuel cost, well to wheel efficiency, W2W emissions, range, convenience, etc) it usually makes sense just to add more battery. And then run the exercise again. And again.
            At some point, it probably makes sense to replace the entire tank, fuel cell etc with more battery.

            To make it more interesting, let’s put the clock forward to 2025, and assume that both technologies have improved at a rate of about 5% a year. Now run that same thought exercise again.
            Do you see what happens?

            It is perhaps more revealing to think of a HFEVs not as competition for BEVs, but for PHEVs.
            The Mirai is basically just a hybrid, with a battery and a (fossil fueled) range extender. So, why would I want to buy a fuel-cell hybrid rather than a gasoline hybrid? (Or the other way around.)
            How much would you need to pay the average person, right now, to accept a Fuel Cell version of a (superficially identical) Chevy Volt or new plug-in Prius? Is there ANY metric where the FCEV comes out on top?
            So let THOSE two alternatives have an equal chance in the marketplace, and we will see who wins….

          • Erik Alapää

            Obviously, to unlock hydrogen’s ability to make cars completely clean, we will have to start generating hydrogen from renewables or nuclear. A gasoline-battery hybrid is a nice stopgap solution, but double drive trains is not sustainable. Pure plug-in electric drive train with a small, cheap, light battery and a fuel cell is the optimal hybrid. Tesla batteries are not the way to go for all of humanity’s driving needs – Tesla batteries are expensive, heavy and a heavy load on the environment.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s not at all clear that a PHEV with a hydrogen fuel cell range extender is the optimal solution.

            Pure EVs should be cheaper to purchase and much cheaper to operate out past the “40 mile” range.

            As battery prices fall toward $100/kWh and our systems of rapid chargers continue to be build out look for PHEVs to fade away. They’re only a bridge we need for the short term.

            Makes no sense to build a H2 infrastructure for a temporary need.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Whish this wouldn’t take that long. There are not that many second hand PHEV models or cars on the market. When you need a bigger car the situation is rather dire. Was just looking at a Prius PHEV but you can’t fit in an adult between two child seats in the rear. The 20km electric range would be enough for my daily needs. 80-90% of my anual ~8000km would be covered.
            There are no real options for 3 kids unless you buy a new Outlander.
            Nissan should put a range extender in the eNV200.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Used Tesla S.

          • Jenny Sommer

            70k-80k €…no way

          • Bob_Wallace

            $50k here. Ship one.

          • Jenny Sommer

            New Outlander is 40k€.
            Won’t spend more than 20k on a car. I don’t even want one…365€/a gets me everywhere in the city.
            The rest of the family doesn’t want to play along unfortunately.
            1st world problems.

          • ROBwithaB

            What exactly do you mean by “an equal chance in the marketplace”?

          • Erik Alapää

            For one, fueling stations cannot be an issue. They have to be built.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No they don’t. We don’t need them and can’t afford them.

          • ROBwithaB

            By whom?
            By ME?
            Why should the taxpayers have to foot the bill for stations that cost millions of dollars each, if they’re never going to use them.
            Fuel stations are part of the entire technology chain associated with any particular vehicle type, including FCEVs. The complete supply chain and infrastructure required to support a fleet is one of the considerations when comparing different technologies. And it is precisely this issue that is one of the main disadvantages of hydrogen FCEVs.
            One of the principal advantages of BEVs is that people can charge them up overnight, in the garage, while they sleep. You don’t actually NEED fueling stations. That’s the entire point. The number of fueling stations per vehicle and per million kilometres traveled is dramatically reduced. There are inherent efficienciers in the system, and these efficiencies will lead to lower overall costs to the motorist in the long run.

            Simply demanding that “someone” invest billions to set up a national hydrogen fueling infrastructure does NOT create a level playing field. In fact, it creates a very uneven playing field, heavily in favour of one particular technology at the expense of all others.
            Who paid for the building of petrol stations?
            And the supercharger network?
            At what gas price does it make sense for an investor to erect a new gas station? Why are there no private investors queuing for permits to erect hydrogen filling stations?
            And how can Tesla afford to build an entire global network of superchargers and give the energy away for free?
            If the proponents of the hydrogen FCEV are so devoted in their belief that the technology is commercially viable, why don’t THEY invest the money?

          • Mark Renburke

            I agree with you to a point, but the ecomomic chart is only only piece of the paradigm shift puzzle; convenience, form factor, appeal, and various other personal choice factors weigh heavily on consumers’ wish list. Simple battery price reductions vs petrol price doesn’t affect the factors of infrastructure, charge time, range per weight, etc (none of which are very relevant for a right-sized battery PHEV) Though lower battery price certainly can help accelerate innovation of those factors.

            So I think you have it backward about the niche, as I suspect (and the model choices coming for 2017-2018 reflect this) that you’ll see PHEVs coming to prominence over BEVs for many decades (and Carnegie Mellon’s Vehicle Electrification Group has done some very compelling research supporting this, using not only economic but also policy and environmental considerations)

          • Bob_Wallace

            With battery prices dropping towards $100/kWh it will not be possible to build a PHEV with a small (~30 mile) battery pack as cheaply as a long distance EV.

          • Mark Renburke

            I agree with the price trajectory; my point was about the separate charging infrastructure/time and form factor challenges and their conflict with consumer needs, wants, desires, or even limitations. For example, in a decade or two, we may see a compact BEV with a 200 mile range for under $20k unsubsidized, but we almost certainly won’t have ubiquitus charging that takes only 5 minutes like the gas station. Similarly, we won’t have affordable BEVs that are full size SUVs, AWD, towing, 7-10 passenger, etc. The energy density requirements can’t be met (but can by a PHEV, as VIA Motors already proves) Just a few examples. So consumers are willing to pay more for the features, utility, convenience, etc that they need or merely desire. So if the unsubsidized PHEV is still more (say $25k), they will pay.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “, but we almost certainly won’t have ubiquitus charging that takes only 5 minutes”

            I wouldn’t bet on that. Tesla is planning on increasing the output of their Superchargers which will lower charging time. Plus there are at least two “smart” battery designs where each cell has its own “intelligence” which will allow for much faster charging.

            Then, it doesn’t matter if we don’t. People will plug in when they park and eliminate the 50+ times they would drive to a gas station a year. The only time they will wait while they charge is on a long trip.

            Right now with a 250 mile range EV one can drive 200 miles, charge 30 minutes (and eat lunch), drive 170 miles, charge 30 minutes and drive 170 miles. 540 miles with only a few minutes more time spent than someone who fills up once, eats a meal, and takes an afternoon pee break.

            And don’t forget, we are far from the theoretical limits of batteries. Capacities will almost certainly increase. They’ve been increasing around 8% a year which is a doubling in less than 10 years.

            Someone who drives 500 miles a day many time a year will likely be able to purchase a 400, 500 mile range EV.

            Tesla’s Destination Chargers which are being installed at hotels can charge up more than 500 miles in 8 hours.

          • Mark Renburke

            Well I partly hope you are right, as the goal is to reduce petrol and the least amount possible is none lol, and of course combined with more eco-friendly large battery manufacturing (a la Gigafactory) as life cycle foot print becomes more inportant, the larger the battery. I tend to think conservatively about the future trends and energy realities…well not in that way, you know what I mean. 😉

          • Mark Renburke

            ps just to be clear, when I use the term “unsubsidized”, I mean that all the majors (GM, Nissan, Ford, hopefully Tesla still around) have had their tax credits phase out and don’t need them as the battery costs and economies of scale are making entry level BEVs/PHEVs cost similar to economy cars/non-plug in hybrids.

    • Rceldib

      Steam Methane Reformer equipment is complex and runs at very high temperatures meaning built with expensive materials. The two step process converts the natural gas to hydrogen and carbon monoxide, then using a nickel catalyst to mostly Hydrogen and CO2. The Burbank California Hydrogen station was put in and seems like it was down most of the time. I took a tour of it a number of years ago and it had the feel of a complex laboratory. A Supercharger station makes so much more sense.

      • sjc_1

        Honda has a natural gas to hydrogen unit that goes in the corner of a garage.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I think you might want to check the facts on that.

        • Benjamin Nead

          Well, Honda was showing a concept of a home gas-to-hydrogen converter
          at the 2007 L.A. Auto Show, some 8 years ago . . .

          . . . but has anyone seem one since or one that isn’t just a static display?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Last time I looked (a year ago?) all mention of a current plan to offer had disappeared.

      • Michael G

        So don’t do methane reformation. Just use all that surplus wind electricity we throw away at night to make H2 while we sleep. We already talked elsewhere on this site about the vast overcapacity that will be necessary for RE to replace FFs. Might as well use it. Here’s a small hydrolyzer for small hand-held FCs which can clearly be scaled up.

        Making H2 from water is mind-bogglingly simple. Two electric wires in some water and presto!

        • Bob_Wallace

          Or do something more economical and store the energy with PuHS and flow batteries.

          Why waste money and energy?

        • Bob_Wallace

          EVs will suck up that “surplus”. You know that, Michael.

        • ROBwithaB

          Indeed, MAKING hydrogen from water is mind-bogglingly simple.
          In fact, I’ve done it myself, at home.
          Unfortunately, it is not particularly energy efficient.

          And actually STORING hydrogen is anything BUT simple.
          (And we’d want to store it for sustained periods if the idea is to use it at a later time for electricity generation.) Hydrogen atoms are very tiny. So tiny that they can literally squeeze through the gaps between the molecules of almost any “solid” material.
          Also, as you probably know, hydrogen is much lighter than air. Meaning that you cannot fit a lot of it into a particular space. So you would need to compress it somehow. To thousands of psi. Try doing THAT yourself, at home.
          And then you need to actually DO something with that hydrogen. Like combine it again with oxygen in a fuel cell (as you mentioned) which isn’t very efficient.

          In fact, if you’re going to go to all that trouble, you can simply compress plain-old air, and use it later to spin a turbine. The efficiency might actually even be better, so long as one is able to store the adiabatic heat (like in water, for instance).

          I don’t know what the future will bring. The entire concept of hydrolising water and then reforming it in a fuel cell is super cool, from a pure tech point of view.
          But I suspect that there will always be cheaper options for energy storage than hydrogen.

  • mike_dyke

    Someone’s been reading the comments recently when this subject comes up 🙂

    Good article!

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