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Electric vehicles aren't the only option for the future


docj

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If you enjoy RV's posts about electric vehicles you might enjoy reading this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/02/25/meet-the-fast-charging-affordable-future-car-that-elon-musk-hates/?hpid=z5

 

Even if the limited refueling location issue limits this type of vehicle to fleet use in the near term, that's not really any different than all the buses and trucks that drive throughout the country fueled by CNG. The key difference IMO between this and an electric vehicle is the fact that the refueling time is essentially zero. Even electric "supercharging stations" take some amount of time and that's time that people aren't accustomed to having to wait. It's not an issue if you always can recharge overnight, but it is if you need a charge because your trip is longer than your batteries can handle.

 

I don't have any stake in this or electric vehicles, nor am I likely to live long enough to see which one is the eventual winner. But introduction of "disruptive technology" into an established marketplace is always a bit of a crapshoot. Just because one is more "elegant" or technologically more sophisticated is no guarantee of market success. Ask anyone who bought a Betamax because it was inherently a better VCR! :D

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Musk is certainly no dummy. I scoffed at his cars years ago; most at the price but also at the fact that I've never seen one on the road, ever, anywhere. Still, the guy seems to be succeeding... at least at changing perceptions.

 

Someone, on another forum, said that he didn't "get" the electric car thing since the majority of power generated in the USA was from coal and the conversion losses were significant. But the new sources of energy are renewables. In fact, in July of 2014 100% of new energy sources were renewables and for the entire year renewables accounted for over 50% of the total new sources of energy. So while only 16% of the nation's power is generated from hydro, wind, solar or geothermal... that percentage is growing quickly.

 

I don't think hydrogen counts as a "renewable".

 

But I do think it could be a player provided that you can find enough places to fill them up. When I bought my first diesel car (a Rabbit, naturally) in 1984 I had to plan ahead to get fuel. Especially in cities. On the road I could hit a truck stop but in towns just finding a gas station that had diesel was a problem. I remember driving all around the Albany, CA area trying to find a gas station that sold diesel. It was ironic; I could drive from Seattle to Albany (to visit friends) on two 10-gallon tanks of fuel but I couldn't get enough diesel in Albany to get out of town! :P

 

Now they're everywhere, of course. So the hydrogen thing will almost certainly change if people begin to use them. The technical issue of producing enough hydrogen to power cars might still be a serious obstacle, though. It does require a lot of electricity.

 

Big oil would probably like hydrogen because it would translate easily into their business plan; which is, basically, "you get it from us". (Which is, by the way, why utility companies like wind power.) Any technology which doesn't hover around that is not going to be popular with Exxon. So I could see service stations adopting the hydrogen pump faster than any "quick charge" device. But city centers or malls could provide solar-powered charging stations just to attract shoppers. The proliferation of solar-powered street lamps and signage is a testament to how much cheaper it is to set up a solar-powered device than it is to wire them to the grid and then pay forever.

 

The rechargables have a significant advantage over hydrogen. You can plug them in at home. You might have to leave them plugged in longer than you like, but if you can get home you can, at least, get away in the morning.

 

If we eventually move to distributed solar, where a large percentage of the homes have at least some solar power, that becomes an even greater advantage.

 

Except, of course, on a long trip.

 

So, since most of us have two vehicles (or, in the case of RVers, at least two vehicles) maybe we'll just have a better set of choices. A plug-in battery car for around town and a hydrogen powered pickup truck for work. Of whatever combination works best for us.

 

It should be interesting. Hope I live long enough to at least see a glimmer of how it will shake out. :)

 

WDR

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Folks hear electric vehicle and think it is wonderful, far too few think about where the electric is coming from be it nukes, coal, hydro or natural gas as the usual sources with wind and solar as rather remote possibilities.

 

Same question for hydrogen, what are you going to use for the power to make it? Solar is a really good option there but you'll need to ship it from your solar array to where it is needed or move the solar power to a local processing plant.

 

So between a solar sourced electric and hydrogen vehicle you really come down to efficiency (from solar panel to the fuel tank / battery) as the main choice with convenience in second place.

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IMO a key advantage of making hydrogen via solar is the "storability" of the fuel. Since large-scale electric storage isn't common, except for limited amounts of pumped-hydro, matching solar availability to load is difficult. In fact, if most electric vehicles are recharged at night, that would be the worst scenario with respect to solar availability.

 

In contrast hydrogen can be produced via electrolysis and stored and/or distributed like any ordinary fuel. It can be stockpiled for use at times of heavy demand. Sure, a distribution network would have to be developed, but a new infrastructure most likely will be required for any new energy source.

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With one horsepower (about 750 watts) per hour / square meter of insolation average over a bright summer day and the low efficiency of today's panels panels make sense on a golf cart but not so much on anything bigger.

 

http://solarelectricityhandbook.com/solar-irradiance.html

 

Phoenix
Average Solar Insolation figures

Measured in kWh/m2/day onto a horizontal surface:

(copy-paste failed badly here)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun

3.20
4.07
5.45
6.62
7.37
7.52
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

6.78
5.97
5.45
4.48
3.50
2.95

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I did see that Joel!

 

I was really into Hydrogen as Honda and Toyota were both operating a set of hydrogen vehicles in California back when Tesla was just getting serious around 2003.

 

Generating hydrogen by electrolysis is relatively easy. The problem is the water. Just my take is that we can't afford to use our potable water supplies for fuel and seawater is a bit hard to filter. Just recently some breakthroughs in the electrolysis catalyst were announced and they well may now get funding.

 

I got the why it won't work too about hydrogen and later Tesla. What makes EV work is the fact that we don't need to worry about fuel sources, electrical outlets are in every home here, not electrolysis machines, compressors and storage. The arguments that folks use against hydrogen are the same they use/d against EVs, that the carbon footprint needed to produce the fuel was the same as burning it in the car. I say solar is the answer. So does Germany and the rest of the moneyed world states.

 

Don't worry about the electric generation of hydrogen by electrolysis. I can post the links again for the Hopewell Project where Mike Stritzki built a solar house off the grid with its own backup hydrogen fuel cell, as well as both cars converted to burn hydrogen as an ICE, not fuel cell.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_vgB_k00o0

http://hopewellproject.org/pages/project.html

 

The last catalyst news I have links to are from 2010-2012:

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-05/cheap-metal-catalyst-can-split-hydrogen-gas-water-fraction-cost

 

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Energy-Breakthrough-One-Step-Closer-to-Extracting-Hydrogen-From-Water.html

 

Check out all of these: http://www.bing.com/search?q=graphene+platinum+fuel+cells&form=OSDSRC

 

http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2011/efficient-catalyst-1028

 

Here's the latest ones:

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/07/27/low-cost-hydrogen-fuel-cell-catalyst-could-be-provided-by-tungsten-sulfide/?utm_source=Cleantechnica+News&utm_campaign=6ca1bd9919-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b9b83ee7eb-6ca1bd9919-331970081

 

No matter the paradigm shift many people try to show why it won't work or just can't see it. I think there's room for EVs and Hydrogen cars.

 

And Joel, the tired old saw about the carbon used to produce the electricity and hydrogen offsetting the savings forget that the energy needed to get the crude found, drilled, pumped out of the ground, the tankers needed to transport them, the refineries needed to refine it, the 18 wheelers to transport it to fuel stations, building the underground tanks and pumps the fuel stations need to store and sell it, well, the same happens for coal except no tankers or fuel spills.

 

But here is the difference. The gasoline or diesel or LNG ICE engines burning the fossil fuels release all the pollutants and carbon themselves. Assuming until renewables supply most of our energy like Germany already does, that the production of electricity and the production of fossil fuels are the same, then we can take out the last step of pollution off the table with hydrogen and EVs.

 

So if you take the catalyst research being worked on in several universities, than add a new infusion into solar to help produce that hydrogen like this from Google today: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2015/02/26/google-invests-300-million-in-solarcity-fund-to-spur-residential-solar-projects/?wpisrc=nl_tech&wpmm=1

 

Then we see that the money to get going is now flowing. Google and the other tech companies are also behind the millions in lobby money that made the spending by cable second in amounts and success to get Net Neutrality passed, well, the tech guys are putting their money where their mouths are.

 

Apple also took over the number one slot for richest/highest valued company from Exxon Mobil. Guess they and the rest of the disrupters can buy, errr I meant lobby state legislatures to favor the open internet and selling cars direct to the public just in time for the Elio.

 

I'm 62. I fully expect to cash in my stock around 2020 post gigafactory for about $800-1000 a share or so. Toyota's bet is also a good one. If enough folk want it, they'll overcome the infrastructure. After all, that gives the dying gas stations in ten years a fresh start all over with hydrogen. Which just like gas requires careful handling and storage.

 

But if the catalyst issue is resolved we might see the refrigerator sized home electrolysis storage like Strzki built in the video above ten years ago in 2005/6.

 

Good thread Joel, thanks. Hope you don't mind my agreeing with you.

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  • 10 months later...

I was posting about Elio finally looking like they will produce and saw this thread.

 

The PowerWalls were announced since this, as well as the Gigafactory going full bore with construction. This only a year since we posted last and things are hopping. Panasonic verifying they are all in with Tesla on the Gigafactory. Then we have Toyota making their fuel cell hydrogen vehicles reality in Japan only thus far.

 

2015 has been a whirl!

 

Even Elio is looking to begin.

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