Fuel Cell Vehicles Will Be Possible When BEVs Allow It

SEP 22 2018 BY MARK KANE 112

Hmm…why’s that? Well, hydrogen fuel cells require clean air.

With all the talks of hydrogen fuel cells we’ve seen in the past several years, we missed one additional drawback of the FCVs that wasn’t explored till a Daimler, ZBT GmbH and Forschungszentrum Jülich study.

The problem is that fuel cells are affected by traffic-related air pollutants in various ways – from power losses to irreversible damage that progresses over time.

Just think about it. FCVs are considered as a way to make transportation cleaner, but first some other solution (battery-electric vehicles) needs to replace the internal-combustion cars, clear the air and then you can use hydrogen fuel cell cars, when they are not needed anymore duee to the influx and saturation of electric cars.

To maintain the fuel cells health, current FCVs will be equipped with air-filters, and we are curious what will be the cost to replace them every year if that’s the case.


  • PEMFC stack tests with NO, NO2, SO2, NH3 and a driving profile from a street course.
  • Accompanying online measurements of contaminant concentrations on the street course.
  • Power losses from 5% to 10% by nitrogen oxides expected for FC-vehicles in Germany.
  • NH3 leads to power losses of <3% but causes a progressive irreversible damage.
  • Study reveals a significant negative influence of air pollutants on FC-vehicles.

Traffic related air pollutants cause power losses and decrease the lifetime of proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). The relevance of this influence for vehicles is not exactly known due to a lack of studies under realistic conditions. Therefore, the present study aims at a better understanding. For the first time ever the influence of selected air pollutants on automobile fuel cell short stacks with different platinum loadings and a realistic driving cycle is examined. The driving cycle used, is an existing course near the city of Stuttgart, Germany. The experiments were accompanied with online measurements of relevant contaminant concentrations on the course. Furthermore, tests with a semi-dynamic profile have been executed for more than 1500 h and show an irreversible damage of the PEMFC by nitrogen oxides. With respect to the present results, spontaneous power losses of about 5% and over 10% in special situations by the nitrogen oxides can be expected for fuel cell vehicles in urban areas. NH3 will lead to a spontaneous power loss of less than 3%, but causes a progressive irreversible damage. Together the tests reveal that air pollutants have a significant negative influence on fuel cell vehicles in urban areas.

Source: “Influence of urban air on proton exchange membrane fuel cell vehicles – Long term effects of air contaminants in an authentic driving cycle,” via Green Car Congress

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112 Comments on "Fuel Cell Vehicles Will Be Possible When BEVs Allow It"

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The air pollution seems to also affect the brains of those who still pursue this pointless technology.

I think this technology could be useful for some trucks. Otherwise boats, some airplanes and in replacement of diesel generators.

But I see less and less appeal in FCVs as batteries are more efficient, lighter and cheaper with time and FCVs will always cost (much) more to refuel.

I always express it this way when an EV newbies asks about hydrogen: The window for hydrogen was always very small, and it closes a little bit more with each drop in battery prices.

There’s a very good chance that one of the stories we talk about on sites like this one in the near future will be how we wind down from hydrogen on-road vehicles. Customers stop buying them, companies start shutting down some of the less often used refueling stations, and suddenly we have Bob and Sue with a one-year-old hydrogen car and the nearest refueling station is 30 miles away, etc.

And yes, as I type this, my EV is recharging in my garage. Fancy that.

Thats all okay if you have off-street parking; what happens when you live in a city? And whats the cost of all that charging infrastructure? I am often amazed that BEV advocates can’t see that there is most certainly space for alternative drivetrains; and just to reiterate; the cost of infrastructure for battery-electric and (storable) hydrogen is approximately the same; and hydrogen is cheaper at significant percentages.

There is not going to be enough material to manufacture all these batteries. And it is alarming to think that you cannot see the potential to replace liquid and gaseous fossil energy with hydrogen; which is a prerequisite for any kind of meaningful decarbonization strategy.

“” hydrogen is cheaper at significant percentages “” — cheaper ?! not at all. When you search a little on Youtube you find “The Truth about hydrogen” if you like more videos — otherwise a technical PDF paper from Dr. Ulf Bossel (head of ABB fuel cell division since 1987) who made this paper back in 2006. Using electricity results in 80% loss during H2 production, transport, storage and refueling of vehicles, so better to use electricity right away. And 1 million US$ fore a hydrogen gas station to handle minus 255C cold storage or 800-1000 bar pressure tanks have its cost. And using a 40 ton gross-weight truck to transport 350kg of H2 at 800 bar pressure is using lot’s of fuel just to transport this. http://www.industrializedcyclist.com/ulf%20bossel.pdf There are some “refutation” attempts of hydrogen friends by “common sense” not by facts, accusing Dr Bossel of using ‘small laboratory values’ for electrolysis efficiency, where his paper however is using the largest available, highest efficiency industrial units for his calculations just to avoid any bias claims. Also this “refutation by common sense” attempts by Hydrogen friends complaining that Dr. Bossel is not calculating the most common use of natural gas reformation… Read more »

Using one single 12-year-old report as the only evidence to support your argument explains the situation well. Yes, and the ‘Battery Swapping’ with regards the electricity grid.

You are a freak, Rolando.

Please provide evidence for your claim that the 12 year old report is false. And please do not attack people.
All real scientific evidence that I can find, seems to agree with the conclusions in the report.

I can guarantee that any data over a decade old is not worth anything. The cost of renewables has decreased by a factor of 10 at least.

However the author of this antique research project, who has decidedly focused on aircraft technology; is tricking the reader.

He is treating everything by volume, not weight. It takes a car 50 litres of petrol to travel 500km. It takes an FCEV 5kg to do the same thing. This is a big difference, although it does not translate to planes. He uses the David McKay trick of bombarding the reader with descriptive passages of text recounting jumbo-jets and swimming pools, and cleverly hides the valuable data where you can’t see it. Its trash.

Its trash and its out of date. Move on.

Sorry but physical laws and their limits are not outdated, it’s supported by similar papers from universities.
Also your own quoted “comprehensive study from Germany” (i read through the whole 127 pages !) below is simply confirming what Ulf Bossel was saying, the Hydrogen economy is totally wasteful. From your own promoted study of the H2 lobby group : input of 86 TWh for electrolysis + 6 TWH for best case pumping + Diesel of trucking for PHEV compared to 30TWh consumption BEV for 20 million EV scenario.

Read your own promoted H2 lobby papers before trash-talking other here …..

From the article about the study which is linked. Its only three pages so I suggest to anyone not wishing to waste their time on factchecking missions to just read the three pages. I shall repeat – it is the same cost per km after several million cars (I imagine the demand-response value of storable energy and the lack of comprehensive transmission & capacity upgrades): “Many experts are currently favoring the battery, because the electrical network already exists. All that would have to be done is to set up a certain number of additional charging stations. In addition, a fully electric process “from well to wheel” is highly efficient. For hydrogen, the situation is different: A large part of the infrastructure still needs to be built up: On the one hand, these are electrolyzers who use the electricity from high-wind phases to split water. The hydrogen produced in this process could initially be stored in underground salt caverns and then distributed to the filling stations via a pipeline system, for example. The experts analyzed both scenarios and came to the conclusion that profitability depends on how many vehicles with battery or fuel cell drive systems are on the road. The… Read more »

In the UK they are taking feeds from street lamps and putting the charge controller in the cable. Very cheap and readily available. Almost every building has electricity in it so the infrastructure is already in. Hydrogen? No. Solar panels can be placed on the charging stations to improve usability. For solar charging, sun to electricity is about 20% efficient. Sun to electricity to hydrogen to fuel cell to electricity is pathetically poor. Operating gas extraction equipment to refining, to compression, to transportation, to distribution to fuel cell to electricity to car is even worse.

And, it is alarming to think that you cannot see the potential to replace liquid and gaseous fossil energy with a substantialy better source, the sun.

“the cost of infrastructure for battery-electric and (storable) hydrogen is approximately the same…” This is factually incorrect. Even at today’s prices, you can get an EV charging point installed at home for around $500-1500. As they become more commonplace, that price will drop. Contrast with the per-car cost of building H2 fueling stations. At $1 million per 12 cars charged per day, if we assume every FCEV is charged once a week, that suggest the cost of H2 fueling infrastructure comes to $1 million per (12 x 7 =) 84 cars, or $11,904 per car. Of course if in some imaginary fool cell fanboi fantasy world, those became commonplace, we might see the price drop somewhat. But H2 fueling stations require expensive high-pressure pumps, and gobble up lots of energy, not to mention the fact that the maintenance costs are much higher than for a typical gas station. That reality isn’t going to change, so that price would never drop very far. Ditto for the price of the H2 fuel itself, versus the price of using electricity to charge batteries in a plug-in EV. Basic physics put severe limitations on how far the price of H2 can drop, so it… Read more »

Some idiot forum thread is supposed to be more factually correct than two detailed, stringently professional reports? What on earth do you actually know about hydrogen, or electricity grids for that matter? Do you have a degree? Do you think these other people don’t?

I know accepting defeat is going to be difficult for you. But you are going to have to accept that you are wrong; so quite seriously why not give up now?

Congratulations on this text book example of ad hominem. Totally makes your arguments more convincing…

Current best processes for water electrolysis have an effective electrical efficiency of 70-80%, so that producing 1 kg of hydrogen (which has a specific energy of 143 MJ/kg or about 40 kWh/kg) requires 50–55 kWh of electricity. Now how do you A. deliver it, B. dispense it? C. Lose 40% in a fuel cell converting it back to electricity? Keep your fuel cell from degrading from city pollution?

You’ve got to be joking, right? How about you do some simple cost analysis between BEV and FCV, show everyone your results so they can be peer reviewed, and then we’ll believe your claim. Everyone talks about apartment dwellers and their on street parking. Where did your car park when you’re not using it? In many cases there is a dedicated parking space, so somewhere to install an EVSE. A hydrogen station is claimed to be about $2mil. At $5k per EVSE (and honestly they are probably cheaper than that) you can install 400 EVSE. Count how many service stations are near where you live, now times that by $2mil and divide by $5k. 10 service stations means 4,000 EVSE. Now each service station has more than one pump, whereas the hydrogen station only had 1 pump. Let’s be generous and assume each hydrogen station has 4 pumps. If the EVSE actually cost $1k to install them you now have 1,600 : 1 ratio. Every single building has electricity. You don’t need 150kW or 350kW to charge your car over a long daily duration, you just need a power point where you park. And this infrastructure doesn’t take into account… Read more »

Who says you need off-street parking for charging? Installing outlets at public parking spaces is not a big deal. It’s *proven* to be workable — just take a look at Norway.

Nobody is buying FCV. They are leased at serverely reduced pricing and the fuel is being given away.

Agreed. The Hydrogen proponents may be disparaging a 12 year old report, but the issues raised are still currently germane. Some small towns near me have public squares near the municipal building where they have installed CHEAP FREE level 2 docking stations (5-7 kw) that would be perfect for those apartment dwellers who have no parking or charging facilities possible. It doesn’t take much imagination to see very small, inexpensive corded street light based charging for overnight use in large congested areas. Access Card or SmartPhone enabled billing will of course be forthcoming as the need arises, and when new street lights and/or parking meters are installed in a block of apartment buildings as general course of routine city maintenance, the electric service and piping to the ‘Street Level Charging Cords’ is easily provided and at an almost trivial marginal additional cost, to be fully funded by the daily charging. No huge amount of infrastructure is needed, as 20 – 3 kw charging locations per long block are probably plenty for years ahead – until the next street refurbishment. By then there will also be more Plaza and Work charging facilities should a neighborhood ‘outgrow’ its initial ‘street side’ charging… Read more »

How is it lighter. A fuel cell stack weighs in at 50 kg, plus a 20 kg compressor and a 100 kg tank. Lets round it up to 200 kg. A battery is 500 kg.

You missed the “with time” bit. Any potential advantage fuel cells might have had, is narrowing as battery technology progresses.

(The the parameters of the few hydrogen fuel cell vehicles actually available today, put in question any claims that they have any advantage even today…)

The high pressure tank (700-800 bar or more) is usually approx 50kg steel for 1kg of hydrogen. Slightly less for bigger tanks. A road tanker (pressurized) at 40 tons gross weight can carry 350kg H2.
Those available hydrogen cars are carrying 5kg H2 tanks.

Also there is some evaporation loss of 3-4% per day, so for a 2 week holiday when you come back the H2 tank is 50% empty.

The tanks consist mostly of carbon fibre composites AFAIK… And a ratio of 50:1 doesn’t sound quite right. Something between 15:1 and 20:1 I think?

(Though of course there is also the weight of the fuel cell stacks and supporting technology to consider; and of course the buffer battery… Which is why currently available hydrogen cars do not seem to be winning over BEVs in terms of weight.)

Tankers generally transport cryogenic rather than pressurised hydrogen I think?

Take a look at current EV ranges. Weight is actually minimally impacting on the EV range. Take the Tesla Model X as an example. It is arguably the heaviest production EV yet it gets comparable range to lighter EV’s by using a bigger battery. True the hydrogen vehicle can go further with a bigger hydrogen tank, but at 4x the cost to fill (and infinitely more expensive if compared to solar) that says volumes about hydrogen. Only someone invested in hydrogen would actually want to persist with hydrogen given the current situation.

The hydrogen tanks are so large and expensive, that making the vehicle actually go further is not easy at all.

You forgot the heavy high pressure h2 tanks on board and piping. Second, the floor mounted large flat battery also provides lateral and longitudinal rigidity of the car, with fcev you add dead material for that. No wonder Model 3 is lighter than Mirai and way more capable, this is such a brutal knockout for the fcevs.

A comprehensive German study found that in terms of grid costs and integrating both electric charging and hydrogen refueling for transport, the costs (mostly grid & capacity costs) where equal at about 4.5 euro cents per km, after 20 million electric cars (either) were on the road. So they cost the same to drive; substations and fast-charging at scale is not free. “Battery or fuel cell? Researchers calculate infrastructure costs” smart2zero .com/news/battery-or-fuel-cell-researchers-calculate-infrastructure-costs Also as has been stated explicitly by the Hyundai R&D chief; as production of FCEVs increases, the cost of a fuel cell will decrease rapidly to potentially 1/3rd the cost of a large battery because the materials needed for batteries are always going to be very energy intensive to process, and there are already supply bottlenecks with the production volumes manufactured at present. They obviously produce both BEVs and FCEVs; so there should not be a bias; and he goes on to say that battery manufacturers are anticipating a plateau in efficiency gains by about 2025; which will then lead to fuel cell cost reductions providing increasingly less expensive cars. A further issue is that fuel cell vehicles scale to any size; battery technology does not operate like… Read more »

first page of your smart2zero link: “” The study at hand, commissioned by the joint venture H2 MOBILITY “”
could it bee that those ‘H2 mobility venture’ might have a vested interest promoting hydrogen ?!?

It is a very detailed report Rolando; although even reading the article: they recommend both, with hydrogen cheaper overall.

If you need further detail: the head of e-mobility at TÜV SÜD AG (who provide inspection and product certification services for German businesses) have also done some research on this and they have also found that the hydrogen infrastructure is slightly cheaper. Please do not reply to this comment.

linkedin .com/pulse/hitchhikers-guide-e-mobility-part-2-infrastructure-battery-blandow/

That’s not research: that’s a bunch of mildly educated guesses by a single person who is clearly out of his depth. It’s about as scientific as any estimates people do here on the forum.

(The first part of the “series” is funny: his central argument is based on the claim that the Model S is 500 kg heavier than the Clarity FCV… Except it isn’t. And the Model 3 with similar range is actually *lighter* than the Clarity!)

Sorry but I will reply as you are not the person in charge here to forbid forum posts on InsideEVs, especially not from someone who promoted a specific Hydrogen company twice here. I was reading the whole 127 page article – the assumption of the Hydrogen lobby group: (1) BEV chargers Wallbox will cost more in the future because of 22KW — they are now already available for less $$$ at 22KW, billions overstated investment needs. (2) The H2 pipeline network can be established for the cost of the pipe only !! (nothing else is mentioned in the few sentences) so no digging and installation, legal clearance, right of way, municipality meetings, pumping stations, truck filling and storage station with land acquisition for those etc… and then the cost to set up a complete pipeline network for thousands of km is given as approx 18 billion Euro (from the graphic) – where just 1000 km 800KV DC line in Germany will cost 34 billion and hasn’t move forward because of citizen protests. (3) The 20 million FCEV can be charged at just 7000 gas stations with 4 pumps each, even at peak hours as FCEV drives the 30km or more,… Read more »

Yes yes Ulf Bossel 2006 Swappable Batteries to power heating and industry.

And no mention of the hundreds of thousands of km of pavements and roads that need to be dug up to provide on-street charging for people who don’t have off-street parking?

Why not read a nice, well balanced article by the TUV SUD guy who explains that its not just digging up roads, its installing new transformers – which if I understand correctly means ‘substations’. And also, if I understand correctly, they are fairly darn expensive, probably a million a piece or slightly higher.

Maybe you could get some figures on how much a local neighbourhood substation costs? I’d be thrilled. I will take both papers at face value and say – yes – digging up all those pavements will cost more than replacing petrol stations. Its not just leaching from the system past 25% of all cars – its expensive.

linkedin .com/pulse/hitchhikers-guide-e-mobility-part-1-electric-vehicles-volker-blandow/

Sorry, your hydrogen dispensed costs are wrong and there’s are right because Nikola is offering hydrogen at $6/kg as soon as those stations are up and running.

Those cost are going to come down by 2030, so I’d say 4.5c hits it on the nose.

In Germany, with 82 million people over 138 K/sq. miles. U.S. 325 million over 3.8 million sq. miles. Now, what is the cost of distribution? Of trucks, or, heaven forbid, piplines.

Smart charging of BEV can provide a similar amount of demand response as electrolysis. In practice it will in fact be *much larger*, since electrolysis becomes even more expensive when the cells operate only sporadically.

Residential heating needs to be converted to electric. With heat pumps and heat/cold storage, it becomes very efficient — as well as another great source for cheap demand response.

For certain industrial applications needing high temperatures, hydrogen from electrolysis might indeed be interesting, if it can ever be made affordable. (Obviously it makes no sense from methane reforming, since it would be way more efficient to just use the methane for heating… Unless the reforming facility can do carbon capture — but that’s another very expensive technology, so probably no advantage over electrolysis in that case.)

ALL these reports explicitly state that heating via hydrogen, combined with the ability to store energy (I suppose you will be using the car battery to have a shower) is far, far less expensive than retrofitting every house with a heat pump and all the backup and transmission that is needed for that. The same goes for industry feedstock, most process heat, on-demand power, and most transport. I have them listed precisely so that individuals such as yourself can avail themselves of information that is not idle conjecture – something that you know a lot about.

1) KPMG telegraph .co.uk/business/2017/09/02/50bn-plan-hydrogen-gas-sparks-back-life/
2) DENA cleanenergywire .org/news/gov-agency-says-germany-must-step-climate-action-g7-pledge-leader
3) ECOFYS gasforclimate2050 .eu/files/files/Ecofys_Gas_for_Climate_Feb2018.pdf
4) FRONTIER ECONOMICS emcel .com/en/wp-content/uploads/Frontier-et-al-FNB-study-Value-of-gas-infrastructure-English-Translation-01-02-2018-stc.pdf (DE)
5) E4TECH e4tech .com/e4tech-and-element-co-author-study-for-the-national-infrastructure-commission-assessing-the-cost-of-decarbonising-uk-heat/
6) POLICY EXCHANGE policyexchange .org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/PEXJ4810_Too_hot_to_handle_09_16-V2-WEB.pdf
7) PÖYRY poyry .com/sites/default/files/media/related_material/poyrypointofview_fullydecarbonisingeuropesenergysystemby2050.pdf
8) EURELECTRIC cdn.eurelectric .org/media/3172/decarbonisation-pathways-electrificatino-part-study-results-h-AD171CCC.pdf
9) IRENA sdg.iisd. org/news/irena-report-hydrogen-from-renewables-may-hold-the-key-to-a-low-carbon-future/

And further detail:

WEC worldenergy .org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/WEC-brochure_Online-offshore.pdf
NEDO nedo .go.jp/content/100873103.pdf
VOESTALPINE voestalpine .com/blog/en/innovation-en/a-vision-becomes-reality-decarbonization-of-steel-production/
VATTENFALL theenergyst .com/vattenfall-backs-hydrogen-to-decarbonise-heavy-industry-eyes-supply-chain-ownership/
TU DELFT d1rkab7tlqy5f1 .cloudfront.net/Websections/Energy_Initiative/Technical%20Report%20Hydrogen%20-%20the%20key%20to%20the%20energy%20transition.pdf
FLINK flinkenergy .com/resources/Power%20to%20Gas.pdf
ENGINEERING INSTITUTE UK energy-storage .news/news/uk-engineering-institute-sees-hydrogen-power-to-gas-as-great-renewable-ener
HINICIO/TRACTEBEL fch.europa .eu/sites/default/files/P2H_Full_Study_FCHJU.pdf

I am involved with Hinicio (a knowledge partnership via my website) who are a global consultancy specialising in renewable energy and sustainable mobility, who have developed a unique competency in hydrogen over the last 10 years.

Hydrogen is going to replace fossil fuels – not batteries, or heat pumps, or anything else.

Well recently published research from China suggests air pollution does harm cognitive abilities 😉

While I totally agree that hydrogen fuel cells make little sense in road transport, we don’t need this kind of trash talking here.

(Also, there might be some niche applications in other areas where the technology is not pointless.)

Why so much negativity towards FCVs? As with BEVs, the more of these on the roads, the better – the less reliant we are on oil, and the cleaner the air will be.

Take your pick:

1. Less efficient
2. Generated from cracking hydrocarbons. So still tied to oil.
3. Requires same distribution system and centralized filling as gas.
4. Occupies interior space on vehicle.
5. Hydrogen leaks and makes metal brittle.
6. um, BOOM!?

Any others?


Even if #1 was taken care of #3 would still piss me off every time! With lack of choices I might be convinced for the others. The truth is I have driven an ICE car for many years where most of those are true. 🙁

I would just add to #3:
“but with much greater installation cost, complexity and efficiency loss”

i.e. Not the “same” distrib. system at all.

Add before #1:
0. It makes Tesla fanboy heads spin & ache when they need to explain to potential recruits why would they need to suffer for hours at chargers. THESE EVIL FCEVs CAUSE CANCER!!!!!!

Hydrogen is safer than conventional gaseous fuels because it is the lightest element on earth and disperses instantly. “Hydrogen has been proven to be as safe as or even safer than other flammable fuels such as gasoline or natural gas.” chfca .ca/education-centre/hydrogen-safety/ Hydrogen is cheaper to generate on-site; even using electricity at a higher price than centralised production because of delivery costs, and officially will be sold by Nikola for between $5-6/kg which equates to 5-6c/km. Hydrogen can does not leak through plastic (HDPE). Most hydrogen today is used by refineries to desulphurise gasoline and to produce ammonia; this is usually done at the refinery or located nearby. Renewably produced hydrogen is rapidly catching up with SMR hydrogen in regions with low solar or wind costs as efficiencies have gone up, costs have gone down and natural gas + SMR + CCS is not an attractive value proposition in most cases; where often there is also the cost of delivery on top. In fact the Hydrogen Council recently made a statement saying that they envisage it is possible to require all hydrogen used in transport to be decarbonized by 2030. This is obviously because hydrogen production via RES is cheaper.… Read more »

Given Nikola’s track record, I hope you will excuse me that I don’t take their claims as valid data.

2030 is too late. Almost all vehicle sales will be electric by that time. Waiting that long for sustainable hydrogen to become a reality, is not acceptable. If they committed to 2025, I would be more willing to consider it a valid alternative to BEVs in terms of ecology… Though I would still question economic viability and convenience.

(Also, this announcement frankly sounds more like a call for subsidies…)

Nikola received $8 billion in pre-orders and refunded ALL the deposits given to them – unlike Tesla.

Nel; who are supplying the electrolysers and dispensing equipment; have started constructing the facility in Norway, mostly to accommodate the 1GW Nikola order, which is signed for.

However, they have just completed another facility in Denmark manufacturing smaller scale electrolysers for the automotive market as well. Between the two they have an output of 660MW of hydrogen electrolysis & dispensing per year.

It comes down to economics. FCVs require as many fueling stations as gas stations, at $4M per station that isn’t practical. What makes it even worse is that you need to build the stations in advance of selling the cars because the cars can’t work without them. Contrast this with battery electrics, they are useful even without any fast charging stations because you can do all of your charging at home, if you don’t want to spend any money at all you just plug the Level 1 EVSE that comes with the car into an existing outlet, if you want faster charging the cost of installing a Level 2 is only $1000, electrician included, and most importantly you are charging the car in your own driveway or garage so you always have a full charge in the morning. The next problem is that the most cost effective way of creating hydrogen is the reformation of natural gas which is very expensive and very unclean. if you are going to use natural gas as a fuel source it’s much more efficient to just burn it in an internal combustion engine, lots of city buses already do this, that’s cleaner than burning… Read more »

To be fair, a very efficient hydrogen fuel cell vehicle might be slightly more efficient than a natural gas combustion engine I think? It also reduces the risk of harmful methane leaks; and it avoids even more pollutants… But on the whole the difference is not big, and might often turn negative, depending on various factors.

And of course that’s only when not considering BEVs as an alternative. Generating electricity in a power plant will always be a more efficient use of methane — not to mention BEVs running on renewable electricity…

Combustion engine (LNG or LPG) efficiency = approx 40%, fuel cell efficiency = 60%.
The problem with hydrogen is more on the production, storage and distribution site with massive energy losses.

Real-world fuel cell efficiency in a FCEV is about 50%, not 60%.

Yes, FCEVs are more efficient and less polluting on a well-to-wheel basis than any internal combustion engine powered car, even one powered by natural gas.

But of course, they are vastly less efficient, and significantly more polluting on a well-to-wheel basis, than BEVs.

No, this is wrong. Even an FCEV powered by SMR hydrogen is less polluting than a BEV using the current grid-mix of electricity in the US. The whole lifecycle emissions (including Battery/fuel cell manufacturing, Car manufacturing, Well to tank & Tank to wheel) is 120-130 gCO2/km for an FCEV compared to 115-160 for a BEV. And this is compared to about 185 for a gasoline car. Using green electricity and hydrogen an FCEV still wins.

If we decided to buy more FCEVs we would likely have more zero-carbon steel used, bringing total emission intensities down for all drivetrains.

And the Hydrogen Council have just announced that they plan on all hydrogen used in transport to be emissions-free by 2030.

Exhibit 13:
hydrogencouncil .com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Hydrogen-scaling-up-Hydrogen-Council.pdf

Source: EPA; A Portfolio of Powertrains for Europe (2010); Toyota Mirai LCA; IVL; Enerdata; expert interviews

Lifecycle emission analysis for BEVs is unreliable and varies widely, since there is no good data about true energy usage in battery production. During usage, hydrogen vehicles are clearly inferior to BEVs; and according to some calculations, hydrogen from SMR is likely worse than an efficient gasoline car it is likely to replace, such as a Prius.

No; because batteries are probably the most emissions-intensive things on the planet to produce. There is definitely a lot of data in this because we have been using lithium ion batteries for many years now; this is common knowledge. In fact, as Bloomberg states: ‘The World’s Biggest Miner Is Building a Battery Supply Hub It Doesn’t Want’.
It is too expensive to process, and its going to remain that way.

“Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie wants to sell Nickel West because it’ll never be big enough to boost earnings meaningfully, even when it’s producing raw materials for the booming electric vehicle industry”

A fuel cell is mostly steel, and uses the same amount of platinum as an ordinary catalytic converter.

I think if you want to criticise all the sources I provide you could at least come up with some evidence to assert your claim; considering you have no evidence; I will assume, again, that this is idle speculation.

1) What if you live in an apartment block? 2) See above; SMR hydrogen is always done at a refinery thus incurring delivery costs whereas on-site electrolysis is now rapidly dropping in price; both due to electrolyzer cost reductions and the mass production of various other components. All hydrogen used in transport (I presume including refinery uses) will be decarbonized by 2030. 3) There is absolutely no way of operating an electric grid without storage & and dispatchable power at TWh-scale. The only form of cheap TWh-scale storage (ie, less than $100/kWh; maybe closer to a few dollars per kWh..) is pumped hydro-electric storage. PHES is not available in many regions and as stated above HVDC is not at all cheap (it is premium); has landrights issues and has a maximum capacity of about 1GW. This is not enough for city-scale storage in many regions. Hydrogen can be pumped into empty oil & gas wells or salt caverns (many salt-cavern storage locations storing hydrogen today exist around the world) and either piped in converted gas pipes (5-10% of the cost of a new pipeline) or it can go into a converted CC gas turbine just like natural gas. Hydrogen is… Read more »

“”Converting existing gas pipelines” — the 5-10% seems to be an underestimate.

Hydrogen is leaking out trough the smallest holes, seals etc… so new seals + new pumps are maybe 5-10% — but many old pipes are brittle, still good enough for NG but not for H2, so complete replacement is needed for H2 transport.

As the density of H2 is much smaller the energy content which can be pumped through an old pipeline is much smaller, so a complete new pipeline network (much bigger diameter) has to be established.

The report is here; they are already converting some pipelines in Holland d1rkab7tlqy5f1 .cloudfront.net/Websections/Energy_Initiative/Technical%20Report%20Hydrogen%20-%20the%20key%20to%20the%20energy%20transition.pdf “Together with the Green-deal partner ICL-IP, the three parties plan to exchange hydrogen for industrial use via a gas transport pipeline that is no longer in use. The underground transport via the gas network ensures an efficient and safe transport of hydrogen.” smartdeltaresources .com/en/news/gasunie-hydrogen-pipeline-connects-dow-with-yara And even the new Shell ‘perspectives’ report accepts that natural gas pipelines can be converted to hydrogen “In the long-term, the natural gas supply infrastructure (pipelines and underground storage facilities) could also be used for the storage and transportation of hydrogen.” shell .com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/future-transport/hydrogen/_jcr_content/par/textimage_1062121309.stream/1496312627865/46fec8302a3871b190fed35fa8c09e449f57bf73bdc35e0c8a34c8c5c53c5986/shell-h2-study-new.pdf No; the issue as you have mentioned is the seals and compressors, as is explained in the first link above. Hydrogen needs to be pumped at a higher throughput; it does not need a larger diameter pipe. This is well understood. “Hydrogen (H2) is the smallest molecule on earth and by nature seeks to penetrate any other substance. For this reason, pipelines and storage tanks holding it have to be made of materials which ensure little or no leakage. Fortunately, practical and already widely available materials such as prevailing carbon steels and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) meet this requirement. They… Read more »

Bull pucky. H2 has to be pressurized far too much to be transported in existing oil pipelines.

What is being done is to add H2 to natural gas in pipelines to stretch out the supply of natural gas. As I recall, the limit is about 15% added by volume. (The article linked below says it’s a maximum of 2%, but I think that situation has improved.)


Yes, for residential pipelines this is because if you have some other gas user such as a CNG station specific consistencies need to be met; its not really anything to do with the integrity of the pipelines.

Its not oil pipelines its gas pipelines.

And what are you trying to claim; that the pipeline conversion (that is probably now completed) was just a fantasy, and that the natural gas operator of all of the gas network in the Netherlands is just lying?

smartdeltaresources .com/en/news/gasunie-hydrogen-pipeline-connects-dow-with-yara

The issue you are trying to find is that specific gas pipelines cannot be converted; and they can. However if you have a range of services being supplied by that pipeline, then sometimes you cannot add high percentages of hydrogen. The better option is to convert specific areas to hydrogen as Cadent and NGN plan on doing in the UK. But with different users this can pose a few technical problems.

For specific routes (point A to point B) existing gas pipelines can be used; often for a very high capacity (up to 15GW) where HVDC maxes out at about 1-2GW and is very expensive.

HVDC doesn’t “max out”. A 5 GW line already exists in China.

Yes, electric transmission is expensive — yet the costs are still only a fraction of generation costs. So unless gas can offer similar efficiency — which is *not* the case for transportation uses — the total system cost is not lower.

No, HVDC carrying 1GW is not less expensive than a converted pipeline carrying 15GW, at 5-10% of the cost of HVDC. You need electrolysis; but for that money, you get the ability to store energy, and the usefulness of hydrogen in every sector: power, heat, industry and transport.

You can not just take all NG pipelines away and use for H2, as those NG at least in Germany are still used for all kind of purpose like heating, cooking etc…

As I mentioned earlier, you’d probably have to think about it a bit first – not all at once, without any strategy or actual gameplan. But I digress – lets get back to the fabulous Ulf Bossel and his amazing 2006 paper. Any updates?

“What if you live in an apartment block?”

As the EV revolution continues, we will see more and more EV slow chargers installed in parking lots, at at curbside in residential areas without off-street parking. Eventually we should see EV slow chargers very nearly everywhere people park overnight, for the same reason we now see paved streets and roads nearly everywhere people drive.

Why is this very predictable change so hard to foresee? Isn’t it almost painfully obvious?

The point I am making is that is painfully expensive and involves ripping up every single pavement in every single city to do this; just for the higher loads that these cables will need to be able to support. And then there is all the technological stuff so you are paying for the correct charger etc etc – this is why hydrogen refueling stations are cheaper. Its also painfully slow and a hassle with all those cables littering every single pavement, everywhere. What a nightmare.

Yeah, what a nightmare. I don’t know how the Norwegians did it. How they must have suffered…

Yeah, like they are the poorest people on the planet, and most of them probably have underground parking if they do happen to live in an apartment.

Read the two reports I offered – yeah its cheaper if there are only a few cars and you have off-street parking – kitting out entire streets with cabling and substations is a completely different matter.

“In a scenario of widespread adoption of EVs featuring even more powerful batteries, the power supply in residential areas would also need an extensive upgrade. Transformers would need to be replaced and, in many areas, even the distribution grid would require an upgrade. Smart charging might ease the problem but not substantially as larger batteries also require more energy and power. The tricky and costly part in this: we must enable the complete distribution grid, down to each and every house and garage. Even newly built facilities (like my home) are not equipped for 40 charging points at 11 kW.”

“…Batteries don’t work effectively with a grid with a high percentage of RES because a lot of demand response is needed to offset the overbuild/curtailment or excessive transmission requirements of a grid that doesn’t have storage…”. Those worry-wort comments about needing substantial increases in infrastructure are really nonsense. In North America the forced adoption of CFLs and LED lighting saves about the same amount of energy as many evs would use – and most evs and PHEVs recharge at night when the load is NEEDED by the utilities. I just read today that even in distant Australia, utilities expect no additional central stations due to increasing EV sales. And Who says there is going to be a high percentage of fast charging? Most GM VOLT owners charge at either 0,9kw or 1,4 kw rates, and it is done overnight – a time period when such LOADING BENEFITS the ‘Grid’, not harming it in the slightest, since it lengthens the life of central plants (running a central station at too light a load causes excessive wear with the turbine blades). That issue will be ameliorated in the future as more electric cars are added to charge overnight, as well as increasing… Read more »

Because the billions of dollars which went into developing FCVs could have been spent for BEVs. Furthermore there are people who won’t buy a BEV now because they still think that it is not clear which technology will rule in the future.

Many reasons. Here are just a few. Most hydrogen is made from natural gas, a fossil fuel, so not very climate friendly. Hydrogen can be made from water using electricity, which could come from renewable energy, but at present that is more expensive. No surprise that many fossil fuel companies are pushing hydrogen. With a fixed amount of electricity a BEV can be driven three times as far as a hydrogen fuel cell car could if that electricity was used to charge up the BEV rather than make hydrogen for the fuel cell. Hardly anyone is going to buy a car that cannot be filled up at home or work etc like a BEV without a national network of fuelling stations. Hydrogen fuelling stations are expensive and no-one is going to build a massive network unless there are lots of hydrogen cars on the road, so there is no organic path to mass adoption like there is for BEVs. I’m not in a remote place, but my nearest hydrogen filling station would be a two hour round trip – totally unrealistic. Meanwhile my home, work etc already have electricity. Most importantly in my opinion, it seems hydrogen fuel cells are… Read more »

Please read my comments above.

Nel hydrogen have some guidelines on what the comparative cost of SMR vs electrolysis is with different electricity prices. Its a commercial brochure, so those figures are real.

Average costs for solar and onshore wind globally are about $50/MWh which means electrolysis reaches fossil parity as a transport fuel, using a fuel cell. Much lower costs exist, as does the potential to link wind and solar projects directly to the electrolyzer facility (no grid fees) thus reducing the cost of hydrogen produced considerably further; say for example for industry.

On-site electrolysis at $60/MWh still produces a cost for hydrogen dispensed at $5/kg.

Have a look at page 12 of the PDF for details
nelhydrogen .com/assets/uploads/2018/03/2018-03-02-FC-EXPO-Nel_FINAL.pdf

“On-site electrolysis at $60/MWh still produces a cost for hydrogen dispensed at $5/kg.”

Again, this is B.S.; H2 at $5/kg is a highly subsidized price. Those promoting the “hydrogen economy” hoax like to talk about their fantasy of prices coming down substantially. Here’s the reality: In the three years since the CaFCP has been building H2 fueling stations in California, the per-kg price of H2 has only gone up… not down!

Promoters of the “hydrogen economy” hoax always talk about the cost of producing hydrogen via electrolysis; they completely ignore all the energy-wasting, costly steps further along the supply chain, such as compression, storage, transport, re-compression, and dispensing.


Wrong again. You are going to have to learn.

Official Tweet:

Each of Nikola’s 700 hydrogen stations will produce up to 8,000 kg’s per day. @Toyota,@Honda,@Hyundai, @audi, @Daimler or any other OEM that wants #hydrogen are welcome to fill at our 700 bar stations at around $6.00 per kg.#emissionsgameover

Nel are providing the refueling, have signed for 1GW of electrolysis production and are now building the factory in Denmark to manufacture these electrolyzers.

Jerry Brown also has an official target of 200 stations by 2025. So thats 900 stations, with many more in planning elsewhere in the US.

Your patience to educate the battery fanatics is admirable, but you simply cannot explain to a mole the beauty of the sun.

“” to fill at our 700 bar stations “”
at OUR stations, so Daniel Williams has just outed himself to be part the PR department of Nikola, not necessarily a source of unbiased information.

So its a conspiracy maybe – a vast conspiracy of some kind.. with what intention at the end..

Kind of sick this BS guys

Let’s wait until they are actually running these stations before pronouncing victory, shall we?

Because they deserve the negativity.

Dima “Why so much negativity towards FCVs? ” It comes down to historic times. Couple of decades ago smog ridden California tried to force battery cars. GM made EV1 to comply, other automakers made their own compliance EVs too. Obviously it was way too expensive and wasn’t viable, battery technology wasn’t good enough and few of these cars were abandoned by automakers as soon as California lost lawsuit. Fans went terribly upset that their precious EV1s were crushed at the end of lease because GM didn’t wanted support hassle for tiny number of cars. PR story in the US at that time was that inferior battery cars will be replaced by fuel cells soon. As usual with political proclamations, the story was unrealistically optimistic and it didn’t materialize at that time either. Now automotive FCs have advanced far enough to really match regular hybrid car prices within next 7 years or so. But many fans don’t follow technical details and still live by urban legend from last decade. As Li Ion batteries still did not reached mass market gas car replacement level at reasonable cost without excessive subsidies, we still have the same threat and fear of precious toy that… Read more »

Which lawsuit? I was made to believe that California simply caved to the hydrogen lobby with their false promises…

Most points have already been raised by others; but to specifically answer your question: the main problem is that the claim of hydrogen cars being better than traditional combustion cars is not actually all that clear. Most hydrogen is made from methane (natural gas), and the whole system is pretty inefficient — typically resulting in *more* CO2 being created than in a very efficient combustion car. (Though admittedly it avoids other pollutants.)

But even if we are to believe that hydrogen cars are somewhat more ecological than combustion cars on the whole, the problem is that they are often touted as a better alternative to battery EVs — when it truth the latter are better in terms of ecology, economy, and even convenience in most situations.

It does not hurt to experiment and try new things. But, it seems to be going nowhere fast. Who knows maybe they will haven’t a breakthrough and get 1000 mpge.

Not a breakthrough yet.. Just a Brain Embolism for now. They should work on Perfecting the Magnetic Motor/Generator instead, but that would Kill Solar & Perhaps Batteries Too…They/He almost had it perfected & the Inventor died of a heart attack..Sound Familiar?/

Yes, experimentation is good. But it’s also good to be able to realize when an experiment has run its course, and that there is no value in continuing to run the experiment.

We know that “fool cell” cars will never be a practical or affordable means of widespread transportation. Basic physics shows it to be impossible, and real-world experience has of course confirmed that.

Making FCEVs is a science experiment grown wildly out of control, into a taxpayer money-wasting boondoggle. It’s long, long past time to end the experiment.

Physics doesn’t show it’s impossible… It just shows it will always be more expensive than using BEVs.

Yep it’s inferior technology. You should point out that it also sucks the oxygen out of the air as that’s what it uses to fuel the stack, combined with hydrogen, from the tank.
So it makes the quality of the air worse, in the sense that the creatures that breathe oxygen now have less of it.

That would be a better way in general, talk about consuming oxygen that your kids need to breath rather than emitting CO2. It would sell better even though the two are linked.

It wouldn’t matter to people who are using ICE vehicles anyhow since combustion also uses oxygen.

The air has more than enough oxygen for us creatures; the amount used up by cars is totally meaningless.

Every vehicle makes the air worse though, because of tyre/road dust.

True, but then most of the arguments being used by the “hydrogen economy” promoters in this very comment thread are equally false and/or irrelevant.

Really? FCV’s or Fool Sells, are a joke look at the efficiencies they are less than a Prius. The math does not pencil out. FCV’s were supposed to be the next play for automakers on their way to BEV’s but Tesla threw that into the wind. Auto makers and Big Oil want FCV’s since there are so many parts to go bad or clean. Dealerships would love them more than Diesels. All the filters, hoses, high pressure couplers, it’s a serviceman’s dream! Too bad that Tesla showed that you can make a car run on batteries and be fast and sexy. So glad for Tesla, I still think it’s funny that no one has made real competition in almost 10 years of the models S. Audi e-tron nope, i-pace nope, Porsche Mission-e I doubt it. Legacy auto makers just can’t change their minds about all the belts, hoses, filters and oil. The dealers just can’t stand the thoughts of no service calls for 10’s of thousands of miles. Thanks Tesla for showing a better way! Just think all the fracked natural gas that won’t be turned into H2 by big oil so sad 😢, I think I’ll cry that my… Read more »

I’m sure a lot of Tesla owners would also like to have no service needed for tens of thousands of miles and are disappointed their cars need service so frequently.

From what I understand, Japanese carmakers are more invested in fuel cell cars because Japan already has an infrastructure in place for them.

Yes. The filters in FCEVs actually clean the air as they drive.

Thats like saying I am going to plant 1 tree to reverse global warming. It’s like peeing into the ocean.

There are a billion cars in the world, but the air filtration helps the occupants riding in the FCEV breathe heathier air.

Don’t the 8-10(ish) Teslas you own have the bio-weapon air filters? Don’t those clean the air, too?

I think his new model 3 doesn’t have the aftermarket bio-weapon defense air filter fitted or installed just yet. When it gets “pretend” installed shortly, then yes, you will be 100% absolutely right. 🙄

According to Musk, Model 3 will likely never get the filter, as it doesn’t have the space to fit it…

X does, 3 does not.

Funny, with all the alleged Teslas you own, you never mention any of the positives of the very expensive vehicles you’ve invested lots of money into. Makes one kinda wonder why someone would spend so many hundreds of thousands of dollars on something they hate so much? Is there a reason you can’t ever answer that question?

That is because he is a serial liar on at least that false assertion and he does this because he thinks it will manufacture some credibility here for his incessant, whining anti-Tesla mis-information garbage he constantly posts here.

Fuel cell cars are as practical as Fred Flintstone-mobile. Wait about 5 years or so when we start to see solid state batteries and there are 5-10 million Teslas on the road. Fuel cells will be compared to horse and buggy, ancient and obsolete.

How many of those purchasing a foolcell car were aware of this?

I estimate 0%. +/-2%

Correction: This is an article describing a “brain dead” technology. Oops – I forgot the all caps. Sorry!

They have developed a 5-stage filter for oxygen to enter the cell stack; also as it is, the fuel cell usually powers a small battery which in turn powers the motors. These issues are also being ironed out by more advanced fuel cell designs.

“The air management of fuel cells places extremely high demands on the components used. To prevent damage to the cell, harmful gases such as SO2, O3, NOX, and NH3 as well as particles need to be separated reliably. For this purpose, MAHLE is developing a highly effective, multilayer filter medium. A substrate material ensures mechanical stability, a particulate filter layer removes NaCL, a molecular layer prevents NH3 from entering the fuel cell, an activated carbon layer absorbs unwanted hydrocarbons, and an additional, specially impregnated activated carbon layer adsorbs SO2, H2S, and NOx.”
jp .mahle.com/en/press/press-releases/mahle-solutions-for-fuel-cell-drives-in-commercial-vehicles-63168

A hydrogen atom is really small. Big BaDaBoom.

Hydrogen is safer than conventional gaseous fuels because it is the lightest element on earth and disperses instantly.

“Hydrogen has been proven to be as safe as or even safer than other flammable fuels such as gasoline or natural gas.”
chfca .ca/education-centre/hydrogen-safety/

A leaking fool cell car in an enclosed space, such as a garage, certainly wouldn’t be safer than a gasmobile! It’s true that the pressurized H2 inside the tank won’t explode (in the pyrotechnic sense) because there’s no oxygen inside. But if it leaks in an enclosed area, so the H2 mixes well with air, then one spark and…


So your only defence against factual information is now decidedly an emotional plea for others to believe whatever whacked-out b-llsh-t you come up with next. Its fairly obvious that the only thing you are trying to protect here is whatever oil and gas interests you have, or the paycheck whoever it is pays you to write this trash.

Sounds like you are projecting. So what about you? Hydrogen interests?

Hydrogen, being much lighter than air, will quickly dissipate.

People who are experts in the field (that’s admittedly not me) say that Hydrogen is somewhat safer overall than gasoline, and there aren’t that many garage fires due to leaking gasoline.

I’d be much more concerned about a 15,000 PSI dispensary pressure explosion (such high pressure required for the touted ‘fast refueling)’. Any comparisons constantly made to a ‘Hindenburg Effect’ are nonsense since the lives lost with it were due to the SKIN catching fire, not the Hydrogen.