Hydrogen “fool sells” (Nikola Badger)

SpaceDoc

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 19, 2020
Messages
59
Reaction score
62
Location
Houston, Tx
Vehicles
3 motor Cybertruck, highly modded 2014 Ford Focus SE, dead 1998 4-Runner
Occupation
Space Cowboy
Country flag
There was a recent thread that mentioned the Badger truck by Nikola. It will supposedly be a hybrid of sorts, running on hydrogen fuel cells and batteries.

Elon Musk thinks hydrogen is a dumb idea.

From an Inverse.com article...

Elon Musk has criticizised a competitor's idea (Hyundai) to go with fuel cells instead of batteries for its zero-emissions vehicles, declaring the proposal "staggeringly dumb." Musk also dismissed the concept of using fuel cells in general, equating them to "fool sells.".”

https://www.inverse.com/innovation/...cizes-fuel-cell-strategy-as-staggeringly-dumb

I had thought that hydrogen was silly because there is no infrastructure built out like there already is for battery electric cars. Also, hydrogen adds a step so less efficient, I was guessing.

The Inverse article also quoted from a Cleantechnica post that showed the efficiency of different power sources...

1592465687916.png

https://cleantechnica.com/2020/06/10/this-stunning-chart-shows-why-battery-electric-vehicles-win/

Anyhow, I thought it was interesting to see the relative efficiences. Based on range and speed of refueling, hydrogen fuel cells might be useful for long haul trucking, but... in the time it will take to develop these vehicles and infrastructure, battery EV tech will be even better.

Here’s an interesting article about how hydrogen fuel cell vehicles work...
https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/how-do-hydrogen-fuel-cell-vehicles-work

[first time I’ve created a thread, so sorry if I screw it up. LOL! 🤪]





Advertisement

 

TruckElectric

Well-known member
First Name
Bryan
Joined
Jun 16, 2020
Messages
747
Reaction score
982
Location
Texas
Vehicles
Dodge Ram diesel
Occupation
Retired
Country flag
Elon is right about "fool cells". There is a running joke about HFCV(Hyrdogen Fuel Cell Vehicles) that's been around since the 2000's when they became "a thing" during the DOT.COM era and "Irrational Exuberance" and fuel cell stocks were high flyers like Ballard Power BLDP and Plug Power PLUG(Plug Power's all time high was just under $1,500.00 a share in March 2000 and now it's now at $5.29). The joke is Hydrogen: It's the fuel of the future - and always will be.
 
Last edited:

ajdelange

Well-known member
First Name
A. J.
Joined
Dec 8, 2019
Messages
2,127
Reaction score
2,200
Location
Virginia/Quebec
Vehicles
Tesla X LR+, Lexus SUV, Toyota SR5, Toyota Landcruiser
Occupation
EE (Retired)
Country flag
The joke is Hydrogen: It's the fuel of the future - and always will be.
This assumes that hydrogen technology will not advance. Look at the chart in No. 1. At the top it shows electrolysis efficiency at 70%. That's not so good. But will it stay at 70%? A company in Israel (it think it is) has laboratory electrolysis cells running 94% (again based on recall) efficient. Next item is transport, Suppose the hydrogen is made at the dispense site (that is, I believe, Nikola's plan). That drops the 26% transportation burden down to the 5% needed to transport the requisite electric power to the site. That is doable today. Fuel cells are relatively inefficient today. Will they always be so? And note that renewable energy is marginally free. The only cost of it, if generated on site are associated with capital and maintenance costs. Will they not continue to decrease? In case the point is missed if the energy is free then who cares if the fuel cell gets warm and heats the planet? That wasted energy would warm the planet just as much were there no solar panel in place to intercept it and use it to electrolyze water into hydrogen. Note that in co-generation plants a fuel cell is used to generate the facility's electricity and the waste heat to warm the building. Suppose that steam were used to spin a turbine connected to a generator?

H2 is, and will be, probably forever, at a disadvantage relative to batteries with respect to efficiency. But hydrogen will always have the advantage in energy density. The Semi is supposed to go 500 miles fully loaded on 1,000 kWh of energy. With current battery technology (250 Wh/kg) that's 4,000 kg of battery (8,800 pounds) which is 11% of the GVW. If we want to double that we would have to double that taking 8,800 lbs away from our payload. The Nilola truck has a 220 lb hydrogen tank and range of 1200 mi. Thus they get 500 miles of additional range at an added weight (and reduction in payload) of 91 lbs. Grinding all the numbers up Nikola expects to be competitive with diesel in cost using today's technology (though their network of hydrogen stations won't be out there for a while).

Thus at the large (industrial) scale it appears that hydrogen does have its place, even with the current state of the art. For automobiles, though, no.
 
Last edited:
OP
SpaceDoc

SpaceDoc

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 19, 2020
Messages
59
Reaction score
62
Location
Houston, Tx
Vehicles
3 motor Cybertruck, highly modded 2014 Ford Focus SE, dead 1998 4-Runner
Occupation
Space Cowboy
Country flag
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Great points @ajdelange. Thanks.

Hydrogen will never be as efficient as electricity for most applications because you are adding steps in there that go from the source to moving the vehicle. And if the electrolysis process were 100% efficient then the total efficiency for hydrogen would be 52% versus 73% efficiency for BEV, still a large gap.

https://www.israel21c.org/israeli-breakthrough-could-turn-hydrogen-into-the-fuel-of-future/

Building electrolysis plants powered by solar panels or whatever at each and every refueling site sounds like a large undertaking, requiring a lot of funding. That's a different kind of inefficiency, especially for small, scattered stations. Maybe not so much for a central plant/trucking type application.
 

ajdelange

Well-known member
First Name
A. J.
Joined
Dec 8, 2019
Messages
2,127
Reaction score
2,200
Location
Virginia/Quebec
Vehicles
Tesla X LR+, Lexus SUV, Toyota SR5, Toyota Landcruiser
Occupation
EE (Retired)
Country flag
The maximum efficiency out of a fuel cell is the Gibbs energy divided by the enthalpy of formation of water and is about 83%. Similar considerations exist for batteries i.e. you an charge them about 90% efficiently and discharge them at about 90% efficiency for round trip efficiency of around 81%. Now if the H2Pro (that was the group I had in mind) can make hydrogen at 97.4% efficiency and the cell is 83% efficient the round trip efficiency is 0.974*0.83 = 0.80842 i.e. just about the same as a battery. But of course the H2 Pros are still in the lab and the batteries are running up and down the worlds highways. But the real point is that as hydrogen technology advances the relative advantage of BEV wanes. That is, unless BEV efficiency advances faster but I suspect batteries are nearer the thermodynamic limit than fuel cells.

You certainly can't beat the 90 lbs vs 8000 lbs factor in a Class 8 vehicle. Yes, building the plant for an industrial scale operation cost's bucks so they don't do that today and run with hydrogen that is relatively cheap but dirty. Note that hydrogen is currently used industrially at cost savings in transportation. Walmart's warehouses use hydrogen powered fork lifts to move stuff around. What surprises me is that fueling stations exist in these warehouses. I don't know how these are serviced but I think it is by visiting tanker. Thus there is evidently more hydrogen infrastructure than we in the BEV world think there is. The big cost savings with the fork lifts apparently come in charging time (you can't run ICE in an enclosed space such as a warehouse).

In any case hydrogen has gotten to be kind of a joke, deservedly in the automotive sector, but I don't think it is a joke in the industrial sector. The recent going's on with Nikola including investment in them by investment houses like Fisher make me think that we may see hydrogen fueled Class 8 transport on our highways in my lifetime (and I'm an old guy).
 

Advertisement





 


Advertisement
Top