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Mar 8, 2018 50 tweets 20 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
#Hydrogen #FCEV vehicles are very unlikely to become any kind of transport solution because they just don't make environmental or economic sense when compared to battery electric vehicles. #BEV
Hydrogen itself is just another fossil fuel as almost all of it is made from natural gas with carbon emissions as a significant byproduct. So the basic premise of the #FCEV is destroyed right there because it's just another fossil fuel car and not #Green at all.
The only other significant means of production is electrolysis which accounts for only 4% of all commercially available hydrogen fuel. It's used for only this tiny amount of production because it's massively inefficient, throwing away up to 75% of the electrical energy input.
So, in terms of vehicle energy efficiency we get this kind of result.
Then some people refer to the apparent refuel and range advantages of #Hydrogen #FCEV cars over battery electric cars #BEV. But that's not so clear cut. On refuelling, most people charge their car overnight, at home, whilst sleeping.
So they wake to a fully fuelled electric car waiting for them every morning. So charge waiting time for them is nil. Much better than needing to drive to a fuel station, queue for a pump, then pump fuel, then queue to pay whatever extortionate price is being charged that day.
Then on the subject of range we should bear in mind that the Toyota Mirai #FCEV has a real-world max range of about 270 miles. And this is with 2 fuel tanks, one in the boot and the other in the chassis. These are needed because Hydrogen has very low energy density.
It must be massively compressed to over 10,000 psi (that's 700 times normal air pressure!) to fit enough fuel in those 2 tanks to get 270 miles of range. So that's even more energy wasted in compressing the hydrogen to that super high pressure to fill the fuel tanks.
That's why longer range #FCEV cars will be difficult to produce because you can only compress that gas so much from a safety & structural standpoint. Meanwhile there are already battery electric vehicles #BEV with 300 miles of range, & that's just with current battery technology.
The next generation of batteries will be likely to double that. But on the subject of range we should bear in mind that only 2% of car journeys ever actually exceed 50 miles. So lots of current #BEVs are fine for the everyday needs of the vast majority of drivers.
The other key factor is the engineering complexity of #Hydrogen #FCEV cars. Both #BEV and #FCEV cars use the same 3 basic components. A battery, a motor and a controller. Yes, an #FCEV needs to use a li-ion battery too.
This is because the hydrogen fuel cell stack has a fixed power output. The battery is needed to counteract fuel cell lag for peaks in power demand for hard acceleration, & to recoup energy from the regenerative braking system to try and boost the energy efficiency of the vehicle.
But on top of battery, motor & controller a #FCEV needs an entire #Hydrogen fuel system. So that's 2 fuel tanks, fuel cell stack, air compressor, valves, fuel lines, filters, gas sensors & structural protection for those tanks full of highly compressed explosive/inflammable gas.
So many more complex moving parts and safety critical components. This means it costs more to make, more to service & more to repair than a #BEV. This is significant because all those complex critical parts means that mechanical failures will be much more frequent for #FCEV cars.
So because of this complexity, cars like the Mirai are expensive to produce & cost about $70K in the USA & about €65K to €70K in Europe. About double that of comparable #BEV cars. It's going to be hard to bring that cost down because of all the extra complexity of #FCEV cars.
And then there's infrastructure.
For #Hydrogen there isn't any. So if you buy a #FCEV car you'll find that there's nowhere to fuel it. For example, there's a grand total of 12 H2 fuel stations in the UK, but only 4 of them actually sell fuel to the general public.
And yes, almost all of them are close to London. Same in the USA where you need to live in California to use an #FCEV. So it's a chicken & egg situation. People won't buy #FCEV cars with nowhere to fuel them & business won't build H2 fuel stations if there's no one to buy fuel.
On top of that, existing car dealerships can't even use their current repair & maintenance facilities in servicing #FCEV cars; because there are strict Federal & European safety codes regulating the repair & maintenance of vehicles which use compressed explosive gas for fuel.
So significant costs in upgrading their facilities, training staff, obtaining certification etc. Meanwhile, dealers already are using their existing, unchanged facilities for repair and maintenance of #BEV cars.
So with the rising sales of #BEV in comparison to #FCEV, business won't put resources into #Hydrogen when there's high risk of no return on their investment. Consequently #BEV sales vs #FCEV sales currently look like this with little or no prospect of improving.
Then Hydrogen supporters talk about that heavy li-ion battery & how it's inefficient dragging around all that weight? But the Toyata Mirai & the Hyundai Tucson hydrogen cars both weigh over 1,850kgs? That's 200kgs more than a Chevy Bolt & more than a Tesla Model 3?
And both #FCEV cars have lower range, lower acceleration & lower top speed than the #BEV cars? It looks like adding a complex hydrogen fuel system with lots of components & heavy reinforced fuel tanks adds a lot of dead weight to the electric drive train for no benefit at all?
Bearing in mind that both of these hydrogen vehicles carry a lithium ion battery anyway because the fuel cell stack, with its inherent power lag, can't respond quickly enough to hard acceleration or capture energy from regenerative braking. You need a li-ion battery to do that.
So, all-in-all, a hydrogen #FCEV car is a collection of engineering compromises that will lead to problems in longevity & reliability due to its engineering complexity & is powered by a very scarce fossil fuel anyway. This is why battery electric is the future and not hydrogen.
So what is Toyota, the "hydrogen leader", up to? Well, for some reason, the Japanese Govt is making a lot of noise about #Hydrogen so Toyota must do so also. But that's all it is, noise. If you want the real picture watch what people actually do rather than what they say.
So look for things like this...
And this...
And maybe take a look at Japanese infrastructure too. Japan is supposedly a champion for #hydrogen but...
And we see that Japan is learning what we already knew. Setting up infrastructure for #Hydrogen #FCEV cars is slow, difficult and outrageously expensive.…
On the subject of infrastructure you also need to think about how car dealerships will be required to service and repair #hydrogen #FCEV cars. Here's an example of the laborious process required for the Honda Clarity FCEV. It's worse than petrol/gas powered cars!
So we learn that it can take up to 3 hours to de-fuel the car just so it's in a safe condition to work on. But we also learn that car dealerships can't use their existing repair facilities. Because USA & Euro safety legislation requires very specific, gas safe bays for FCEV work.
So the complexity of #FCEV engineering & the explosive nature of the H2 fuel means every dealership that sells them will need to spend thousands on new equipment, facilities, training and certification. That adds up to a huge investment across the thousands of dealers worldwide.
But, crucially for #BEV cars, dealerships can, and already do, use their existing repair & maintenance facilities, without any changes, to service the battery electric cars they are selling. That huge saving in infrastructure investment is a critical factor for any business.
Then people argue dirty power stations charge your car so it's just dirty too. But switching to electric immediately reduces your overall vehicle emissions by at least half irrespective of the power source and including manufacture/recycle of the battery.…
And in switching to electric you will be eliminating an awful lot more than just carbon emissions. Diesel for instance...
And in the meantime, as the electricity grid evolves and gets more #green then so will your car...
The other myth is that electric car batteries are toxic and difficult to recycle and end up in a poisonous landfill somewhere. But in reality li-ion batteries aren't toxic so there is very little legislation which forces companies to recycle them.
So it's only economics that drives recycling at present. So for tiny li-ion batteries that require a lot of effort to remove from the original phone or tablet and then recycle the tiny amount of material contained it's just not economically viable.
So when they say that 95% of li-ion batteries aren't recycled that is true. But that refers to phone and tablet batteries etc. Large electric car batteries definitely are very economically viable to recycle and car manufacturers operate a closed loop for batteries anyway.
But even then they actually recycle very few because it makes much more sense economically and environmentally to reuse those batteries for power storage.
Also people ask what about those with no access to off street parking for overnight charging? Well first we should note that 61% of homes do have access to off street parking.
Then on top of that more forward thinking authorities are already rolling out on-street charging solutions.…
And soon you won't even need to plug in to charge your car.…
But what about that remaining small percentage that won't have access to a charger at home? Firstly, most car trips are short. 56% of trips are actually for less than 5 miles and 94% are for less than 25 miles.
The range of affordable electric vehicles is increasing while their charge time is falling.all the time. For instance the real world range of the new Nissan Leaf is already at 150 miles, and will charge to 80% within 40 minutes.
So the majority of car trips are very short and car ranges are getting longer. This means the small proportion of drivers without a charger at home won't need to go and look for a charge every day or even every week. Maybe every fortnight at most. But where will they charge?
Well figures for 2018 show there are 5,468 charge points in the uk providing 15,704 chargers and that is increasing all the time. Contrast that with approximately 8,509 petrol stations in the UK and they cater for ALL cars not just the small % that can't charge at home.
Add to that the fact that supermarkets, shopping centres, public parking and employers are providing chargers and in the process of adding more I don't think it's going to be an issue. Most will probably top up once a week when doing their groceries shopping.
And then people say "there's not enough electricity to charge all these electric cars!!" - that's not true either.
Because most people charge their car at home overnight when demand is at its lowest. Just as the study shows:
And National Grid PLC, the people who own, run and maintain the Grid, agree with this view...

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