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Japan Moves To Fast-Track Cars Powered By Hydrogen Fuel Cells

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/business/international/japan-bets-big-on-cars-powered-by-hydrogen-fuel-cells.html?ref=business&_r=0

Japan’s government and the country’s top carmakers, including Toyota Motor, are joining forces to bet big that they can speed up the arrival of the fuel-cell era.

The still-costly and complex fuel cell technology uses hydrogen as fuel and could greatly curb automotive pollution.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy, announced on Tuesday, included a call for subsidies and tax breaks for buyers of fuel-cell vehicles, relaxed curbs on hydrogen fuel stations and other steps under a road map to promote hydrogen energy.

That will bolster plans by Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, and Honda Motor, another Japanese giant, to start selling fuel-cell vehicles in 2015.

On Wednesday, Toyota said that it planned to start selling its first fuel-cell vehicle for the mass market by the end of March 2015 in Japan for about 7 million yen, or $68,700. The Japanese automaker also said that it was preparing to start selling a fuel-cell vehicle around the summer of 2015 in the United States and Europe.

An interesting economic development which if they can get it to work could be a big game changer in global energy.

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I'm not convinced by the Hydrogen story at all - where are we supposed to get it from? Most industrial processes seem to use hydrocarbons (methane) as a feed stock, or electrolysis which obviously needs a lot of leccy...

Given that the UK won't have enough juice to boil all the kettles by 2020, I doubt we'd have the juice to split H20 in the vast quantities needed to replace oil based fuels.

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Seem to remember a Top Gear episode where a fuel cell Civic featured.

Game changer indeed, potentially. Still reckon a second hand eleccy might be a good interim, provided residuals are crap and your driving patterns suit.

I would imagine the residuals for an electric car will be terrible - have you tried pricing up a new battery for one?

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I'm not convinced by the Hydrogen story at all - where are we supposed to get it from? Most industrial processes seem to use hydrocarbons (methane) as a feed stock, or electrolysis which obviously needs a lot of leccy...

Given that the UK won't have enough juice to boil all the kettles by 2020, I doubt we'd have the juice to split H20 in the vast quantities needed to replace oil based fuels.

Considering it takes more energy to produce than it yields by burning it, it is a non starter as a replacement for oil based fuels, it's not even a candidate.

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Considering it takes more energy to produce than it yields by burning it, it is a non starter as a replacement for oil based fuels, it's not even a candidate.

Solar, wind and nuclear energy can be turned int hydrogen. The reason for hydrogen is it stores a higher density of energy than batteries and as long as you don't mix it with oxygen it's quite safe.

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Surely H production by renewables makes it viable. Seems like a regular argument on HPC.

Why would you take the power from renewables, convert it into H at a loss, and transport it to a filling station at yet more loss so we can put it in our cars?

Cars which we will probably need to ditch anyway if we want wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

Electric cars are at least within the realms of possibility, since electrity has no conversion or tranmission costs (virtually).

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Solar, wind and nuclear energy can be turned int hydrogen. The reason for hydrogen is it stores a higher density of energy than batteries and as long as you don't mix it with oxygen it's quite safe.

Nuclear, yes I'd agree that is feasible.

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Surely H production by renewables makes it viable. Seems like a regular argument on HPC.

I have nothing against renewables, but the sums don't stack up - you would need to cover the whole of the UK with wind turbines to replace our nuclear output alone - EDF claim to produce 8,800MW from nuclear, and that one of their big wind turbines produces upto 1.8MW - I make that 4,888 wind turbines running constantly at full output to cover our nuclear output alone, which is only about 20% of our electricity ouput. I can't see us building 24,000 massive wind turbines in the UK!

Let''s build some more nukes and make H2 - it is a good way of shifting energy around, it is not though a handy fuel, unless you can build a 93M mile long straw and slurp it directly out of the sun where's there's plenty ;)

Sources: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/295355/5_Electricity.pdf , http://www.edfenergy.com/energyfuture/edf-energys-approach-why-we-choose-new-nuclear/current-nuclear-sites , http://www.edf-er.com/AboutWindEnergy/FAQ.aspx

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After giving it some more thought, the only useful purpose I can see for hydrogen in the context of renewables would be as a storage medium for excess production for use later, e.g. unused power from solar to be used in winter to help make up the shortfall.

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Perhaps extend that sentiment to solar installation specifically to produce H for automotive use.

I'm not sure H from water counts as a fossil fuel in the circumstances.

Calling Kurt...

H2 from water not a fossil fuel, but you do need to provide the energy to split the H2 from the O. The energy required is the same (if you're 100% efficient) as the energy you get back from burning H2 with O2 to make H20.

I still don't think we're ready infrastructure wise to safely handle lots of H2 - you have to store it under immense pressure, or at very, very low temperatures as a liquid, and that's a lot harder than keeping petrol in a flimsy metal box.

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Perhaps extend that sentiment to solar installation specifically to produce H for automotive use.

It's not possible IMHO. I don't think solar is a viable source of power for cars, and especially not using hydrogen as the medium.

The temporary storage mechanism role of hydrogen in solar I described is just a way of making the sun go a little further, a bit like regenerative braking for example, energy that would otherwise have been lost is recovered.

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H2 from water not a fossil fuel, but you do need to provide the energy to split the H2 from the O. The energy required is the same (if you're 100% efficient) as the energy you get back from burning H2 with O2 to make H20.

I still don't think we're ready infrastructure wise to safely handle lots of H2 - you have to store it under immense pressure, or at very, very low temperatures as a liquid, and that's a lot harder than keeping petrol in a flimsy metal box.

Solar could produce H and the efficiency as described by you is not so relevant given the 1400W/m^2 incident on the earth's surface costs nothing to produce. You'd want to harvest it as efficiently as possible of course. Infrastructure can be built over time, noone said it's happening tomorrow.

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Well I suppose if you're talking about covering the Sahara desert and whatnot, then it could serve a global transportation purpose.

If we imported it, I still think we would be better off burning it in a power station and distributing to electric cars via the grid. Though I've just remembered I'm not on the grid so that wouldn't help me much!

But I'd like to see this country energy independent.

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Solar could produce H and the efficiency as described by you is not so relevant given the 1400W/m^2 incident on the earth's surface costs nothing to produce. You'd want to harvest it as efficiently as possible of course. Infrastructure can be built over time, noone said it's happening tomorrow.

I don't think we get anything like 1400W/m^2 in the UK! Consider how much energy you are trying to replace - petrol is very roughly 42MJ/kg - a litre is about 0.7kg, so 29.4MJ. Assuming you could convert your 1.4kW/m^2 of sunlight to leccy at 100% efficiency (IIRC 10% is good at the moment!) you would need to capture energy for 29.4MJ/ 1.4kW => 21,000 seconds with your 1m^2 solar collector. That's 5.8 hours - can you eek 5.8 hours of motoring out of 1 litre of petrol?

Obviously you can increase the size of your solar array, but at real world efficiencies, you are not going to be able to harvest enough power to run your own car unless you have a spare field and 500K in solar cells...

What we all really want for electric cars is a MrFusion :)

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Well I suppose if you're talking about covering the Sahara desert and whatnot, then it could serve a global transportation purpose.

If we imported it, I still think we would be better off burning it in a power station and distributing to electric cars via the grid. Though I've just remembered I'm not on the grid so that wouldn't help me much!

But I'd like to see this country energy independent.

UK roofs will do for starters? Industrial as well as residential. Plenty of energy going a begging imo.

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UK roofs will do for starters? Industrial as well as residential. Plenty of energy going a begging imo.

See RentaBears post. Nowhere near enough insolation in this country to run a nation of cars, and with 2 or 3 per household.

Don't get me wrong, we should be plastering our roofs with them. Planning regulations on listed buildings needs changing for sure.

But we need to be realistic about what it can do.

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And besides, going back to what I was saying before, picture it:

Your shiny new hydrogen powered car is sitting on the drive of your post HPC bought house. On the house are solar panels. They turn the light into a current which is fed into grid. 200 miles away a hydrogen plant uses power from the grid to create hydrogen. The hydrogen is loaded into hydrogen powered vehicles and driven 200 miles back to your local filling station. You drive to the filling station to fill the car.

Isn't there something wrong with that picture that an electric car and a socket in your garage would fix?

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Insolation?

H cars offer much better prospects for increased range. If driving patterns suit then eleccy may do fine(although I've yet to see one where the costs/mile are much cheaper than a decent if not class leading petrol example.

Not sure listed buildings have much effect on available roofspace either.

I don't see a great issue with power routed through the grid to where it is needed. I've no idea what a typical H production operation may look like, it may(should?) be doable on a smaller scale than current refineries.

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Considering it takes more energy to produce than it yields by burning it, it is a non starter as a replacement for oil based fuels, it's not even a candidate.

That's of course true of all fuels!

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From Wikipedia:

Insolation (from Latin insolare, to expose to the sun) is the total amount of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area during a given time.

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