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Science Technology

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Hit the Road 530

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the tough-finding-a-fueling-station dept.
caffeined writes "Well, it looks like Honda is doing a real test of their fuel-cell car. A family in California is renting the car for $500/mo. Honda is charging them so that they take it seriously - an executive explained that if it were free they might not get the kind of feedback they want. If someone is paying for something and they're not happy - then you're going to hear about it. This is apparently the first fuel-cell car on the road anywhere in the world, according to Honda."
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Hydrogen Fuel Cells Hit the Road

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  • Nice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:03PM (#13933742) Homepage Journal

    They need to try this in more than warm, sunny southern California. My sister has a Prius and loves it, though the battery sometimes doesn't respond well to being parked outside overnight in sub-zero. You also have to wonder what cumulative effect road salt ions will play. Seems the ions in the sea air in California like my 12v battery a lot, I do wonder how hybrids are doing with their higher voltage.

    Still, it's promising. I wished they gave us a little tip off on how the trial is going rather than all the peripheral issues, but I suppose Honda wants to keep as much of that confidential as possible.

  • by Keyslapper (852034) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:05PM (#13933763)
    According to the article, most manufacturers are still up in the air about this technology. Only Ford is bullish, and believe they will be in the open market by 2010. If they can avoid bankruptcy.

    It would certainly be nice, but I do think 2010 is a bit soon.
  • Re:Sign me up! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GungaDan (195739) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:11PM (#13933832) Homepage
    You should not have to modify a reasonably modern diesel engine to run biodiesel. Volkswagon's TDI engine can run straight biodiesel (or a blend of bio and petro, which is MUCH more commonly available) straight from the factory. If they put that engine in a Cabrio from the mid to late 90s, it should burn biodiesel just fine with no mods. The hard part is finding the reasonably-priced VW TDI...

  • by Keyslapper (852034) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:26PM (#13933985)
    That it may be, but that doesn't mean they'll have it by 2010. I'd be surprised to see them in the dealer lots by 2015. 2020 might even be wishful thinking.

    There's too much money to be made in Oil, and no matter what anyone says, the profit potential for Hydrogen - or any alternative fuel type for that matter - is just too big an unknown for any company focused on the bottom line to be bothered. The only exceptions are essentially glorified skunkworks projects or "We're doing that too" soundbyte generators.

    GM is basically fighting bankruptcy, but they claim to be shooting for 2010? That's a soundbyte. Everyone who cares about the environment is supposed to hear this and declare undying devotion to their noble goals, and of course, support GM by buying only GM until these wonderful new Panaceas start rolling off the lots.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd seriously LOVE to be proven wrong, but I don't see the broader picture centering on alternative fuel sources. That's just distraction from drilling the Arctic and the war in Iraq. It's a classic case of the tail wagging the dog, and GM is only trying to use it to survive the next decade.
  • by pvt_medic (715692) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:30PM (#13934031)
    Well the fun thing is that car companies are suppose to provide safety information to fire dept about these new cars. All the companies have made pledges to train and provide information to fire dept across the country of how to properly handle the new hybrid cars. (info is available on their websites, but they also are offering training classes) Its not so much the crash and burn that is the risk, but the crash and you have someone trapped in side. Cutting appart a car with such high voltage running through it is dangerous to the victim and the rescuer. Being on a fire dept, myself I am still waiting to get the training the car companies have promised.
  • Speaking of air... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LeonGeeste (917243) * on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:33PM (#13934073) Journal
    How come no one's trying to develop an air car? That is, you store the energy in compressed air. You could charge it with any kind of electricity, and no pollution would be emitted from the car while driving. Google "air car". The efficiency (ratio of output mechanical energy to stored energy) would be much higher, and because you just plug it in to recharge, the energy is much cheaper. All technology is already available except you may need a stronger tank for bigger loads.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:39PM (#13934129)
    According to the Financial Times on Jul6th this year Platinum is an essential catalyst for Hydrogen Fuel Cells and there is only enough Platinum left on and in Earth for a 10 year Hydrogen car economy.
    Ft article :
    http://news.ft.com/cms/s/97b0b9ce-edbb-11d9-9ff5-0 0000e2511c8.html [ft.com]

    Sure current Fuel cells require a lot and advancements in the technology may reduce the amount needed but this will just spin it out a bit - it will only be decades at the most.
    So we will have to change everything again if Hydrogen is adopted.
    Why not Biodiesel? A Carbon Neutral technology that requires little change to the current Infrastructure and will work with current Diesel engines.
    Hydrogen for cars is clearly a dead duck, why then is it being foisted upon us ?
  • Re:Sign me up! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:45PM (#13934193) Homepage Journal
    Diesel's release more Carbons per gallon then Gas. But Diesel engines are a good deal more efficient then and can provide greater power at a lower rate of consumption. So at the end of the day the amount of carbons released from a Golf TDI will be lower then that of a Honda Accord.

    -Rick
  • Re:Nice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lazlo (15906) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @02:06PM (#13934400) Homepage
    I actually do get the joke, but I feel it's worthwhile to point out that fuel cells combine hydrogen with oxygen to produce power and water. My understanding is that in cold temperatures, that water freezes and does nasty things to fuel cells. IIRC, Honda is one of the few companies to have produced a viable sub-zero fuel cell car.

    Still funny to think "maybe they should road test this on Pluto, to see what happens if the fuel freezes..."
  • by jangobongo (812593) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @02:33PM (#13934640)
    According to this article [boston.com] I read last Monday, Honda is already on its fifth iteration of FCX's. It's considered to be the most advanced hydrogen-fueled vehicle developed thus far by any motor company.

    Some other tidbits in this article:

    - the car has an ultra capacitor -- a non-chemical ''battery" that injects electrical power when demand is high. The ultra capacitor sets Honda apart from rivals.

    - the hydrogen fueling plant in Pomona uses solar energy to produce hydrogen

    - the car in the above story is not "the first fuel-cell car on the road anywhere in the world", just the first leased to a family for everyday use.

    - the car weighs two tons(!)

  • by thebigmacd (545973) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @05:04PM (#13935949)
    Nuclear power plant employees would never be able to work in a coal plant, because the radiation dose from working in a coal plant is higher than the maximum allowed in a nuclear plant.

    They say that if you ground up all the waste from a nuclear plant and blew it into the air as dust, the overall radioactive discharge would be less than a coal plant.

    Pretty scary.
  • marketing stunt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 2ms (232331) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @05:14PM (#13936023)
    Honda is one of the companies furthest behind in fuel cell technology among the majors. For example, DaimlerChrysler (really just Mercedes back then), has had fuel-cell buses for sale to European customers since late in 2000. These days, GM seems to be the furthest ahead.

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. -- Frederick Crane

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