this week CA governor candidate Ah-nold proclaimed that not only will there be "hundreds of thousands" of fuel cell vehicles on the roads of CA by the end of the decade, and NOT ONLY would there be fuel cell refueling stations for every 20 miles of roads but ... and this is the best part... he was going to put a fuel cell in his Hummer to make it eco-friendly.
Ah Arnold, poor simple Arnold. :rolleyes:
You could not be further from the truth.
First off Fuel Cells need hydrogen. And where does hydrogen come from? Right now the easiest and most viable option is natural gas. It must be extracted, in a costly process. We all know how expensive natural gas is and how much more expensive it will be. This begs the question - why not just run natural gas cars? Chemistry dictates that extracting hydrogen from anything, even natural gas is a dangerous and expensive process. Hydrogen is a "joiner" - it joins with everything and once in there doesn't want to leave. Compare that with helium which is an inert gas, and doesn't want to "join" with anything else. when you see h2 tanks on the space shuttle, notice the steam falling off it? that's cause the h2 is SUPERCOOLED to discourage voilitility. So you have a gas that is incredibly plentiful but incredibly difficult to isolate, and you have to store it FAR FAR below zero. And this is what's gonna power the nation's cars?
Not to mention the fact that once you get this hydrogen and its isolated... its VERY UNSTABLE. It loves to join with anything... and the slightest spark would turn the average 10 million dollar fuel cell fillup station into a speck in the dirt. That's why you see testers refilling wearing static discharge lab coats, cause a spark from your clothing could literally kill you during refueling.
Hey but these are just details right? don't want to distract the GOP from the idea that hydrogen fuel cells are the future...
face facts people, fuels cells are nothing but a hyped up impossibility that will never be economically viable, and all it does is buy time for the status quo. PERIOD. The fact that people will admit that a new energy technology is needed (like fuel cells) but at the same time not even think about putting in even the slightest of MPG caps should really tell the whole story. Its all about selling oil until they can't sell it anymore.
oh i almost forgot... Arnold's hummer? would require a fuel cell the size of a VW bug to fully power. Its a pipe dream, just like the rest of his wonderful sci-fi plan. Fuel cell vehicles must be light, aerodynamic and efficient for this whole equation to work. Fuel cell energy is not as powerful as traditional oil derived energy, and probably never will be.
The only way this whole thing can work is IF "someone" (who has no government budget of substance) can invent a cheap and safe way to extract h2 from some cheap substance like ionized water. Next someone (also working with no government budget) can invent a cheap and safe way to transport and supply this volitile supercooled H2 to fuel stations all over the nation?
in short FUEL CELLS ARE NOTHING BUT HYPE. They won't be here in a decade or two or three or ten. They will never be here, cause the logistics of the idea just can't work in reality.
i checked it out it looks like they have the right idea as far as systems goes but no one wants to deal with legitimate supply problems. Also they might get a million here or a million there but the amount of effort it would take to get real Fuel Cell Infrastructure Deployment in an automotive function would take an effort not seen since the Manhattan Project. There is no upside in taking natural gas and propane and extracting H2 from that. That is taking a fuel with a higher power potential and turning into a fuel with less power potential, at great expense and risk. Barring some sort of breakthrough involving water based H2 derivation, the economics of the situation will NEVER add up.