Hydrogen Fuel Cells - Not the future

Discussion in 'Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles' started by Leomon, Jan 18, 2021.

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  1. Leomon

    Leomon New Member

    Hey guys

    Saw some posts here and couldnt help myself but to comment.
    I am an electrical engineer and have done desktop studies on the efficiency of swamping existing diesel mine vehicles to equivalent electrical or Hydrogen Fuel cell operated vehicles.

    I have not studied hydrogen fuel cells directly, but understand the process enough that I think I can make some educated conclusions.

    Hydrogen is not the solution.

    Lets gets some misconception/misinformation corrected right away.

    1.Hydrogen is not a fuel, it is a storage medium.
    (hydrogen is not being burned as fuel, like petrol. It is being used to store energy.)
    2.Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles ARE electric vehicles.
    (Fuel cell vehicles use electricity as the "fuel" i.e. electric motors)

    Because Hydrogen fuel cells are also EVs, it is very easy to compare the efficiency vs traditional BEVs (battery electric vehicles)

    Lets compare the two technologies when they are supplies by the same source.


    The issue with hydrogen is the generation, compression, transportation and delivery.

    As you can see, it is NOT the solution for a green economy. Its marginally better than traditional ICE cars, but no where near battery electric vehicles because of the losses it occurs to reach the "pump"

    If our entire transportation system was switched to Hydrogen distirbution, it will still be horribly inefficient and waste alot of energy.

    Sure you dont get the re-fueling time but i think its a good tradeoff to all the negatives of re-fueling and transporting pure hydrogen.

    Plus with 600km range, that is all but sufficient for 90% of the commuters.
    The remaining 10% can still use gasoline or hydrids.

    It just doesnt make sense financially or energy wise to spend trillion to convert your existing petrol infrastructure to Hydrogen distribution when battery electric vehicles are SO MUCH more efficient to run.

    There certainly isnt a scam. But corporations have spent billions (toyota included) into Hydrogen Fuel Cell research. Its no surprise there is alot of misinformation out there as they need to recoup their investments. Its not a scam, but its not the solution either.

    There are some possible use cases of hydrogen fuel cell stations for industrial applications in remote areas. I've designed a propane fuel cell delivery system for primary power for a small site in a remote area. Hydrogen could have been used too, but propane was selected as it was more readily available. But that is neither here nor there.

    Let me know if you have any questions

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  3. gooki

    gooki Active Member

    For the remote fuel cell system, did you ever calculate the storage cost for hydrogen?
  4. Leomon

    Leomon New Member

    We did, but i dont remember the prices. The propane fuel cell had more availability and was available to the market earlier. Anyways its just energy storage, Hydrogen, propane, methane its all a storage medium using a SOFC (solid oxide fuel cell) type technology.

    The great byproduct of this tech is heat, which can be used to heat your remote enclosure.
  5. Recoil45

    Recoil45 Active Member

    Hydrogen can certainly be and has been burnt in combustion engines.

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  6. Leomon

    Leomon New Member

    Thats not fuel cell
    and hydrogen energy density as a fuel is very low. Gonna need a huge tank and huge cylinders.

    Anyways Hydrogen Combustion Engines are neither here nor there.
    And also doesnt solve the infrastructure inefficiency issue.
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  8. Recoil45

    Recoil45 Active Member

    Storage capacity is an issue in a car. But huge cylinders are not required. The BMW 7 ran just find on hydrogen with the same gas engine. Made the same power on both fuel types.

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  9. Leomon

    Leomon New Member

    Huge cylinders or severely reduced power

    "The car is powered by a 6.0 litre V12 engine capable of running on both premium gasoline and hydrogen fuel. It is rated at 191-kilowatt (260 PS; 256 hp) and 390 N⋅m (290 lb⋅ft) of torque using either fuel. The car accelerates from stopped to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.5 seconds."

    V12 engine making 256hp wow!
  10. Recoil45

    Recoil45 Active Member

    You missed the point that it makes the same power on either fuel. It is also a 16 year old smallish 6L engine. But I get it, you just hate combustion engines because you were told to do so.

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  11. Leomon

    Leomon New Member

    The point is that a 6.0L V12 petrol only engine does not make 256hp.

    Obviously the ICE engine has had modifications made to it so it could accept both fuels.

    To give you a comparison a twin turbo V12 6.0L Petrol Only engine makes 560hp and 664lbft
    or a NA version of the BMW N73 6.0L V12 makes 453hp and 531lbft

    And no I dont hate combustion engines

    I myself own a 3.3L V6 Twin Turbo and I love it. Lots of low end torque.

    The point im making is that hydrogen energy density makes cars so much slower that the public wouldnt accept it. Especially with trillions needed for new infrastructure.

    The reality is BEVs are here to stay, and FCEVs or Hydrogen ICE engines have no place.
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  13. ericy

    ericy Well-Known Member

    The other problem with hydrogen combustion is that you still have issue of NOx emissions, which forces you to add pollution control equipment.
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  14. oophus

    oophus New Member

    The premise of this (the illustration) is wrong. It will always be preferable to utilize energy directly, but in a scenario where we will exchange out fossil energy with renewable energy, you have to calculate the most efficient system for stored energy as well. Hydrogen is just one of many ways of storing energy, but hydrogen's benefit is its a sector coupler. To remove CO2 from steel, glass, cement, fertilizer etc you need hydrogen anyway. That's why Green Hydrogen is included in any serious "Green Deal" futures energy modeling.

    20% of current energy usage today is through electrons. The rest (80%) is coming through fossil energy and heat. Out of those 20% in EU, there is around (some times) 50% that is from Renewable Energy (RE). Last year Germany curtailed GWh's of power already at this point, so we have to be more effective in the way we utilize RE going forward.

    Green Hydrogen will be one of many systems to do this, and once its stored as hydrogen, its more efficient to use it directly in a Fuel Cell, than to get it back to electricity and funnel the energy through the grid to charge up a BEV. Although this will in fact happen some times. The motorsport Extreme-E for example, which will be driven by BEV's will be charged up by H2. They will arrive to remove areas (Deserts, Greenland etc) to insert Pv farms a few weeks beforehand. This power will be stored through H2. Storing energy in batteries in 40 degrees or -20 degrees won't work, and will cost too much, so containerized electrolyzers to H2 is the solution. That hydrogen is then being used through a Fuel Cell, which is then giving power to BE infrastructure. This is basically a micro-grid, and something companies like Anglo America is looking at doing for their mines.

    In any case. If the OP wants to calculate efficiencies, he have to start with energy that don't find direct demand. No electrolyzer will be ran to a point where the grids frequency falls down dangerously low. The point of them, and how they receive cheap PPA's and RE deals is because their demand is adjustable without problems. An energy mix consisting of fossil energy and RE will see prices fall when RE increases, and prices increase when fossil increases. Electrolyzers will increase demand when RE is increasing, and shut down demand when fossil energy makes the prices increase. In some cases, some H2-Hubs will have SOEC and PEM equipment to also offer backup power towards the grids for cheaper electricity deals. That means that when RE is coming to a complete stop, and the grid struggles, the electrolysers can be ran in reverse. SOEC and SOFC for H2 production and backup power is 90% efficient. Even more if they utilize the heat towards agriculture, or district heating for example.

    In effect, that means that RE can suddenly give a pricing on elsewhere curtailed energy. If a RE producer have a H2-Hub between it self and the nearest inverter bottleneck in the grid, it can scale RE to fit both value-chains.


    Nearby grid have room for 100MW of peak power for export.
    • Without H2 you end up with a RE system of around 120-130MW. 20-30% curtailed energy is designed in to increase the amount of time you export out max 100MW throughout the day for PV and night for wind.
    • With H2 you end up looking at the value chain of Power-To-X (Hydrogen) and scale your system based on both the grid (100MW) and the demand for hydrogen. If the demand for hydrogen is annually 100MW, then you scale the system to be 230MW.
    • Meaning RE in it self is more efficient per volume of RE generation with H2 than without, as its cheaper to connect more PV or wind to current farms than to start over on the next side of the grid bottlenecks.
    Another effect of this, is that RE is often placed in the opposite side of how previous fossil generation was. That means RE is placed on the outer edges of our current grids. On locations where grid-constraints are biggest. Hydrogen production linked to new and old RE projects will add a point of demand on those locations. Which means that RE+H2 which is energy that can be shipped in bulk (on road or through ocean/water) can more easily scale up. As the scale of RE and H2 demand grows, the more local demand you get on that site. This means that finding investors to upgrade the grid towards that location is easier to find, since an HVDC cable to that site, means that energy can flow both ways. The utilization of that cable increases, and is thus payed off way faster.

    Power-to-X through hydrogen, is a helping hand for RE producers. And thats why you see companies like Hanwha, Ørsted, Siemens, Vestas etc all looking at Green Hydrogen, and investing into it.

    TLDR: BEV's and FCEV's will co-exists. BEV's are best for direct electrification, where energy can flow directly to it when its produced, while FCEV's are better when you include stored energy, especially as you include temperature and time from energy produced to when its utilized.
  15. Leomon

    Leomon New Member

    Your SOFC is 90% only when it receives compressed hydrogen already. You have not factored in the energy cost to make Compressed Hydrogen.

    REs dont need to co-exist with H2. REs can directly store into station batteries during times of low demand.
    Any argument you have for energy storage, batteries are superior. Every place where you have stated H2 storage can be replaced with Battery storage and be functionally equivalent if not better.

    The only use case, I have seen so far is remote power applications where an electrical infrastructure doesnt exist.
    I have designed a SOFC system which utilizes propane with the byproduct of heat which can be used for the enclosure. Because lets be honest, access to Hydrogen is not as readily available and expensive. Propane was preferred in this case.

    And by the way, none of the examples of your hybrid RE+H2 usages address the issues with Hydrogen itself.

    There is minimal hydrogen infrastructure, hydrogen has an invisible flame, and is compressed. Shipping and storage hazards have not been addressed.

    Infact they shut down the hydrogen re-fuelling stations in Norway due to an explosion.

    So why hydrogen, why not methane, propane fuel cells. Yeah sure u can eliminate "tail pipe" emissions but are losing so much efficiency and cost by having to build our a separate infrastructure and manufacture Hydrogen fuel is hardly worth it. Removing "tail pipe" emissions is just "marketting" as so much energy is lost through the process.

    You havent addressed any of these issues. And RE direct to battery storage or to utilities is still way more efficient to Hydrogen storage.
    To have on-site hydrogen storage, you still need a hydrogen plant to create and pressurize the fuel. Rather then send it directly to battery storage.

    H2 storage solutions LOSE big time in accessible areas. Really remote and cold areas, you would have to perform equipment lifetime amortization costs, but i still think Battery storage solutions come out on top.

    Also FCEVs are dead.
    Toyota is now abandoning it and moving to BEV. The chapter for FCEVs have closed.

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