Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby Smurf1976 » Tue Nov 26, 2013 8:39 am

Whilst a diesel engine running at a steady speed and load (eg a diesel power station or a ship's engine) can have reasonably high efficiency, for a petrol engine in a normal car is' pretty low - in the low 20's % efficiency typically.

Part of that relates to the engine itself but quite a bit also relates to the constantly varying load and speed it is subjected to. Note the improvement in fuel efficiency of most cars when cruising on the highway at a steady speed versus typical driving. With revs going from 700 - 4000 RPM in a typical 4 cylinder car (depends on how you drive it of course) and power output all over the place that's not conducive to good efficiency.

A fuel cell should be around 60% efficient as such, so 2.5 to 3 times that of a "real world" petrol engine with the added bonus that the fuel cell can run at a constant load since it's just supplying charge to an electric car. Sitting in traffic? No worries, the fuel cell continues running and charges the batteries. Accelerating up hill? The batteries are being discharged. So the fuel cell itself becomes a simple "on or off" situation, always running at optimum output.

The second aspect is that an electric car is itself more efficient than a petrol one. Taking the Mitsubishi i-miev as an example, it has a rated power use of 0.135 kWh / km. Now, there's about 10 kWh in just one litre of petrol, so this car has the equivalent of a petrol use of about 1.4 litres / 100 km which is massively more efficient than any petrol engined car you can buy. That figure does, of course, ignore energy losses at power stations etc.

So my overall thought is that you have an electric car which is itself far more energy efficient. Then you supply power either from the grid (or solar etc) or via the fuel cell, with the latter also being a relatively efficient source of power compared to an engine.

As for the life expectancy etc, it comes down to fuel cells not being a fully developed technology versus over a century of development for internal combustion engines. Most things are relatively unreliable when they are new - I can certainly remember that when I was a child, cars needed a lot more maintenance than a modern vehicle does. It certainly wasn't uncommon that someone had a car break down and there were a lot more mechanical workshops around back then as a result. Maintaining cars was a far more significant activity back then than it is today. But these days, people just get the car serviced every 6 months and actual breakdowns are relatively uncommon.

The same goes for most things. Even things like TV's and early VHS machines were relatively unreliable compared to later models. Much the same could be said for just about everything. If you were to name the single largest improvement in cars and other machinery over the past 40 years then it's not speed or on-road performance but refinement. These days, it just works whereas that didn't really used to be the case.

Give fuel cell technology a while and some serious funding and it will likely get to the same point and be fairly durable.

As for recycling the batteries etc, well that's something I really don't know anything about. But something I've noted before is that "all power pollutes". All we really get to choose is the form and location of pollution, but there's no energy extraction or storage technology that doesn't have some sort of impact on something.
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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:46 am

Something I'd have a go at myself, if I had any money to do it, would be build an electric vehicle with a LiFePO4 battery and small turbo diesel connected to a ~10kW generator as a range extender. As Smurf mentioned above small constant rev diesels are a lot more efficient than petrol engines operating over a wide range of RPM. I think the above will/should become available before we see any fuel cell technology in cars.

Smurf1976 wrote:... these days, people just get the car serviced every 6 months and actual breakdowns are relatively uncommon.


Unless they own a Peugeot (I do, we call it "The Poo") or Jaguar (I believe you should always buy 2- one for spare parts!) ;)
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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby conklinc » Thu Nov 28, 2013 11:42 am

Gordon, I'm with you here. I've got a '99 Camry 2.2 litre four banger on LPG. I got it with 76,000 km on it which is less than 50,000 miles. I'm getting a paltry 17 mpg/13.84 l/100 kms) HORRIBLE! :cry: I've heard that LPG has up to 30% less energy than petrol. The same car Stateside gets 29/32 mpg city/highway. So, it should get at least 20 mpg (11.76 l/per 100 km) In the States I used to hypermile using a 1.5 litre Toyota Tercel, so I'm not a speed demon with the pedal to the metal.

Off topic here, so I'll say this: You can see why I'm so keen on the i=MiEV!

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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:20 pm

The Poo is pretty good on diesel, I can get 5l/100km on long trips to Sydney or Brisbane etc from it when driving near the speed limit. Although the economy is great, the downside is the number of times it comes to a stop, sometimes needing a tow, due to the engine management/anti-pollution electronics, or some other random part falling off or failing.
If only someone would make an affordable efficient yet powerful car that was reliable...
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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby conklinc » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:27 pm

Gordon,

"affordable efficient yet powerful car that was reliable"

Hmmmnn. At least three oxymorons in that one! :lol:

What is the thing behind wanting a powerful car?

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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:31 pm

Powerful as in powerful enough for safe overtaking, and for towing a trailer full of chook feed up hills at a reasonable speed. Not powerful as in tyre smoking muscle car! ;)
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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby conklinc » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:01 pm

Okay, all is forgiven. ;) What you really need is a ute! OTH, EV's do have lots of torque!

Your statement reminded me of a quote often regurgitated by bike shop owners . . .

Cheap, strong, light . . . pick any two.

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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:12 pm

conklinc wrote:Cheap, strong, light . . . pick any two.


Indeed it is oft-repeated in cycling circles. I went for the latter 2 with my mountain bikes :)
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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby Smurf1976 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:14 pm

conklinc wrote: I've heard that LPG has up to 30% less energy than petrol.

That's pretty close to spot on.

LPG does have a higher octane however, so a dedicated LPG engine could be built with higher compression and efficiency than a petrol engine. That's only practical for dedicated LPG however. You can run a lower compression (petrol) engine on LPG just fine, but it doesn't work the other way (well, not unless you get some seriously high octane petrol from somewhere).

So part of the issue with LPG conversions, is that they are simply a fuel conversion as such. In most cases no effort is made to take advantage of the potential to use a higher compression ratio with LPG which would improve fuel economy.
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Re: Hydrogen powered cars in CA next year

Postby conklinc » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:21 pm

I pay 69.9 cents a litre for LPG. On the cheap days I can get 91 octane for $1.339 a litre. Roughly half price. I guess I shouldn't complain about 17 mpg/13.8 l/100 km.

It's just the principle of the thing though. Obviously, cheap fuel and good efficiency are oxymorons . . . Unless you're Kurt up in QLD, with an i-MiEV and a rack of solar panels. :)

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