Friday, April 1, 2016

Fuel Cell Car Trumps Tesla's Vision

2016 Toyota Mirai Furl Cell Vehicle
Hydrogen-powered cars are far from being accessible to customers because of the great costs involved around this technology, but many people see the fuel-cell path as more environmentally friendly than electric batteries. While much attention has been focused on electric cars and companies like Tesla we should not write the idea of hydrogen-powered automobiles off just yet. It may come as news to many people, but the Japanese Government is moving in the direction of reducing tailpipe emissions by building more hydrogen stations that will support the fuel-cell cars trend.

Overall Japan can be viewed is a strong believer in the hydrogen trend and is aiming to further support the expansion of such green vehicles as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while and at the same time diversify energy sources. Currently, there are around 400 fuel-cell vehicles and about 80 hydrogen stations either operating or soon to operate in Japan according to a report by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. The Japanese government has a mid-term goal of having 40,000 hydrogen-powered cars on its roads by the end of the decade and its long-term strategy has a target of 800,000 vehicles on the road  by 2030. To back up such an expansion the country knows it will have to ramp up the pace at which it builds refueling stations, plans are in the works to increase the number of hydrogen stations to 160 by the time the fiscal year ends in March 2021 and to double them again in the following five years.

Among the automakers which are trying to bring this technology closer to customers, Honda, Toyota and Hyundai are leading the efforts in fuel-cell development. Honda recently announced the start of sales in Japan for its new 750 km range Clarity Fuel Cell which has an entry price tag of  $67,445 and has a goal to sell around 200 units this year. They expect these vehicles will be mainly leased to businesses and local governments. Honda is also in talks with General Motors over how to manufacture and procure parts for hydrogen fuel cell stacks as part of their technology development partnership. It should be noted all major car manufacturers are hard at work looking into this technology.

In the end, fuel cell cars may well derail Tesla's vision of a world where its battery-powered vehicles fill our roadways. Currently it is lithium-ion battery technology that powers Tesla’s electric vehicles. It could be argued that Tesla could do a "switch-a-roo" and simply change out its power source from battery power to fuel cells, they are investing billions in batteries that may soon fall from grace.  While not getting the attention Tesla has garnered it should be noted that most automakers have placed fuel cell electric vehicles with customers, and many plan to introduce a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle better known as an FCEV to the early commercial market over the next year or so. By 2020, automakers expect to place tens of thousands of fuel cell electric vehicles in the hands of California consumers.

To clarify, a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle powered by a group of individual fuel cells, known as a fuel cell stack is still an electric vehicle. The stack is designed to contain enough cells to provide the necessary power for the automotive application. A fuel cell stack produces power as long as fuel is available, similar to a combustion engine. The electricity generated by the fuel cell stack powers the electric motor that propels the vehicle.  Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a continuous source of fuel and oxygen or air to sustain the chemical reaction, whereas in a battery the chemicals present in the battery react with each other to generate an electromotive force. Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously for as long as these inputs are supplied.

Adoption of the fuel cell as the most desirable way to power not only vehicles but other power hungry devices would be a big setback for Tesla because the company has invested a huge five billion dollars in a new battery factory. The company has placed a big bet on a lithium-ion battery cell “Gigafactory” taking shape just outside Reno, Nevada. The building’s current footprint is 800,000 square feet and rapidly growing, in the end, it will be much larger. Tesla hopes to be producing 500,000 electric cars per year by 2020 powered with batteries from this plant and is largely relying on the economies of scale offered by this huge factory to sell cars at the lower prices that can generate those sales volumes. If fuel cells rule the day this would spell big problems for Tesla.


  Footnote;  Your comments are welcome and encouraged. If you have time check out the archives for other post that may be of interest to you. Below is another post related to this subject,
 http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2016/02/tesla-so-much-attention-so-few-cars.html






  • Operating times are much longer than with batteries, since doubling the operating time needs only doubling the amount of fuel and not the doubling of the capacity of the unit itself.
  • Unlike batteries, fuel cells have no "memory effect" when they are getting refuelled.
  • - See more at: http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/about-fuel-cells/benefits#sthash.BLH8ycNd.dpuf
    The problem with conventional batteries is that they rely on electrochemistry that dates to the late 18th century, and they have some severe limitations. Most notably, once the supply of chemicals inside the battery has finished reacting, the battery goes dead. You must either connect it to a charger plugged into the wall socket or throw it away-preferably in the recycle bin because of toxic ingredients like cadmium and mercury. And batteries aren’t likely to get much better
    The problem with conventional batteries is that they rely on electrochemistry that dates to the late 18th century, and they have some severe limitations. Most notably, once the supply of chemicals inside the battery has finished reacting, the battery goes dead. You must either connect it to a charger plugged into the wall socket or throw it away-preferably in the recycle bin because of toxic ingredients like cadmium and mercury. And batteries aren’t likely to get much better

    The problem with conventional batteries is that they rely on electrochemistry that dates to the late 18th century, and they have some severe limitations. Most notably, once the supply of chemicals inside the battery has finished reacting, the battery goes dead. You must either connect it to a charger plugged into the wall socket or throw it away-preferably in the recycle bin because of toxic ingredients like cadmium and mercury. And batteries aren’t likely to get much better;






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