Friday, December 16, 2016

Hydrogen versus battery powered cars

There are still some folks who think hydrogen powered vehicles are a viable alternative to battery powered vehicles. I thought so too, until I did some research. I took the time to assemble the list of pros and cons for each option.

Electricity infrastructure everywhere
More efficient use of energy, resulting in better fuel economy (mpge)
Can pre-heat/cool cabin while charging to save battery power
More vehicle choices so far
Adding 5 superchargers costs $250,000
Running cost of electricity for 500 km trip is $10
Best well-to-wheels GHG emissions

Refuel takes 6+ hours, best case 30-40 minutes using supercharger
Battery manufacturing has big environmental footprint, needs lithium
Batteries are heavier than hydrogen storage
Best range is 400 km (Tesla), but average is still 150 km
Battery life still not great, maybe 5-8 years, then needs replacing at high cost

Better range than most battery powered cars (Honda Clarity 640 km)
Refuel in 3 minutes
Hydrogen storage weighs less than batteries

Hydrogen infrastructure yet to be built, will take decades to complete
Running cost of hydrogen for 500 km trip is more ($30)
Adding hydrogen pump to gas station would cost $1.5 million
Need energy (and water) just to make hydrogen, transport it, then store in car, then convert back to energy - half as efficient
Can't tell when it's leaking
Hydrogen is extremely flammable and burns with an invisible flame
Fuel cells have shorter lifespan than batteries, contrary to expectations

So the issue in a nutshell, is that the hydrogen option is way too inefficient, dangerous, and the infrastructure can't be ready for a long time. Meanwhile, batteries are here, they're getting better and cheaper all the time, and we can put the output of solar and wind right into them, in our cars.

Now if only we could get them to charge faster.........

No comments: