Evolution of Hydrogen Fueled Vehicles

As we all know fuel cell vehicles are undergoing extensive research and development because of their high potential. The big drawback is that these vehicles remain expensive and there isn’t a high demand for hydrogen at the moment. To try and accelerate the development of a ‘hydrogen economy’, car manufacturers have been working on a hydrogenfueled internal combustion engine as an intermediate step.

To really get an idea of the possibilities that can be established in the future look at the graph below. You can see that both gasoline – and flex fueled hybrids are almost at their highest efficiency possible. Diesel engines can still be increased by 2%, over a period of around 40 years, if car manufacturers are still willing to invest a lot of money in this ‘old’ technology is another question. But if you look at the potential of hydrogen, you can see that the efficiency can still be improved by around 20%, which is huge!

Schermafbeelding 2013-01-24 om 15.54.55

As we all know the biggest problem of the hydrogen technology is it’s price. The figure below shows the peak efficiencies of the hydrogen system and it’s corresponding cost. The peak efficiency is around 55% and can be increased to 60% by 2015. This value of 60% has already been established and can be implemented in vehicles soon. The peak efficiency will not change in the future, the most research will be focused on reducing the high cost.  The costs are projected to be reduced from $108/kW at the moment to around $45/kW in 2030.

Schermafbeelding 2013-01-24 om 16.04.44

Another very important aspect of reducing the price of an hydrogen powered vehicle is getting the price of the electric motor and controller down, these power electronics are very expensive at the moment. There is a lot of research going on to get these prices down and the figure below shows how the cost will evolve in the future.

Schermafbeelding 2013-01-24 om 16.15.48

Do you think that a hydrogen powered vehicle, has what it takes to become the new standard in energy applications? Everybody is talking about fully electric powered vehicles in the future, but what they don’t know is that there is a very limited supply of rare earth minerals to make the expensive lithium-ion batteries…

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  1. 31/01/2013 at 09:56

    If I read this post I’m totally in for this hydrogen technology. The question is how critical these graphs are because I don’t think there is anybody who would say “no” to this if he/she reads this post. But if it is really true of course I can’t wait till it’s on its maximum capacity.

    My question to you now: Are there also some disadvantages you think of? In your thesis work you have been doing by now, are there some critics of you on this hydrogen fuel?

  2. visualrecognition
    11/02/2013 at 14:51

    I think the problem is the energy itself. Whatever, electricity or hydrogen, they are only the carrier of energy. As you said, for producing battery, we need a lot of mine which is limited underground. So, I will prefer hydrogen if we have enough energy to produce it.

  3. michaeltijskens
    03/03/2013 at 18:08

    Yes that is true, but it is a known fact that hydrogen technology still has great potential.
    During our thesis and on different forum’s we come in contact with many sceptical people towards our product. Many don’t believe that this technology works properly.

    But this is normal, since every new technology has people doubting it.

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