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Always believed that the best use of Fuel Cell Tech is long range transportation. The Buxtehude–Bremervörde–Bremerhaven–Cuxhaven train can complete a 500 mile (800 kilometer) journey on a full tank of hydrogen, which is enough for one day according to Alstom. It operates 24 hours a day during the work week. In the US most rail networks are non-electrified, so the use of FC trains would reduce the large expense to electrify these networks. Low noise, zero pollution 90 mph trains may be a better solution than High Speed Rail in many parts of the US (which is the focus of the Alston train). FC tech can have a major impact on transportation in the areas of long range transport such as inter-city rail and trucks, even short haul air transport, e.g. helicopters.
This is a 200 km range BEV with life cycle costs equivalent to a diesel bus. The Aptis can be recharged in two different modes. The first method recharges batteries overnight using a standard connector (the full battery recharge takes about 6 hours). The other solution can be formed by an Alstom SRS solution (a ground-based static charging system) or from a toppled pantograph, which takes about 5 minutes for charging, equivalent to the time of a short break of drivers - Reference: http://www.autobusweb.com/alstom-ed-ntl-hanno-presentato-lautobus-elettrico-per-stif-e-ratp/.
Today 95% of H2 production is by Fossil Fuel Steam Reformation, predominately Steam Methane Reformation (SMR). However this is a high temperature (up to 900 degrees C) large scale process. The Tokyo Gas System does use an SMR with Selective Oxidation Catalyst @ 650 degrees Centigrade (Ga Tech is at 400 degrees). See http://www.tokyo-gas.co.jp/techno/english/menu3/3_index_detail.html. Also, it does not have Carbon Capture, though it is a Combined Heat and Power System. The Ga Tech SMR Process appears to use a K2CO3-promoted hydrotalcite material as the CO2 sorbent. The adsorbent can be regenerated or reused (reference: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/suppl/10.1021/acs.iecr.6b04392). Linde Engineering has solutions for handling CO2 Removal and could partner for sequestering or reusing the CO2. The Ga Tech SMR Process looks like a possible solution to a distributed H2 system that could either efficiently supply FCEV at a cost half that of Electrolysis systems or produce distributed FC electricity to backup Renewable Electric Generation. It would also be virtually CO2 free and could provide Carbon Capture (CCS) at a cost significantly less than Coal CCS or other large scale CCS systems.
This is one area where Fuel Cells make sense and are already being widely used. This will also build up the Toyota Fuel Cell manufacturing base and is directly applicable to other areas like FC Range Extenders or utility systems. Warehouse operations are large energy users. Energy typically accounts for 15 percent of a non-refrigerated warehouse’s operating budget, but in refrigerated warehouses, refrigeration accounts for 60 percent of the electricity used. Companies like Sysco Foods has converted many of their warehouses to Solar Energy and are already using H2 FC forklifts. Warehouse Fork Lift use does not have to worry about infrastructure since refueling is done in-house. Also, warehouse operations are 24 x 7 and downtime to recharge batteries can be costly. Even the automated warehouse system that Amazon uses requires 5 minutes per hour to recharge. Autonomous Forklift Automatic Guided Fuel Cell Powered Vehicles are not a future concept, they are an economic reality today. Except the current FC Forklift companies (PlugPower, Oorja, Nuvera, etc.) may not like the competition.
It appears that it is in Japan. A recent review can be found in http://autoc-one.jp/nissan/note/whichone-3002463/0002.html (Japanese). From the article, JC 08 mode fuel consumption for the Nissan is 37.2 km / L which is the same as Prius (called an Aqua in Japan). The price of the Nissan e-POWER · X is 1,959,120 yen. Aqua S is 1,991,635 yen, almost the same. The article declared the Nissan Note e-Power the overall winner.
Large ocean going vessels probably will not be returning to wind power. However, autonomous warships like the Sea Hunter might be a good candidate. Particularly, if they look like Victorien Erussard's Energy Observer (http://www.energy-observer.org/) which uses Wind, Solar, and Hydrogen.
True all solid electrolytes have low ionic conductivity compared to to organic liquid electrolytes. However, it still looks like this problem could be resolved. Check "Review—Solid Electrolytes in Rechargeable Electrochemical Cells", John B. Goodenough*,z and Preetam Singh, Journal of Electrochemical Society, 2015 volume 162, issue 14, A2387-A2392, doi: 10.1149/2.0021514jes (or http://jes.ecsdl.org/content/162/14/A2387.full).
Actually Lead Acid batteries have changed quite a lot since Gaston Plante's original design in 1859. The sealed lead acid emerged in the 1970's and the most common are gel, also known as valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA), and absorbent glass mat (AGM). The Firefly Carbon Foam VRLA AGM GEL battery was invented in 2000 at Caterpillar and extended Lead Acid Battery life greatly. The Ultra Battery was developed by CSIRO in Australia, its key feature is the combination of the high-performance carbon ultracapacitor with the lead-negative electrode. The only thing that cannot change is the maximum energy density of the Lead-Sulfuric Acid chemistry which could exceed 167 W-hrs/kg though is typically 30-40 W-hrs/kg.
This does appear to be important research (If you would like additional information check https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/06/f32/es278_wachsman_2016_p_web.pdf) This is next generation battery tech and it has been reviewed by both Goodenough and Dunn. It takes some time before Material Science develops into commercial products. Dr. Goodenough LiCO cathode was patented in 1980 and Sony introduced the batteries in 1991. There are many companies that are looking into Solid state and Lithium-Sulfur batteries, e.g. Dyson, BASF, and many others. Interesting to note that Sony is no longer in the battery business even though they invented the first generation battery. The Huawei research is interesting too since it involves Graphene. Fisker Nanotech claims their EV batteries will use Graphene. The 2018 EV batteries are already in production, might put some in my future E-Bike (check out BMZ 3Tron battery system that uses Samsung 21700 batteries. These are planned for the Lucid Motors Air EV (Tesla will use a Panasonic version).
A few more details. These same authors: Braga, Murchison, etc, are involved in PATHION work to develop LiRAP-based solid-state electrolytes for Li-sulfur and sodium-ion batteries (see http://www.greencarcongress.com/2015/04/20150428-pathion.html). The earlier paper uses a Li3ClO-based glass electrolyte. The PATHION web site points out that a lithium-sulfur battery could achieve specific energy levels up to 800 Wh/kg. The Li3ClO-based glass electrolyte could be used with current cathode technology (NCA or NMC based) to achieve 300-400 Wh/kg cell level energy densities with Lithium anodes for the next generation batteries in the 2020 timeframe.
In reading this in more detail, Dr. Goodenough is not only rethinking the metal anode with a glass electrolyte, but also the cathode. I could not get free access to this paper, however in another article with open access (Goodenough, "Batteries and a Sustainable Modern Society", Electrochem. Soc. Interface Fall 2016 volume 25, issue 3, 67-70, doi: 10.1149/2.F05163if), Dr.Goodenough discusses a cathode architecture that confines the charged Sulfur (S8) particles in mesoporous conductive fibers. Basically an all-solid-state cell with the glass electrolyte, a metallic-lithium anode, and a sulfur relay embedded in a carbon/glass mix on a copper current collector plates which is the strategy in this paper. This approach if successful would lead to low cost, long cycle life energy storage.
FCEV becomes practical when you require 2000 kWh like the Nikola Motors truck has planned. This is beyond today's BEV technology, though it is attainable in a range extended FCEV. The real limitation for FCEV will always be infrastructure and Nikola Motors has a plan (less than 400 H2 refueling sites would be required for the USA). Intercity FCEV Buses would also be an option. A 120 mph, autonomous bus traveling in special highway lanes could be an alternative to rapid rail.
@Henrik, You are correct 2018 technology is already in production. This technology is really for the 2022 time frame or later. This is also about the Anode and Electrolyte where as I pointed out was the flaw in Dr. Whitacre's study which only focused on the Cathode. Dr. Goodenough (who is still a great researcher, contributed with actually making Lithium Ion batteries practical) has included Sodium metal anodes as well (the area of his current research). Lucid will make an announcement this week about their 2018 car. It should be interesting. The Samsung SDI 21700 battery has a long life > 4000 cycles (check their website) and Lucid has technology to handle repeated high energy charges and repeated high performance runs based on their Formula E battery. Again no one knows what battery technology will look like in 2022, 6 years is still a long way off.
Two things you need to know about this study. 1) It is written by Jay Whitacre, who is the Chief Scientist and Founder of Aquion Energy that makes a low tech, Sodium Ion Saltwater battery that costs more than $250/kWh that is competing with Tesla and Fluidic Energy (Zinc Air) and are already beating Aquion on price and performance. 2) It is only evaluating Cathode chemistry (LMO, NCA and NMC). Lithium batteries are Anode limited since current batteries use graphite anodes. There are several near term Anode chemistries, e.g. Silicon, Lithium Metal, Graphene, etc. that will improve energy density and $/kWh. I do not know what what Battery technology will look like in 2025, I doubt that Jay Whitacre knows as well.
Detroit has always been very risk averse when it comes to the Auto Industry. When I was young, the best cars came from Detroit. First Germany, then Japan eclipsed Detroit in all auto segments except trucks and SUV. When I was a consultant in Dearborn in the 80's, the industry looked like it was going to be bought out by Japan Inc. It would take over 20 years and a couple of bankruptcies before Detroit would really change investing in Just in Time Manufacturing and Robotics. However, no one was changing their luxury cars from Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Lexus. Until the Tesla Model S showed that a different paradigm using EV would disrupt the luxury car market. Today it is the leader in that field. Cadillac and Lincoln are trying though they are still too risk averse to really compete. The Chevy Bolt is a brilliant design. It is the 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year and is already a leader in the small hatch, small crossover segment (compare it to the VW Golf GTI in performance and the Honda HRV in size). It is a big risk for GM and they are reported to be losing $9K per car. Since it is a compliance car and does not erode large profits in their favored market segments (truck and SUV), this is a good marketing move particularly since it gets a jump on Nissan, VW, and Ford. BY 2020, we should see how the EV market develops. If Tesla, Lucid, and the established auto manufacturers create designs that are not only competitive but exceed current cars then the market will take off. One can look at the Cell Phone business as an indicator on how quick markets can change. In less than 10 years from the Apple iPhone introduction in 2007, the world has completely adopted this new technology.
Lucid Motors probably will be using the new 21700 battery announced last year by Samsung SDI. Tesla will also use this new form factor in the Tesla Model 3.
Lucid does look like a strong contender for future EV. Lucid Motors showed their prototype at the 2016 LA Car Show, designed by Derek Jenkins, who is the former head of design at Mazda and credited with the new Mazda MX-5. Mazda has the best designs in the car business and btw prior to Jenkins, Franz von Holzhausen (the Tesla designer) was head of Mazda design. Watch the Lucid Edna test van video, it is seriously fast. Probably competitive with super fast EV like the NextEV NIO EP9 and Rimac Concept One. Of course, Lucid Motors started life as a battery maker. The Lucid Motors battery will be used in the 2018 Formula E Competition (partner with McLaren). The 54 kWh battery weighs only 250kg and can be recharged completely in 45 minutes. It can also be run for a complete race due to its patented Thermal Management System. Also, the Lucid Motors CTO is Peter Rawlinson, the former Tesla Model S lead engineer. Yes, Apple should look at Lucid Motors if it has not already. It is close to Cupertino, located nearby in Menlo Park.
As this article points out "fuel cell buses still face challenges to commercial viability". Fuel Cell buses have been operating for over a decade and still cannot compete with either diesel or CNG buses. However, this is not the case for Electric Buses. An Electric Bus 12 year life cycle costs are already cost competitive with diesel buses despite initially costing twice as much. Range and charging time are no longer an issue either. For example, the latest Proterra Catalyst E2 Electric bus has a 350 mile range and can be charged in less than 5 hours, a recent Forbes article discusses how Proterra biggest problem is meeting demand for their buses (http://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2016/11/30/proterras-ryan-popple-is-on-a-mission-to-electrify-the-transit-bus-business/#5d72b1b61a49).
Forgot to mention that the Lucid prototype has 1000 hp and the Lucid Motors Edna test van easily beats other very fast cars like the Nissan GTR and is as fast as the Tesla Model S.
@Fasteddie: Great Analogy! The FreeValve Pneumatic-Hydraulic-Electric-Actuator would hardly simplify an ICE. The components of a BEV (Motor, Inverter, Battery) are already very reliable and getting better e.g. Testers at UC Irvine cycled a battery electrode 200,000 times. BEV range and charging times are also improving. The Porsche Mission E and other 800 Volt BEV systems have reduced 80% charging times to 20 minutes. Lucid Motors showed their brilliant prototype at the 2016 LA Car Show, it is another example of future BEV designs. The Lucid Motors battery will be used in the 2017 Formula E Competition (partners include McLaren and Sony). The 54 kWh battery weighs only 250kg and can be recharged completely in 45 minutes. It can also be run for a complete race due to its Thermal Management System patented by Lucid (one of the problems with Tesla is that "Ludicrous mode" cannot be used on repeat runs).
The e-Note may be a great marketing move for Nissan. Roger Pham is correct that efficiency is less than 85% on the Series Hybrid, however this is not much worse than the Nissan Versa Note with a CVT (probably getting around 88% efficiency). The entry level price is US$16,900 which is less than $2k more than the price of a Nissan Versa Note with a CVT (around US$15,200) for a full hybrid. The standard Nissan Versa Note does not get very favorable reviews either, nowhere close to to the Honda Fit which it competes. Using the Nissan Leaf Electric Motor gives the e-Note 110 HP and more importantly 254 N·m (187 lb-ft) torque from 0-3008 rpm which would be better than the competition. Also, the e-Note fuel economy looks competitive to the Toyota Prius C which gets 82 mpg on the JC08 Test Cycle. Possibly Nissan could use this setup as the basis for a Nissan Leaf PHEV (as @Laszlo points out). Sell it for less than $25K and you have real competition to the Chevy Volt or Prius Prime.
The Porsche Mission E already has an 800 volt charging system that can charge its batteries to 80% capacity in 15 minutes for up to 249 miles of range. It uses a liquid cooled lithium ion battery. The cooling technology has been proven in the lemans winning 919 Hybrid race car.
Good idea gor! This is really a great concept and now it has been proven in Formula One Racing. Originally the idea came out of Cosworth (acquired by Mahle), some of the Cosworth engineers went down the road to Brixworth and worked on the the Mercedes F1 engine which uses a similar concept. Not sure why Honda F1 does not a similar setup (maybe they do). My old 1979 Honda Civic had a similar Pre-chamber combustion setup, Honda called CVCC. It got unbelievable gas mileage. Though pollution standards would make it unacceptable today. Mahle Jet Ignition gets diesel like efficiency (the Mercedes Hybrid Formula One engine claims 50% efficiency thanks to the hybrid powerplant). This could be coming to regular autos soon, maybe even a "new Dodge" since Ferrari still has connections to Fiat Chrysler.