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Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering, entreprenuer
Interests: diesel and gasoline engines, cars, aircraft, railroads, electric drives
Recent Activity
Looks very promising especially if they can hit their cost goals. They claim a lower cost than natural gas, wind or solar and it is available 24/7 Impressed with the claimed 47% thermal efficiency for electric power. This should be the way to go if you need to make hydrogen as you have both high temperatures and low cost electricity
Just think! They could use bio materials to make steel. They could heat wood and make charcoal to reduce the iron. And cut down the rest of the existing forests to make "green steel". Which is why a lot of the forests in England and elsewhere were cut down in 18th century. Hydrogen would be OK to use to reduce iron ore if the hydrogen could be produced in a ecological manner. I would suggest using nuclear power for high temperature electrolysis.
I think that it is much better to use the available money to build out Battery Electric transit buses first. There are about twice as energy efficient and probably cost less than 2/3 the cost of a fuel cell bus and will cost less to maintain and run. That way you get the maximum benefit for the money spent. Once all feasible Battery Electric routes are covered, then maybe the few remaining routes could use Fuel Cell buses but by this time the batteries may have improved sufficiently, so that it is a non issue. Having said this, I am not against looking at all possible options and it may pay off to use Skeleton Technologies Ultracaps with batteries.
If you are going to make hydrogen, using nuclear power for high temperature electrolysis is probably the way to do it.
You do not need to add lines for hundreds of miles. Probably just a half mile or so outside of each stop so that the battery can be charged during stops and maybe use outside power for the initial acceleration. This would probably be cheaper than having to work with fuel cells and hydrogen. Hydrogen is a really poor fuel for transportation.
Davemart, I want to get rid of fossil fuels as soon as possible. Mostly, I drive a battery electric car. Fuel cells have a place but, in general, I do not believe that hydrogen is a very good fuel especially for transportation. If you use electrolysis for hydrogen, fuel cells have about half of the efficiency of battery electric and if you use natural gas reformation, you are back to using fossil fuels. If you have a set amount of money to spend for cleaning up the environment, I believe that it is better to go first with the higher efficiency and lower cost of battery electric solutions. My comments on the diesels was only to illustrate that they have vastly improved over the past decade or so.
Apparently you have not been around the newer Caterpillar generators. I worked for a couple of days next to a 150 kW generator which was amazing quiet, hat no noticeable smell or visible exhaust. The real noise came from a small Honda generator that was considerably further away. The new tier 4 diesels are relatively clean and while they may make more GHG, it might actually depend on depend on the source of the hydrogen.
Looks like a good vehicle at a very reasonable price and should have good performance.
I believe that hydrogen is a really bad transportation fuel. It has a number of bad problems including that it leaks thru everything, cases embrittlement of many materials, has high flammability limits and the worst problem is the volumetric low energy density. Liquid hydrogen will need to be cooled to just 20 deg C above absolute zero, using even more energy. If you do make hydrogen, use it to replace coke for the reduction of iron or to make ammonia. For long haul aircraft, It is probably much better to make other synthetic fuels. Also for short hauls, batteries can be made to work. Look at the Israeli Eviation Alice. It has a crew of 2 with 9 passengers, a cruise speed of 444 km/h (276 mph, 240 kn) and a range: 1,000 km (620 mi, 540 nmi) with a 45min IFR reserve. This can scaled up to carry 50 or more passengers. The real kicker for the Eviation Alice is the operation cost which they project to be 1/3 to 1/5 that of comparable aircraft. It is better to start with what is possible just like it is better to spend money now on shorter haul battery electric trucks than to try to build more costly long haul fuel cell trucks. You will get more benefits for the money spent.
It is about 120 hp per liter. GM offers a 2 liter engine with 270 hp or135 hp per liter.
SJC, Where is all of the unused RNG. What we have seems to come from landfills and sewage (and the related animal waste). When I took a tour of the Boston sewage, system they were generating enough methane to run their pumps. Some large dairies, etc produce enough methane to generate a small amount of excess electric power and the landfills probably do not generate and collect enough methane to even supply their own trash trucks. It would probably be better for the environment to replace the landfills with high temperature incineration and use the heat to generate power or process heat.
If you read the last 2 paragraphs, the long range battery electric long haul truck will be available long before the liquid hydrogen and is considerably more efficient. The liquid hydrogen may have a weight advantage over batteries but the fuel cell system will be considerably more expensive with greater capital, maintenance, and fuel costs. With increased battery capacity and faster charging, the liquid hydrogen truck may be a niche player if it is ever manufactured. I do not think that hydrogen is a very good fuel and liquid hydrogen brings even more problems as it is only 20 degrees C above absolute zero. Wait until we have the first liquid hydrogen transport truck accident with a tank rupture.
I think that the EV F-150s will be a big seller to contractors as the overall cost per mile will be lower and the ability to have power at the job site will be a big plus. Most of these probably travel less than 70 or 80 miles per day.
Raymond, GM is working on a number of electric vehicles including battery electric pickups. For most applications BEV will work and be less expensive. Apparently GM is making good progress on battery technology and cost and I believe that battery technology is improving faster than fuel cell technology. Once you can get 80 % charge in 20 minutes and 300 mile or more range, there is not much need for fuel cells in light vehicles. The Nikola Badger will be an expensive specialty vehicle. Maybe fuel cells will useful in long haul class 8 trucks at least until faster charging is widely available. SJC, Nikola was supposed to have their own green hydrogen fueling stations but I am not sure what has happened with that. Personally, I do not think that hydrogen is a good fuel. The temperatures are really low for liquid hydrogen, pressures are really high for compressed H2, volumetric density is really low, it leaks thru everything, can cause embrittlement is some materials, and is a serious fire/deflagration hazard.
I believe that this is good news for the environment. I hope that they can start building their modules in a reasonable time scale and ramp up production. Yes, there are a number of other possible designs that offer advantages including the traveling wave reactors that would burn nuclear waste, depleted uranium, and natural uranium but they are not available at this time.
"rated electrical output of 720 kilowatts" What does this mean? It should be rated at an electrical input not output along with a heat input of something. In any event, it is not much power considering that a typical American Freight Locomotive has about 3000 kW
In my normal driving which is decided not hypermiling, I have averaged about 14.4 kWh in the first 25,000 miles of driving my Bolt EV. About half of my driving in on Interstate with speeds regularly exceeding 80 mph. The speed limit is 70 mph but traffic typically is faster than that. On the morning news, I have seen average commuting speeds of 75 and even 77 mph in Salt Lake. (Eat you heart out, LA)
Thomas, OK. but you do not fuel cells for transit buses. Use the hydrogen where it is needed. For example, maybe it can be used for direction of iron ore. SJC, Exactly, go with what works. Battery electric works for transit buses, is more energy efficient and costs less so you can get more benefits sooner.
Fuel cells are not needed for transit buses to have a 300 km range. Just look at the specs 2 articles down -- 325 km minimum with batteries only and the US version Proterra buses have a range up to 350 miles (560 km) on batteries. The battery buses will be lower cost for capital, fuel, and maintenance. At least they are planning on buying more than 10 times as many battery only buses. Maybe, if you are going to run long distances at high speeds, fuel cells might be warranted at least until batteries have more capacity and faster charge rates.
Roger, Your argument is a bit like arguing that tungsten filament light bulbs are 100% efficient if you can use the waste heat. If you count electricity in versus electricity out, you will be lucky to get 40% efficiency with hydrolysis/fuel cell generation.
"Or a larger question: what do you do with excess electricity that nobody can use at the time (assuming you have too much to just store in batteries) ?" This will not work everywhere but where it will work, use it for pumped storage. You get about twice the efficiency with pumped storage compared with hydrolysis/fuel cell generation.
SJC I agree that they have been mostly hype so far. They received a major tax break to move to Arizona and were moving out of the same building in Salt Lake City that my company was moving into (I am mostly retired but was one of the founders and engineers and am still a part owner). I took a mostly self guided tour of their prototype. They had a lot more of "Other Peoples Money" than we ever had but we were building a product (high tech ag equipment) that has been well received but in a much smaller market. Anyway, I do not believe that I would invest in Nikola but I do wish them well.
No hydrogen fuel cells needed. Even Nikola, a company that started out developing a fuel cell powered over-the-road class 8 tractor and later announced that they would also develop a battery only class 8 tractor for local delivery has figured out that battery electric would work for refuse trucks. The refuse trucks are mostly start-stop operations which allow much of the energy used in accelerating the truck to be recovered decelerating.
BorgWarner Inc. is an American worldwide automotive industry components and parts supplier, primarily known for its powertrain products, including manual and automatic transmissions, transmission ... Wikipedia The headquarters are in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Also GM is building a 30 GWhr battery facility in Lordstown, Ohio