Atom Smasher: A hydrogen fuel-cell car in two years-guaranteed

Newcomers: Honda FCX Concept Atom Smasher: A hydrogen fuel-cell car in two years-guaranteed http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedan/112_0702_honda_fcx_concept
By Kim Reynolds
The hydrogen atom that hovered in the center of the power gauge was big and orange and staring back ominously. Hal? Is that you? Even if it wasn't the deranged computer from "2001: A Space Odyssey," it still looked displeased with my profligate rate of H2 consumption.
At the moment, the Honda FCX Concept was swishing down the pit straight at Laguna Seca Raceway like a horizontal elevator as its 127 electric horsepower and estimated 4000 pounds of curb weight lawyerly interpreted the laws of motion. "So?" asked the Honda engineer seated next to me. "What do you think of it?"
"The steering's numbness would be the envy of an anesthesiologist," I answered, "but it really doesn't matter right now, does it?"
Why? Because this is a prototype created to demonstrate Honda's latest fuel-cell-vehicle technology, not vehicle dynamics. Earlier in the day, much of Honda's prime engineering brain matter was assembled to tell us in no uncertain terms to delete all mental files about the hydrogen car being a 20-year-away proposition. Said John Mendel, senior vice president, "The car you will drive today is a working prototype of Honda's next-generation hydrogen-powered sedan that will go into production-and into the hands of customers-in about two years." Pressed for exactitude, Honda pledged to begin placing FCXs in driveways by December 2008 (probably via leasing). In addition to its exhaust being drinkable water, it's a time machine-how else to travel 20 years in two?
The prime technical advance making this possible is a fuel-cell power generator that now drains its water vertically (via gravity) and is so diminutive it can reside beneath the driver's right armrest. Other tech treats include a motor that's coaxial with the front axle (saving space) and a lithium battery pack under the back seat to stow brake-regenerated power. All told, the FCX Concept is nearly twice as efficient as a current compact hybrid, will travel 270 miles (EPA combined cycle) on a tank (now 45-gallon capacity, but still pressured to 5000 psi), and is ready to go again after a five-minute refill. And where will the hydrogen come from? Trust us, we're working on it, the Honda brains calmly reply. Of all the major manufacturers, Honda is almost awkwardly committed to an H2 future. Crazy? Honda also seemed crazy in the 1970s, when it introduced the CVCC engine. Remember?
-- Never hire a Ferret to do a Weasel's job
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Weve been hearing futuristic dreams like this for years...It keeps us young in heart, to really believe in Tinkerbell.
Hydrogen is a great fuel. Now, to find out how to get it without petroleum involvement.
And the Japs may be the people who can make it happen. They do not seem to be bound by traditional in-the-box thinking, nor tight corporate purse strings.
I was told, but have not tried to verify, that they have been funding a research facility in Europe for years, trying to find out if there is any real promise in cold fusion. This concept was laughed at by many scientists, but never totally debunked either. (Many could not reproduce the experiments the original research group claimed were successful)
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Then there is the problem of where to get the hydrogen. Perhaps start with the major cities if Honda gets this going?
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Could be. Statoil of Norway announced at the last oil show that they have been funding a lot of hydrogen work, showed some hydrogen or hydrogen/gas cars, and said that Norway will have a hydrogen highway between Stavanger and Oslo (I guess that is all) where the fuel will be available the entire distance.
They seem to be very proactive and we will see how it plays out.
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I hope we have the brains to ask for info/help from those who have made alternative fuel really work (Brazil) and those going the way Norway is. A real problem will be the NIH Syndrome (Not Invented Here).
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GM has had, for at least four years, a vehicle the BURNS hydrogen. They also currently have an experimental plug-in, fuel cell/gas hybrid. The problem is nobody, except the government, is willing to pay the fuel cell cost of $1,000 per kilowatt of capacity, about 10 times the price of a kilowatt from a battery, and 30 times the price of a kilowatt from a gasoline engine.
In addition nobody is willing to invest the billions need to pay for the installation a completely new national distribution system for hydrogen fuel. Currently hydrogen pricing does not include the 18.5c federal the state average .28c road use taxes. Even though GMs hybrid car AVERAGES 80 MPG, few are willing to pay Air Products $9 a kilo, about $1 per eight miles, for liquid hydrogen ;)
mike

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An IC engine is much lower cost than a fuel cell.

Hydrogen can be made with solar power that we now waste. This may even reduce Global Warming (kind of kidding on GM).
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Air Products has selling hydrogen for more than fifty years. The price has never gone anywhere but up. It has been shipped as a liquid under 2,500 PSI, in bottles like oxygen. To be used as a fuel for vehicles there will need to be a nationwide HP hydrogen distribution system or reformers at every filling station, as is now the case, or in every vehicle.
mike
wrote:

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Hydrogen is neat, but to get the power densities needed requires liquid hydrogen. High pressure hydrogen. And the second smallest molecule naturally found will seep through almost anything. Sure, it's plentiful. And if it's something weird and off the wall, it just might attract Honda.
But...

I seem to recall that the CVCC was just Honda's implementation of the 'Stratified Charge' engine developed by Lycoming for use in aircraft. Didn't Piper and Cessna both use it? What about the Mitsubishi 'Jet'?
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http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/h/hydrogen_pill.asp http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050907102549.htm http://www.jp.dk/english_news/artikel:aid248610 /

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Ummm...excuse me...I beg to differ. Big oil is not yet ready for prime time. Big oil is not ready for this for another 20 years or so. I wouldn't be surprised if they already have a hit out on Honda. Don't be to surprised to wakeup and find that Honda has been bombed by terrorists.

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Now you sound like you've seen too many reruns of the Munsters where Grandpa makes the gas from water pill.
Don't kid yourself. If the oil companies smelled even a whiff of green$ from this technology, they'd be all over it in a heartbeat to beat others to the punch and make it difficult for others to 'develop' the technology during the price war that would surely erupt.
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They are already there
http://www.shell.com/home/Framework?siteId=hydrogen-en
message

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