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BMW and Total Partner to Support Rollout of Hydrogen ICE Cars

3 June 2006

BMW and oil major Total have agreed to work closely together to promote hydrogen as an energy source for vehicles. The agreement stipulates that Total will set up and operate three hydrogen fueling stations in Europe by the end of 2007 to support the introduction of BMW bi-fuel hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. (Earlier post.)

The two companies already work together in Berlin as part of the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) Berlin Initiative supported by the German Federal Government. TOTAL opened a public filling station in Berlin in March 2006 offering conventional fuel, gaseous (CGH2) and liquefied (LH2) hydrogen—the latter the fuel BMW has targeted for use in its first production hydrogen ICE car. (Earlier post.)

This public filling station takes the place of the pilot test station TOTAL had already been operating in Berlin since 2002.

Before the end of 2006, Total will be open another public filling station with hydrogen supply pumps in Detmoldstraße in Munich, not far from BMW’s Research and Innovation Centre, the well-known FIZ. The decision on the third European location for a hydrogen filling station is to be taken in the next few weeks.

In parallel to putting an appropriate hydrogen infrastructure in place, the BMW Group is actively promoting the introduction of hydrogen cars. Currently BMW is in a process of series development, and in less than two years we will be presenting a BMW 7 Series Hydrogen Car to the public.

—Professor Burkhard Göschel, board member BMW AG for development and purchasing

June 3, 2006 in Europe, Fuels, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (31) | TrackBack (1)

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Comments

What a dumb idea....the well to wheel CO2 will be very high....lGermany will have to import more natural gas to make the hydrogen or burn more coal .....

It is better to run a vehicle with high energy balance bio fuel. AN ICE with an onboard high temp electrolysis utilizing post catalytic converter exhaust heat for hydrogen/oxygen production is a better way to go. Storing no more than a small camping gas containers worth of gases, and producing/using it more or less on demand, it is much safer/cheaper/lighter than this 10,000 psi tank or metal hydide storage solution. The gases will improve efficiency and clean up the exhaust via more complete combustion in the cylinder. Using excess current from hybrid systems/themoelectrics/solar-other electrics will provide the electrical power to make the gases.

Allen -

so what you are saying is that there is an electrolysis process based on exhaust heat that is so super-efficient it can almost replace the fuel originally used, thereby achieving adequate range on a small contrainer of (propane-butane) camping gas? Have you heard of the second law of thermodynamics lately?

BMW advocates the use of liquefied H2 and modified ICEs in order to guarantee adequate range. In other words, you need a cryotank at 20 Kelvin and a production + distribution infrastructure, something that is usually reserved for big-budget spacefaring rockets. The in-vehicle LH2 system was developed by Germany's answer to NASA in the '80s. BMW contributed a test vehicle and bought the intellectual property when the agency was dissolved and ESA founded.

I wonder if BMW are doing this now just to prove to CARB that yes, a hydrogen-based vehicle is possible, but just look at the ludicrous lenghts you have to go to! I rather hope so, because otherwise they have become true believers and will waste untold millions in hard-earned profits on a white elephant. Millions that would be better spent on reducing vehicle weight and improving the thermodynamic efficiency of the ICE.

I'm not sure why Total is playing along, France doesn't have a large surplus of natural gas to use for H2 production from steam reforming. Then again, in that dirigiste economy, perhaps they intend to use cheap surplus nuclear energy for the purpose. At the initial microscopic scale, it doesn't matter anyhow.

So, the issue with hydrogen cars remains the same it's ever been: how would you produce & deliver the LH2 for many millions of vehicles without a massive well-to-wheels increase in CO2 emissions and/or cost? Nuclear is hardly an answer, even with reprocessing, since there is nowhere to put all the extra radioactive waste that would be generated! Fusion is nowhere near any practical application.

Rafael:
No, I meant it as an interim solution/enhancement. It may complement high energy yield and balence biofuels, derived from sweet sorghum (600-700 gallons/acre or g/a), palm oil (~600 g/a), celluose based fuels (>1,000 g/a), and algae oil (>5,000 g/a). The small canister is for safety's/weight's /volume's/maybe cost's sake. Making the gas more or less on demand instead of making, storing, shipping, retailing large quantities of it makes alot of safety sense. Additionally, the access to pure O2 is a bonus for ICE.
____I agree that ICE's can be improved (to as much as 60% efficiency in diesels), and making affordable advanced insulators, aerogels for instance, may radically change the equation (for many sectors, housing for instance). However, fission Nuke and coal may only satisfy short term needs, massive solar farms in the deserts of the world (Sahara) combined with conservation /efficiency/productivity gains are the long term solutions. Polysilicon photovotaics are currently in the 15-20% efficiency range, but use of concentrator dishes/mirrors may enable the use of more expensive but more efficient (35%) gallium arsenide cells. Combine that energy with waste heat, post turbine, pre coolant, (100C+/212F+) from power plants, co-generation operations, and you get cheaper H2 for various purposes. This is because high temp electrolysis (HTE), utilizing heat and electricity, uses heat that is often wasted, dumped into the environment. Use of HTE in an efficient combined cycle syn-gas generator power plant, with post HTE heat for residential/comercial/industrial use, may yield a power plant with over 85% efficiency. Peak demand would coincide with sunlight. Furthermore, NAsSe semiconductor photovotaic cells may yield cheap and efficient cells (35-50% perhaps even 70% efficiency):
http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/MSD-full-spectrum-solar-cell.html

Allen -

your propane container idea is a total non-starter. It is not quite a perpetuum mobile but nearly so, and simply a pipedream.

Aerogels are incredibly expensive and not completely translucent. They are often referred to as liquid smoke. One was recently used in a spacecraft as a matrix in which to collect dust from the tail of a comet. Not your average double glazing.

How do you propose getting the solar electricity or, for that matter, the H2 generated from it via electrolyis from the Sahara to markets in Europe or elsewhere? How do you propose to keep sand dunes from covering the panels and, sands storms from damaging them? How can you be sure that some African potentate or rebel leader isn't going to hold you to ransom over your photovoltaic park? Why not park them in the south of Spain instead?

You seem to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the energy issues raised by vehicles without really thinking through what you are saying, technically, politically or economically. Just because something is new doesn't mean it's automatically a good idea!

there is enough sun (spain, italy, greece, isreal) and wind (england, denmarc,spain, north sea,..) to cope all our needs with H2.

just use solar stirling devices and store the energy in H2.

no need for sahara.

If we can get H2 from seawater (and its possible) then we have no problem.

Also delivery is not the problem and even evaporation is no problem.

the only obstacle is the price,
liquid hydrogen tanks are costly.

with a little research you will find out that hydrogen is almost a perpetuum mobile.


The French oil company "Total" deals with that H2 pump stations, because France clearly has the intention to produce H2 on a large scale by nuclear power. Already today 80% of all electricity produced in France comes from nuclear plants. In contrast to Germany, there is no opposition from the French people to increase nuclear power even more, and government will do so. Why not? They could do worse. With one single nuclear power plant of the latest generation one could easily produce so much H2, that it could replace fossil fuel for traffic COMPLETELY.

We already have other technology that actually works and is shown to have a superior well to wheel efficiency than hydrogen, including less emissions, including CO2. It's called the hybrid, whether the vehicle is using natural gas, gasoline, or diesel. Hydrogen is inherently a waste of energy, literally.

Yeh, spend your money on lighter and more efficient vehicles that have a chance in hell of making things better, not worse. The hydrogen economy is proposed because it requires no sacrifice and only requires that one believe in faeries.

And, btw, hydrogen is not an energy source.

I would agree, if you are using power plant waste heat to generate hydrogen, using less electricity. It is the storage and transportation of hydrogen that is a problem. They have made carbon fiber tanks and metal hydrides, but I think liquid fuels reformed to hydrogen for fuel cells on vehicle is better. If you make methanol using biomass syngas you can be CO2 neutral as well.

correction: InGaN (indium gallium nitride) not NAsSe.

Is there any way you could dissolve H2 in gasoline or diesel and thus increase the energy capacity of these fuels without having to build a whole new H2 infrastructure.
If you got 20% H2 in gasoline without too much fuss, you could get a much better fuel on the same liquid fuel infrastructure we have now.

Rafeal:
The mentioned canisters would be each about the size of a small propane camping canister, not a propane (C3H8) canister. It would store when excess gases are generated ,and used at high demand times. As noted above, It is not meant to be some perteptual motion machine, but "an interim solution/enhancement" to ICE.
_
____The point is to add these gases to the fuel air mix more efficient and clean/ complete combustion of fuels in the cylinder. Therefore a vehicle engine, a diesel for example, would run cleaner, and with better power to fuel usage ratio.
_
____Also, the noted fuels are either in research (celluostic fuel, algae), coming online (sweet sorghum), or already here (palm oil, but in need of various policy, environmental, trade, etc improvements).
_
____The material aerogel was given as an example of a range of materials ranging from advanced fiberglass, to nano foam that currently are not within the reach of of the most consumers or manufacturers in costs. I was suggesting more R&D for these materials may result in cheaper/more efficient production methods. The suggested LH2 tank would need such material to ensure H2 does not boil off in hot environments/climates (summer in Italy, Greece, Arizona, California). Significant H2 leakage may degrade the Ozone layer (O3+H2=O2+H2O).
_
____High voltage/tension transmission lines to stations on the Mediterranean, then either transmit it to Spain, Gibraltar, or Sicily. From there, through the European grid to major heat sources (power plants, refineries, steel mills, etc).
_
____"deserts of the world"; the Sahara is only one suggestion. The fact is, large streches of the Sahara are rocky, not sandy. It is common misconception; when we hear desert, we think of sandy, hot, and dry places. It is largely due to movies. Another point is that deserts are spread around the world. You could have the same/ similar setup, whether in the Mojave, or the Sonora. India has them too, as well as China; the two big powers of the futire. Not to mention the Middle East, or Central Asia of course. Other regions have deserts and high-dry plateaus (less atmosphere) too. The Kalahari, and the Atacama/Andes are two examples.
_
____Now, I do agree, dust storms will darken streches of desert for hours, days, occasionally weeks at a time. This is why some sort of end user storage facilities will be needed in proposed hydrogen economies. Another is protecting mirrors, cells and other equipment from the environment. This can be achieved via surface hardening, retractable shields or retractable equipment into protective containers (self powered).
_
____Spain is a potential location, but the Sahara is further south, and therefor has more solar potential. Another consideration is the fact that while Europe is densely populated, the Sahara is not. Land utilization rates are high, and the large land area needed for solar electric production will very likely displace something valuable (farms, forests, nature preserves). It is also far larger; Spain may have large areas semi deserficated [due to deforestation/sheep raising as well as the south (Southeast Mediterranean coast) and east (Ebro Valley)] but they are not large enough to supply western Europe in the proposed H2 economy.
_
____Also taken into account is future demand increase (fuel and electric) for the world. Not everything revolves around Us, Europe, or the Asian Giants (India, China). Furthermore, developing nations in South America, Africa, and the rest of the Asian landmass will have a combined population of 3-4 billion. Some of them will get their act together and rise join the wealthy nations. This will be on top of the 3 billion of India, China, FSU, NIC, and Eastern Europe. Electric/fuel cell /ICE will power their vehicles/ economies. The world will need enormous quantities of power over the next two centuries, unless nanotech can deliver something yet unseen (or apocalypse, human/natural/...other).
_
____There is another possibility in solar cells mounted on buildings (urban areas), and over areas like parking lots. They may take away alot of peak demand (~5-25% currently, 20-90% with future InGaN cells) which may eliminate many inefficient peak demand gas/ oil fired stations. The plants may be 35-45% efficient, but startup consumes alot of energy and if they only run for 1-5 hours, the net efficiency for that timeframe is not good.
_
____The Sahara is also considered if the region stabilizes. This means for them to get their political, economic, governmental (thus military), and social house in order. It may take some time, but long term, it will happen. Mali, and Mauritania may be two test cases in the near future. The electricity needed for electrolysis has to come from somewhere. The H2 will be needed in running refineries, chemical production, export, fuel, etc.
_
____Many of the suggested ideas have been proposed 30 years ago if not more, and consequently not new (large solar farms in deserts, bio-fuels). Others have been refinement of old ideas (solar cells, co-generation). Still others are ideas to address issues to tech problems that have been around for 5-10 years (what to do with excess power from regen braking in hybrids, and to a less degree diesel-elecric locomotives). They are also not that far off. BMW, for example, is developing a steam drive system utilizing waste heat:
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2005/12/bmw_developing_.html
While not here now, it may be 5 years down the road. That is the point, to utilise what is wasted for work. As aforementioned, the world has a pressing need for energy. If we keep wasting all this energy in the process of producing work, we would run the planet into the ground. GHG+all the heat we produce is not good. Localised in urban environments, we could feed a self- reinforcing problem.
_
____As for H2, I prefer elecric propulsion. LH2 for long distance travel has some nice qualities, but biofuel with high energy density balance/density/ production is preferred (sweet sorghum, biomass fuels, algae oil).

optimist:
Negev, yes, but plant short shade vegetation for soil control in other places. This is if you can find suitable ground not used for something valuable and has good sunlight exposure (not blocked by hills). Southern Europe is also pretty far north (35N or more though granted with sunny summers).
_
____I don't know about perpeptual motion, but this HHO gas is not the snake oil it first seems.

quador:
Unless yoou advocate reprocessing of spent fuel rods into Plutonium, and using heavy water reactors like the CANDU or fast breeder reactors, we will run out of high quality ore pretty fast.

t:
Gasoline has a energy balance of 0.805-0.817. Factor that in to how much a hybrid running on perto gasoline is getting to a gallon of it. Diesel, which is 0.843, is slightly better, but is not good.
_
____On the flip side, I agree that H2 from CH4 and petro gas is not good long term.

FSU: former Soviet Union
NIC: newly industrialized countries
ICE:internal combustion engine
CANDU: Canadia Deuterium Uranium is a reactor type.

Rafael:

Allen Zheng has many great ideas. However, biofuel will never be nearly enough to satisfy our ravenous appetite for energy, which has ever been in the rise. BMW is no dummy. We will eventually need H2 from renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal to supplement our energy appetite.
My crystal ball reveals that in the future, cars will run on gaseous fuels such as methane and H2. Methane and H2 can be produced from biomass gasification, or high-temp solid oxide electrolysis process of H2O and CO2. At temp. of 800-1000 degrees C, solid oxide electrolysis of H2O and CO2 can produce H2 at up to 45-50% efficiency, and methane at efficiency of about ~33%. This is a very efficient of utilization of solar energy that can far exceed even concentrated PV (Photovoltaic) and solar thermo-electric production. A square desert area of 75-100 miles sides can provide all the energy needs of the USA. The USA uses 25% of the energy of the world. Go figure.
H2 can be produced at higher efficiency than methane from renewable energy sources. However, H2 requires a container 3x the volume as methane for the same energy content. So, the best compromise is to use methane (or Hythane of 20%H2-80%methane mix) for long-distance driving, using a compressed tank of comparable size to a gasoline tank now. In Pakistan, a millions autos are already running on compressed natural gas (methane mostly). For commuting in town, use H2 for maximum energy efficiency (from solar-to-wheel type of efficiency). More frequent fill-up will be needed, but if you have a H2 fill-up apparatus in your house, then, it'll be no big deal. Or, stop at your neighborhood H2 filling station and have a coffee, a donut and read the morning paper while your car is filling up in about 5 minutes. You only have to do this once every 3-5 days, depending on the distance of your commute. The IC Engine will be designed to be able to run on H2, Methane, Hythane, or even gasoline. A fuel-efficiency level of ~90mpg would be highly desirable, and may be attainable with the 2008 Prius. Eventually, all of our natural gas pipelines will be upgraded to H2-capable in order to combat hydrogen embrittlement. Methane and H2 are great energy currency and can be use interchangeably. Liquid fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, methanol, etc. require more complex synthesis and will have less ROIE value (Reture On Invested Energy) due to the higher energy expenditure on their production and transportation. Though, liquid fuels may serve as back-up for long-distance drive where a fill-up with gaseous fuel will not be available.

The differens between us discussing the issue and BMW and TOTAL is that they are DOING something towards a cleaner transportation system. Yes there are problem in every end of an issue but they are doing SOMETHING and all those small steps will later on be put into a greater puzzle....context... This is the only way...doing small things that will hopefully contribute to a greater solution !!!

Paul Berg -

you seem to imply that ANYTHING is better than the status quo. That is not neccesarily true. Of course, BMW and Total both have other projects as well, such as spray-guided gasoline direct injection, two-mode hybrids and a biodiesel supply chain. Those are also incremental improvements, and they make a lot of sense.

I'm not against BMW or Total as a whole, I just think this particular concept based on liquefied hydrogen is heading us 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

It's too bad there is not a way to interact directly with the people who are developing these systems. We're just talking to each other which has a certain amount of entertainment value but what does it do to move the noodle?

Part of the problem, I guess, is the proprietary nature of some of these systems. A more open,transparent discussion would be more productive but it would not be conducive to profit making from patents.

Rafael-

Well...small things :) But i also wrote that they are doing SOMETHING towards a cleaner transportation system...and guess what...i would even say that ANYTHING is better than status quo.... :)

nevertheless...have a great summer all !!! thinking of phurcasing me an electric motor bike... E-max is good i have heard ! :)

Nuclear is better the the status quo. Nuclear to electricity for battery EV's or plug ins generates no CO2.

Oil and natual gas should be conserved as much as possible for the future. No oil gas or coal should need to be burned to make electricity. Those goals could be completed in the USA in 15 years if we started now.

t wrote: Part of the problem, I guess, is the proprietary nature of some of these systems. A more open,transparent discussion would be more productive but it would not be conducive to profit making from patents.

Man, have you hit the nail on the head. I keep hearing about all these great new energy technologies, but the major auto makers can't use them without paying royalties which may well be exhorbitant. We will have to make due with the status quo until GM et al. develop their own technology, I suspect.

Oh, and by the way, just to stay OT, Burning H2 in an ICE? It's beyond stupid. Sounds like misdirection or obfuscation to me. Kind of like "we don't really want to change, so we'll make our alt energy project really ridiculous. We can get advertising mileage out of it, and people and politicians who don't really understand the issues will think we are doing something useful." Sounds like GM and the Bush administration with their H2 nonsense.

What wrong with burning H2in an ICE, George?
GIVE US THE FACT, George! Give us the references, George. We don't need your opinion, George. We don't know who you are, you have no credibility. Heck, you are not even brave enough to reveal your last name. One millions autos in Pakistan are already running on compressed natural gas (CNG). For hydrogen, you will have to use direct injection instead of port injection, due to the high flammability of hydrogen. But you can use the same CNG tank at the same 5000psi pressure. Your range is only 1/3 to 1/2 of that of CNG, however, with Hybrid-electric technology your range can be nearly double. (Prius II at 55mpg combined EPA, vs. comparable car at 27mpg combined EPA, 2008 Prius is rumored to be capable of 94mpg). A car designed to run on H2 can also run on CNG or gasoline with longer range for extended driving. For daily commuting in the future when it will be undesirable to continue to use fossil fuel due to global warming, H2 will prove to be the most efficiently-produced renewable fuel, and hence will be the least expensive renewable fuel of the future. H2 will prove to have the highest EROIE (Energy Return on Invested Energy).

Auto companies have bought a lot of proprietary technologies and incorporate it into their own. Sometimes, it's cheaper than spending their own money to arrive at a particular technology. Independent inventors worked long and hard for no pay, and all at their own expense to advance the art. You can't do R&D cheaper than that. In return, they don't ask for exorbitant royalty from auto companies. Just enough so that their voices can be heard and they can continue to pursue their art. Auto companies have frequently stolen their ideas without paying a dime in royalty. Now, you can't get any cheaper than that.

Hey, George, let's see what ya have to say, eh, dude?

Roger Pham;

Thing is, as someone said before, electrolysis (the process of getting hydrogen) is 45-50% efficient. Then the act of compressing or liquidfying hydrogen takes up a whole chunk of energy (maybe 15% of the energy in hydrogen). THE ICE IS KNOWN TO BE FREQUENTLY LESS THAN 20% EFFICIENT (no, diesels CANNOT run on hydrogen). ICEs cannot be designed to run on H2, methane and all these "other gasses you mentioned. If it is optimised to run on one thing, it will not be efficient to run on another, and on-the-fly adjustments can only do so much. Add those numbers up and you'll be looking at single digit well to wheel efficiencies, and thats without counting the losses of transporting hydrogen through pipes or otherwise.

Of course other technology, such as hybrids and stuff can raise efficiency, but only to a point. Beyond that, you have to go plug in. Your flex-fuel hydrogen-methane- ***thane - ***thane....hybrid is very far fetched.

Utilizing hydrogen in fuel cells improves the figures somewhat, but only to the efficiencies of current hybrids.

The fact of the matter is that hydrogen technology is an energy hog and it will be a long and expensive road to the fabled 'hydrogen economy'. And you say; 'H2 will prove to be the most efficiently-produced renewable fuel'. That is very clearly wrong.

BTW the 2008 prius will be a plug in; which means it is partly powered by electricity from powerplants. Using electricity to power cars directly bypasses the processes of creating, storing and transporting hydrogen, not to mention the infrstructure and cost problems. Simply switching to BEVs produces less CO2, when taking into account the CO2 from the grid. That solar power desert idea is very nice, if its energy is used sensibly.

"It has further been suggested that cars powered by Li-on or Li-polymer batteries are capable of being more efficient than hydrogen-based cars would ever be, and that they just need to be mass produced to become cost effective". source; wikipedia.

People have to realize the hydrogen economy is a very ridiculous idea, and eating up the hype only encourages the automakers from researching other and very possibly more realistic alternatives. They only seem like they are making an effort. Until they increase the efficiency level incredibly, using hydrogen is incredibly stupid. One reason i think that the public likes hydrogen is that it promises zero sacrifice. We have to get out of that mentality and realize we have to change our way of living if we are to survive the next couple of centuries.

You say, "GIVE US THE FACT, George! Give us the references, George. We don't need your opinion, George. We don't know who you are, you have no credibility. Heck, you are not even brave enough to reveal your last name". That sounds like an insult. calm down. Its a free internet forum, people can say what they want, even if you don't want to hear it. Funny to see that you have no sources for your generalizations.

"The IC Engine will be designed to be able to run on H2, Methane, Hythane, or even gasoline". LOL

All my figures are from wikipedia. Feel free to correct me.

Hydrogen doesn't have to be stored in a 20 kelvin cryotank.

It can be stored at 10,000psig at ambient temperatures as a vapor, as BMW, Toyota, and several others are doing :)

@roger pharm: Burning H2 in an ICE is the only realistic solution. The technology is ready and reliable. And very important: The car manufacturer know exactly the costs. BMW is launching next year a 7 series model with V8 ICE engine FOR REAL PUBLIC SALE. This engine is not only H2 burning, but it is also possible to use regular gasoline. GM, Ford (Hummer H2, Ford Super Chief Triflex etc. etc.) and all the others are on the same stage.

http://www.bmw.com/com/_shortcuts/cleanenergy/index.html

The other possibility is of course to further R&D regarding fuelcells. Maybe in 20 years we will have the "perfect" engine then.

I guess, George owns some stocks of those fuel cells fantasts.

George, I appreciate your seriousness in your willingness to discuss this issue. Here it is:

First, we must discuss the efficiency of ICE running on H2. Check on the following link to find that the tank-to-wheel efficiency of the PriusII RUNNING ON GASOLINE is 37%: http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/tech/environment/fchv/fchv12.html (just copy and paste this link to your browser address line) Also on this link, you'll find that the tank-to-wheel efficiency of the FCV (fuelcell vehicle) is 38%. The Toyota FCV-hybrid is more efficient, at 50%. However, if you run the PriusII on H2 instead of gasoline, you will gain about 20-25% efficiency. This is because hydrogen promotes very rapid and complete combustion, even at very lean mixture, something gasoline and methane can't do. Check this link: http://www.machinedesign.com/ASP/strArticleID/55381/strSite/MDSite/viewSelectedArticle.asp and also this link: http://www.autointell-news.com/News-2003/August-2003/August-2003-2/August-13-03-p1.htm
So, if you multiply 37% by 1.25, you'll get 46% efficiency for the PriusII on H2, vs. 50% for Toyota FCV hybrid. Ain't too shabby for an ICE-hybrid car, eh?

Next, we will explore a high-efficiency process of making H2 from solar or high-temp-reactor nuclear energy. If you electrolyze water at room temp, your efficiency is ~70-80% of the electrical energy input. However, if you use a solid oxide cell similar to those used in solid oxide fuel cell at 800 degrees C or above, your electrical efficiency will be ~150%, or double the normal electrolysis efficiency. An overall energy efficiency level from solar to hydrogen can be as high as 45-50%. In contrast, solar to electric conversion by concentrated PV panel is only ~30%. See http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/review04/hpd_14_herring.pdf and see further an announcement by General Electric's commitment to further develop this process: http://www.ge.com/en/company/news/press/hydrogen_development_project.htm

Next, let's look at the overall efficiency from solar to wheel in a BEV or PHEV: From solar to electricity in the most efficient concentrated PV panels: 30%. From electricity to energy at the wheel (losses in the electrical transmission from DC to AC and to DC again, battery internal resistance, power control, electric motor, etc...) about 75%. Multiply 30% by 75%, will give you 22.5% solar to wheel efficiency.

Solar to wheel from solid oxide high-temp electrolyzer to hydrogen then to ICE to wheel: Solar hi-temp electrolyzer: 45%-50% efficiency. Prius II on Hydrogen: 46% tank to wheel efficiency. Multiply 45%-50% by 46% will give you 20.7-22.5% . Ain't too shabby for an ICE car, eh? Compressing H2 in 5000 psi tank takes too much energy? YEs, but you can recover most of this energy when you inject hydrogen at thousands of psi pressure directly into the cylinder head at just before TDC. If you inject this hi-pressure H2 in the compression stroke at 30-40 degrees before TDC, significant cooling effect will occur due to adiabatic expansion of the super-hi pressure H2. This cooling effect will reduce the work of compression while give you a dense mixture of H2 and air. In the power stroke, this dense mixture will burn vigorously and quickly to completion, giving a high net power gain due to lower work expenditure in the compression stroke. You will have an efficient, cool and smooth running engine, what more can a man ask for?

PHEV will be great, and unquestionably the most efficient route. But, will there be enough critical material for battery production to satisfy potential hundreds of millions of PHEV each requiring a substantial battery pack 8 times that of the Prius, or that of a BEV with 20-30 times the size the PriusII's battery pack?
Thanks for your continued interest in this matter.

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