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California ARB Awards Grants for Three Hydrogen Stations; Selects a Range of Hydrogen Vehicles

29 July 2006

The California Air Resources Board is awarding grants to three proposals for new Hydrogen Highway fueling stations in California.

The demonstration stations, the first to be co-funded by California, will help build hydrogen infrastructure. Criteria for the stations include a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases and 20% use of renewable energy to produce and distribute the hydrogen. The criteria also require no increases in smog-forming emissions, compared to average gasoline vehicles and infrastructure.

The 50% co-funding was made available through legislation adopted in 2005 (Senate Bill 76).

The selected proposals include:

  • California State University, Los Angeles. The electrolyzer station will be located on the eastern edge of the college campus, utilize 100% renewable wind power and have over 60 kg of storage capacity.

  • Pacific Gas and Electric. The station will use steam methane reformation to generate 10 kg/day of hydrogen, use solar photovoltaic cells to supply the renewable energy component, and be co-located at the compressed natural gas fueling station in San Carlos, south of San Francisco.

  • San Diego City Schools. The 100% renewable electrolyzer station will be located off Interstate 15, adjacent to the new Thurgood Marshall Middle School and Alliant International University campuses in Scripps Ranch. The station will be powered by a 600 kW solar photovoltaic array to be installed at the middle school.

The next step in the grant process will be contract negotiation, followed by, outreach, permitting, site preparation, and construction. Station commissioning is likely in late 2007.

ARB also selected three hydrogen vehicle proposals for integration with state fleets or for placement with universities for evaluation and outreach. The selected proposals, which represent fuel-cell, hydrogen combustion engine (ICE) and hydrogen ICE-electric hybrid vehicles, include:

  • One hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) from General Motors;

  • Four Toyota Prius hybrid hydrogen/internal combustion engine passenger cars from Quantum;

  • Two hydrogen internal combustion engine shuttle buses from Ford.

July 29, 2006 in Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack (0)

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I knew hydrogen wasn't a good idea but then I read a scientific study of the issue. It is much worse than I ever thought. Check out www.woodgas.com/hydrogen_economy.pdf

Tell me then, just what do we use after the baby boomers are all finished using up the petroleum, coal, and natural gas? There will be a limit to total biofuel input, and all of those things still release megatons of CO2, which will continue to hasten global warming. SO, eventually, all that shall remain are renewable solar energy souces (wind, solar, thermal). Once we are in such a position as to have 100% renewable power, by necessity, we will need hydrogen as a viable energetic currency.

You may wish we'd have used up all the coal ... but we won't. There's enough for a few hundred years. What we need is the will to use it as cleanly as possible. As for a viable energetic currency, hydrogen may have its uses, but electricity will be #1. Go Tesla Go.

Biofuels do not have a *net* release tons of C02. Growing the fuel consumes the same amount of C02 that burning it produces. Furthermore, besides all the painfully obvious technical issues with hydrogen, no one seems to be addressing the oxygen depletion issue. When fossil fuels are burned the atmospheric oxygen combines with carbon to form CO and CO2. Plant organisms can then sequester this and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. When hydrogen is burned, it bonds with oxygen to form water, permanently removing that oxygen from the ecosystem. Finally, a little known fact is that water vapor contributes from 36%-70% of the global warming effect, while carbon dioxide is at 9%-26%. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas

Yeah, hydrogen is a really great idea.

Electric cars are the way to go. Why bother with hydrogen and internal combustion engines...just so we can keep the bloated auto industry in place as it is now...cut out oil changes, timing belt replacements, valve adjustements, and a host of other activites that must be performed on a car/truck/sub.

Charge the cars with solar panels and you have a very sustainable system.

If said electric vehicle could drive the 70 mile round-trip it takes for me to get to a decent grocery store and still make it around town for whatever errands, family reunions, emergencies, cook-outs and the like without subjecting me to a 6-hour charge time in between. Until then hydrogen, ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, and whatever other fuels that allow for a quick fill-up will be the choice of those rednecks like me who dwell outside the mystical land of Suburbia.

Rocket Scientist,

I have often wondered about two aspects of fosil fuel use that are never mentioned.

1) One is Oxygen depletion. If there is a higher concentration of CO2, then some free oxygen must be tied up in it. What's that impact?
2) Each year we are burning approximately 200 years worth of stored energy (according to The Weather Makers). Isn't that simple addition of energy within the atmosphere contributing to global warming as well?

It seems to me if we went to electric vehicles (or at least away from ICE, cities would not be the heat sinks they are today -- at least not as bad. The ICE generates heat and holds it concentrated in cities where the densest traffic is.

When EVs can meet the day-to-day needs of the average driver, they will sell. Until then, they'll stay a niche market.

If you are using renewable electricity to generate hydrogen from water, then you are also generating oxygen that is either released into the atmosphere or contained for use elsewhere, then eventually released in some form. I'm not sure what the balance looks like when you make the hydrogen from fossil sources, but that may be yet another good reason to not use fossil fuels as a source of hydrogen.

John Ard: This is why we will have PHEVs. Alternatively, we may just let you die out there in the mystical land beyond suburbia. Maybe you can use some of that miracle stuff, ethanol, and just stay drunk.

We have a choice. We can try to maintain what Kunstler calls motoring as usual or we can get serious and create something more closely resembling 1920 England or America. This monstrous planet rapist we like to call civilization has got to go.

What's wrong with having what they used to call a "station" in all but the littlest town where you get on a thing they used to call a "train" or a "bus" and ride into the city to do your errands.

Every scheme I've seen to maintain the status quo is a dead end. Those who think the alternative is just too painful have mostly not been to Europe or are too damn young to see what the world was like before automobiles were completely ubiquitous.

Rocket Scientist (not): Your analysis of ethanol is fine as far as it goes but it neglects the greenhouse emissions from the fossil fuels used to make the ethanol from planting to the seed corn through distillation to distribution. Also, consider the current worldwide grain shortages that are getting worse because of global warming, drowth, increased demand, and, yes, ethanol production. Higher food prices don't sound like a very good tradeoff to me.

3M. You are right.

The O2 in the atmosphere can be considered excess oxygen that hasn't found something to burn with (carbon, hydrogen, iron, etc.) Burning fossil fuel does reduce the O2 that is available. We burn food and exhale CO2 when we breathe.

Plants eventually put the oxygen back in the atmosphere.

So rapidly using enough fossil fuel would outrun the plants trying to release O2.

IC does heat cities a little. But the urban heat island effect is usually attributed to paving over huge areas, Paving material absorbs large amounts of solar energy then slowly releases it at night. Otherwise that unpaved land would support plants that actually cool. And even bare earth absorbs much less heat than concrete or asphalt.

The impacts are unknown but certainly not for lack of study or opinion or bias.

I remain undecided about whether the CO2 from human activity is significant in the total greenhouse effect. It does have some effect - but how much? There is a lot of other stuff out there - eater, methane, volcanic gases, and old Sol himself. The X-Files nailed it - the truth is also out there.

Wow this is the best idea I have ever seen

Let's all go into the DESERT and electrolyze water to fuel our vehicles. Since available drinking water is already hard to come by we should just go ahead and consume an additional 200billion gallons a year to create hydrogen for all the vehicles in the US...oh wait we don't have that much extra available potable water.

Conservation of mass and energy -

H20 + energy-> H2 + 02

H2 + 02 -> H20 + energy

Argue all you want about the efficiency and technical issues, the point is that oxygen sequestration is a non-issue.

"You may wish we'd have used up all the coal ... but we won't. There's enough for a few hundred years. "

Actually this is a common mistake. At present levels of consumption we have enough for hundreds of years however if the current increase of 2% continues then we have enough for approx 80 years.

If we start using it for everything power CTL etc, apart from increasing CO2 to really dangerous levels, we will reach Peak Coal in 2046. This means to get the remaining coal we will have to blow off every mountain top, strip mine every possible coal seam to get the rest.

Is it so hard to change driving habits?

Ender:

Buying a PHEV represents a large financial burden. Consider someone who owns an SUV that gets 19mpg, but is totally paid off. A Prius might get much better mileage, but the monthly payments might not be affordable. And the housing boom of the past few years has made affordable housing very difficult to find close to work in many areas of the country. Just look at places like Temecula, California, about halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles.

So the answer is... yes, it's hard to change your driving habits when it entails a large financial burden.

JM:
Question 1: Technically speaking, oxygen is not "tied up" in C02 because plant life can sequester it and release O2 into the atmosphere. Oxygen in H20 is permanently lost.

Question 2: Seems plausable, though if you look at historic climate temps, global warming seems little more than an alarmist idea with an underlying agenda.

ICE is the only current technology that works. I'm not saying it's the best.

---------------------------------------------------------
"Rocket Scientist (not): Your analysis of ethanol is fine as far as it goes but it neglects the greenhouse emissions from the fossil fuels used to make the ethanol from planting to the seed corn through distillation to distribution. Also, consider the current worldwide grain shortages that are getting worse because of global warming, drowth, increased demand, and, yes, ethanol production. Higher food prices don't sound like a very good tradeoff to me." -t

Ethanol? Who said anything about ethanol? Ethanol is no better than H2 IMO. I said "biofuels", which includes algae and plankton based biodiesel. Might wanna read a little more closely before you respond next time, eh? ;-)

-------------------------------------------------------
"Argue all you want about the efficiency and technical issues, the point is that oxygen sequestration is a non-issue." -AES

Not true. Most current research funding is going to natural gas reformation to get hydrogen. Secondly, even if H2 comes from H20, densely packed cities could very well experience *local* oxygen depletion.


Rocket.

Ok. Biofuels. Same deal. The source for biofuels doesn't magically convert to biofuel without an outside energy input/

t.

Very true. However, fossil fuels should not be used to produce bio-fuels in a truly renewable energy economy. When done correctly, there is a net gain in energy with bio-fuels, i.e. energy used to create them is less than the energy content of the fuels, much less in some cases. Interestingly enough, this doesn't violate any laws of physics. The reason? bio-fuels are in essence liquid solar energy. In fact, bio-fuels done correctly, hydro-electric, wind power, to name a few, all fall in the same category of indirect solar energy.

Ender:

Did you base your calculations on the 1 trillion tons of current reserves or the estimated 7 trillion tons of resource? Not that I want to see all that dug up.

According to calculations done by economist Mark Jaccard, if coal use expands six fold by 2100 and .5% after that then the resource would last 400 years. Nobody has had to actually go looking for coal in a long time.

P.S. Yes habits change, I've traded in my Mini Cooper for a second hand shwinn

Free oxygen in atmosphere is a result of plants using CO2 to photosynthes plant tissue, and oxygen is a waste of this process. CO2 is essentially food for plants.
Once I read interesting article explaining oxygen balance in atmosphere. It claims that present level of oxygen is in equilibrium, and this equilibrium is maintained by forest fires. Even slight increase of oxygen in air leads to much more intense forest fires, which consumes excess oxygen. Once oxygen is lower, forest fires are much less intense, and biomass of forests increases, consuming CO2 and releasing O2.

Neil - "According to calculations done by economist Mark Jaccard, if coal use expands six fold by 2100 and .5% after that then the resource would last 400 years. Nobody has had to actually go looking for coal in a long time."

Coal use is growing at about 2% per year now and it is at the moment only being used for thermal power. If you add in coal to liquids to replace oil depletion then half the trillion tons will be gone in 2046.

With CTL coal use could grow at 4% or 5% which makes its doubling time 14 years. In 2100 coal use could be 32 times what it is today. 0.5% growth is ridiculously low growth rate.

If you want to look at my spreadsheet it is here at
http://stevegloor.typepad.com/sgloor/2005/12/coal_reserves.html

You can put in the numbers yourself.

I was once a believer in the hydrogen economy, until I did a little research. For all those who support it, some questions:

1. How do you plan to produce it in sufficient quantities?

2. If you produce it from natural gas/fossil fuel electrolysis...how does this improve the GHG situation or our oil addiction?

3. How will you transport and store this tricky little molecule?

Yes, I am pessimistic about this, but there has got to be a better way. From what I can tell, this "way" would be electrical. Invest all the money in hydrogen research into fusion(which seems more achievable than hydrogen), solar and battery technologies.

Maybe "big oil" can become "big battery" or "big electricity."

People seem to think hydrogen will be cheaper than EV's. I am not too sure. To produce hydrogen in large volumes will be very costly requiring lots of energy, water and expensive infrastructure. Running it in a normal IC engine, the efficiency really sucks and in a fuel cell it just sucks. Even when using the best fuel cells, the overall efficiency from producing hydrogen, transporting it and then consuming it is way worse than an electric vehicle.

If you are coming at hydrogen from the perspective of reducing dependence on foreign oil and reducing emissions, it might make some limited sense. However, if you want something that will sustain us into the future when we have burned all the oil, gas and coal then it is useless. In fact going this route will rapidly increase our depletion rates.

I don't really like hybrids due to the extra complexity, but I think plug-in's are a viable stepping stone to pure EV's. They may not be financially viable just yet but this WILL change. I think a lot of people are in for a very big shock over the next decade when it comes to just how expensive running a car on gas will become. People especially in the US seem to think that our current car usage patterns are nonnegotiable and will continue indefinitely. At some point a lot of people will be in for a really big reality check.

If coal use multiplies by six at anytime on Earth we are all toast. If its not global warming it will be, mercury, acid rain or radiation released from coal. Coal simply cannot be used in those quantities without a very negative effect.

The only good thing about hydrogen cars is that we can pull out the fuel cell and put in batteries.

The zinc-air fuel cell has none of the disadvantages of hydrogen. Both the fuel and the byproducts of the zinc- oxygen reaction are dense solids. No energy needs to go into compressing or liquifaction or wasted from reforming hydrocarbons. Zinc main disadvantage is that it can't be extracted from fossil fuels.

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