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Chevy Sequel Drives 300 Miles on One Tank of Hydrogen

15 May 2007

GM’s Chevy Sequel has become the first electrically-driven fuel-cell vehicle to achieve 300 miles on one tank of hydrogen, in and out of traffic on public roads.

The 300-mile drive through the state of New York began at General Motors’ Fuel Cell Activity Center in Honeoye Falls. The hydrogen used to fuel the Sequel was produced at Niagara Falls from hydropower.

The Sequel was introduced in 2005 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and the first drivable version appeared last fall. (Earlier post.) The Sequel is the first vehicle in the world to successfully integrate a hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion system with a broad menu of advanced technologies such as steer-and brake-by-wire controls, wheel hub motors, lithium-ion batteries and a lightweight aluminum structure.

Three lightweight, carbon composite tanks store hydrogen at 10,000 psi and carry 8 kg of hydrogen.

May 15, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack (0)


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Nice job GM. With all the negative press about the US auto industry it's nice to see there actually maybe a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you can convince me that your cars are reliable, (your styling is already back)and that you can make me a fuel efficient car I may come back and buy American again! Wow, did I just say that?

Even with hydroelectric prices, I bet this costs considerably more per mile for fuel than any other hybrid vehicle. Not to mention what the sticker price would have to be.

rhap: I'll agree with you on the sticker price, but I'm not so sure you're right about the cost per mile for fuel. Even if this thing only has a quarter of the efficiency of a BEV then it would still only cost 4 cents a mile for the electricity.

It takes 60 kWh of electricity to make 1 kg of hydrogen using electrolysis. That means it took 60*8 = 480 kWh to "fill up" the sequel from hydroelectric power.

That equates to just 0.625 miles per kWh, when an efficient EV can go 5 miles per kWh!! The same amount of electricity that drove *1* sequel 300 miles could have driven *8* EVs 300 miles!

How can they not see reality??

If it hadnt been for the fact you got everything wrong and amazingly so you might have had a minor point.

1 h2 has no set cost to make as every method and even every generator is different.. still the AVERAGE went below 52 kw per kilo over a year ago. Secondly you didnt notice the sequal is a bleeping 3400 lb behemoth with more computers onboard for testing then most internet cafes..

Oh and its an old design to boot... they are just using it for testing.

All that matters in the end is they fully plan on getting that cell don to 4k cost.. the gas station fully plans to get that h2 down near or LOWER then gasoline.. And a behemoth suv just went 300 miles on 8 kilos of fuel...getting close to 40 mpk.. alot better then gas engines..

And we are STILL 5 years before the FIRST goal on h2.

Everyone is getting into h2 because its improving much faster the expected and overcomes some hard limits of lithium tech.

Fact is in time fuel cell systems will be cheaper lihjter smaller and better then lithium tech. As for the fuel... its likely the cost per mile will go DOWN from todays gas cars.

No the important question is when will they discover the next battery adter lithium..

I see your argument. Many people reason, "Why not make an all electric vehicle, and by-pass the Hydrogen business altogether?". With current technology as it is, nobody offers an all EV that achieves a range of 300 miles or better. Even Tesla is finding this out the hard way as you may know, they reduced the range of the roadster to 200 miles from 250, since vehicle safety standards caused weight gain, and therefore range reduction. I can see Hydrogen being an excellent range extender however, such as the E-flex platform GM is working on, (see Chevrolet Volt Fuel Cell concept at Shanghai Auto Show). In that light, Hydrogen starts to look very attractive.

Just wanted to add: Way to go GM! Keep up the good work!

Clett ,
I totally agree with you , I had a test drive in the Fiat Panda
Fuel cell prototype last week , it uses 60 kg of hydrogen to scrape
some 200 km (120 miles) the car has a 50 kw motor as opposed to
the 30kw in the EV version , just to lug the extra weight around, all
the trunk space is lost in the hydrogen version, yet funny thing is
that hydrogen is the route Fiat want to take , and will not even discuss
the pure electric version .
It really does make you wonder what is going on !

Uh 60 kg of h2 would take 30 tanks or a lquid tank larger then a vw bug.

Also even in ice engines 60 kg of h2 would get a transit bus that far and then some.
Also the fuel cells they are using now are much larger in size then what they already have available and vastly bigger then the final products geared for 2012 2018 timeframe.

They also are nowhere near as efficient as those will be or even as current gen fuel cells are.

Because of how fast the tech is improving your testing an edsel to plan for a prius so that you can market the jetsons flying car in 2012.

Something that would facilitate comparison of EVs with lithium batteries and EVs with fuel cells would be to get a Wh/kg number for the fuel cell system including H storage. We know the energy density of lithium batteries is between 80 and 200 Wh/kg (including packing and cooling system). What is it for the fuel cell system of this Chevy Sequel? We need the combined weight of fuel cell and H storage and the kWh of enegy. The kWh is probably close to 60 kWh. I am much more uncertain about the weight of the system. If it is 600 kg it would mean an energy density of about 100 Wh/kg. This appears to be comparable with lithium batteries such as A123. They would cost 60*1600= $96000 at today’s price. That will probably go down a lot but even if it came down to $200 per kWh this battery system would cost 60*200 = $12000. Cheaper to do a PHEV with ICE genset.

One thing is clear. PHEVs with lithium batteries or other suited batteries will be marketed several years before the hydrogen fuel cell cars and it is still unclear whether hydrogen full cell cars will ever make it to the market. I think that fuel cell range extenders that run on ethanol or another suited bio fuel may turn out to be a more viable approach because it reduces the complexity of handling compressed hydrogen.

Regarding the range issue for EVs, this is easily solved with ICE range extenders. The battery can be kept small and cheap (say 100 mile range) and the ICE rentable from gas stations if needs be.

Also, as the Sequel goes 1 kilometre per kWh, and since the USA mix for electricity generation outputs 600 grammes of CO2 per kWh, the fuel cell sequel emits 600 g/km CO2, which is over 5 times more CO2 emissions than that of a Prius (104 g/km)!

Although a big fan of BEVs I must admit that I like the idea of a fuel cell range extender. With my driving cycle I'd be having trouble keeping an ICE extender from seizing up when my gas went sour.

An FC-RE would be waaay bigger and heavier than an ICE-RE though.... also, you could try ethanol as that shouldn't go sour.

You mentioned that a Fuel Cell Range Extender would be waaay bigger and heavier than an ICE Range Extender...Why? Look at the Chevrolet Volt concept at the Shanghai Auto show as an example. As far as I can see, the car was the same dimensions as the ICE version of the Detroit show. I don't know about the weight difference, however the FCV's I've read about appear no larger or heavier than anything else on the road.

Actualy assuming the fc isnt too low eff id assume at least 25 kwh per kilo or 299 kwh for the 8 kilos... maybe 160 if my math sucks.

The main point of h2 is the tanks are compact and light so extending the range to say 600 miles wouldnt add much weight.

Neil , I totally agree. They do see that reality, but are doing their best to ensure the general public gets drunk on space age (we will land a man on the moon) buzzwords and overlooks the fact that a "hydrogen economy" (there is a reason you always see it that way), is one were we as consumers stay "consumers".

If we place solar panels on our roofs or windmill, or ocean wave generators, and have electric cars, with batteries or even hydrogen generators/tanks for home storage of that electricity for nightly/cloudy use, we NO LONGER NEED THE PUMP nor the service stations (oil changes, fan belts, etc.). Those service stations and the infrastructure to transport oil, refine it, TAX it, and deliver it to the "consumer" are a large portion of our economy's status quo. Mess with that status quo and you get a whole lot of people upset (check the chat boards like this one).

If we really want to save the world we'll see that efficiency is king. What meduim to propel our cars is most efficient? Hydrogen is not that medium and the inefficient ICE that burns any type of fuel should be seen as it truely is, inefficient and a dog leash to Big Auto, Oil, Government.

Anyone want to be that dog?

Sorry I meant to say Clett. re: "How can they not see reality??"

Wintermane you are right. The 60kWh guess from me is too low. The Phoenix car use 35 kWh to drive about 100 miles and it does not look as heavy as the Chevy. So it must be at least 100 kWh. If you are right about the 299 kWh then I am suddenly a lot more optimistic about fuel cells. Still not convinced it is going to be hydrogen that is going to fuel the fuel cells.


What do you mean when you say "AVERAGE." Available technology, actual commercial production, electrolysis, reforming, US, worldwide???

One must also factor in capital equipment costs and a profit for the one producing the hydrogen to come up with the price per kg.

Hydrogen production is a rather large business even now and the costs are driven by the usual supply demand framework.

Wintermane... here's a question... what is the AVERAGE cost of a kg of hydrogen in the US right now? Has it been dropping rapidly in recent years?

A wonderful energy/technology medium comparison.

Though if the 52kwh/kg quoted by Wintermane is correct and he is referring to electrolysis, that means the technology for electrolysis and compression must have gotten better than the 70% and 90% shown in the Tesla presentation. The results from the Sequel would also indicate that the fuel cell is better than shown in that presentation, though I haven't done the math to prove that.

Still don't think it's competitive, just possibly a bit better than shown by Tesla.

Er typo on my part I ment 200 kwh not 299. Still in general 1 kg of h2 is a larfe battery [ack of power and you can fit 2 of them into a tank that weighs something like 60-80 lb

As for average cost....

Every h2 generator will be slightly different thus yours might be say 49 kwh per kilo and the guy down the strret might be doing 51 and then we have to add in ng sources h2 gens and coal based and so on...

And to realy screw up the math you have to deal with home.. 8 or more cents per kwh and fueling station.. alot less maybe even half that.

But past all that the ONLY wat your gona see a 4-600 mile range suv is gx ir genset ev and the only oneof those that sidesteps cafe issues is the fc. ame for say a 700 horsepower sports car... your sure as heck not gona see cafe cars if that kind and the ton of batteries would hose things in pure ev. But h2 ice or a 2025 era fuel cell stack will do it.
As for the fuel... if youcan afford a 600-1000 hp supercar you can afford your own solae/wind and any h2 at the pump.

Wintermane, I can't disagree with what you've said... given that I can't understand all of it.

Anyone wishing to check out a reasonably good source of analysis on hydrogen by electrolysis costs can find one here...

This was a 2005 report which showed that hydrogen produced by electrolysis on the scale of a filling station and using commercial electric rates would yield approx $5.40/kg H2. I believe this tracks the current price of H2 on the commercial market which is probably around $6, but would obviously include a profit margin. So at 300 miles per 8 kg, that yields 14.4 cents per mile. Using today's gas prices where I live of around $3.50 a gallon and using a conservative Prius gas mileage of 43mpg yields about 8.1 cents per mile. Actually this is far closer than I would have thought.

So now the only question is whether the cost of the car itself can be brought down to a level where a profit can be made selling them on equal footing with others.

That and of the course the issue that if it were a plug-in hybrid it was compared to, the hybrid would use considerably less kwh per mile, so why not just go with the PHEV.

Schmeltz, a fuel cell range extender would be much bigger and heavier than an ICE range extender because of the need to haul around a huge, carbon fibre reinforced hydrogen storage tank. 8 kg of hydrogen takes up a LOT of space.

However, 4 gallons of gasoline / biodiesel / ethanol can be hidden away in a very small amount of space/weight.

But the bigger problem is the fact that the fuel cell RE would emit 5 times as much CO2 as a gasoline RE, if the H2 is made from current grid mix electrolysis.

I think Clett has identified the issue.
The only rebuttal might be that you can make hydrogen from biomass, but it is not much of a rebuttal.

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