An Iranian Planner’s View of Peak Oil: Soon
H2 With Lower Energy Cost

First-Hand Reports from Euro H2 Marathon

This GM website provides a great overview of a 10,000 km (6,000 m) Norway to Portugal run by a GM/Opel H2 fuel cell vehicle that started on 3 May. Journalists and celebrities are part of the driving team for the HydroGen 3, and are reporting on their experiences. Some samples...

But on the very first day we start to have problems; fortunately they turn out to be harmless. Suddenly an alarm pipes up and the red “check” lamp flashes up on the right of the dashboard. But my co-pilot, Opel fuel cell engineer Alexander von Kropff, stays calm. He takes an unconcerned look at the display which continuously monitors the state of the fuel cells. “A voltage problem with the air compressor” is his professional opinion. We pull up. In a flash he plugs his laptop into a socket between the front seats, taps a few keys and downloads some new software into the Zafira’s motronic. And we’re ready to roll again. Welcome to the brave new automobile world. Brilliant: a bit of fancy computer work and the fault is repaired.

But this happy state does not last for very long. A mere 160 kilometres after our last refuelling stop there’s hardly any hydrogen left. We slow down and make it until the clock says 182.3 kilometres. Alex von Kropff pulls out his laptop again and heats the tank up at a mouseClick. “That will increase the pressure in the hydrogen tank.” And we do indeed manage another two kilometres. But that really is the end of the line. Eight kilometres to the next scheduled refuelling stop and we are stuck.

Shell Hydrogen and Linde AG are handling the fueling by providing trucks of hydrogen.

Another 175 kilometres to the next refuelling stop, this one in Hammering. And the weather is still not really to our liking. The Opel only wants to take 70 percent of its liquid hydrogen on board. Reason? the wind is too strong. Is our fuel station easily upset by the weather? “In a manner of speaking, yes” says Dr. Gerd Arnold, head of the department for hydrogen storage and infrastructure at Opel. “When refuelling, gaseous hydrogen is released from the Zafira tank. If the wind is blowing the wrong way, sensors register the hydrogen escaping and immediately interrupt the process.” Safety first. If there were a network of hydrogen stations this would not be a problem, because the gas would be drawn off and locked in airtight tanks, Arnold explains.

The demonstrations and trials that are part of the recent DOE investment are important -- practical experience will yield very useful data and insight, even into areas such as controls and interface.


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