Honda Showcases FCX Concept, Sets 2008 Market Entry; Re-emphasizes T2B5 US Diesel for 2009
24 September 2006
|FCX Concept zips around the track in Japan.|
In a press event at its R&D facility north of Tokyo, Honda showcased its FCX Concept fuel cell vehicle (earlier post), putting it through its paces on the test track at about 100 mph. The company says it plans limited marketing in Japan and the US for the vehicle starting in 2008.
In January of this year, Honda had indicated it would begin production of its next-generation FCX hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV) in three to four years. The 2008 date indicates ongoing rapid advancement in Honda’s technology.
|The V-Flow (3V) system. Vertical gas flow, vertebral layout, volume-efficient. Note the cutaway of the rear wheel showing the in-wheel motor. Click to enlarge.|
The FCX Concept uses a new, compact 3V System fuel cell platform that enables the lowest-floor platform in a fuel cell vehicle yet. Oxygen and hydrogen flow from the top to the bottom of the fuel cell stack (Vertical gas flow) and the fuel cells are arranged vertically in the center tunnel (Vertebral layout) for new, high-efficiency fuel cell packaging (Volume efficiency).
The new stack delivers 100 kW of power, compared to the 86 kW of the 2006 FCX. The key to the fuel cell’s performance is water management; Honda’s new system takes full advantage of gravity to efficiently discharge water formed during electricity generation.
Honda also used the event to re-emphasize its planned introduced of a Tier 2 Bin 5 compliant diesel in the US by 2009.
In deliver the required emissions performance, Honda is concentrating on advanced combustion management with Premixed Charge Compression Ignition (PCCI) and a trap-type lean NOx catalyst (LNC). (Earlier post.)
Of the two announcements, the T2B5 diesel is perhaps the more relevant in terms of potential sales volume. The production and distribution infrastructure for diesel is already in place. My guess is fuel cost (in US$/mile) should be 10-15% lower than for a similar vehicle with a comparable gasoline engine, with lower CO2 emissions. The vehicle should be cheaper than a gasoline hybrid, though.
PCCI is one of umpteen variations of HCCI, a flameless combustion control strategy with good efficiency yet low NOx and PM emissions. It can only be used once the engine is warm and then only at low loads due to the mechanical stress and high combustion noise levels associated with near-isochoric combustion. The increased engine-out emissions of CO and HC are rendered harmless by the anyhow present oxidation catalyst. Btw, VW calls its variation on this theme combined combustion system (CCS).
The NOx store catalyst will be senstive to sulphur in the fuel, so you should fill up on ULSD only. By 2009, availability of this grade should not be a problem anywhere in the US. Note that Honda apparently plans to make do without a particulate filter. Variations of the engine control parameters permit a trade-off between NOx and PM levels.
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 24 September 2006 at 02:54 PM
No mention of the cost of the fuel cell vehicle must mean that it's still orders of magnitude more expensive than even the "way too expensive" EVs that were dropped for lack of a viable market. I really don't understand how something more expensive that uses a new fuel that's only going to be available at a few places is going to do any better in the "free" market?
Posted by: Erick | 24 September 2006 at 03:46 PM
Anyone with a lick of common sense knows that.
Sure would like to see a small-diesel hybrid.
Posted by: Lucas | 24 September 2006 at 03:53 PM
According to CNN, there is a bit more to this story.
"Way out in the future, the ultimate green car will be fuel cell vehicles," Fukui said. (Honda Chief Executive Takeo Fukui) "But in the meantime, you need a wide range of green technology to meet varying local needs and fuel supply."
I'll go along with that.
Posted by: Lucas | 24 September 2006 at 07:05 PM
A fuel cell car will be very nice in japan where 1 you dont drive all that mucyh and 2 gas and diesel costs a ton and 3 the abiluty to get fuel supplies or grow anything is limited.
Dont forget after bunker fuel runs out transport of fuels will be VERY expensive and many places in the world simply cant grow fuel.
Posted by: wintermane | 24 September 2006 at 07:34 PM
I'm an advocate for any sort of electric powertrain, hybrid, fuel cell or otherwise, as long as it helps us ditch the internal combustion engine, and helps individual societies achieve true energy independence. So the FCX announcement is positive news, no matter what the hydrogen economy detractors will say.
(Someone will probably pick on my comment about energy independence - I'll just refer you to one of the FCX's key testing grounds - a small Japanese island where hydroelectric power produced enough electricity to power both all the homes as well as make fuel for the fuel cell cars. A good microcosm if nothing else.)
Posted by: AES | 24 September 2006 at 07:58 PM
Lots of people would say that solar PV to hydrogen is not what you want to do. But consider Japan, no NG, no oil, no vast land to grow fuels. If you can master the art of low cost high efficiency solar panels, why not perfect the high efficiency hydrogen generation and fuel your cars...very clean.
Posted by: SJC | 24 September 2006 at 08:08 PM
Wintermane: In the not too distant future, the three points you attributed to Japan will apply to every country on Earth. Some countries will be able to grow a relatively small amount of biofuels, and coal will be here for the rest of our lifetimes (unfortunately). What I personally expect Japan to do is invest heavily in off-shore wind power. If they do not have any land, one thing that they do have is ocean, and seagulls don't vote.
SJC: Highly efficient PV arrays are a very attractive option, especially with the infant Nano revolution in full effect. I'm excited about the new film printing methods being developed. I am still much more confident about the future of wind power, however.
Posted by: Bike Commuter Dude | 24 September 2006 at 08:34 PM
I understand the previous comments about the simple cost being extortionate making it less than accessible. I agree, certainly the fuel cell tech would have to prove a cheaper alternative to fuel, beyond the mere 'no petrol' expense, associated with the car. However I think that once infrastructure takes shape and oil dwindles to its last drop, economies of scale and mass production will provide the market configuration necessary to make the car a 'real' choice for every day buyers!! At the very least this car represents a remarkable evolution in a novel technology!
Posted by: Hydrogen Fan | 24 September 2006 at 08:36 PM
Here's a decent post on the economics of the FCX...
Posted by: Rudy G. | 24 September 2006 at 10:57 PM
I'd love to know what an FCX costs to make. You can't make an economic comparison without knowing what the vehicle costs.
Posted by: Sid Hoffman | 24 September 2006 at 11:34 PM
"Hydrogen economy: energy and economic black hole"
Posted by: Dursun | 25 September 2006 at 03:15 AM
"The Myth of the Hydrogen Economy"
Posted by: Dursun | 25 September 2006 at 03:22 AM
Here's even more recent:
Hydrogen just has no place in (land-based personal transportation) vehicles.
It probably has a significant role to play in other modes of transportation, though.
Posted by: kert | 25 September 2006 at 04:56 AM
Could both promising future technologies; (ESUs + small Fuel cell with converter) be combined in the same PHEV to extend the range without the air pollution and noise from ICE on-board generator?
ESUs = Energy Storage Device = Batteries and/or Super-Capacitors.
Posted by: Harvey D. | 25 September 2006 at 06:25 AM
To learn how much your particular car contributes to poor air quality and incedence of asthma in children, check out Environmental Working Group's Auto Asthma Index:
Posted by: Matthew | 25 September 2006 at 07:50 AM
You can gasify the billion tons of biomass waste the U.S. generates every year, extract the hydrogen and sequester the CO2. This would take CO2 out of the atmosphere and slow global warming.
Posted by: SJC | 25 September 2006 at 08:02 AM
Ok some simple facts.
The type 4 reactor produces MORE electricity then older reactors... AND produces a ton of h2. All using the same amount of fuel as the old reactors used just to make a smaller amount of electricity.
2 The fuel cell car does not need the equive of a 16 gallon fuel tank. It only needs a 4 gallon tank and that ALREADY allows a fuel cell car TODAY right this second on this very earthj in reality.. to drive 250 miles. And the next gen of fuel cells are more efficient and the next gen of fuel cell car will get alot more miles per kilo of h2...
3 they have boosted the efficiency of generating h2 quite a bit it no longer takes as much energy to do it.
4 Hybrid designs of the fuel cell car are ghetting very very high nilage per kilo AND in many cases can avoid using h2 for short trips altogether.
Now combine the errors you had and see the difference.
Where before you thought it would take 900 reactors... It now takes ... maybe 50 reactors. And that only if we JUST use those reactors and not solar and wind and wave as well...
So likely 25 reactors. And since we dont plan to replace them all overnight guess what we need in 2015? You got it NADA ZIP ZILCH new reactors.
But in 2020 when bunker fuel runs realy low and global warming has totaly fubared everything as far as outdoor ag... wont you be happy a few power plants will be able to prvide a few kilos of h2 for you to go to the beach on the weekends in the same car that runs on electric only most of the week in short trips?
Wont that be spiffy?
Posted by: wintermane | 25 September 2006 at 08:39 AM
Your 4 gallon hydrogen tank costs just as much as a nice sports car if it is made of carbonfiber (and other advanced ultra light materials) or weighs as much as 2 full 16gallon gas tanks if made of steel (and other cheap to produce materials).
Posted by: Patrick | 25 September 2006 at 10:45 AM
With current pricing of diesel fuel in US (10-15% more expensive than regular petrol), diesel cars have a limited market (except trucks for their torque) in US. I personally wanted to buy diesel volkswagen, but had no intention to buy mexican assembled jetta, and golf was not in the market. The fuel cost difference offsets the benefit of longevity of the diesel engine. So ended up buying Civic Hybrid, plus errogant VW dealerships would mark up over MSRP, while I got Civic Hybrid 500 USD below MSRP.
Posted by: Art | 25 September 2006 at 02:06 PM
Um you do know the carbon fiber tanks are both lighter and less costly to make then the old steel ones while holding more fuel didnt you?
The new design is made to be cheaply built once mass production goes into effect.
And remember folks the fuel cell and tank nd electric morots and small battery pack may seem expensive but its replacing ALL the spendy parts of your csr.
Posted by: wintermane | 25 September 2006 at 03:36 PM
what is a csr?
Posted by: uygy | 26 September 2006 at 05:05 AM
Read carefully wintermane. I said it will EITHER be more expensive (made of carbon fiber) OR (notice the *OR* there) will be very heavy if made of cheaper materials.
Sorry, there is no method to mass produce carbon fiber tanks. You can't hydroform it, injection mold it, stamp it, etc. Carbon fiber of the necessary strength MUST be cooked in an autoclave at extreme pressures and high temperatures otherwise it will NOT hold the pressure required. If you know how to mass produce carbon fiber I'm sure the automakers would love to hear it since they would start making many automotive components of Carbon Fiber and (actually nearly every company developing transportation goods/vehicles would love to know how to mass-produce carbon fiber and personally I'd like to get a carbon fiber bicycle for less than $4000).
I don't doubt that they are attempting to make it such that the cost is minimized but there are a few facts concerning carbon fiber that cannot be mitigated with our current manufacturing technology. [you can hand lay and then vacuum bag simple carbon fiber items at home but these are only a little stronger than fiberglass and not even close to the strength of carbon fiber done in an autoclave nor as difficult to build as a cylindrical tank]
Posted by: Patrick | 26 September 2006 at 08:44 AM
see the link below for a novel approach to manufacturing composite pressure vessels for the pneumatic brake systems of HDVs and buses. It is based on cylindrical tubes (relatively easy to mass-produce) and two-piece inserts for the ends. Deformable wedge-shaped sections ensure that the circimference of the inner insert is pressed tightly against the cylinder wall when a tensile force is applied between the insert pieces during installation. A sealing compound is used as well, but the pressure load is balanced by friction alone.
The concept makes it easy to fashion tubular tanks of any desired length and could also be applied to carbon fiber composites. However, I know too little about it to assert that it would be suitable for overpressures as high as 700 bar.
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 26 September 2006 at 12:58 PM
Actauly thats the entire point. They found a new way to make the tank;/ Its covered in more detail in other articles about the car but I cant find the bloody things via google and firget where I saw em.
The basic goal was a relatively cheap 10k psi tank mass produced and used in numbers to make any sized fuel system needed.
Posted by: wintermane | 27 September 2006 at 06:11 AM