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GM, Honda to collaborate on next-generation fuel cell technologies; targeting commercial feasibility in 2020 time frame

FCX_Clarity_120
2011 Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle. Click to enlarge.

In New York, General Motors and Honda announced a long-term, definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming for the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.) The collaboration expects to succeed by sharing expertise, economies of scale and common sourcing strategies.

GM and Honda plan to work together with stakeholders to further advance hydrogen refueling infrastructure, which is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.

GM-FuelCell-MIlestones
GM’s hydrogen fuel cell product milestones. Click to enlarge.

In January, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., signed a three-way agreement for the joint development of a common fuel cell system to speed up availability of the technology and significantly reduce investment costs. (Earlier post.)

The goal of that collaboration is to develop jointly a common fuel cell electric vehicle system while reducing investment costs associated with the engineering of the technology. The strategy is to maximize design commonality, leverage volume and derive efficiencies through economies of scale to help to launch mass-market FCEVs as early as 2017.

GM and Honda are both leaders in fuel cell technology, with longstanding fuel cell research and development programs. According to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, GM and Honda rank Nº 1 and Nº 2, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed between 2002 and 2012, with more than 1,200 between them.

This collaboration builds upon Honda and GM’s strengths as leaders in hydrogen fuel cell technology. We are convinced this is the best way to develop this important technology, which has the potential to help reduce the dependence on petroleum and establish sustainable mobility.

—Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO

Among all zero CO2 emission technologies, fuel cell electric vehicles have a definitive advantage with range and refueling time that is as good as conventional gasoline cars. Honda and GM are eager to accelerate the market penetration of this ultimate clean mobility technology, and I am excited to form this collaboration to fuse our leading fuel cell technologies and create an advanced system that will be both more capable and more affordable.

—Takanobu Ito, president & CEO of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

GM’s Project Driveway program, launched in 2007, has accumulated nearly 3 million miles of real-world driving in a fleet of 119 hydrogen-powered vehicles, more than any other automaker. (Earlier post.)

Honda began leasing of the Honda FCX in 2002 and has deployed 85 units in the US and Japan, including its successor, the FCX Clarity. (Earlier post.) Honda has delivered these vehicles to the hands of customers in the US and collected valuable data concerning real-world use of fuel cell electric vehicles.

As already announced, Honda plans to launch the successor of FCX Clarity in Japan and the United States in 2015, and then in Europe. GM will announce its fuel cell production plans at a later date.

Fuel cell vehicles can have up to 400 miles driving range, can be refueled in as little as three minutes, and the propulsion technology can be used on small, medium, and large vehicles, the partners noted.

Toyota, which has put more than 5 million hybrid vehicles on the road around the world since 1997, has also set hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as a key research and development priority for the company. The company has committed to introducing a hydrogen fuel cell sedan in the US by 2015. Toyota’s Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle – Advanced (FCHV-adv), part of a fleet of 100 in a nationwide demonstration program, was recently on-site at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Comments

Davemart

I forgot to add.
High mileage including regular long distance trips is pretty well why people pay the premium for diesel cars.

Mannstein

@ E-P

Now I've heard everything a subscription fee just for the privilege of buying some capitalists' products. Why not suggest that to the oil companies. They'll jump right on it.

Mannstein

The sky is falling. FCEV may actually be a success if the price is right and the consumers find them to their liking.

Darius

IMHO opinion the H2 is complete scam.

Devenmart,

For 100 miles commute or frequent long trip drivers diesel will remain dominant. Hydrogen would be more complicated option than EV with battery swap option for them. Electrification of those company sales cars could start from SUV EREV with 100 miles AER.

Davemart

Darius:

I don't do crystal ball predictions, I will leave it to you to do the gazing and prophesying.

Everyone else sees diesel and hybrids dominating for long distance in the short term, but most of the car companies reckon they can make fuel cells work in the longer term, and they are a cleaner and more efficient alternative to hit increasingly strict standards.

No-one except Tesla is now going for battery swapping.
Tesla though are only doing their own cars.

The difficulties in persuading every company to standardise a fast changing technology enough so that battery swapping is possible without having a large number of different models in stock are 'considerable'.

So are the costs of setting up stations and keeping spares there, and the accounting for batteries in different states of charge where customers may want the original back is non-trivial.

I think I will go along with the car companies and the DOE on what is likely to be practical.

Kit P

"I don't do crystal ball predictions, "

Wait for it!

That right predictions.

Darius

Devenmart,

What is the point waisting energy and producing hydrogen using electricity? 75% of energy would be wasted - 50% during electrolysis and the rest in FCV.
What is the point using NG for hydrogen production inatead of using directly for transportation?
What is the rationel behind producing hydrogen instead of electricity at high temperature reactors?
Electricity generation evenening and power storage issue is highly exagerated. Thera are much cheper and more energy efficient options than producing hydrogen - flexible gas, hydro, nuclear and even coal (Germany) power generation plants reacting to variable wind power supply. That is not science fiction. Solar do not needs any storage since it is available during peak and absolutely predictable. Hydrogen is science fiction.

Roger Pham

@Darius,
Many concepts that were science fiction at one time became reality. Jules Verne's Moon travel and Submarine travel became reality. Ditto for robotic and bionic and AI...George Orwell's "1984" now is confirmed reality!!!

Continual technology advancement WRT H2 electrolysis and FC, making these devices cheaper and with much higher durability, AND without requiring platinum, will allow for low-cost H2 production from Renewable Energy and Nuclear Energy.

The heat resulting from the 20% efficiency loss in electrolysis can be used for hot water heating in large facilities and manufacturing. The heat resulting from the 40% efficiency loss in the H2-FC can be used for winter home, office, and cabin heating and defrosting in cars. If wisely placed and utilized, round-trip efficiency for H2 production and consumption can be very high and can rival BEV's efficiency from RE source to wheel.

Bob Wallace

Davemart - There are several hundred BYD e6 EVs doing taxi work right now.

They've got a 180+ mile range and they grab a rapid recharge during driver meal breaks. Some of them stay on the road 24 hours a day. The unit with the highest mileage passed 155,000 some weeks ago. (Original batteries.)

The Tesla S is available with 230 and 300 mile range.

We can build EVs for people who drive a lot. We already are. The price is still high, but prices will drop.

Range is simply not an issue once we have more affordable ~180 mile range EVs. It will be just a matter of placing rapid chargers at adequate intervals along our travel routes.

Bob Wallace

"Continual technology advancement WRT H2 electrolysis and FC, making these devices cheaper and with much higher durability, AND without requiring platinum, will allow for low-cost H2 production from Renewable Energy and Nuclear Energy."

Let's assume the equipment used to crack water into hydrogen and oxygen is free. Can't get cheaper than free.

You start with electricity and lose energy cracking water.

Then you've got to compress that hydrogen and distribute it. More loss.

Then you're going to use it in a fuel cell to make electricity which will be used to spin the motor. More loss.

All that loss has to be overcome in some fashion in order to let FCEVs take market share away from EVs that run on much cheaper 'fuel'. The electricity cost per mile for a FCEV will probably be more than twice that of an EV.

And you've got infrastructure all along the way that will have to be built. The cost of that infrastructure will feed into fuel cost.

And there's another little problem for FCEVs. EVs can charge off the cheapest power during the 24 hour cycle. Or even skip a day or more, waiting for cheaper electricity. Hydrogen plants will have to run pretty much around the clock in order to cover their capex.


The only way I can see FCEVs dominate is if turns out to be very much cheaper to build a fuel cell than batteries. (And I suspect batteries are going to end up quite cheap.)


Range won't be the determining issue. Most people are going to be quite satisfied with an EV that's ready to drive 200 miles when they climb in each morning. They'll like that better than driving to the hydrogen station for a fill up.

Darius

Roger Pham,

Everything could be invented but laws of phisics quite stable. Energy transformation always makes losses. 'Hydrogen' is just one more transformation which currently gives aditional 75% energy losses. What for are all this hassle, investment and energy losses? For range anxiety? Make 40, 60 or 100 miles EREV with biofuel extender in relation of your needs and problem solved. Long range hauling shall be transffered to electric railways. Everything is existing and technology in place. If you going wait for inventions - wait for Tesla type solution. Hydrogen simply does NOT make any sense from very begining (phisics) till the end (economy).

Kit P

“What is the rationel behind producing hydrogen instead of electricity at high temperature reactors? ”

Teacher, teacher, pick me I know the answer!

Hydrogen is an important industrial gas used as a feed stock in many processes. It will never be used directly as a fuel. It is just to dangerous to handle. Most of hydrogen production is from natural gas.

The concept of HTGCR uses fission to produce high temperature process steam to more efficiently produce hydrogen. Lower temperature steam is used to make electricity. HTGCR would be placed next to the industrial process.

In the US we were looking at having prototype up and running at Idaho National Labs by 2025. That was the plan when we were running out of NG and looking at importing LNG. That has changed thanks to the recent increases in production.

Davemart

I can't be bothered rehashing the answers to most of the objections raised against fuel cells and hydrogen yet again, when it appears since they raise the same things time and time again even when chapter and verse has been given them that they are being wilfully obtuse.

Suffice to say that using Natural gas in a combustion engine even after allowing for reforming and compression losses uses it around half as efficiently as using it to produce hydrogen and powering a fuel cell.

If you think chucking away half the energy is a good idea, fine.
If you don't believe my figures, the most trivial research would confirm them for you.

As for the nonsense that it is easy to run a grid high on renewables without utilising hydrogen in it, I suggest that those who think that write away to every country and region that is actually trying to implement a grid in heavy renewables, as that is the way they are all doing it.

To be clear, what I say about fuel cells and hydrogen is simply agreeing with what most of the major car companies and the DOE says.

The fringe people are those who reckon that batteries alone can do everything, and notions that renewables work without hydrogen are simply uninformed tosh.

If you want to say that the consensus view is wrong, then lets have detailed numeric analysis and a rational case made point by point against the volumes of studies on the matter, not just endless maundering about it all being a conspiracy and random irrational claims.

Engineer-Poet

Davemart, I find it hard to believe that the typical PEM FC (60%) plus the losses in steam-reforming methane plus purification (30% losses, net 42% before transportation and compression) are twice as efficient as combustion engines.  Combustion engines hit 40% without undue difficulty, roughly par with the NG-H2FC chain.

More to the point, the NGV conversion is cheap and can be done quickly.

Kit P

Wait for it!

Oh, that sure looks like rehashing to me.

“If you think chucking away half the energy is a good idea, fine. ”

I thinking the dull bulb who wrote that did not bother to take thermodynamics.

Bob Wallace

Continuing to use natural gas for any reason is to shoot ourselves in the foot. We really need to leave sequestered carbon sequestered.

Plus, it's quite likely we'll be running short which will make prices soar in not that many years.

Now, as far as hydrogen for electricity storage. Perhaps.

Do you have any prices for storing a kWh of electricity? It needs to be well under $0.10/kWh to be a player.

Roger Pham

@Bob and Darius,

As Davemart and I have discussed, without an H2 energy storage system capable of seasonal scale storage, zero-carbon energy economy will not be practical. Nuclear energy will reduce the magnitude of energy storage required, but cannot eliminate it. Solar and wind energy is cheap, plentiful, safe, and can employ a lot of low-skilled, low-tech workers who otherwise will be a burden for society in this modern globalised economy.

How much it would cost to store 1 kWh of electricity in the form of H2 will depend on the cost and durability of electrolyzers, of FC, etc. With increasingly low-cost FC, electrolyzers and extremely high durability, we will see that the cost of H2 energy storage will be very low, probably lower than any other forms. Efficiency will be very high when the electrolyzers and FC's are distributed where the waste heat can be utilized extensively.

The build up and maintenance of an H2 economy will create millions of badly-needed blue-collar jobs that has been vanishing due to globalization and computerization and robotics! Trillions of USD's have been wasted in ineffective job creation efforts and economic stimuli, with totally uncoordinated efforts that have done nothing. The PRIVATE money that will be spent on the future H2 economy will pay off big dividends in term of jobs, economic growth, and environment advantages.

Engineer-Poet
Continuing to use natural gas for any reason is to shoot ourselves in the foot. We really need to leave sequestered carbon sequestered.

Thank you for the utterly impractical admonition.  We are not about to turn off all the fossil-fired generators on the grid because they free sequestered carbon, nor are we about to go back to horse-drawn transport fueled by biomass.  We'll barely have such changes half-complete in the next 20 years.  We do have a choice about which generators we use and what runs our vehicles.

What's better, carbon-wise:  natural gas, or petroleum and coal?  It's a no-brainer.

If Obama had a serious climate agenda, he'd be pushing nuclear power to get coal and natural gas off the grid, and instead use that gas to run cars and trucks.  Instead, he appoints anti-nuclear zealots to the DOE and NRC.  That's not science, and it's barely politics; it's almost pure ideology.

Engineer-Poet
without an H2 energy storage system capable of seasonal scale storage, zero-carbon energy economy will not be practical.

Electrolyzers must be extremely cheap (and trouble-free) to be competitive, and have extremely cheap energy to feed them.  This is a very tall order.

Grid energy storage on the scale of weekly cycles is done relatively easily with compressed air.  Seasonal storage of RE has historically not been done on a large scale outside of forests and massive hydro reservoirs.  It is the classic tough nut to crack, and no amount of wishing will make it otherwise.

Kit P

"Now, as far as hydrogen for electricity storage. Perhaps."

Around people? When worked at nuke plants there three things I was afraid of, hydrogen, rotating equipment, and high voltage equipment.

"done relatively easily with compressed air"

I am guessing that the control system engineer has never worked with air compressors. When I was first in the navy I met my first industrial air compressor. It had a blast shield around it because it blew up and killed a sailor.

I was also responsible for compressors that collect and compressed hydrogen for storage at a nuke plant. The purpose of the five large tanks was to allow the trace amounts of fission product gases to decay before being released.

The reason we did this was to reduce off site exposure to an insignificant level. My job involved periodically going in the rooms to check for problems. One night an detector was ejected from the piping because a retaining ring was not installed when last repaired. This missile just missed my head by two steps. Judging from the damage to concreted, by head would have not survived the encounter.

This mechanical engineer had some words for the the control system engineer who designed the logic that over pressured the system.

Bob Wallace

"As Davemart and I have discussed, without an H2 energy storage system capable of seasonal scale storage, zero-carbon energy economy will not be practical." - Roger.

I'm sorry. That's simply incorrect. I can post a summary of the Budischak, et al paper or you can read it for yourself.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/1NrBZJejkUTRYJv5YE__kBFuecdDL2pDTvKLyBjfCPr_8yR7eCTDhLGm8oEPo/edit

If you read it keep in mind that wind has already fallen in cost to their 2030 projection and solar is already less. And we have new, less expensive storage technology apparently coming on line.

Bob Wallace

" We'll barely have such changes half-complete in the next 20 years. We do have a choice about which generators we use and what runs our vehicles.

What's better, carbon-wise: natural gas, or petroleum and coal? It's a no-brainer."

Yes, it will take more than 20 years to get all the carbon off our grid. Unless we get a lot more serious about it than we now are.

What's better for our personal transportation: natural gas, petroleum, coal or some combination of the three?

None of those options.

Move transportation right now to EVs and PHEVs. Cut our petroleum use for personal transportation to less than 20% of what it is now.

Get coal off our grids by using renewables and natural gas as a fill-in while we bring better storage technology on line.

Quit screwing around with getting a few more MPG out of internal combustion engines and shove them into the role of seldom used range extenders.

We've got the technology to give us cheaper, cleaner electricity right now and to let us drive for less per mile.

Engineer-Poet
Yes, it will take more than 20 years to get all the carbon off our grid. Unless we get a lot more serious about it than we now are.

Sadly, you've just shown that you aren't the least bit serious.

Move transportation right now to EVs and PHEVs. Cut our petroleum use for personal transportation to less than 20% of what it is now.

Something I've pushed myself, with LNG as an immediate substitute for petroleum diesel.

Get coal off our grids by using renewables and natural gas as a fill-in while we bring better storage technology on line.

BZZZT!  Wrong answer, thanks for playing.  The storage technology required for renewables to pick up that burden DOES NOT EXIST, and the capital cost would have to be cut to unprecedented levels to make it competitive.  Increasing the cost of energy means less quality of life for hundreds of millions of people.  They will NOT accept it, torpedoing your goals as part and parcel of your defective strategy for achieving them.

We could have gotten coal off the US grid by the mid-1980's if we hadn't gotten hysterical about non-existent nuclear hazards.  Even the ancient, pre-NRC plants like the GE BWRs with the Mark I containments have had exactly zero radiation fatalities in their entire history.  Nuclear is the only technology we have which can undercut the price of electricity from coal (which it did, in the AEC era), and all we have to do to make it happen again is to get rid of the NRC's straitjacket of overlapping, outmoded and horribly counterproductive regulations and replace them with something sane.  Say, something which counts the risks of the alternatives, including climate change?  Maybe something which admits that ordinary commercial-grade parts are good enough for most purposes, and the FAA has a perfectly fine system of guaranteeing safe, quality products that the public can trust without driving cost into orbit as the NRC has done?

We've got the technology to give us cheaper, cleaner electricity right now and to let us drive for less per mile.

Indeed, we do.  What you don't want to admit is that the technology is nuclear fission.

dursun

I've heard this Song & Dance before

GM has been spending about $100 million a year for the past five years to get the fuel cell technology working, and the company expects hydrogen production vehicles in 2010. One of the first major hydrogen markets could be China, Lutz said, where many nuclear plants could produce the fuel cheaply and cleanly.
Kit P

“non-existent nuclear hazards ”

E-P is just wrong. The hazard are very real. Potentially fatal radiation exposure to people who live around a nuke plant is unique to the nuke segment of the power industry. We in the nuclear industry take them very seriously. Our safety record with LWRs is a testimony to that commitment.

He is also wrong about the NRC. When the name on the outside of the building changed the same people were reviewing the safety of reactors inside.

“ordinary commercial-grade parts are good enough for most purposes ”

The code ASME B31.1, Power Plant Piping, is used for most purposes just as at a coal plant.

A pressure transmitter for nuke plant and a coal plant are basically the same. If the purpose is 'safety related' that means it must function to protect people off site from radioactive material exposure even during an earthquake.

Maybe E-P thinks that it okay for nuke plants to release significant amounts of radioactive material after an earthquake. Yes it is costly to design nuke plants to withstand earthquakes, tornadoes, and everything else we can think of happening.

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