Toyota embraces the “Bullsh*t” about hydrogen

22 April 2015

Toyota has tapped award-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock to show how calling hydrogen fuel cell vehicles “bullsh*t”—an oft-quoted opinion of Elon Musk—isn’t far from the truth. “Fueled by Bullsh*t” is the first online video in a multi-part “Fueled by Everything” series aimed to educate a broad audience about the innovative ways hydrogen fuel can be made from renewable sources.

Spurlock directed the 3-minute piece which features a dairy farmer and mechanical engineer as they follow cow manure to its ultimate use in powering the hydrogen fuel cell electric Toyota Mirai.

Beyond high quality dung, hydrogen can be manufactured from other renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biogas from landfills.

Toyota is launching the multi-series video campaign through the Toyota Mirai website and additional digital properties with paid online media support. The Toyota Mirai site will also feature a deeper dive into the scientific process of creating hydrogen fuel, with explanations from scientists and experts in the field. This content will also appear across Toyota social and media partner sites, including Forbes.com, YouTube and Hulu.

yep, H2 CAN be made from clean, renewable sources. And energy CAN be source from unicorn farts....I just gotta find me a unicorn now.

Quit telling me "can" and look at what IS and what will CONTINUE to be for the next 10-20 years.

DaveD:

A third of transport hydrogen is currently from renewables in California, at the moment from sewage and landfill gas.

There is no problem in maintaining this proportion as far ahead as we can see, and Europe is making at least comparable proportions.

So this IS what is and WILL continue for the next 10-20 years.

What 'was' and what 'is' is not good enough because both include burning fossil fuels creating pollution and GHG.

We have to move towards what 'will' be at a much faster rate.

That could very well be many more BEVs and FCEVs with HEVs and BEVs as interim solutions.

Electricity generation will also have to be cleaned up. Clean REs will have to replace current polluting CPSs (and old NPPs in selected places). NGPPs will survive for a few decades but will also have to be replaced to reduce GHGs at a safe level.

CORRECTION:

...with HEVs and BEVs as....should read ...HEVs and PHEVs as....

The main problem with electric automobiles is the cost. Range worries can be eliminated with on board electric generators that are seldom used and use politically correct fuels such as some form of ethanol most of the time if used at all. Automobiles are not bought by most people to be efficient but to be decorative and large and powerfull. Costs of electric automobiles can be reduced by eliminating most of the battery and expensive high power electronics, but there is no reason to do so because hydraulic hybrids can eliminate half the fuel consumption as demonstrated by ARTEMIS withous any weight increase. Any future mandate for efficient automobiles should include hydraulic hybrid requirements. Every automobile company can incorporate ARTEMIS or similar INNAS technology with no increase in weight into every new automobile made to double the fuel efficiency. These tranmissions can be even cheaper to build and maintain than current ones. BS can be converted to food in varius ways and can be used as food for cattle almost directly and directly as plant food. Let the US continue to feed food to automobiles whilst some in the US are hungry. ..HG..

There's lot of money being spent by those who will profit selling hydrogen to the masses; good sound scientific, logical thinking is being trumped by mass media propaganda from the oil companies and their auto partners; that would be Toyota and Honda and the International Oil Companies who manufacture hydrogen from natural gas and oil. They don't want the disruptive technology of battery electric cars to derail their control of U.S. energy. What they want is to keep the current system in place by using hydrogen instead of gasoline...'Gasoline 2,' if you will.

As the old saying goes "there is no such thing as bad publicity" and I'm sure this works well for Tesla who seem to need a continuous stream of press releases and news articles where their name is mentioned.

I'm sure the more attention they get in the media the more likely it will be for potential buyers to become familiar with their car(s) and consider buying their products.

The steam reformer needs steam. Energy is needed to obtain steam. Wikipedia mentions an efficiency of 65 to 70% for the steam methane reformer (SMR) to convert methane into hydrogen. And it produces CO2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_reforming

And then they have to liquify to fill in the hydrogen tank in the car. Another efficiency of 90%. http://greyfalcon.net/hydrogen4.png
Then the fuel cell will convert hydrogen into electricity, efficient 50%. Then electricity to motive power.

Rough total : 29% from methane to motive power. Ooops. Why not burn methane the old way in a combustion engine then, it would be just the same value.

The movie is great but not convincing when you look at the figures.

H2 from REs is the future for FCEVs, home heating, hot water, cooking etc.

@mathias:

The average efficiency of the US grid: 33%
T & D losses: 6%
Wall to battery: 10-20%

Total efficiency of a BEV: around 26-27%

Detailed calculations and sourced figures from Government data here:
http://seekingalpha.com/instablog/423259-davewmart/3654826-are-bevs-really-more-energy-efficient-than-fuel-cell-vehicles

The "Hydrogen Economy" has been bullshit since Bush's Freedom Car program.

SMR:
1 mole CH4 + 2 mole H2O --> 1 mole CO2 + 4 mole H2

1 gallon of gas equivalent of NG = 2.57 kg NG, which at 18 g/mole is equal to 143 moles of NG. Therefore at a 4:1 molar ratio of H2:CH4 in a SMR yields 1.14 kg H2.

Now, assuming 75% SMR efficiency and a 53% efficient FC, results in an overall 45% effective efficiency per gallon of gas equivalent of natural gas. Which is twice the efficiency of burning NG!!!

Don't forget that Steam Methane Reforming using two parts water for one part NG and recovers 75% of the total hydrogen in both the methane and the steam (water)!!!

Very clever advertisement, so kudos to Morgan Spurlock for making bullshit look appealing.

But Toyota can't win for losing. The negative environmental impact of cattle is very well documented. This is not where we want to get our future fuels from.

"A new study suggests that the production of beef is around 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock."
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28409704

"FAO says livestock production is one of the major causes of the world's most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."
http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm

Agriculture is a significant driver of global warming and causes 15% of all emissions, half of which are from livestock. Furthermore, the huge amounts of grain and water needed to raise cattle is a concern to experts worried about feeding an extra 2 billion people by 2050...

...the research shows a new scale and scope of damage, particularly for beef. The popular red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions.
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/21/giving-up-beef-reduce-carbon-footprint-more-than-cars

Moving away from beef is progress. Building an entirely new fuel infrastructure which depends on *the continued promulgation* of this water and carbon intensive source is, well, bullshit.

The first technology of H2 vs battery to enable:
- a modern F-150 towing 12000 lbs with a payload of 3000 lbs while passing on a 2% up incline at 65 mph over a 600 mi range for $60 full charge over 7 years of 500 full charge cycles, starting up in the a.m. outside at 10F, for an overall vehicle cost less than$45k with a 5-yr full 'power storage system' replacement warrantee and a 60% recharge in 30 minutes based on an off-the-shelf home charge station

...will dominate the G7 countries new vehicle tech category. Batteries may have the lead in this benchmark, but H2 likely had the greatest potential, but for lack of development effort and money. Whatever, the answer, or hopefully both, it will need to occur before 2020. The money investment trajectory will need to plateau and its primary funders and lab/ developers will certainly have R&D fatigue by then - the result being the slow death of incremental ICE mileage increases and an ever en'small'ening vehicle chassis - a conclusion that most think is far less than ideal for a transportation diverse and productivity-directed socio-economic system(and the happiness of the normal red-blooded driver).

@electric-car-insider Hear, hear. Everyone listen to and hear what 'eci' has to say. And apart from that best criticism, no mention is made of the collection and bulldozing of the bull---, the transportation of it via truck to the digesters, the spreading of it, the energy used to reform, compress and store it, transport it (again) to a central location, and the energy and inconvenience "required" for each vehicle to get to that location. Am I missing anything? So yeah, other than those things, great idea and clever commercial.

MAC:
Thanks for that calculation.
If it materially affects the figures I gave, I would be grateful if you would post a worked up version on my blog I listed.

The figures I used accord well with the studies I have seen which presumably include the contribution from the water, such as:
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/27637.pdf

It should be noted though that the figures assume that NG is used for the heating.

You obtain very different figures if other resources, for instance solar, are used to provide the heating or contribute to it.

Typically the fake figures bandied around by battery only folk assume that solar is used for electricity production to charge the car, with issues of availability magically solved both for charging at night when most of it happens, and over the winter season too.

They however assume that the hydrogen production route is fossil fuel all the way.

In reality not only does the mandated one third contribution of renewables to hydrogen production greatly reduce emissions, but even if NG is used the emissions can be greatly reduced by using for instance solar to provide the process heat.

In addition to the above considerations if you are using solar then it might be used directly as solar thermal energy, so avoiding lossy conversion to electricity and back again, or the much lower efficiency of using solar to provide electricity to charge cars.

Strangely battery only advocates ignore this kind of calculation, as they often seem to ignore everything which goes on the other side of the ledger.

First of all, it doesn't matter what any automobile mfcr wants or does; the market decides over success or failure of a product. To a certain degree the market is prone to be influenced from mfrcs but not wholly.
Once customers are able to make true comparisons of products (differentiate bull.... from reality) successful products begin to emerge. Those mfrcs unable or unwilling to note the "writing on the wall" will be dumped in the long run, irrelevant of their present dominance or market share.
H2 stations are prohibitively expensive. Let Toyota, Mercedes etc. etc. invest their own - and not taxpayers money in an acceptable H2-infrastructure and they will soon start to sing a different song. As far as I know, Tesla is investing their own money in their supercharger infrastructure.

@yoatmon:

Not so sure about buyers getting what they really need or want.

When a 115 lbs lady drives around with a huge 2+ tons Pick-up or SUV, is that what she really need or want?

We all drove around with 20 foot long V-8 boats on wheels gas guzzlers for decades, is they what we really needed or wanted?

As buyers, we buy what is available and what manufacturers repeatedly tell us what is good and safe for us?

A \$6.8K, 84 mpg, 3-wheel closed unit could do the job for about 50% of the time but very few will buy it. We were brain washed to impress the neighbors with larger vehicles (sometime twice as large as needed to look as rich and as famous as the richer people on the street?)

Michael B> I missing anything?

Well, it sounds like a lot of job creation. Oh, wait...

(btw,thanks for the kind words)

Davemart> Typically the fake figures bandied around by battery only folk assume that solar is used for electricity production to charge the car, with issues of availability magically solved both for charging at night when most of it happens, and over the winter season too.

The seasonal argument is a valid one Davemart, especially in the northern latitudes where you live. But the day/night argument is really a bit of a red herring. Any sophisticated analysis of solar involves offsets. It's all sources and sinks and it all balances out with proper bookkeeping. Arguing that the electron coming from my solar array needs to go right into my battery to be legitimate is a bit of disinformation. No one in the business looks at it that way.

If a zealot, or perhaps more kindly a purist, really wants only renewable energy in the circuit, LG Chem/Eguana's new "AC Battery", or Tesla/Solar City's "DemandLogic" could solve that imaginary problem for nigh/day cycles.

http://www.solarcity.com/commercial/demandlogic

It won't solve the seasonal problem. I don't know what the solution is. But I'd be really surprised if hydrogen turned out to be the low cost solution.

I do appreciate your point though. Easy to take it for granted (in error) when living in a year-round sunny climate.

Looks like California's seasonal solution (Sierra snowpack feeding hydro) might have limited utility. Down to 3% of normal in Lake Tahoe.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2015/04/01/sierra-snowpack-drought-california-lake-tahoe/70760264/

eci:

The day/night issue for BEVs is also not trivial.
The suggestion that it gets offset by daytime solar and so does not matter is erroneous, as if there are large numbers of BEVs the grid will cope, but it will cope by supplementing the present off peak grid with burning fossil fuels more of the time, which is great for utility economics, lousy for GHG emissions.

So the solution then is supposed to be charging one battery to charge the car later.

Wall to battery there is a surprising 10-20% of energy lost.

So naively that would multiply by itself if you intermediate with another battery.

I would imagine that that is not fully the case, possibly due to not needing to invert the power twice, but it would take someone more up in electrics to throw proper light on the likely losses, which would certainly increase.

Then there is the cost of the batteries.
They are not free.

Oddly one never sees the cost of night storage offset against the supposedly high cost of hydrogen stations by BEV enthusiasts.

The batteries needed to store the overnight power for the perhaps 1,500 or so cars that would otherwise be serviced by one hydrogen station would add up, although the assumption is usually that battery costs drop, whilst all costs for hydrogen don't.

In any less than perfect location for solar, ie anywhere outside the tropics, even if annular variation is not fully allowed for further north some considerable overbuild of solar panels would be needed to provide enough power even in places like San Diego.

Hey, wouldn't it be great if that excess in the summer could be used?

Actually, you can, if you turn it into hydrogen

yoatman said:

'H2 stations are prohibitively expensive. Let Toyota, Mercedes etc. etc. invest their own - and not taxpayers money in an acceptable H2-infrastructure and they will soon start to sing a different song'

High cost is what happens with most early technology.
We now have a good handle on it and in volume with costs of the compressors etc dropping as volume builds up costs are reckoned to be similar to NG stations, which Germany for instance has around 900 of.

The technologies employed are similar, although pressures are higher for hydrogen.

You are confusing early prototype prices with those for general use.

At least the hydrogen is paid for in a way which is known to work, as how away from home charging is supposed to be paid for is anyone's guess after subsidies end.

Tesla reckon they can provide electricity built into the cost of the car.

We will see whether that proves to be viable long term.

We have a hundred years of track record for the model used for hydrogen stations.

I can sympathise with those who think that no subsidies should be provided for either BEVs or fuel cell cars, although I disagree with them.

Your notion that public money should only be spent on projects you happen to personally agree with is egocentric in the extreme.

The Governments around the world consulted those qualified to advise, and they said that both BEVs and fuel cell cars should be supported.

They listened to expert opinion, which said that it was not clear which alternative would work out, and so they backed both.

Not everything which is a societal choice is going to be something that you personally agree with, but there are rational reasons to think hydrogen is worth a go even if you happen to disagree, and accepting that you can't always get your own way is how democracy works, not to mention adulthood.

No! I'm not confusing early prototype prices with those for general use.
Presently a H2-station costs approx. 2.5 Mio. USD; a charging point approx. 25,000.00 USD. Surely both will experience considerable price reductions over the years but the ratio will remain. I, for my part prefer, H2 derived through electrolysis and not from reformed gas. I have no preference for pollution of a different modus vivendi. The "well to wheel" efficiency via electrolysis is pitiful.
Looking towards a rational and emission free future, H2 technology looses every comparison with battery technology in regards to price and efficiency.
I would welcome H2/FC technology for home heating only - as the heat losses can be used for heating and hot water whilst producing power for the grid and hence improve overall efficiency.

One difficulty with using any residue from farming, crop or animal waste, is that it is limited in supply and generally in a diffuse state, thus requiring significant effort to gather and transport to economically scaled processing plants. These niche fuels have some potential in cases where the stuff is a waste stream on crops already being gathered and processed, but not for the majority of the resource. Another problem is that residues are generally fertilizers. Soil depletion will be significant if we burn up the parts of our crops that we normally return to the soil. In cases where we do already have gathered and piled resources for biofuels, such as feedlots and processing facilities it would be far better to convert to a liquid fuel that may be more amenable to transport via already operating systems. We "can" do that too. In fact, everything that contains hydrocarbons including all plant and animal life, paper, plastics and so on can be converted to liquid hydrocarbon fuels. It may not be very economical, but them making hydrogen out of BS is most certainly uneconomical.

On a side note and as noted by several here, cattle and feedlots are easily the worst way to produce food. Grass raised beef reduce the issues somewhat, since one would eliminate the feedlot step, eliminate feeding beef corn, and would be far less oil intensive.

Spurlock is just another entertainer sell out just like the rest.

Davemart,
But you're using rose tinted glasses for anything H2 related and assume no rosy outlook for anything BEV related. Example: if one third of H2 currently comes from renewable sources, then 2/3's comes from fossil fuels. In addition, that same third you say comes from renewables could be used to produce electricity for BEVs. Why didn't you assume that?

Also, there was a real world plant in California a couple of years ago that was using all their sewage to produce electricity. Very exciting and cool stuff. But I took their number and calculated what could be achieved for the US population on the whole: If we successfully captured and used 100% of all sewage-gas for powering either FCVs or EVs, it would only give us 6% of annual mileage. Nothing to sneeze at, but it would assume 100% capture and use...which is not going to happen and simply won't scale if you have a large fleet of H2 vehicles. In other words, simply a cute experiment for a small fleet like FCV or BEVs have today. Basically, as BrotherKenny4 says above: This is limited in supply, diffuse and impossible to implement at scale in the real world plus comes with many other side effects.

Then you sight the 33% efficiency of the US Grid, but you're ignoring the fact that number is for the fossil fuel ONLY portions. The Hydro, Nuclear and renewables are essentially "100%" for matters of production calculation. If they produce a unit of energy, it simply "exists".

If you add the portion of those three to the US grid, then they already account for 34% US electricity production. And the Renewables are adding an additional 1% a year and that growth rate is accelerating.
By 2020, those three will be providing close to 45% of US energy.

On top of this, the EIA ignores ALL commercial and residential solar in their calculations which could easily add another couple of % to that total. And those numbers eliminate all the transmission losses. And for those who have BEVs, they are much more likely to be some of those with solar arrays at home compared with the general population. And the VAST majority of the current US EV fleet is concentrated in states with a much lower carbon footprint than the US National average.

So that says that the current EV fleet is on average much more efficient and less carbon intensive that everyone's "worst case scenarios" that we always see published. And the outlook going forward is also better than people state because they're ignoring actual, ongoing improvements in the grid mix.

Let's look at your calculation again and compare it with the real world of US EV's today:

Davemart's numbers:
The average efficiency of the US grid: 33%
T & D losses: 6%
Wall to battery: 10-20%

Total efficiency of a BEV: around 26-27%

Now, factoring in that 34% of the US grid comes from NON-fossil fuels:
Efficiency of grid production: 55%
T & D losses: 6%
Wall to battery: 15%

Total efficiency of BEV: around 44%

Now let's look at California today where over half of the US fleet resides:
Efficiency of grid production: 65%
T & D losses: 6%
Wall to battery: 15%

Total efficiency of BEV: around 52%

Again, this ignores the fact that many people with EVs have solar at home which totally skews this data in favor of BEVs even more.

The point is that if you're going to compare, then compare them apples to apples and make rosy assumptions for BEVs just like you do with HFCVs. You're assuming H2 comes from renewables and that's simply not true. It's a wildly skewed number while there are only a few hundred test vehicles built around an infrastructure in one small corner of California today.

If H2 were to go nationwide with a larger fleet today, then it would be 95% fossil fuel sourced. If you want to assume great changes would take place to make H2 renewable nationwide...then make the same assumption for BEVs plus all the other improvements in efficiency in the cars themselves. BEVs will easily be 90-95% efficient charging from the wall once SiC electronics are in place. And the cars themselves will be more efficient in that usage...again from those same electronics.

You seem to truly support both in your mind, but in your heart you don't realize how you slant things towards HFCV when you do calculations. I'm not trying to be critical, simply pointing out what I perceive.

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