My Car Quest

March 1, 2024

Hydrogen Power for Electric Vehicles?

by Wallace Wyss –

We are all supposed to be welcoming an electric vehicle future. But with battery electric car sales in the US stuck at around 8.1% of the market, it’s obvious not everyone is buying the Electric Dream.

Hydrogen powered electrics have been suggested as an energy source ready to take up the cause if battery-powered EVs fail. There were signs at the Consumer Electronic Show this year that hydrogen is progressing as a stand-in for batteries in EVs.

The press release from CES said:

“One development bringing it closer to reality has been the U.S. Department of Energy’s $7 billion Hydrogen Hub Initiative. In September, the DOE unveiled seven U.S. regions chosen to be hubs. That, in turn, instilled confidence that hydrogen is a worthwhile investment and led to multiple CES announcements.”

It is with a kind of dismay I realize that, while we see how poorly the electric charging infrastructure has been initiated here we, the public, are being asked to do it all over again–subsidize an all new fuel supply infrastructure, this time for hydrogen.

Of all the automakers, it seems Hyundai is in the lead of a global hydrogen push, rolling out at the show its HTWO hydrogen business brand and further plans to use garbage as a feedstock in hydrogen production.

The press release named other companies besides Hyundai with hydrogen projects on display: Bosch, Paccar, Nikola and Forvia all showed hydrogen-related developments at the CES. The Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen, one of the Energy Department’s seven winners, also had a presence at CES.

Ironically, hydrogen might come through the back door–rooting itself in trucking and commercial vehicles if limitations of battery-electric technology in long haul trucking become apparent (where are those results of the Tesla electric trucks anyway?). If hydrogen works in place of batteries in long haul, it paves the way for the light-duty vehicle market. Hyundai, Toyota and BMW are working on hydrogen powered vehicles for this market.

I don’t have the energy to get excited by hydrogen after giving some begrudging support to battery-electrics. But if the raw materials for batteries for pure electrics will continue to have to come from “enemy” nations, I’d be willing to switch to hydrogen if all the ingredients can be home grown in the USA.

What say you?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss comments on cars in his weekly show, Autotalk, broadcast from KUCR FM Riverside.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Summary
Hydrogen Power for Electric Vehicles?
Article Name
Hydrogen Power for Electric Vehicles?
Description
Hydrogen powered electrics have been suggested as an energy source ready to take up the cause if battery-powered EVs fail. There were signs at the Consumer Electronic Show this year that hydrogen is progressing as a stand-in for batteries in EVs.
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Comments

  1. Joshua J. Bagley says

    I have been wondering why we – collectively – seem to have stopped exploring efficiencies in gas engine design and improved “scrubbers” to remove exhaust toxins. I agree that hydrogen seems a much more practical solution than batteries but what about other ideas instead of scraping something that has dramatically improved living standards and production capabilities for almost 200 years (fossil fuels in general)?

  2. lennox mcneely says

    For the 2010 Winter Olympics we took on 20 Hydrogen Buses in Whistler. –with Politicians wearing rose coloured glasses–it was going to be a start of the Hydrogen Highway to California with Schwarzeenegger giving it a nod but no $$$.
    20 buses lasted about a year–Hydrogen came from Quebec!! so cost per mile twice diesel and maintenance
    was very high-2-3 times diesel. Anyway a $90 million write off after about a year–future of the buses– likely converted back to diesel. Maybe things have changed but be warned. lennoxwhistler@gmail.com

  3. Robb Northrup says

    I agree with you, Joshua! Good to hear from you…

    I worked for Billings Energy in the late 1970s as a technical writer and PR practitioner. First job out of journalism school! The company had already developed the technology to use hydrogen as a fuel in ICE vehicles (could also be used in turbines); a metal hydride in the fuel tank absorbed the hydrogen for storage, and heated coolant from the engine released the gas to a gaseous carburetor for burning in the engine (the company had a fleet of cars and buses in several communities were running on hydrogen then). Indeed, the company’s president ran his entire household on hydrogen. The objective was to convert the existing auto industry to run on hydrogen until fuel cell technology evolved to be cost effective and practical for cars and trucks.

    Alas, it never got off the ground, no hydrogen infrastructure was ever created, and we’re being forced to buy electric (1st hybrids, now all electric) vehicles which come with their own problems.

    No one is investigating steam or turbine engines. A sad situation!

    Author “Apollo GT – The American Ferrari”
    Former president, Apollo GT Registry

  4. WALLACE WYSS says

    The only solution I see is Elon Musk taking out some pocket change and building the infrastructure and then selling hydrogen powered cars. Him buying someone else’s idea and running for a touchdown isn’t new. He bought into Tesla when the original founders were lost,,,,

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