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Friday, 31 October 2014

Arguments against FCEVs (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles)



I've just encountered this interesting article on Clean Technica which presents a number of arguments against Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs).

First, it seems that companies are using natural gas to source hydrogen. That obviously goes against the principle of providing a 'green' vehicle in the first place, and negates it. This is what Julian Cox says on the issue:

There are no such environmental benefits attributable to hydrogen either now or in any foreseeable future economic reality. On the contrary, hydrogen is a gross threat to efforts to tackle emissions as a result of public policies based on a false environmental premise and by grossly misleading advertising combined with incentives targeting consumers most at risk of deception by messaging citing the alleviation of environmental concerns as a value proposition.

The Ford Motor Company says this:

“Currently, the most state-of-the-art procedure is a distributed [on-site] natural gas steam reforming process. However, when FCVs are run on hydrogen reformed from natural gas using this process, they do not provide significant environmental benefits on a well-to-wheels basis (due to GHG emissions from the natural gas reformation process).”

And Tesla says this:

“Fuel Cell is so bullshit, it’s a load of rubbish. The only reason they do fuel cell is because…, they don’t really believe it, it’s something that they can…, it is like a marketing thing – but the reality is that if you took a fuel cell vehicle and you take the best case for a fuel cell vehicle in terms of the mass and volume required to go a particular range as well as the cost of the fuel cell system, and then you know, if you took the best case of that, it does not even equal the current state of the art of lithium ion batteries and so there is no way for it to become a workable technology.”

The alternative to obtaining hydrogen from natural gas is obtaining it from steam methane reforming:

Will hydrogen also become cleaner over time? No. EVs and FCVs are a fork in the road. One leads to renewables owing to direct compatibility and the other leads to natural gas. Natural gas is a cheap and abundant resource that comes out of the ground with energy potential for self-disassembly into hydrogen and CO2. Steam methane reforming is economically unassailable as a method of hydrogen production by clean but more complex methods.  

It seems to me there is enough evidence here to cast serious doubt on FCEVs, if not opting for complete rejection of them, at least those that use hydrogen sourced from gas.

But what do you think?  

 

Energy & Environment Dates 2012