General Question

RandomMrdan's avatar

Can this really be the car of the future?

Asked by RandomMrdan (7372 points ) December 23rd, 2008

I really hope so, it’s the Honda FCX Clarity. Hydrogen Fuel Cell….Supposedly it cost less to fuel, and could potentially be less to buy as well. Annnnnd shouldn’t have any major problems as far as repairs go. What are your thoughts on the matter? Take a look here at this youtube video, I think it sums it up pretty well….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80ohorNelr4

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31 Answers

asmonet's avatar

I’d buy the crap out of that car. :)

tyrantxseries's avatar

at least it’s not a ford

asmonet's avatar

Right, cause when you want to be conscientious the first thing to worry about is who did it first.

dalepetrie's avatar

Here is a realistic look on why hydorgen fuel cell cars aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

tonedef's avatar

I just thought that GW’s investments in fuel cells were a half-assed, meaningless token effort to do something about energy independence, when he knew full well that the technology will be feasible around the same time as flying cars, which happens to be well after he leaves office. Even if it weren’t just vaporware, I think that any auto energy technology Bush would endorse is likely mired in personal and state interests.

and with the enthusiasm that the big three smacked down California’s attempts at electric car-hood, I’m inclined to believe that the future is electric.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@dale *tear I’m sad now.

bodyhead's avatar

I’m with dale. I’m just not sure that hydrogen is the way to go. It seems like a substandard fix to a monumental problem. Sure it’s better then ethanol but it doesn’t seem to be as good as algae.

I don’t watch videos at work but I really do think that algae solves our short term energy problem whereas eventually we can set up solar panels and super-efficient batteries.

There’s a ton of articles on algae as fuel. That one I pointed to is a scientifically beneath a lot of the others.

dalepetrie's avatar

Sorry RandomMrdan, didn’t want to burst your bubble…but hey, I think tonedef is right, seems the future is electric. I think the Volt is actually a good first step. And I think the solution lies in a better battery.

I was listening to a clip on NPR news yesterday about a guy who is trying to raise a billion dollars to build a plant to churn out these super-efficient car batteries (that now cost $8,000 each) so the cost will go down and innovation will make the product better and they will become more commonplace, also giving the country where it happens the technological advantage for years to come.

And yes, biofuels are also quite intriguing, as bodyhead says, it might be a short term stopgap to get us to an all electric future produced with renewable sources.

Perchik's avatar

@dalepetrie to get us to an all electric future produced with renewable sources

Isn’t that exactly what hydrogen fuel cells do?

RandomMrdan's avatar

if you read that article dale posted, it mentions the necessary fuels spent to produce hydrogen and to maintain hydrogen. It doesn’t have a high Energy Return on the Enery Invested. It’s rather non productive at it’s current state. Read the article, it goes into a bit of detail about it.

bodyhead's avatar

It’s kinda like using 1 unit of total energy to produce half a unit of energy. Ethanol suffers from the same problem but it also drives up the price of food and needs a crapload of space.

Perchik's avatar

I read the article.. It seems to make absolute facts “this much water creates this much hydrogen.” but it leaves out the necessary with today’s technology line. That is the reason to invest in hydrogen technology. To make it BETTER.

bodyhead's avatar

If hydrogen costs $100 a gallon and got you just as far as a gallon of gas. Would you still be for supporting it with your money?

Keep in mind that 1.7 % will leak out of your tank every day.

I also read somewhere (not on Dale’s paper) that the test run of hydrogen vehicles in California cost about a half a million to a million dollars to produce.

tonedef's avatar

Hydrogen < electric because of its inflexibility. It requires an incredibly massive processing infrastructure to be developed for refinery and distribution. Electric doesn’t- we’re all on the grid already. The origin of that electricity can be made more sustainable, and that’s a much less significant investment than hydrogen. Electricity can be generated from nuclear, coal, gas, tidal, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind. These methods can be adapted regionally, to maximize geography and local resources.

AND there can be a cute little mascot for the industry, named ‘Sparky.’

dalepetrie's avatar

Looks like the question posted to me was pretty adeptly answered, but I will add a couple things.

First of all, the link I posted was in response to whether or not this is the “car of the future”, and no, that article clearly points out that it’s not.

As to something that can get us there, it’s not shelf ready. Sure, it can be used to some avail in some areas, but imagine the infrastructure that needs to be created to put hydrogen fueling stations everywhere…is that an investment anyone is going to want to make for a stopgap solution? I think not. Electricity, as tonedef said, is more shelf ready, and certainly would not need as much tweaking to infrastructure as would hydrogen.

I have no problem in investing in hydrogen as a potential future source of energy, I just don’t think that with the inherent problems pointed out, that in the long run it will be as quick to market, as safe to use, and as waste free to produce. Not saying you can’t try…we don’t know what we don’t know, but if I had money to invest, I’d be investing in better harvesting of solar, wind, wave and geothermal, and better ways to store and distribute the energy produced…in part that would be creating a better battery as well.

bodyhead's avatar

half a million to a million dollars to produce* per car

XCNuse's avatar

@bodyhead, yall need to remember this is brand new technology, the internal combustion engine has had over 100 years to grow, this stuff… a whole maybe 10 years at the most. There are plenty of years to go to perfect this technology, heck we still haven’t come close to perfecting the internal combustion engine anyway, all battery and hydrogen technology has a way to grow, it’s barely getting out of its crawling phase.

@tonedef, hydrogen > electricity.. People who buy Prius’ and other Electric hybrid vehicles and plug them in at night aren’t doing ANYONE a favor, they just think they feel better on the road because their ignorant to how much oil etc. is being burned to produce the electricity for one of those cars, it just comes at a cheaper cost to them so they think it’s better.. that’s a complete lie unless they know it and power their house with solar power / methane or in other words harnessing their own electric power

Like I said, batteries are so inefficient in our world right now it’s almost a joke. Look at the Tesla, yes it’s awesome in every way, but running wide open on a track it’ll last 10–15 minutes and DESTROY the battery life. Besides that, I’m not worried about life, i’m worried about recharge and discharge lifetime, the power that goes into them, and more importantly their weight.

Electric cars are the heaviest in the world right now no matter how you look at it, again look at the Tesla, it’s made out of carbon fiber and all these composites, yet it weighs a ton (literally), because of the batteries in it.

The lightest we have is hydrogen, actually I should put it this way, even a gas tank and gas engine weighs less than our batteries.. far less.

Sorry this was so long, but really in the end, our batteries aren’t helping cars right now, just making them far more expensive (I will say putting them in cars does help with the battery technology though, so all this .. eventually .. will be worth it), heavier, and far less efficient and oil consuming than their gas and diesel brothers.

bodyhead's avatar

Basically what you’re saying is we should invest in technology that’s only been around for 10 years instead of technology that’s been around for over 100 years

It’s hard to get around things like hydrogen being the simplest element so no matter how you store it, you’ll loose 1.7 % per day.

That’s fine. That’s your opinion. I’m just thinking, lets do something to improve the quality of life over the globe as oppose to putting our money in hydrogen which gives the megacorps a way to stay rich with an infastructre that will be extremely costly to build up.

judochop's avatar

My wife and I already own a Prius and I just gotta say, I don’t like the fuel savers. Lack of power, feels all weak. I never drive it. I like fast cars that give proformance rather than miles. Our other car is not that bad on gas and it’s fun to drive so I don’t feel bad when I fuel up. Gotta an old truck too, that thing hardley ever moves. Can’t they make a fuel effecient sports car? I want one of those. Till then I’ll stick with my car I need to know I can pass someone if I need to.

dalepetrie's avatar

judochop – If you have a half million you could get a Tesla.

judochop's avatar

@dalepetrie:Word! I am working on that.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Wouldn’t bother with a Tesla its just an expensive play thing.

tonedef's avatar

@XCNuse, let me also point out that the energy efficiency of the combustion engine has only slightly improved since its creation, and now averages about 40% efficiency. Unless there is a quantum leap in our production methods, energy conversion efficiency can really only rise in small increments, and relying on improving that ratio is not a reliable or cost effective method, when we’re not harnessing the literally free energy hitting our planet twenty-four hours a day from extraterrestrial (or subterranean) sources. And on top of that, energy only has to be expended to create facilities to harness and maintain them, as opposed to doing this, and then constantly expending energy to refine hydrogen cells.

Lead acid batteries ARE expensive and heavy. I’m no economist, but i believe that the energy expenditure to lug around a battery is much less than what is needed to constantly create hydrogen fuel cells. Furthermore, the status quo, as I previously said, depends on no quantum leaps. Well, battery makers seem to be developing a lithium ion battery designed specifically for electric cars, and they pack twice as much energy per pound as lead-acid.

judochop's avatar

@Lightlyseared: I hardly think the Tesla is an expensive play thing. It seems right in line with what I am after. Different strokes for different folks. Expensive yes, play thing no. Not if you are in to sports cars and want to remain green.

dalepetrie's avatar

Actually looking at the website, it says the 2009 Roadster retails at a mere $109k!

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Tonedef the problem with battery driven cars is not the energy expenditure to “lug round heavy batteries” it is the method used to generated the energy to charge them. An avearage fosil fuel power station will operate at about 35% efficiency with a state of the art one (ie new and rare) managing maybe 10% more. Nuclear power stations tend to be even more ineffiecint. Factor in the transmission of power to your home (or where ever) to charge your car and the combustion engine comes out on top.

tonedef's avatar

@lightly, hence the many previous posts discussing wind, geothermal, solar, tidal, hydroelectric, and wave energy. It is clear that simply displacing the carbon emissions by building more coal plants is not the answer to the energy crisis, and I don’t think anyone was arguing to that effect.

XCNuse's avatar

@bodyhead..
well.. we have, we’ve invested 100+ yeas in it, admittedly, yes, there have been vast improvements to it, but as far as running gasoline on it it’s come to a dead end, diesel can go some distance, but if diesel goes bio ethonol it will DESTROY the farming endustry, it will take up SO much land it just isn’t feasible, and even then given a few years it would just ruin the soil that it’s being planted on.

On a good note however, at least some advances are being made such as this:
The world’s first underwater turbine was put in a river today.
http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/12/hydrokinetic.html

@tonedef, No doubt, if we harness a quarter the energy that earth gets and gives in a day.. we could survive for .. several years at the least. We just haven’t gotten close yet lol definitely far better than it used to be no doubt though.

CorwinofAmber's avatar

$600/month lease “No mileage limitation or excess mileage cost.” (That helps, somewhat), an (approximate) 240 mile range, and available only in Sunny Southern California? (see: http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/faq.aspx}
Might be for the wealthy (or uber-green minded). Wonder how the fuel stack cells are manufactured; with “green energy” one would hope. ;) Nifty vehicle, and it Must start somewhere. Thanks for the link RandomMrdan. :)

LuckyGuy's avatar

Five and half years later and they are stil trying to sell this concept.

Home Energy Station It burns natural gas to make electricity which is then used to make hydrogen.

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