Fuel Cell Partnership Publishes Comparison – How does your Electric Car Stack Up?

CaFCP guide to understanding the well-to-wheels impact

The California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) today published an update to their Wells-To-Wheels analysis of Greenhouse Gases emissions.

We apologies for the spoiler but yes, it looks good for your EV, in fact, really good… better than fuel cell technology even.

The CaFCP use the Argonne National Lab’s GREET model, which uses 120 fuel pathways and 85 vehicle/fuel combinations to assess the impact of fuel from well to wheels. As you might imagine from the name of the group, they’re pretty pro fuel cell, a hot topic in electric vehicle circles. However, the data doesn’t lie and clearly shows a linear path from regular gasoline to the inevitable winner, the pure electric vehicle.

For a group touting the benefits of fuel cell technology, we have to admire their forthright honesty in placing pure electric vehicles at the top of the scale in most tests. That being said, they do skew the picture a little though; yes, you can fill a hydrogen car in 5-7 minutes… if you can find a station and no, electric cars don’t take 4-8 hours to fill on a DC fast charger.

But, isn’t this the problem that we face? There is no true universal comparison for fuels for everyone on the planet. Your personal circumstances dictate differences in the numbers and, the voice of the author seldom comes without an ‘angle’. One thing is for sure though, and it appears to be an incontrovertible fact – gasoline is not the future. On that we can agree.

The complete PDF is available from their site here or head over to the CaFCP blog for the full story

In the light of this, how do you feel about Fuel Cell technology?

 

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  • Esl1999 .

    When we get our act together, petroleum should only be used for emergencies and the military. That’s, of course, if we don’t run out of the stuff before we can make the switch over to general purpose clean energy. A future Boeing 797 would be better served using Fuel Cells than pure batteries. Hey, REGENERATIVE GLIDING!

    • Michael Thwaite

      Yes, I think there’s a good case for ships as well.

      • Espen Hugaas Andersen

        There’s a pretty good case for battery electric ships as well. http://www.dnvgl.com/news-events/news/revolt.aspxnnI'm with Elon Musk – looking long term, the only thing that won’t be powered by batteries is rockets.

        • Andyj

          Read a fun piece about how far each type of battery can theoretically climb under their own power against their own weight. Some 18650’s can haul 50 miles vertical.

    • Andyj

      The military’s only purpose is to ensure control of the oil and money supply.nAll aircraft glide on idle as far as they can. It’s how they are designed. The recent turbo fan mods for economy are all about the ducted fan producing less drag while off the power.nSadly, electric aircraft will not make the distance and performances required. And it you tried to regen. It would destroy the glide and bring the plane down earlier.

      • Esl1999 .

        Regen-gliding would be used for descent and can act as additional air braking to help scrub off speed. The energy captured could be used to taxi plane to hangar.

        • Andyj

          You are not an engineer or electric vehicle owner are you. Each step of energy conversion loses more energy at every step. It’s a lose, lose situation.nnIf I never brake in my electric car but “glide” to a stop by letting off the power much earlier. It is far more efficient than using regen.nThey fly aeroplanes as efficiently as possible due to fuel costs.nFly to height and glide down. That’s the way.

          • Esl1999 .

            You’ve clearly missed my point.

          • Andyj

            There is no point. Your suggestion is making an available resource less efficient. And I’ve not even mentioned power to weight ratios and what not.nnTry it in your car. Get up to speed and into neutral, engine off then let it glide to the next stopping point. Note your consumption compared to any other means. The largest single bulk cost is fuel. They fly with as little fuel as allowed and fly as economically as allowed.nnTo fly an aircraft higher and faster for longer because the glide is reduced is less efficient. Now if you fly a sailplane and regen while climbing in a thermal, that is a different game. Using an external energy resource to help recharge your batteries. Nonetheless it would not make it more competitive.

          • Esl1999 .

            I’m talking about capturing potential energy. Let’s talk about a car going down a hill and needing to come to a complete stop at the base. Since you have an issue with the word “glide”, then fine, use a different word. Regen-? would be used when deemed necessary or advantageous. This is not rocket science. Condescension repaid.

          • Andyj

            Car downhill is a bad analogy. That’s using an external source of energy.nnnIf you won’t listen to me I suggest you to talk to an airline pilot. Have you never been in an aircraft in your life? Not noted the aircraft throttling back a good 250 miles (or more) before coming to land?nnnYour theoretical aircraft regen’ing is exactly like hanging a parachute out the back. The energy you absorb will kill the glide. So instead of landing short you need to fly further.nWhich will ALWAYS cost more in energy.

          • Esl1999 .

            Feel free to glide everywhere you want, including stop signs. You’ve trolled me long enough. Sorry if I’ve been a DRAG on your glide slope.

          • Andyj

            ..And you were not trolling me?np.s. stop signs etc. do not magically appear at random. The whole point of driving economically is to be proactive and look ahead.

  • Matt Beard

    Not entirely sure about the logic of the claimed high water usage by EVs. The logic seems to be: Build a big dam, let loads of water build up behind the dam, use that water to run a hydro plant and generate electricity. Large lake behind dam contains loads of water, quite a bit of which evaporates while it is waiting to be used. And the alternative…? Well, don’t build a dam and let it all run into the sea.

    • chrisatcafcp

      Hi, Matt. As the report writer, I can answer that. The W2W report looks into the future (2020) and uses the regulated mix of electricity in California. CA doesn’t have much hydropower, but we do have many natural gas turbines that need water for cooling. The evaporation of water is more about cooling ponds than hydropower. nChris WhitenCaFCPnwww.cafcp.org

      • Matt Beard

        Ah – it seems that I was confused by the following statement from your report:nn”Why is electricity so high? Production consumes 1.2 gallons per mile, mostly evaporation associated with hydropower.”

  • smartacus

    Fuel Cell is still in its infancy. No need for BEV crowd to try killing it now when it’s defenseless.

    • Andyj

      There is nothing to defend. It has nothing to commend it. Not even as a remote charging unit… Too damned expensive!

      • smartacus

        That’s very religious of you and i don’t question your beliefs, but i thought Zero Emissions Vehicles was your goal

        • Andyj

          There is nothing zero emission nor low CO2 about H2. Just making the stuff is more energy intensive that oil fuels. Never mind cleaning, compressing/cooling and marketing.

          • smartacus

            I still think it should be given a chance to improve. It’s still better than breathing diesel fumes.

          • Andyj

            H2 is all about making electricity within a vehicle. One is size limited with the catalysers because under load they get more inefficient and hot.nEfficiencies simply do not exist with this game! It’s a “big oil” dream. No advantage to us whatsoever :(nnnSo why can’t buses and lorries not use pantographs in towns like the good old days.

          • smartacus

            I like pantographs a lot more than batteries

          • Andyj

            You cannot fix stupid and you cannot buck the laws of physics.

          • smartacus

            Yes I agree. Let’s stop trying to fix what is stupid.

  • John Fisher

    The issues I did not see covered – please correct me where wrong-n1. fuel-cells, H2 tanks are much more expensive than the larger pack a BEV requires. The other components are shared of course.n2. the assertion that H2 refuelling uses a multi-pump station, and EV does not is silly. Furthermore BEVs are also refuelled at home.n3. the cost of BEV refuelling infrastructure is far less, and indeed that infrastructure is rapidly appearing now.n4. the safety of the H2 tank is questionable, much more so than battery safety. (fire vs explosion)n5. making H2 from renewables can’t be as efficient as making electricity, even after charging losses are accounted.n6. I disagree with the dependence on CA 2020 energy mix. This is a red herring that allows FCEV proponents to justify the use of Ngas. Obviously PV prices are dropping and home-PV charging just knocks other technologies off the field for efficiency. Grid storage is an issue to be sure.n7. Fuel cells require unproven science and engineering advances to be practical at all; batteries may get similar advances too, but are usable today and getting cheaper.