Toyota: Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Sedan Has Smaller Carbon Footprint Than an EV. Math Disagrees

Japanese automaker Toyota hasn’t had all that much luck lately when it comes to informational films and advertising, getting itself in hot water more times than we care to remember for portraying plug-in vehicles as slow, boring and unsuitable for everyday life.

Out of the frying pan: Toyota claims its FCVs have a lower carbon-footprint than EVs.

Out of the frying pan: Toyota claims its FCVs have a lower carbon-footprint than EVs.

There was the anti-EV ad from its luxury arm Lexus, then the not-so-well received Choices ad for its Prius plug-in hybrid. And who can forget the Lexus Dadchelor short which we called the REX-Swap Scandal: an ad so controversial and badly-executed that Lexus has pulled it from YouTube.

But now Toyota has gone one step further, claiming in an infomercial for its Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedan that the carbon footprint of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles smaller than that of a purely electric car.

As our friends over at Autobloggreen detail, that’s a pretty big claim, and one which the majority of the automotive industry is struggling to believe.

In the video above, a Toyota narrator details the company’s quest for a perfect environmentally-friendly vehicle, starting with the Toyota Prius hybrid and moving through the Plug-in Prius hybrid and all-electric cars like the Scion EV and RAV4 EV to the birth of the Toyota Mirai.

Just before the Mirai is introduced, the narrator utters the controversial line, referencing Toyota’s work with electric and plug-in vehicles and the simultaneous work it was carrying out on hydrogen fuel cell technology.

“Never satisfied though, Toyota engineers were simultaneously working on a brand new technology that met all the driver’s needs with an even smaller carbon footprint, one that took its lead from nature itself.”

It’s a claim which sounds great in an inspirational film designed to engage the audience and excite them about Toyota’s chosen fuel of the future. But it has one fatal flaw.

Toyota says it wasn't comparing FCV carbon footprints to electrics, but that's not what it sounded like.

Toyota says it wasn’t comparing FCV carbon footprints to electrics, but that’s not what it sounded like.

The math just doesn’t work out.

Transport Evolved regulars Paul Scott and Chelsea Sexton — who are both known for their tenacity and advocacy of electric vehicles — are both unconvinced.

“Toyota claims the FCV has a smaller carbon footprint than their EV, but every paper I’ve read indicates the FCV uses 3-4 times as much energy to travel a given distance as an EV,” says Scott. “If they are making this claim, let’s call them out to prove it. Show us the math!”

Sexton gave a similar response, telling Autobloggreen that “assuming appropriate comparisons in energy feedstock, basic science doesn’t support the notion that the footprint of an FCV is smaller than that of an EV.”

And we’d have to agree. From our own research, it takes nine litres of water and 56 kilowatt-hours of electricity to make one kilogram of hydrogen. From that, you can travel about 60 miles on average in any of the hydrogen fuel cell cars being made today.  As ThinkProgress details, only about 25 percent of the original energy used to create hydrogen through electrolysis ends up being used to power the vehicle: the rest is lost in the process of hydrolysis, the pumping and storage of the gas, and the vehicle’s fuel cell itself.

Whichever way you cut it, hydrogen fuel cells use more energy than battery electrics.

Whichever way you cut it, hydrogen fuel cells use more energy than battery electrics.

Of course, just like electric cars, the true carbon footprint of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle depends on the type of energy used to create it. And as Sexton points out, it’s not unusual for fans of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to compare solar-powered electrolysis hydrogen generation with dirty coal-fired power plants.

The result? The figures get skewed and the headlines twisted, prompting us to remind readers that it sometimes takes a bit of scientific paper study to find the real results.

For its part in this latest battle, Toyota says it does not directly compare electric cars to fuel cell vehicles. Instead, it claims, the informational video above merely highlights its progress over the last twenty years in terms of fuel-efficient technologies — meaning that fuel cell vehicles have a lower carbon footprint than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles or hybrids.

“BEVs and FCs have a very similar carbon footprint, dependent on the fuel source,” said Toyota spokeswoman Jana Hartline. We note however, that she didn’t specify which fuel sources she was referring to.

It all depends on the energy...

It all depends on the energy source…

Taken at face value, Toyota’s claim is a little vague. And to give it a little credit, if we only consider the energy used to run the vehicle rather than the energy used to make them, a hydrogen fuel cell car powered and refuelled from a solar-powered hydrolysis station (where any power transfer was powered by solar energy) and an electric car powered by power form a photovoltaic array nearby would have equally low emissions.

But in most situations, hydrogen has to be stored, pumped and transported, a process which uses energy and — if we assume the conventional fossil-fuelled tanker method — adds its own carbon footprint to the mix.

Even then however, there’s one inescapable fact of physics that’s hard to explain away: every time energy is moved or converted, there are losses. And that means kilowatt-hour for kilowatt-hour, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are less energy efficient than their plug-in counterparts.

That’s a tough thing to try and explain away.

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  • Espen Hugaas Andersen

    Basically, if you assume the energy source is natural gas, FCVs and EVs come out fairly similarly. (Steam reformation is a lot more efficient than a natural gas power plant.) If you assume you start with grid average electricity, the FCV is about twice as polluting. nnI’m guessing Toyota is comparing an FCV on renewables or natural gas to an EV on grid average electricity. Or something similar.

    • Mark Benjamin David

      This is incorrect. There is no comparison, it takes a lot of energy to extract hydrogen (hydrogen is not found by itself, it is always married to another element(s)). So, factor in the energy used to make hydrogen, whereas you could just plug a battery in and that electricity goes directly to charging the battery, no extra energy used.nnnThe push for hydrogen is very deceptive, I question the motives behind using it for anything outside of rocket fuel.

      • Espen Hugaas Andersen

        Starting with natural gas, the efficiency chain goes something like this for a FCV:nnSteam reforming: 80%nDistribution: 90%nCompression, cooling: 90%nFuel cell: 60%nVehicle: 90%nnTotal efficiency: 35%nnStarting with natural gas, the efficiency chain goes something like this for an EV:nnElectricity production: 50%nDistribution: 95%nCharging: 85%nVehicle: 90%nnTotal efficiency: 36%nnAs you can see, the amount of natural gas needed to drive a given distance will be fairly similar. When you start with electricity, however, the chain is significantly better for the EV.nnHydrogen:nnDistribution: 95%nElectrolysis: 70%nCompression, cooling: 90%nFuel cell: 60%nVehicle: 90%nnTotal efficiency: 36%nnEV:nnDistribution: 95%nCharging: 85%nVehicle: 90%nnTotal efficiency: 73%

        • Erocker

          I understand that the amount of energy to compress hydrogen to 10,000 psi is very high. It doesn’t seem to be accounted for correctly in this explanation. How much power does it take to compress 1 kg of hydrogen to 10,000 psi in kilowatt hours.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/9013_energy_requirements_for_hydrogen_gas_compression.pdfnn“The theoretical energy to compress hydrogen isothermally from 20 bar to 350 bar (5,000 psi or ~35 MPa) is 1.05 kWh/kg H2 and only 1.36 kWh/kg H2 for 700 bar (10,000 psi or ~ 70 MPa). Greater compression energies are required to fill vehicles in practice due to compressor inefficiencies and heating during fast fills. DOE Technology Validation Project data for compression from on-site H2 production is 1.7 to 6.4 kWh/kgH2 [2]. Additional energy required for pre-cooling (as cold as -40C) [3] to ensure on board fast fill temperatures are 85C or lower can be modest (0.15 kWh/kg H2)[4].”nnI included the compression/cooling as a 90% efficiency, which translates to around 5 kWh. You can of course tweak the numbers to some extent or other, but my conclusion wouldn’t change. Starting with natural gas, EVs and FCVs are fairly similar with regards to energy efficiency.

        • Mark Benjamin David

          Sorry, but, this does not change the fact I can get solar panels and charge the battery in my BEV directly, whereas hydrogen has many, many issues, none of which will be worked out, because, we are asking the wrong questions.nnnIt comes down to who or what benefits from the use of hydrogen? It’s not a viable alternative for consumers. Period. Hydrogen is used in rockets, and rockets, when something goes wrong, explode. If the average consumer were to realize that hydrogen tank in that car is a bomb waiting to explode, they wouldn’t want it in their car. But the hydrogen pushers don’t give us any of the negatives, gloss them over, and make sure to point out and exaggerate any negatives with batteries.nnnI don’t want the hassle of having to go to the gas station to get hydrogen, I want to plug my car in at home, charge it while it’s parked. This is convenient.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            Hey, I agree that hydrogen isn’t going to be a success. But it isn’t because it’s explosive, and it isn’t because it’s inefficient when produced from natural gas.nnThe primary reason why hydrogen vehicles aren’t going to be popular is that they are too expensive The vehicles are expensive. The fuel is expensive. The refueling infrastructure is expensive.nnLooking just a few years into the future, EVs will be cheaper than both FCVs and fossil cars, both to buy and operate.

          • Mark Benjamin David

            Hydrogen has many problems, you only listed two plus “it’s expensive”, but, people can say BEVs are expensive right now, and they are out of reach for many people. (But, they are already cheaper to operate.) The problem is, the carmakers don’t want to commit to a low-maintenance vehicle, so the ones they make are small commuter cars with limited range, whereas, just before GM killed it’s first EV (EV-1), it had a range of 120 miles, and no one offers this except Tesla, which goes beyond that mark.nnnPeople need to know who and what is behind hydrogen, because, there are too many problems with it, and cost is debatable, not the real issue either. The ones that want it are trying to protect the fossil fuel industry. That’s what it really is about. And carmakers prefer to sell something that needs more maintenance for their dealership model. (And finance companies make money off “extended warranty” and maintenance plans sold along with the cars.) But, those two are more trying to delay BEV adoption and create confusion for consumers.nnnEventually fossil fuel industry will hit a brick wall. The real issue is that our government is going along for the ride instead of setting up new standards, making solid changes and laws put in place to prevent this and make a real transition instead.

          • Dig Deeper

            When discussing costs to operate you have to look at consumer habits in the auto industry. Consumers generally don’t purchase vehicles based on operational costs, instead they buy vehicles for aesthetic reasons, for luxury features, for performance, for low upfront cost, for utility, or for some combination thereof. This is why Prius’s and Jetta TDIs only comprise a very small share of the automarket despite their inherent and proven efficiency advantages. So the fact that the BEV will get more miles per kWh doesn’t necessarily make it a winner especially when it will probably have a higher upfront cost for an acceptable range, and will require the owner to wait for a charge on many occasions throughout the course of a year, or rent a vehicle for long trips at other times. nnWhen discussing vehicle efficiency it is also important to understand that as vehicles become more efficient the monetary saving associated with boosting efficiency diminishes. For example, did you know that switching from a 20 mpg car to a 25 mpg car will save 50% more fuel than switching from a 25 mpg car to a 30 mpg car? Seems counter-intuitve huh? But its reality. Now just ponder how little fuel is actually saved when we are talking about a 60 MPGe FCEV vs an 85MPGe BEV…. The important question for consumers is does this fuel savings offset the higher upfront (and probably financed with interest) cost for the BEV, the inconvenience of waiting for the BEV to recharge, or the cost to rent a vehicle for certain long trips?nnIf you do the math its pretty clear that this so oft touted advantage of efficiency by the BEV doesn’t amount to all that much of a monetary benefit to begin with, and certainly doesn’t offset the shortcomings of the vehicle for the typical consumer. nnHence why world leading automotive engineers are endorsing the FCEV.

          • Dig Deeper

            The infrastructure will be a challenge but per KWh Fuel Cell vehicles will actually remain cheaper than BEVs. That is the prevailing opinion in the auto industry and why we are seeing a push from the majors for this tech.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            That’s the prevailing opinion in Toyota, Hyundai and Honda. Companies like VW, Nissan and Tesla are of a different opinion. And I share that opinion. Hydrogen just doesn’t make sense when looking at the required investments.

          • Dig Deeper

            VW are unveiling a fuel cell vehicle concept at the upcoming auto show, Audi a branch/subsidiary of VW is as well. Bosch, a major supplier for VW, stated that Fuel cell vehicles will be similar in cost to conventional cars within a decades time. nnNissan has a joint agreement with Daimler and Ford for FC development. Daimler just sold Tesla stock and ended a research agreement with Tesla to focus on FCEVs. nnAnd to state it more accurately Nissan isn’t really committing to either camp yet, their only BEV offering is a very small volume niche vehicle. They have no plans to launch a BEV with a wider consumer appeal (i.e. more range).nnIf you research PEM fuel cell tech you’ll see that over the past 5 years performance gains have been substantial, outpacing batteries by several times over the same period.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            Yeah, FCVs will be similar in cost to fossil cars, while BEVs will be significantly cheaper than fossil cars. BEVs win. nnAlready today Teslas are competitive compared to fossil cars with similar specs. But as batteries become cheaper, what is currently a marginal advantage in specific niches will expand drastically. The Model S and X are basically just cash cows to fund the development of the Model 3. When we get a five seat family BEV with 200 mile EPA range, 20 minute rapid charge at a global network of chargers, costing 35,000 USD and capable of doing 0-60 mph in 6 seconds, the market will have changed permanently.nnThe 2016 Nissan Leaf will have approximately double the range of the current Leaf, so Nissan is pushing forward with BEVs. Audi is also planning competitiors to Tesla, an R8 BEV and possibly a Q7 BEV, with comparable range.nnThe other companies had better have something up their sleeves, or they’ll fall behind.

          • Dig Deeper

            Im not seeing support for that first assertion. nnA Tesla with a 200 mile and continually decreasing range is about 75,000 USD. Thats not competitive. I highly doubt Tesla can deliver a 200 mile range vehicle for 35k, as do many others, and as time goes on the range falls below 200 miles. Fast charging will increase degradation according to most experts, Tesla is increasingly ambiguous about the issue according to Tesla forums. nnThere is no other company besides Tesla planning to scale up the long range BEV. They are at it alone for the time being. We will certainly see.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            The first assertion is for the most part my opinion. But it is based on the speed at which the batteries are improving, not only when it comes to cost, but also cycle life, energy and power density. Beyond the battery, there is nothing in a BEV that should cost a lot of money, given industrialization.nnWhen it comes to the range decreasing, the battery of a Model S can be expected to have a life span of 15 years and 200,000 miles before it is at 70% capacity. This is continually improving, with the most modern cells being an order of magnitude better (though with less energy density). Rapid charging has no significant impact on cycle life.nnWhen it comes to scaling up the long range BEV, I just mentioned Nissan and Audi. https://transportevolved.com/2014/12/02/carlos-ghosn-says-yes-double-range-nissan-leaf-near-future/ https://transportevolved.com/2014/11/24/audi-confirms-r8-e-tron-really-will-enter-production-promises-280-mile-family-audi-2017/

          • Dig Deeper

            but objectively speaking batteries are not improving nearly as fast as fuel cells have been in the past 5 years in the metrics of power density, cost reduction, cold and hot temperature performance etc. 200k with only 70% degradation? We’ll see. That brings it down to a 140 mile range. I’ll be waiting for the 150 mile leaf though I don’t really define that as a long range EV considering degradation….nnWe could argue all day but we’ll just have to wait and see.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            The improvements on fuel cells aren’t nearly as significant as they are claiming. Fuel cells are still significantly more expensive than batteries, and the drive line has a significantly lower volumetric and gravimetric power density as well as a lower volumetric energy density. A lot of the cost reductions have already been realized, by reducing the wasted raw materials almost completely. Now a lot of the cost is in the raw materials and machining.nnIf you for instance look at the sales projection Toyota announced, they certainly don’t seem to expect any breakthroughs any time soon. They’ll scale up production to a few thousand per year, while Tesla will scale up to several hundred thousand per year.nnAlso, the Model S has a 265 mile range, so a 30% reduction in range would bring the range down to 186 miles. It’s also important to remember that most cars have mulitiple owners over it’s life span. Someone buying a 10 year old Tesla will only buy it if they are perfectly okay with a 186 mile range. 186 miles of range is acceptable for probably over 50% of the population. Especially when you consider how many superchargers there will be in 10 years.nnBut yes, we will see. I know I at least won’t be buying an FCV in the next 10 years, because there won’t be enough filling stations. But my next car is a Tesla. Everyone just has to vote with their wallets, and we’ll see.

          • Dig Deeper

            What? Half of what you are stating is false. nnThe Tesla Model S with the 265 mile range costs 95 to 105 thousand dollars depending on trim options. The base model only has a 200 mile range and is around 70 thousand USD. If people are voting with their wallets in the near term they will be buying gasoline vehicles or plug in hybrids, the FCEV vs BEV battle won’t really begin for another 8-15 years.nnAnother thing you got wrong is that volumetric energy density for fuel cell systems is higher than batteries hence the range advantage. Cost per kWh is already lower before any sort of maturation or economies of scale have been achieved and the DOE has projections that the FC will be around half the cost per kWh by decades end.nnPower density of fuel cells has increased by about 60% in the past few years according to Honda, and the Mirai is faster than the leaf in 0-60. Batteries still have the power density advantage, but the gap has closed and the FC power is more than adequate for most automotive applications.nnFuel cells have not achieved any type of economy of scale yet so huge cost reductions are yet ahead, batteries on the other hand are an extremely mature technology produced by the billions. The cells used in the Tesla are almost identical to laptop packs Panasonic has been mass producing for years. It is much more difficult to clean major cost reductions fromnsuch a mature technology that has so many more raw material and environmental constraints to begin with. nnn

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            In 8-15 years the battle will already have been won by the BEVs. The battle started about 4 years ago.nnNo, there’s no volumetric advantage to the FCV. The Model S uses a battery pack that’s about 265 liters and this stores 85 kWh. The Mirai stores a similar amount of energy, and while the fuel cell, the tanks and the boost converter have a combined volume of around 200 liters, the tanks have a fairly awkward shape, which takes up some of the useful space.nnPower density is certainly worse, both for volume and mass. The volume of the Model S battery is similar to the volume of the fuel cell components, but it can supply 500 kW, or five times as much. It’s also about 600 kg compared to around 200 kg for the fuel cell components, but still supplies more power per kg. (I should mention that the battery pack also contains structural elements weighing around 120 kg and taking up some of the volume, while I’ve used the bare weight and volume of the fuel cell components. It still wins.)nnWhen it comes to cost reductions in battery cell production, the NMC and NCA chemistries are barely 6 years old. So they are actually newer than the fuel cell technology. There are also significant savings to be realized through industrialization of the battery *pack* production. This is new with the introduction of EVs. Both Tesla and Panasonic are confident that they will achieve a minimum of 30% cost reductions in the new Gigafactory. And this comes on top of the annual improvements to the chemistries.

          • Dig Deeper

            The BEV has ancillary thermal mgmt components as well that you are not mentioning and the other components in the Mirai are not expensive electrochemical cells. The Mirai has trunk space. The FCEV plain and simply has a marked energy density advantage and a marked cost per kWh advantage. The closest BEV to it is 2x the cost and has 40 miles less range which continually diminishes with use. They aren’t in the same ball park at this point.nnPower density isn’t as important as energy density because the typical consumer doesn’t need to go from 0-60 in 4 seconds, besides the cost to do so is unaffordable to begin with. The Mirai is faster than the leaf and the fuel cell can deliver more than adequate power for the highest selling automotive platforms.nnPanasonic has been very quiet about the entire gigafactory venture and actually have a branch developing fuel cells for residential power in Japan.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            The Mirai also has a thermal management system, as well as air pipes, an exhaust system, etc. And I didn’t even mention the 1.6 kWh NiMH battery weighing probably 20 kg.nnThe 85 kWh Model S costs $81k while the Mirai costs $57.5k, so that’s not twice the cost, that’s 1.4 times the cost. The range is pretty much identical for the first 5+ years of the car’s life, but the Teslas long range usability outclasses the Mirai completely. You can drive pretty much anywhere with a Tesla, but with an FCV you are trapped in a 150 miles radius around the very small number of hydrogen filling stations. Furthermore, the Tesla has 5 seats instead of 4 (with the option of 2 extra seats), almost three times the cargo volume, and uses 4 seconds less on 0-60 mph. Not to mention it’s a lot better looking. Also, Tesla is making a 20-30% profit on every car they sell, while Toyota is probably losing tens of thousands of dollars on every car.nnThe Mirai is also about twice the cost of the Leaf, so it’s not a very fair comparison. But if you compare the Spark EV to the Mirai, the Spark is about 2 seconds faster 0-60 mph, and it’s more comparable in size. (The Spark is also about half the cost, though.)nnAnd I would agree that fuel cells can supply an adequate amount of power. I’m just saying that “adequate” performance isn’t enough for everyone.

          • Dig Deeper

            Range is pretty much identical? Is 35 miles different and one of the vehicles experiences continual degradation. The original price for the model S 85 kWh was 95k, the Mirai will fall in price as well. If Tesla is making a 30% profit on every car they sell why are they still operating at a loss?

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            The official EPA numbers aren’t known yet. The Model S also had “300 miles” range according to Tesla, but the official numbers may differ.nnAnd the 85 kWh Model S has never been more expensive. It’s almost $4000 more expensive now than in 2012, plus the options have increased even more in price. You can’t look at the Signature series, or whatever it is you’re looking at. This was a limited edition run of cars for those who had extra money to spare.nnAnd Tesla is operating at a loss because they are investing billions of dollars in the Gigafactory, as well as development of the Model X and Model 3. If they just stopped investing money and only focused on profiting from the Model S, they would be able to turn a 20-30% profit.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            “but objectively speaking batteries are not improving nearly as fast as fuel cells have been in the past 5 years in the metrics”nFALSE

          • Dig Deeper

            Actually it’s true in the metrics of cost or power density, and by a pretty wide margin too.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            “There is no other company besides Tesla planning to scale up the long range BEV. “nnCompletely FALSE.

          • Dig Deeper

            Who is building a large number of 300 mile EVs?

          • Dig Deeper

            Yes you can get solar panels, but do you park your car in your garage at solar noon for a few hours to charge it, or are you working or out during this time like most people? Because even partially charging your car off the output of a typical residential solar system would entail quite a wait, and god forbid their is cloud cover. nnYour commentary about hydrogen safety is pretty far off base. A lot of testing has been performed, I’d recommend you do some research before weighing in.

        • MarcDaniel Erasmo

          https://transportevolved.com/2014/12/18/toyota-mirai-hydrogen-fuel-cell-sedan-smaller-carbon-footprint-ev-math-disagrees/nnnnFuel cells uses way more energy and infrastructure than just the electrical grid putting juice into batteries and driving the motor.

  • Surya

    Even if you compare solar powered H2 against a solar powered EV, the FC loses out. You need more solar panels. Those cost energy and resources to produce, so even there the FC car has a bigger footprint.nI can’t see how anyone can say using more energy to do the same is not a problem. Not when even today energy security is a growing problem.

    • Dig Deeper

      Not much of our energy originates from solar panels to begin with, and most people do not have their cars parked at home at noon to charge off of solar anyhow.

      • Surya

        Sure, but this discussion is about the ways wells-to-wheel is calculated and that even the best way to calculate that for H2 isn’t as good as the best for BEVs.

        • Dig Deeper

          Wheels to wells to be accurate needs to take into account the energy footprint to make the vehicle as well

          • Surya

            I’m not sure that is what Toyota is claiming and I’m quite certain that is not the case. But I don’t have all documents to figure it out either.

          • Surya

            A quote from Green Car Reports:nnThe California Fuel Cell Partnership succinctly provides the consensus statement here: “The short answer is that fuel-cell and battery-electric vehicles have a similar footprint.”nnThat means the difference is the amount of energy used to fuel the car, so the point remains.

          • Dig Deeper

            No that statement implies that accounting for the fuel the footprints are similar. Why would they not be referring to operation of the vehicles?

          • Surya

            Because it was a discussion specifically about the amount of energy used in the production.

          • Dig Deeper

            I find that hard to believe considering the leaf, a short range EV, reportedly requires 26-30% more energy to manufacture than conventional vehicles, the battery component being the primary difference. A long range EV then would have a considerable upstream footprint. Which component of the fuel cell has as large of an energy footprint as an 85kWh battery pack? I am skeptical of that claim given what I know about the fuel cell systems. The fuel tank is going to be the most difficult component to manufacture but Toyota has even made substantial progress there reducing carbon fiber requirements by over 40% on top of introducing an evolutionary loom process. http://www.plasticstoday.com/articles/toyotas-fuel-cell-car-employs-carbon-fiber-extensively-thermoplastic-composite-20141127annWe could argue all day but until we have hard data we will not know for sure.

          • Surya

            That’s true, but I would be surprised if the FC alliance would say they need as much energy for an FC as for a BEV if that was not the case. After all, they’re promoting FC cars.

          • Dig Deeper

            I doubt the major automakers would be showing this early preference for fuel cells if their weren’t some inherent advantages with global supply chains and achievable margin. Everything is motivated by money in one way or another, even Panasonic was hesitant to be involved in the Gigafactory calling the investment “very risky”. Neither of us seem to have all of the information, but from what I can tell major corporations are hesitant to scale up batteries to replace the ICE, I am guessing there is a valid reason in there somewhere.

          • Surya

            Could be, but that’s not what this discussion is about. It’s about cradle to grave energy usage. If FCs cost a similar amount as a BEV to build, and they use more to drive, then they cannot score better in this field.

          • Dig Deeper

            It seems they will cost less than a comparable range BEV in the near term.

          • falstaff77

            “It seems they will cost less than a comparable range BEV in the near term.”nnnThe lifetime cost will be difficult to judge until a price of H2 settles in. The handful of state subsidized stations don’t give up much information. One thing is certain, the energy cost per mile will be considerably higher than that of BEVs.

          • Dig Deeper

            Yes certainly, but It seems logical that the vehicle with the better potential for affordable upfront cost and healthier margin is being favored by the big players.nnOf course it is possible that that is not true, but if that’s the case then it’s a mystery what is going on.

          • falstaff77

            “is being favored by the big players.”nnnInterest shown by by the “big players”, favored by one, Toyota.

          • Dig Deeper

            Nope. Toyota and Daimler both pulled stock in tesla and endorsed fuel cells. Hyundai and Honda have endorsed them as well. All of these companies in addition to VW group and Mercedes have FC vehicles coming out in the next couple of years, but no reported plans to build and sell a long range BEV.

          • falstaff77

            To seriously “favor” an idea as a major auto company is to actually realize the idea in at least small scale production, as GM does with the Volt. The rest is talk. nnnLong range is your particular caveat. Important, yes, but its not required for niche production of, say, commuter cars, and plug-in hybrids provide range without large batteries. Car companies with EVs or hybrid plugin EVs in production include BMW (i3), BYD (e6), Chevrolet (Spark), Ford (Focus EV), GM (Volt_, Hundai (Fit), JAC (J3), Kia (Soul), Mitsubishi (MiEV), Mia, Nissan (Leaf), Tesla (Model S), Toyota (PHEV Prius, 65K sold), Subaru (Stella). Car makers with future plans for EVs include Daimler (B Class E)

          • Dig Deeper

            How much has GM spent on the Volt, I would wager they have spent similarly in their FC program and Toyota all accounted for is in deeper with their FC program.nnPHEVs are a separate category altogether. They make more sense than either BEV or FCEV by a long shot now. No arguments from me on that.

          • falstaff77

            To consider spending for some concept *not* in production comparable to that which *is* in production is to have left analysis and embarked on evangelism.

          • Dig Deeper

            Hmm a dollar sunk seems like an equal commitment either way, not sure I agree with the logic here.nnI get the impression from your comments that you think Toyota or Hondas Fuel Cell agenda is all bark and no bite? The agenda of the Abe administration in Japan as well as the measures taken by Toyota and Honda have left me with a different impression in that particular case.

          • falstaff77

            Yes a dollar is a dollar. The point is that production money and production’s requisite commitment dwarfs R&D money. nn‘I get the impression from your comments that you think Toyota or Hondas Fuel Cell agenda is all bark and no bite?”nnnnCould be or not, I don’t know. I *guess* its mostly likely Toyota believes in what they’re doing, though I could conjure up all kinds of alternative scenarios. I just object to conflating what is and what could be.

          • Dig Deeper

            So are you certain that the production investment for the volt dwarfs FC investment for Toyota? Because you may be conflating that

          • falstaff77

            As I said, favored by *one*, not many. nnMerry Christmas.

          • Dig Deeper

            Merry Christmas

      • Have powered my leaf 12000 miles 100 percent with 5.7 kW home solar system and that system covers 100 percent of my homes electric. Yes it’s mostly offset but it offers efficient local fueling instead of yet more transport of dangerous fuel. EV + PV offers greater efficiency than hydrogen AND something hydrogen will NEVER Offer: fueling independence. Add a home battery pack, which solar city is doing and it’s goodbye to: big oil, big utility, OPEC, ISIS and hello local democratic power production. Compare that to the specter of big hydrogen and u can see why there’s such a huge grassroots ev movement and no grAssroots hydrogen movement. When framed in terms of fueling independence consumers will choose that in droves over the old top down oligopolistic fueling model — I’m 100 percent certain of this

        • Dig Deeper

          You must have really low energy consumption if 5.7 kW of PV meets all your needs…..nnAnd actually replacing the grid backup with a battery is quite a bit more complicated than you allude to. Your system would need to be updated to still cover all of the losses and seasonal variation in solar resource and demand that could occur, and if you can easily afford the battery capacity you would need to never see a blackout then you are not the typical American.

          • I make 60k a year for a family of three – and you conveniently ignore the whole independence grassroots angle, I’m guessing because you know that there will never be a grassroots hydrogen movement — unless one can easily produce hydrogen on one’s one with home solar, etc., though I have no idea why you’d do that as it’s so inefficient.

          • Dig Deeper

            And are you going to grow PV panels, batteries, and inverters in your backyard?

          • Obviously, you and I will never convince each other of anything on this — and probably most things. One thing I don’t get: Why the big push against energy independence and localization/micro-grids? The Internet localized many things, increased consumer choice, made the big cultural boys (RIAA) shudder big time, and gave more power to you and me as individuals. For example, I publish a web site SolarChargedDriving.Com, that reaches tens of thousands every year. No internet, which democratized media production and distribution, and that doesn’t happen (though if net neutrality goes away, then the big boys win out again). Why do you seemingly support Big, Big, Big, and concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. And, assuming you’re a free-market libertarian/right leaning person, which I get from your posts, how/why does a Big Utility Monopoly, where again, there’s choice in terms of where I get my electricity, fit in with a free-market philosophy? Also, why is hydrogen so great according to you — what’s in it for you (other than apparently the fun of taking on people on line with whom you disagree?)nnnBTW, Fossil Fuels are heavily subsided and are therefore artificially cheap, especially because they are not paying, economically, for the damage they are causing to our health, the earth, etc. True Cost economics, sure you’ve heard of it.

          • Dig Deeper

            If you can generate your own reliable electricity around the clock then go for it, I have nothing against that. But if you actually take the time to study requirements for such a system you will realize it is beyond economically practical for the vast majority of consumers. You will also note that the sheer volume of materials you will require to go completely off-grid still makes you substantially dependent on big corporations. Further if we look at it from an environmental standpoint it would entail far greater raw materials per unit energy than relying on clean centralized generation from geothermal, nuclear, or hydroelectricity.nnThe hydrogen topic is interesting to me because I am pretty certain there are legitimate technology related reasons that Toyota and Honda have shown a preference for fuel cells, so I like to discuss to see if we can pin point what those are. It’s also interesting because I feel most people over-idealize the current status of the BEV in the overall market.

          • 1. Early adopters always pay a bigger price for their technology, then it comes down in price, and that’s what will happen with distributed energy — I’m a relatively early adopter on this. We’ll check back with each other in 10 years and see who’s right on that one. The internetization of energy production and distribution is well under way, and it’s going to become unstoppable. It already is in Germany, where the biggest utility just spun off into two units, one devoted to trying to figure out how to reformulate itself in a market characterized by localized, distributed energy production and consumption.nnn2. Of course BEVs aren’t perfect. I don’t idealize them, but I do think they’re better than gas cars in many, many ways. I realize all human activity on earth has some impact, that lithium must be mined, various precious metals, that raw materials for cars must be mine, refined, shipped, put together in factories etc. But just because that’s the case doesn’t mean that some ways of human social/economic reproduction aren’t better than others. And simply because something isn’t utopia — and BEVs aren’t — doesn’t mean that it follows that we should stick with the status quo if the status quo is worse (you and I disagree on this, I know).nnn3. Of course I’m dependent on big corporations, Nissan, SunRun, etc. But it’s the nature of/quality of the dependence that I’m talking about. With a BEV and home solar, I buy a BEV once every ten years, and a home solar system once every 30 years. I’m dependent on Nissan/Tesla once every ten years, on REC Solar/SunRun, once every 30 years. I don’t go to the trough and drink up oil from oil companies every third day to the tune of $40-$80 per tank for the rest of my life. This is an important distinction, at least to me — I don’t want to feed Big Oil, mostly for environmental reasons. Many others, including many right-wingers don’t want their money going to OPEC, ISIS, etc.nnn4. I’d like to undercut the Big Centralized Utility Monopoly as much as possible. I consider it to be rather like communism, where a central entity produces one product and I have little to no choice but to buy from that entity. There should, and will soon be, more products on the market as the BIg Centralized Monopoly production of electricity falls, much like the Big TV Corporations, Big Radio Corporations, Big Movie Studios model was severely undercut due to the Internet. I happen to find a world with more choices, rather than just one, for where I can purchase anything — including electricity — to be a better one.nnn5. We’ll see which car technology wins out. My utopian world would be one with fully autonomous vehicles which are shared/rented per trip/hour, are always on the move because they’re not owned because it makes little sense to invest tens of thousands into a car that sits in a parking lot/garage for 90 to 95 percent of the day and because your personal transportation is one smart phone App “call” away from your doorstop, and a world in which those vehicles are all powered 100 percent by renewable energy. No more accidents (1 million lives save globally per year), no more colossal traffic jams which are economically and environmentally tremendously wasteful, no more stress from driving and sitting in traffic, and being cut off, or threatend by the morons around you — most of whom clearly would prefer to be on the Internet and/or texting rather than driving. Contrast this with what we’ve got now — millions of deaths, colossal traffic jams, massive amounts of pollution (especially in China, etc.), road rage, and it sounds pretty good to me. IF those cars end up being powered by hydrogen — Which is 100 percent created by renewable energy electricity — I’m probably okay with that.

          • Dig Deeper

            If you had an off grid PV system you would be replacing expensive components like batteries and inverters more often than 30 years. I would suggest rather than arguing with me you research what it will cost to meet your families annual electrical needs without connection to the grid.nnGermany still uses coal for almost half of their electricity generation, solar PV accounts for only about 7% of their electricity but was a driving force in causing electrical rates to surge upwards of 34c/kWh. If you don’t like the American utilities that charge you 10c/kWh perhaps you should move to Germany so you can pay 3x as much and have emissions that are even worse? I sense you have a lot of passion about this topic but respectfully you do not seem very informed yet.nnI don’t think you quite understand just how far off grid-defection is from being economical feasible for the typical American consumer, and America is a rich country.nnMy electric bill is usually around $70 a month, that is for a family household that lives pretty luxuriously…. So Im not sure why you demonize utilities. Utilities are often the biggest employers in regions, they are regulated by the government and they provide affordable and highly reliable power that makes our economy work.nnDo I think distributed energy will grow? Absolutely, but it’s simply not going to replace the requirement for a grid system without some unforeseen scientific discovery or technological evolution.nnDo I think utility executives make way too much money? Absolutely, but so do the executives of solar companies battery companies on and on.

          • Wow, you are extremely arrogant and patronizing — with all those “I suggest YOU research x,y, z” “I don’t think you understand”, etc. as if you are the final authority on everything. Not worth carrying on any more conversation with you as far as I’m concerned. You might want to try pulling back on that a bit — if you ever want to convince anyone of anything. Ich bin fertig mit Ihnen — fuer immer. Tchuess. Wir werden sehen wer am Ende recht hat.

          • Dig Deeper

            Simply explain to me how much it will cost for your family to go off grid. nIts not about arrogance its about reality.

          • Just saying that you’re arguments would be much more potentially persuasive if you didn’t find it necessary to talk down to your opponent. “Do your research” (and, of course, you’ll find what I did, because of course all facts, align with each other, and my viewpoint). And the “you clearly don’t understand” and the “it’s about (my) reality”. You still have an argument without those commentaries on your perception of the intelligence of your opponent and the validity of his/her views (usually a he, women don’t bother with endless arguing in comment streams) without those unnecessary shots at their intelligence. nnWhat I am saying is that the future is made up of micro-grids, renewables, locally distributed and produced and consumed energy and the internetization of energy. And that future is here within a decade. That spells trouble for utilities that don’t adapt (like Xcel here in Colorado, which is trying desperately to hold on to the old model that’s 100 years old), a lot of trouble. Of course it will cost the early adopters more, but the costs are falling, falling, falling. I want to be a part of the force driving those costs down, even if it costs me more. nnOf course, funny thing is, I’m NOT paying more. I’m paying less. In fact, I paid $1.42 per watt out of pocket for my 5.6 kW home solar system here in Xcel country in Colorado, or just $8,000, $10,000 when you add an inverter replacement in at 15 years, for 30 years. That’s $300 per year — for a solar system that powers my home 100 percent, AND 12,000 miles a year in my EV 100 percent.nnMy LEAF costs me $290 per month (this includes taxes, etc. though not insurance). That’s not bad — certainly not prohibitively expensive, as you would imply. I could get a Nissan Sentra for $290 per month, but I’d have to dish out hundreds in gas money, oil changes, maintenance, etc. The only thing I’ve done on my LEAF in 11 months — one tire rotation for $10, and two bottles of windshield fluid for $3 each. That’s it.nnSure, a home battery pack will initially be costly, but those costs will come down, and I’ll be helping to undermine the utility monopoly that I find fundamentally unfair — there should not be a monopoly on anything in a free (market) society, and one I do not like because utilities have dragged their feet, for the most part on renewables. Xcel wouldn’t be where it is if the voters and Colorado legislature hadn’t pushed it. With home solar, I get to power my house, and my neighbors houses (during the day), the way I MYSELF want to, not the way the utility determines is best for me, or will make them the most money.nnUtilities will need to step aside and get out of the business of producing energy, and focus just on being carries of that energy (natural gas lines, grid lines, sub-stations, etc.). In that sense, they will become like cable companies, who, for the most part do not produce the content (energy), but distribute it. Of course, I’m not a fan of cable companies either, especially since they quashed a la carte programming. But at least I have a choice between Comcast, Century Link, or even a cell phone or satellite internet provider.nnnnn — and it’s not just about economic cost anyway, it’s about environmental cost.

          • Dig Deeper

            Don’t take my arguments personally. If you think I am wrong to suggest you should research further then explain why.nnIn your example where you pay less than grid prices for your solar power (though $1.42/W is much lower than the going rate of residential installed PV these days so I question the claim to begin with) is the direct result of you benefitting from the grid as your storage system and not having to pay for this service (actually getting paid generously to interconnect unreliable capacity) through a temporary and unsustainable arrangement known as net-metering. You also received state and federal rebates for your system as well as the retail rate for sporadically generated energy from your system. You may have even received further concession at the municipal level. That is great for you but this model is not applicable to an entire city of inhabitants much less an entire nation of people, if you do not understand why you need to do more research…. And don’t take that suggestion personally, take at as a challenge to either understand or refute my assertions. As a result we all might learn more. If you just take it personally we learn nothing and bicker instead.nnI’m sure the costs of batteries will come down somewhat but you haven’t asked yourself “how much do the prices need to come down by, and is this realistic based on what we know about modern electrochemical storage devices”. I have asked these questions and done research. You should do the same or you will continue to be making assertions based on personal desires rather than objective reality.nnYou know PV doesn’t produce any electricity at night right? And very little during times of cloud cover? So the utility is just supposed to keep a large inventory of capacity on standby to fill the gaps and charge customers the same rate? That’s not how economics work… Do your research, then weigh in.

          • i see so you and you alone have ‘objective’ reality by the balls. must be nice to be the only person in the world with that grasp. as for the dont take it personLly angle. you delibirately insert unneccessary personal condescion in your remarks with the intention deliberate or not, of demeaning your opponent. do the research for you means do the research that locates the ‘facts’ that support my argument because of course my views representing ‘objective’ reality are THE ONLY ‘correct’ ones. ‘ do the math’ means do it my way using my numbers because allegedly they are the only numbers. i truly resent your calling me a liar on how much i spent on my solar system. you lob assinine personal accusations at me, then say dont take it personally. say what? there are many people whove already done the research to put forth a very good case, based on facts and analysis , ones that compete with your facts and analysis. i have links to these articles in my latest entry on solarchargeddriving.com . ‘reality’ will play itself out however its going to regardless of u or me. im betting itll play itself out more along my way than yours, and thats not just wishful thinking on my part Although u wish it were. time will tell whose more on the mark. btw i dont buy your whole argument about me causing others extrA cost: utilities by burning coAl for so long have caused billions in environmental and human health costs. true cost economics rather simplistic economic models that ignore backend costs. do some reSearch on true cost economics

          • Dig Deeper

            I clicked on your link Mr. Christof Demont-Heinrich, and I have to say I think you have misunderstood my stance.nnI most certainly do not think “all EV-heads are pretty much idiots”.nnI know EVs make a lot of sense. The Chevrolet Volt is probably one of the most practical vehicles for a typical consumer to purchase. In some circumstances the Leaf, the Spark, and various others can make an awful lot of sense for consumers – low maintenance costs, low fuel costs etc.nnI really have no idea if fuel cells will prove to be a more practical option, there is a huge uphill battle for them to even get a minimal amount of refuel infrastructure deployed. But at the same time I have a huge amount of respect for the R&D and engineering expertise of companies like Toyota, Honda, VW group etc. This is coupled with an intense curiosity about their stance on future vehicles. nnSo when I weigh in on the EV vs FCV debate it is more about playing devils advocate than trying to show some sort of clairvoyance. EVs could indeed dominate the future, but given that the major automakers are yet reluctant to commit to them I am still skeptical. I believe that perhaps mass producing the batteries necessary for hundreds of millions of long range vehicles comes with many undesirable aspects from the perspective of a successful, profitable, and world leading manufacurer. I think fuel cell vehicles perhaps can gross healthier margins at scale with less volatility and are less dependent on pending and uncertain technological breakthroughs for them to be mass-adopted.nnBut I could definitely be wrong about that.nnIn regards to Solar PV, I have no doubts that it’s contribution to global electricity will continue to grow (though notably it is minor now), but the idea that it will lead to some sort of grid defection or will replace more dispatch able sources of generation is an outlandish one that is not common at all among energy experts because it would hinge on a major technological evolutions to come to fruition.

          • guess my previous reply didnt gonn1. You call me a liar by implying that im lying about what i paid for my system and you tell me not to take things personally. thats rich.nn2. no one, including u, has ‘objective’ reality by the balls, though u clearly think u do. there are competing ‘facts’ on this.nn3. i posted links to articles written by experts on this issue in my latest entry on solarchargeddriving.com. not going to get into those right now. read them if u want.nn4. my answer to your accusations that ive somehow cheated the system: true cost economics. your model of cost calculTion clearly doesnt take into account the environmental and human health costs incurred by big utilities burning coal – when a majority of americans want renewables yesterdaynn5. ‘reality’ will play out as it will (reality BTW is alwAys interpretive hence the quotation marks) well see in 10 years whose more on the marknn6. yes i did pay 1.42 per wAtt for my system. that is a fact whether u accuse me of lying or not. and you Are A true asshole for accusing me of lying

          • Dig Deeper

            You are still taking things too personally. We can have constructive dialogue on objective aspects of this which will be beneficial to each if you don’t take my responses as a personal attack, which they most certainly are not.nnYes I do question whether the all in costs for your residential PV install were $1.42 per watt. This cost must include some considerable rebates at the federal and state level (perhaps others as well). The applicability sustainability and other implications of these rebates is what we have to consider in regards to the population as a whole and the grid system as a whole, because grid defection was the original source of this debate if you recall. I will state that an entire society receiving the same rebate and erecting systems as you did would result in a substantial increase in the cost of grid electricity. Before you take that statement personally take a deep breath instead an ponder why that statement may be true or false. Also notably you are still grid interconnected, not off grid, grid interconnection too entails constraints on how scalable your individual situation is to the population in general.nnIf we are going to go for the environmental angle then PV isn’t without caveats there either. Unlike centralized hydro, nuclear, or geothermal generation capacity which can directly replace fossil capacity, PV actually necessitates the maintenance of a substantial semblance of compensatory fossil generation. This isn’t to say that PV is without merit, just that its functional niche isn’t nearly as far-reaching as the energy novice may believe.nnKeep calm, just because someone has a different POV does not make them an asshole. If you are thoughtful enough you might be able to influence them for the better or vice-versa.

          • look if you hadnt accused me of lying about the cost of my system which is a personal attack i would not have taken things as personally. i personally think all commentors under articles such as this one would make better cases for themselves by doing with comments such as ‘do the math’ ‘do the research’ etc. they imply that everyone will/ should arrive at the same ‘correct’ conclusion based on the same interpretive analysis of a complex big picture — and energy production distribution and consumption is extremely complex. personally id like to see centralized energy production which makes sense in some cases decoupled from energy distribution and maintenance of the network. completely different companies do each. it is a huge conflict of interest for the same entity to control the network and production of what goes over the network. when competitors for production of what goes over the network arise, the producer who is control of the network is going to try and quash the competitors by throttling down on the network it also controls. this what xcel energy in colo. and other utilities elsewhere are trying to do. that’s not fair, right and it doent belong in a free market economy built on competition .

          • falstaff77

            “4.7 miles per kWh in my LEAF.”nnThat’s 50% high, at least. Leaf gets 3 miles per kWh on a newish battery in good ambient temperatures. nnhttp://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=32154

          • Well, all I can say is that Nissan LEAF carwings tells me I’m averging 4.7 miles per kWh, that the internal car computer is telling me that, and that there are tens of thousands of people around the world who are getting 4.7 miles per kWh — or much much better.

  • lad76

    I’m concerned about the on-board 10,000psi hydrogen cylinder in FCVs; if that baby blows…By, By, Buddy Rowe!

    • Mark Benjamin David

      this is one of the things they don’t want you to know about. …Not only the highly pressurized tank, but then the hydrogen itself explodes also, double whammy! (Gasoline is highly flammable, but does not explode except with explosives added to cars in TV & Movies.)

  • Mark Benjamin David

    I can’t seem to write a short comment on hydrogen, but, we are asking the wrong questions, and I will go into detail somewhere sometime soon.nnnAs far as Toyota is concerned, they just want to do the least amount of work, without changing their business model, to meet MPG and CARB requirements. They do what is cheapest. Making the Toyota Rav4 EV (2nd gen.), with the Tesla made battery & drivetrain, was surely a deal made by the result of Tesla’s purchase of what was then owned by Toyota NUMMI plant. (It was formerly a plant where GM & Toyota jointly made cars, but, GM had already sold their part to Toyota). The push for hydrogen is surely because of Japanese government incentives, which are driven by I have no idea what, other than, no room to make more batteries in their country? And, unfortunately, HFCV will qualify for ZEV credits for CARB requirements, and will help their overall MPG numbers so they can keep making gas-guzzling trucks & SUVs (at the large vehicle end, they also make Prius’s of course).nnnThe push for hydrogen fuel cell cars is more about the people behind it than it is for the consumer or future transportation. The push is quite deceptive and creates confusion for the average consumer that is not yet convinced BEVs are the best viable consumer transportation.nnnWhen you dig, you find the only advantage of hydrogen over electric cars is fast refueling, which, will be overcome when you can do battery swaps and faster recharging in future. But, who needs this? Only for long trips, not every day driving. (This is also why carmakers only make small BEVs that are mainly good for commuter cars. Think about it.)

    • Dig Deeper

      The advantage you are perhaps not aware of is that the fuel cell assembly is going to be less costly and less energy intensive to mass manufacture than a long range battery pack. It is also a repairable system. The Nissan leaf has a small battery pack and according to research requires 15-30% more energy to manufacture than a typical ICE vehicle. If we entertain the energy inputs for a long range battery vehicle like the Model S the upfront resource investment is large, and believe it or not the energy attributed to manufacturing the vehicle is a significant fraction of the lifecycle energy footprint. Fuel cell powertrains by comparison are much less raw material and energy intensive to mass produce. nnHydrogen can be made from thermal sources with a similar, or in some cases better efficiency than electricity can. Steam methane reformation is one example where efficiency to create hydrogen is actually higher than electricity production from natural gas. Hydrolysis with geothermal or nuclear source heat are other examples. And it just so happens the large majority of global electricity is from thermal sources to begin with 😉 Algae has legitimate potential for hydrogen production as well, and bio gases from garbage and raw sewage are already being used for hydrogen production in California but are not as viable for electrical generation.nnToyota knows well what they are doing.

      • falstaff77

        “the fuel cell assembly is going to be less costly and less energy intensive to mass manufacture than a long range battery pack.”nnnWhy would that be? What is it about some lithium compounds and carbon that makes them more energy intensive to mfn than forging the steel and aluminum and anodes/cathodes of the fuel cell and the high psi hydrogen tank in an FCV? And don’t forget that FCVs have some small traction battery capacity as well.

        • Dig Deeper

          A 2.5 kWh battery in the Mirai, same as the Prius.nnhttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1111/j.1530-9290.2012.00532.x/asset/jiec532.pdf?v=1&t=hh57sc6o&s=437e6af7417123015a19ba2ecb3a6c7eda5cc82dnnhttp://www.environment.ucla.edu/media_IOE/files/BatteryElectricVehicleLCA2012-rh-ptd.pdfnnnHere are a couple of studies that peg the energy footprint of typical lower range EVs between 26-35% higher than a conventional ICE vehicle. These studies do not analyze longer range vehicles with larger battery packs.nnTo answer why this is true I think you’d have to research how raw materials in EV batteries are derived, how much is needed for a long range vehicle, how they are assembled. You can compare this to the production process of Nafion Fluoropolymer, 40 grams or sonOf platinum, and the other mostly metal components of a typical FCEV or ICEV. nn

          • falstaff77

            Yes I’m familiar with the conclusions of reports finding higher energy consumption for BEV manufacture than ICE vehicles. Your assertion was not about the ICE but that the FC assembly would be less energy intensive. The FC is much more than the few grams of platinum or nafion.

          • Dig Deeper

            So you believe the carbon fiber tanks make the vehicles upstream energy footprint larger than a conventional vehicle? Based on industry projections I don’t think that is the case.

          • falstaff77

            Industry projections about what in particular?nnnI have little idea about the energy used to build an FCV. I’m asking about the basis for your assertion that is relatively low. It is known that carbon fiber is, unsurprisingly, some five times more energy intensive per unit mass than steel to mfn as pure carbon is energy expensive to pull from its various compounds. (And CF is 40x more expensive than steel per mass). CF is stronger per unit mass than steel, so perhaps its a wash, I don’t know. In any case, the tank whether steel or CF certainly requires more energy than the 15 gal plastic tank in a combustion vehicle, and no tank at at all in a BEV. And then there’s still the question of the energy used to make the fuel cell itself along with its pumps, filters, heat rejection, etc.nnnTable 1: https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/FileContent.aspx?FileID=ba5c5d63-3584-4978-a851-0ea6bcccccca

          • Dig Deeper

            http://www.plasticstoday.com/articles/toyotas-fuel-cell-car-employs-carbon-fiber-extensively-thermoplastic-composite-20141127annThis link provides some info on Toyotas use of carbon fiber in the vehicle. The piece ends with this quote: nn”The Mirai will sell for approximately $63,000 in Japan and $57,500 in the US before local market incentives. For those that can wait, the next generation of the vehicle could cost considerably less. Toyota engineers are reportedly targeting a four-fold cost reduction for the fuel cell system employed in the next model, which might debut around the time of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020″.n

          • falstaff77

            Interesting but a separate conversation having nothing directly to do with the energy required to make the thing.

          • Dig Deeper

            Actually energy required is going to be directly reflected in cost

          • falstaff77

            Sure, cost is dependent on many things including manufacturing energy. This does not mean, for instance, that a business jet, for instance, cost $30 million dollars because of the energy that went into its 12 tons of aluminum.

          • Dig Deeper

            A jet is a lower volume item with much higher regulatory costs. In the case of mature fuel cell vs battery there will be other factors but energy involved to create the thing is going to be one of the biggest factors.

      • Mark Benjamin David

        “…It is also a repairable system.” THIS IS THE KEY HERE. SO CARMAKERS CAN KEEP MAKING B.S. MONEY OFF US IN THEIR DEALERSHIP SERVICE DEPARTMENTS!!!nnLithium type batteries still take 70-90% charge in 8-10 years, once below 70% they can be RE-USED (continued to be used) for storage for Wind, Solar or other power generation that can produce more than can be used all at once.nnThe Tesla battery pack swap machine is already online, so, this point is moot.nnYou forget that Toyota is only making 700 of these cars!!

        • Dig Deeper

          The batteries are not repairable

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            Batteries are not repairable, but battery *packs* are repairable. Battery packs are limited by their weakest cells, leading to the healthy cells not being fully utilized. So, if you replace the weakest cells (or weakest subassemblies of cells), you can often regain a significant amout of capacity.

          • Mark Benjamin David

            I’ve not ever needed a battery to be repaired, that’s just not an issue.nnnI only need one battery pack for my car, just plug it in at home for most driving. Hydrogen has to be continually produced, useage/business model is similar to gasoline, it is backed by those that will make money off people who are used to going to the gas station and are ignorant about the benefits and convenience of BEVs. Also, with hydrogen, car dealerships will still get their big service profits, and can still sell “extended warranty” packages when financing, whereas BEVs are extremely low maintenance, that’s why they don’t want to make them.nnnWe are asking the wrong questions about hydrogen. It’s not about cost or infrastructure, we need to know who and what is behind the curtain of hype, who and what really benefit from hydrogen, because, it is not in the best interest of consumers. Hydrogen should remain a fuel for rockets, not cars.

          • Dig Deeper

            Electricity has to be continually produced as well and the large majority of it is made by fossil fuels. nnBatteries like any mass produced technology are not without reliability issues so the difficulty in repairing them may be an issue.nnFuel cells are likely as low maintenance as batteries, both are electrochemical devices that drive an electric motor…. Perhaps you are so against fuel cells because you don’t understand how they work?nnHow is a cleaner fuel that allows customers to use their vehicle in the same ways they currently do without compromises not in the interest of the consumer?

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            “How is a cleaner fuel that allows customers to use their vehicle in the same ways they currently do without compromises not in the interest of the consumer?”nnIf this is what fuel cells offered, that would be great. But there are compromises both in the short and long term. Short term, there aren’t nearly enough hydrogen fueling stations. I could personally have a hydrogen vehicle, but it would mean that I would need to travel 50 miles 2-3 times a month for refueling. I also wouldn’t be able to do long distance trips, as there is not currently, and will not be in the next decade, sufficient fueling stations for me to travel to my parents up north.nnLong term, hydrogen obviously can’t compete with starting every day with full range. Even if I had a hydrogen fueling station as a close neighbour (something I would vehemently oppose, due to the risk of fire and explosion), I would need to take 10+ minutes out of my day to fuel the car 2-3 times a month.

          • Dig Deeper

            You will lose credibility if you insist that a hydrogen fueling station poses a bigger risk for fire and explosion than a petrol station. Research it.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            I have researched it. I can give two examples of hydrogen filling stations that have exploded. Gas stations on the other hand can’t really explode. They just burn ferociously, and for the most part only if the storage tanks are above ground, which they rarely are.

          • Dig Deeper

            can you give the two examples?

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            Rochester: http://www.autoblog.com/2010/08/30/how-safe-is-hydrogen-filling-station-explodes-w-video/ (There’s even a nice video of the shock wave propagating through the air.)nnEmeryville: http://prod.sandia.gov/techlib/access-control.cgi/2012/128642.pdf

          • Dig Deeper

            The Sandia report in the second link is good reading if you are interested in the safety of hydrogen as a fuel ;). Hydrogen gas used with proper technology is deemed to be a safer fuel than gasoline by most experts (such as the MIT professor interviewed in the second video of your first link) primarily because it is lighter than air and rapidly dissipates when a leak occurs. This makes the potential for large magnitude explosion very minimal at an outdoor fill station relative to gasoline, which has vapors that will remain near ground level in the event of a leak. nnAn explosion occurred in each instance, but was either fatal in magnitude? I don’t think so. Are both avoidable by better standardization of refill equipment? I believe so.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            Large magnitude explosions never happen at gas stations. (And I would define a “large magnitude explosion” as a *detonation* that can be reasonably expected to kill people in a radius far beyond the property where the refueling has taken place.)nnWe know such explosions are possible with hydrogen. Here’s a study of the effects of a detonation of 3.5-7 kg of hydrogen: http://conference.ing.unipi.it/ichs2005/Papers/100096.pdfnnTwo people died and windows were shattered 700 meters away from the explosion. This is from 3.5-7 kg of hydrogen, when a filling station will typically need to keep 100-2,000 kg of hydrogen on hand. In a hypothetical sudden release of 2,000 kg of hydrogen, even if a mere 1% of the gas cloud is at the ideal explosive concentration when ignition occurs, dozens of people could be killed. If we’re talking 10%, that might mean hundreds of people.nnWe know some ways in which hydrogen can be an explosive danger and if we roll out hydrogen fueling stations on a large scale, we will get to experience a lot more ways in which hydrogen is an explosive danger. There’s no escaping from Murphy’s law. Saying large magnitude explosions at hydrogen filling stations won’t happen is exactly like saying that the Titanic is unsinkable.

          • Dig Deeper

            Gas station explosions actually have occurred, simply Google it.nnThe circumstance in the explosion scenario above involved hydrogen leakage into an enclosed building.nnThe Germans made extensive use of “town gas”, the product of coal gasification containing an ample amount of hydrogen, for decades with a pretty good safety record.nnNo fuel is 100% safe, but based on intensive and thorough testing and research by international groups who have drafted standards for hydrogen distribution, I feel that hydrogen used with modern technology under modern standardization will indeed be equalnin safety to gasoline.nnDo we look at early plane crashes as evidence that commercial flight would never be sufficiently safe for the public to enjoy? Of course not, that is silly, so unless you are suggesting the modes of failures outlined in these instances can’t be obviates by technological advancement it seems you are doing nothing more than fear mongering.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            I said “large magnitude explosions” as I defined them do not occur at gas stations, and they don’t.nnThe comparison with aviation is apt. We know aviation accidents do occur, and will continue to occur, regardless of technological progress. If it is acceptable that accidents will occur where dozens or hundreds of people will die, both hydrogen filling stations and aviation carries an acceptable level of risk.nnI am confident that if hydrogen filling stations are rolled out on a large scale, the number of large magnitude explosions will be fairly small. But knowing that these accidents will happen at the filling stations says to me that I wouldn’t want to be living near a filling station. This is equivalent to living on board an airplane. Airplane disasters are rare, but if you fly around on an airplane 16 hours per day for enough years, the odds start to stack up against you.

          • Dig Deeper

            the magnitude of the filling station explosions wasn’t enough to even cause any fatalities, I’m not sure how living in proximity of an H2 station puts one in danger.nnThe explosions that have occurred at gas stations have been fatal or resulted in people in critical condition. It’s a question of having sufficient fuel per unit area and then having an ignition source. Gasoline vapors from what I have read are more likely to be concentrated near an ignition source – static electricity. nnJust as we can design airplane wings that are adequately fastened to the structure of the plane we can with a high degree of certainty design and standardize components that can contain the pressures of the H2 filling station, early failures make that impossible. nnI feel it to be highly unlikely that national governments and large international corporations are putting forth considerable taxpayer dollars to fund refueling infrastructure that is not sufficiently safe relative to the existing system.

          • falstaff77

            “Gas stations on the other hand can’t really explode. They just burn ferociously, and for the most part only if the storage tanks are above ground, which they rarely are.”nnNothing burns without access to oxygen, not gasoline nor H2. Yet leaks happen, and when gasoline is aerosolized (as in an engine) or presents as vapor, it certainly explodes. nnhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwS6Bq3ruWA

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            As I said, gas *stations* can’t really explode. This is because the gasoline is usually stored in underground tanks, where it’s fairly cool and there’s little oxygen. If you open the storage tank and drop a flare into it, you might get a low-intensity fire. Or there might be insufficent oxygen to even burn. There certainly won’t be any explosion.nnnNow, if we’re talkning about above-ground storage tanks (which I’ve never seen here in Norway, but I posit that they exist), you might get an explosion, if, for instance, a runaway semi-trailer crashes into the storage tank and spills the gasoline everywhere. There’s still no *guarantee* of an explosion, you might just get an intense fire. If the semi-trailer is loaded with liquid oxygen, however, an explosion is much more likely. (These are fairly unusual circumstances.)nnnnHydrogen, on the other hand, is likely to explode in the event of an accident. There are several reasons for this:nnn- The storage tankes are above ground, susceptable to mechanical damage due to willful sabotage/terrorism as well as accidents.n- Hydrogen is (usually) stored in a compressed state. Any pinhole-sized hole will lead to the entire contents of the tank being dumped into the environment.n- Hydrogen is explosive in a wide range of concentrations in air (18.3-59%), as well as flammable in a wider range of concentrations (4-75%).n- Hydrogen is extremely easy to ignite. You need a spark with an energy of around 0.016 mJ, which is a so small spark that it cannot be heard or felt by a human being. Hydrogen has a history of igniting in laboratories where they simply aren’t able to identify the source of the ignition. (Google: “Hydrogen self-ignition”)nnnnThese factors lead to there being a huge potential for disaster when starting to store huge amounts of hydrogen where people live. nnnnOne way of mitigating the risk is to store the hydrogen in its liquid state, because in the event of an accident, liquid hydrogen will simply burn as it evaporates and is mixed with air in a concentration of around 70-75%. The mixture would simply be too rich to explode. I would find this to be an acceptable storage method in my neighbourhood. But it takes a lot of energy to liquify hydrogen, so this does have some negative sides to it as well.

          • falstaff77

            “Hydrogen, on the other hand, is likely to explode in the event of an accident. There are several reasons for this:nn- The storage tankes are above ground,”nnnnWhy, because you say so, that H2 must be stored above ground? Certainly most of the gasoline in the US at depots is stored above ground. What you’ve done above is a strenuous exercise in confirmation bias. Yes some of it is correct about ignition energy and combustion ratios, but you ignore other factors. nnnBecause of its mass, H2 also diffuses away from a leak much more rapidly than gasoline vapor, and thus H2 quite difficult to concentrate to 4% in air away from the leak point unless purposely trapped. When a compressed cylinder of H2 is punctured, or of any other compressed flammable gas or vapor for that matter, what tends to happen is a jet of gas is emitted from the leak point. If there’s an ignition source, the jet becomes a blow torch, but the tank does not explode because O2 can’t mix its way up stream against the pressure. There’s been some tests showing exactly this result, photos online. nnnThe way to get an explosion is to super heat the container, as shown with the gasoline drums fire video above. Do that so that the tank/drum fails catastrophically from over pressure (or auto ignition in a gas tank w/ some air) and an explosion will occur, H2 or gasoline vapor, not just a fire. nnnGasoline being a hydrocarbon also carries along with its emissions CO, CO2, and soot, and these frequently kill by themselves. Also the explosive power of gasoline vapor per unit volume is 22x greater than H2 gas.

          • Espen Hugaas Andersen

            I’m not saying that hydrogen must for all eternity be stored above ground, but there are some good reasons for doing so. Gasoline is fairly unproblematic to store underground, because if a leak develops, it won’t be catastrophic. You might lose a gallon every year, or month, or week, or day, which is environmentally a bad thing, but not in any way dangerous (or uneconomic).nnIf you store hydrogen underground, where inspections and maintenance is difficult, and a leak develops, the tank will rapidly empty it’s contents into the soil. And once into the soil, it will rise up and potentially burn/explode above ground.nnBasically, gas is safe to store underground, because gravity keeps it down in the tanks, out of harms way. Gravity doesn’t do the same thing with hydrogen. Actually, maybe the safest way to store hydrogen would be something like a water tower. If you store compressed hydrogen 50 meters up in the air, and a leak develops, the hydrogen would never reach ground level.nnWhen it comes to hydrogen concentrations, it is not particularly dangerous to have a slow leak in an open space. The hydrogen would rise quickly and no longer be an issue. The danger is when you have a rapid release of hydrogen, or when it is in an enclosed space. The latter isn’t relevant for public filling stations (but is certainly relevant for garages and home filling stations), so the relevant danger is when you have a rapid release of hydrogen.nnThis might not be the most common way or hydrogen filling stations to explode, but it will certainly happen from time to time. Some possibilities:nn- Terrorism. Say you have a hydrogen filling station in downtown manhattan, where 2000 kg of hydrogen is stored. Terrorists break in and attach IEDs to the storage tanks, which they then set off, rupturing the storage tanks in an instant and releasing all the hydrogen simultaneously. After a three second delay (allowing the hydrogen to sufficiently mix with air), a second incendiary charge is set off. Boom, there goes a city block or two.n- Malfunction. A storage tank necessarily has valves, and if you get multiple failures at the right places, you can release a significant amount of hydrogen fairly rapidly. Emeryville is an example.n- Accident. If a semi-trailer crashes into the storage tanks, you could definitely get a rapid release of hydrogen.n- Fire + malfunction. If you place a hydrogen storage tank in a fire, and the overpressure release valve malfunctions, it’s only a matter of time before the storage tank ruptures.nnRegarding concentrations; one kg of hydrogen is approximately 11 standard cubic meters. So, to have an explosive concentration (18.3-59%) you need to mix one kg of hydrogen with 7-49 cubic meters of air. This is an amount of air than can be expressed as a sphere with a radius of 1.2-2.3 meters. Getting this concentration for at least a significant amount of the hydrogen release isn’t difficult. As hydrogen is stored at high pressure, a leak will usually be a high pressure jet of hydrogen, which is a quite good way of getting a lot of turbulence and a good mixing of the gases.nnOn a larger scale, a release of 2000 kg of hydrogen would need 15,000-98,000 cubic meters of air. Assuming the entire filling station is engulfed in a sylinder-shaped gas cloud before ignition, with a radius of 15 meters and a height of 50 meters, that would be 35,000 cubic meters of air. Which is right in the explosive zone.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            And FC are more expensive than long range batteries.

          • Dig Deeper

            per kWh they are projected to be cheaper in the near term

  • Dig Deeper

    When discussing costs to operate you have to look at consumer habits in the auto industry. Consumers generally don’t purchase vehicles based on operational costs, instead they buy vehicles for aesthetic reasons, for convenience, for luxury features, for performance, for low upfront cost, for utility,or for some combination thereof. This is why Prius’s and Jetta TDIs only comprise a very small share of the automarket despite their inherent and proven efficiency advantages. So the fact that the BEV will get more miles per kWh doesn’t necessarily make it a winner especially when it will probably have a higher upfront cost for an acceptable range, and will require the owner to wait for a charge on many occasions throughout the course of a year, or rent a vehicle for long trips at other times.nnWhen discussing vehicle efficiency it is also important to understand that as vehicles become more efficient the monetary saving associated with boosting efficiency diminishes. For example, did you know that switching from a 20 mpg car to a 25 mpg car will save 50% more fuel than switching from a 25 mpg car to a 30 mpg car? Seems counter-intuitve huh? But its reality. Now just ponder how little fuel is actually saved when we are talking about a 60 MPGe FCEV vs an 85MPGe BEV…. The important question for consumers is does this fuel savings offset the higher upfront (and probably financed with interest) cost for the BEV, the inconvenience of waiting for the BEV to recharge, or the cost to rent a vehicle for certain long trips?nnIf you do the math its pretty clear that this so oft touted advantage of efficiency by the BEV doesn’t amount to all that much of a monetary benefit to begin with, and certainly doesn’t offset the shortcomings of the vehicle for the typical consumer.nnHence why world leading automotive engineers are endorsing the FCEV.

    • Joseph Dubeau

      FCEVs are too expense and the hydrogen used is too expensive.

  • Jon Lyall

    This article fails to answer the question. nWhat is needed is a well to wheels analysis of the carbon footprint of petrol, hydrogen, and electricity.nFrom what I have seen, petrol has the greatest carbon footprint, whilst hydrogen and electricity have lower and fairly similar footprints. This is based on gas reformation to make hydrogen, and a mix of coal, gas and nuclear generation to produce the electricity (reflecting the current generation in most countries).

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