Just like its counterparts at Honda and GM who've announced they'll produce hydrogen fuel-cell cars, Mercedes-Benz hopes the whole "if you build it" thing doesn't just apply to Shoeless Joe Jackson. Mercedes announced today the company will build a hydrogen-fueled version of its European B-Class hatchback called the F-Cell for the US and Europe. It'll arrive by early 2010, far ahead of the massive hydrogen infrastructure the company acknowledges will be required for wide adoption of such cars.
The company says it will build 200 units of the F-Cell, a car powered by a 136-horsepower electric motor with current generated by a fuel-cell generator. Power storage comes by way of a lithium-ion battery (35 kW output / 1.4 kWh capacity) supporting a driving range of 250 miles and a top speed of 106. According to a press release, the F-Cell will perform similarly to an economy car with a 2-liter, four-cylinder engine. The company also touts good cold-start capability at temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit. Not likely a problem in California, where most of the country's hydrogen refueling stations are.
Still, with the number of such stations in California still in the low double digits, and few stations elsewhere in the country, the F-Cell's limited rollout will likely remain centered on the Golden State. Mercedes-Benz officials say the company is working with oil companies, utilities and government agencies in California and Germany to expand the hydrogen infrastructure to support F-Cell drivers.
Maybe someone should use some technology to cheaply produce the hydrogen needed for this car, like smart roads:
If we combine technologies wisely, we could get the world off of oil much sooner than I ever thought possible.
Rather than relying on the petroleum industry to provide the infrastructure, what is needed is an affordable home solar powered hydrogen production unit. So you can use one of these cars in a 200km radius of your home without needing the infrastructure at all.
1) Hydrogen is exspensive.
2) Home or micro processing is inefficient - lots of electricity, often based on fossil fuels, to create far less power than a simple electric car.
3) The cheapest hydrogen comes from stripping it out of coal, not water.
4) There is nothing green about hydrogen up to the point it goes into your car. It just front loads its pollution to make you feel better.
I agree with Oakspar77777, unitl we can produce hydrogen cheaply with little or no enviriomental damage, then cars like these will be a waste of time and energy.
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So what does it cost, and what does a fueling cost? And how much space does the tank occupy?
Could we make our own H2? Probably compressing it could blow the place up, but solar panels all over the car might help feed H2 directly into the fuel cell, which could help conserve what's in the tank.
MB, you're making a huge mistake: no one will ever be able to sell serious numbers of fuel cell (FC) cars, for a reason, and if you're not ready to sell electric vehicles, you're gonna be left in the dust of all other car makers.
I often disagree with Oakspar, but not this time. There's no need and no place for FCs in our transportation systems. Even the very people that are working to put FC cars on the market say that they won't be ready for 10 to 20 years, and that's what they've been saying for more than 20 years now. Trust me: FCs will never be ready, if for no other reason than because electric vehicles will own the roads long before FCs will be ready for general use.
There are several very thorny problems with hydrogen, and every one of them would have to be solved before FCs could have any chance of being only as good as electricity for powering a car.
Hydrogen is not like gasoline in that we can get energy from gasoline without putting much energy into it-- gasoline is refined from crude oil, but there is no natural source of cheap, liquid hydrogen. It is more like a rubber band or a spring-- you can't get any energy from it unless you put at least as much energy into it. Hydrogen is not like either a spring or a rubber band in another important way, though-- once you put the energy into the hydrogen, you need to be prepared to use it as soon as possible: it's the smallest of all atoms, and it can squeeze its way out of anything you put it in, so if you fill a tank with hydrogen and cap it as tightly as you can, unless you keep it refrigerated at hundreds of degrees below zero it will all evaporate in just a few weeks. And if you do keep it at such frigid temps, you'll be spending lots of energy doing so, which makes hydrogen one of the very poorest ways of storing power.
FCs have a chicken-and-egg problem: which comes first? How do you hope to sell lots and lots of FC vehicles unless you already have a huge infrastructure of thousands of expensive hydrogen filling stations first? Who would want to buy an FC car that you can't get fuel for? And yet, how can you hope to get anyone to risk investing billions of dollars on an infrastructure of thousands of hydrogen filling stations unless they already have hundreds of thousands of customers ready to sell it to? Where do you start?! The way billionaires get to be billionaires is by being wise with their money, and FCs are a very risky bet.
EVs do not have the problem FCs do--the electric grid we need to charge them already exists, and EVs can be charged at home rather than wasting time standing aound waiting for fuel to be loaded into the car.
Gasoline and diesel fuel can be stored at room temperature unpressurized, in inexpensive thin steel tanks that can assume any odd shapes to make use of any available space in a car. Same with batteries-- you can istall them in just about any convenient space that you don't need for other hardware. But hydrogen fuel is very different: it needs to be stored at thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch, which requires thick, heavy, expensive cylinders that cannot make efficient use of the space in a car. So you may be able to put 20 gallons of gasoline in your car now, but a hydrogen-powered car of similar size and cargo capacity would only be able to store 10 gallons or less of hydrogen fuel. If you did want to be able to carry 20 gallons of hydrogen, you'd have to sacrifice all your trunk and storage space.
And because hydrogen does not contain as much energy as the gasoline it would be replacing, even if you could fill it with 20 gallons of hydrogen, you would not be able to drive as far as you could on the same quantity of gasoline.
That means that there would have to be more hydrogen filling stations to handle the same number of cars we now have that run on gasoline-- especially on cross-country highways. FC stations would have te be spaced every few miles if cars are not to chance running out of fuel.
Stored at insanely high pressures at insanely low temperatures, such a volatile gas would have to be filled from stations that are far more secure than the gasoline stations we have today, with filler hoses that are much thicker, far more expensive, and that must be handled far more carefully.
When I was in the Navy, I heard about an accident that occurred during the fueling of a jet fighter. A liquid oxygen filler hose ruptured and began spewing the ultra-cold, high-pressure liguid, some of which shot instantly down into his insulated gloves, filling them. He tried to shake the gloves off, but his hands were already frozen solid: they broke off and fell to the ground, shattering, leaving him limbless in a matter of seconds.
Hydrogen is stored at temperatures even lower than that of oxygen-- and so it requires even greater care than oxygen does. The first time any such accident as the one I described above happened at a hydrogen filling station, even if the entire area did not go up like a fireball, it would put such a fear into potential car buyers that it would make it impossible to sell hydrogen-powered cars... it would bring the entire industry to a halt the same way the hydrogen-filled Hindenburg Zeppelin did when it blew up in New Jersey 72 years ago.
Depending on how you make your hydrogen, the cost of hydrogen can vary, but if you make it from natural gas-- one of the cheaper ways, if not the most environmentally best way to do so-- it's about $5. a gallon. Not a terribly cheap way to drive, especially if the hydrogen is so inefficent, and if your car sits in the driveway much-- so you'll need lots of hydrogen, whether or not you're doing much driving.
Unlike electricity, which can be delivered by the power grid very efficiently, silently and with virtually no human attention, hydrogen delivery will require tankers that are significantly more expensive than those carrying gasoline, and will congest our streets and highways even more than gasoline tanker trucks do today. Hydrogen delivery trucks would require thick thermal insulation, and heavier, thicker metal tanks, meaning they would not be able to carry as much fuel as gasoine tankers would. More hydrogen tanker trucks would thus be needed to deliver the same amount of fuel that gasoline tanker trucks would-- thus we'd see more tankers, more traffic, more congestion, slower commutes-- and less daily production for those commuters that had to share the highways.
Two Nobel laureates are on record as opposing continued hydrogen support; none are in favor of it. The current administration has discontinued support for hydrogen as well. Whatever little funding and effort still exists for hydrogen needs to be diverted to EVs, where it will actually do some good, and electric vehicles are already being sold in countries all over the world, they're far more efficient than either gasoline or FC cars-- the equivalent of over 150 miles per gallon-- and they are super simple, easy to maintain and can last for decades with virtually no maintenance at all.
The city of Santa Monica, California, has had a fleet of electric vehicles for more than 10 years that have more than 100,000 miles each, are running just fine, and have never even had their batteries replaced, and don't require
oil changes, tune-ups, air filters, oil filters, smog tests or other stuff that cars need today.
If MB chooses to ingnore EVs in favor of FCVs, they will be lost in the dust of other car makers.