Go back

Not much new information since the congressional hearings. Looking forward to 2015 as the year for fuel cell cars to be commercialized. Infrastructure is still thin with stations few and far between to fill up on hydrogen. Hydrnol is not advanced enough to replace compressed hydrogen gas and it has to be heated excessively, 200 C, to release the hydrogen. It takes 50 gallons of the current generation of hydrnol to support a 300 mile driving range.

A fascinating site is interstate traveler where a concept maglev train that runs on a solar track is discussed. This solar track produces electricity that is used to run the train and produce hydrogen. Theoretically, the hydrogen will be pumped along the track to stations where cars can fill up. This track goes along the Interstate in the rightaways. This track will support cars that move at 250 miles an hour. On the track their will be cars that carry the trailers of common semi trucks, cars that carry other vehicles from the freeway, and cars that carry human passengers. It looks like the maglev train will be incredibly expensive at potentially $15 million a mile, but the company pushing it seems to have enough private capital to go forward anyways. It is important to realize that the track includes conduits that carry fiber optics, wastewater, hydrogen, drinking water, etcetera. The train is pushed as more than just a train, it is pushed as a major infrastructure improvement that will lower the carbon footprint of the freeway system.

Obama is still a major obstacle to rolling out a hydrogen infrastructure even though the technology for PEM fuel cells is maturing rapidly. With 3 months left to go this year, the clock is ticking for the automakers to commercialize fuel cell vehicles. Hopefully, Obama will lose in 2012 and a more forward thinking President will be installed. Meanwhile, Germany is trying to construct a 1000 hydrogen refilling stations before 2015. Sweden is moving forward and in general Europe as a whole is pushing ahead with construction of hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Meanwhile, Nissan is hoping it's battery electric Leaf with only a 100 mile range when the battery is new will sell well. Never mind that once the battery wears out, which may take only 3 years, there is no recycling program in place. The Volt gas/electric hybrid is still on track for a November 2010 release with information about the fuel cell version of the Volt being hard to find. LG Chem and other battery makers because Obama wants a million plug in vehicles are seeing green. But battery electric vehicles are not a solution to the OIL crisis.

Thanks to Greg Blencoe's blog, here are some numbers to consider: 250 million registered passenger vehicles in the U.S., 170k gasoline stations, and 200 dollars per barrel legendary investor Jim Rogers predicts that OIL could be by 2013. This would raise the price of gasoline to $5/gallon. From a quick google search, it looks like U.S. OIL imports topped $400 billion last year. To see some information on how a barrel of OIL is used, Gibson Consulting looks interesting. Gasoline hit a high of $3+/gallon when OIL spiked to $100 a barrel. In some parts of the country, it hit $4/gallon during that period. Gasoline can be very expensive and in the future it most likely will be $5+/gallon. The need to take OIL out of the transportation system is urgent. Obama's battery love is misguided, the energy density is simply too low. Their will not be significant enough savings using batteries alone. The infrastructure is not in place to recharge plug in vehicles as most wiring in the country is sub code and worse than that a standard 15A 110V outlet won't fast charge a 16kwh or bigger battery. A high voltage outlet is dangerous where using it to recharge your car during peak usage hours will strain the grid.

Go back