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“NUTS” – One Word to Anthropogenic Climate Change Disbelieves

May 30, 2014

Coal fire electricity generation station emissionsWorld On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction, Species Disappearing Faster Than Ever Before, y Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, 05/29/2014:

This report on the Sixth Great Extinction come on the heels of “President Obama’s upcoming announcement of EPA’s proposed rules on carbon reductions to cut greenhouse gases from stationary sources, such as power plants, which account for about 40 percent of U.S. emissions. It’s assured Congress will be deadlock on the draft standards; those standards won’t be finalized until June 2015. And the proposal is expected to allow each state to determine how it will meet the standards. States would have about a year to develop a compliance plan and submit it to the EPA for approval.”

“The cost of inaction on climate is the real drain on our economy,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said in an email to Bloomberg. “In 2012, we saw the second-costliest year in U.S. history for natural disasters. Even the strongest sectors can’t escape the pressures of a changing climate, so it is time for us to lead.”

Obama’s Carbon Battle: Everyone Is Suiting Up For A Fight, by Kate Sheppard, Huffington Post, 05/29/2014 3:45 pm EDT Updated: 05/29/2014:

So what is your choice; pay for a cleaner environment or pay for the escalating cost to cleanup the aftermath of a continually worsening environment?


April Ties For Hottest Ever On Record For The Globe

May 21, 2014

Ghost-Rider-Motorcycle-Fire-Skull-1050x1680Huff Post, Seth Borenstein — “Once again, the world hit record heat levels. The average global temperature last month tied the hottest April on record four years ago.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday say last month’s average temperature was 58.1 degrees Fahrenheit (14.5 degrees Celsius). That was 1.39 degrees F (0.77 C) warmer than the average last century.

The last time the globe’s monthly temperature was cooler than normal was February 1985.”


Welcome to the Main Event of the Transportation World – AFV vs ICV!

May 16, 2014

Demoltion Derby 2Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the main event of the boxing world. Here to show their support is “Transportation,” the organizers of the fight. Fans are buzzing the world over about the ICV vs. AFVs (internal combustion vehicle vs. alternate fuel vehicles) winner-takes-all Championship Boxing Fight. The fight has been decades in the making. Now is the time for AFVs to take a crack at a title. Serious contenders for the belt from all divisions – Lightweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight – are ready to step into the ring in full fighting form. Oddsmakers are taking bets on who will walk away with Belt of Champions. Today, ICV, the all-time king of the boxing, squares off against five AFVs contenders in a lightweight passenger-class division title fight. Contenders, in ranking order by the number of wins in the U.S. for 2013, are: “HEV” (hybrid electric vehicle), “PHEV” (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), “BEV” (battery electric vehicle), “NGV” (natural gas vehicle), and “FCEV” (fuel cell electric vehicle).

Before ringing the bell to start the event, a word about the energy density of the various fuels consumed by the contenders – where energy density is the amount of stored energy per unit of mass or volume. Fred Schlachter states in 2012 for APS Physics:

  • gasoline used by ICV is the champion at 47.5 MJ/kg and 34.6 MJ/L of stored energy – a fully fueled car of gasoline has the same energy content as a thousand sticks of dynamite,
  • per gallon, diesel fuel also used by ICV contains about 12% more energy than gasoline, thus when combusted in engines of comparable efficiency, the diesel powered vehicles gets about 12% better mileage – both diesel and gasoline hail internationally for the highest volumetric energy density any contender; yet compressed hydrogen and compressed natural gas (CNG) have more energy per mass,
  • compressed natural gas (CNG) has at 2,900 psi (200 bar) CNG has about 53.6 MJ/kg and 10 MJ/L of stored energy – slightly higher volume tic energy density than gasoline,
  • a lithium-ion battery such as that used in a Chevy Volt has about 0.3 MJ/kg and about 0.4 MJ/L of stored energy – gasoline has about 100 times the energy density of a lithium-ion battery, which is partially mitigated by the very high efficiency of an electric motor in converting energy stored in the battery to making the car move: it is typically 60-80 percent efficient,
  • hydrogen compressed to 70 MPa (10,152 psi) has about 123 MJ/kg, 5.6 MJ/L of stored energy – by far the highest mass energy density of any fuel.

Jason Haraldsen reports, ““While a gasoline engine produces more energy per kilogram, the question is about pollution and how much CO2 is produced by each process? According to the EIA, coal generates about 0.230 lbs of CO2 per MJ, while gasoline produces 0.160 lbs of CO2 per MJ and natural gas generates 0.124 lbs of CO2 per MJ. Therefore, coal looks to come out on top. However, if you consider that approximately 30 percent of your electricity is renewable energy, then this brings gasoline and electric vehicles back to level ground, if not giving electric a slight advantage. However, it is still not a zero emission car quite yet.

A final point is some of the top contenders qualify for various federal, state and local incentives (welfare benefits). For ease of comparison, this event looks at federal benefits only. State and local benefits vary dramatically making a fair correlation between contenders a cumbersome exercise.


Introducing first….. in the black corner, the undisputed champion of the world is “ICV,” claiming 14.4 million victories in the U.S. lightweight division for 2013. Fighting for ICV is Honda Accord, one of the top boxers in America for 2013. Weighing in at 30 mpg (combined), he goes 516 miles between pit stop to fill up his 17.2-gallon gut.  His strength comes from a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder 16-valve engine. Accord claims a top speed of 125 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds. Wearing his LX cape, he gets a base salary of about $24,475 per fight.

2014 Honda Accord LX (gasoline)

Known by many as punch-drunk and an aging fossil, he still trains hard to slim down, maximize his performance and stay in tip-top shape. ICV’s boasts his supreme strength and endurance comes from a thrust for liquid gold with its unparalleled volumetric energy density; about 100 times that of BEVs energy source. This allows ICV to go the distance where no other contender has gone before. Only ICV and NGV, a distant relative, can compete in all divisions on land, air and sea! To do this, their trainer spends time and money refining their fighting style.

ICV is riding a 123-year win streak following knockout blows to EVs and Steam Engines in the late 19th and early 20th century. He earns on an average $25,000 for light-duty matches in the U.S. Known to cause havoc wherever he goes, always emits noxious odors and leaves a debris trail. ICV’s well-known drinking problem is aided by more than 120,000 available pit stops in the U.S. alone. His spending patterns to get tanked, varies day-to-day, and is the source of much speculation and rumors. ICV constantly brags that intensive training to comply with the new rules from the U.S. Federal Boxing Agency has improved his efficiency and desire to dink as much. Ironically, many top contenders such as HEV and PHEV use liquid gold as a front man or backup.

Most say ICV’s fighting days are over. To this, he constantly has shrugs off pundits and other aggressive contenders that say it’s only a matter of time before he loses his crown. With so many boxing suits (makes), fighting forms (models) and division titles (light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty) it seems nearly impossible for any contender to gain enough momentum to beat him on all fronts; assuming they are even able to compete with him in all divisions. Yet, promoters around the world are scrambling to find a cleaner, efficient and likeable contender to force a decision against ICV in the lightweight division.


In the green corner, is the every-improving and highly popular “HEV.” Fighting for HEV, ranked #1 in the affordable lightweight midsize division by U.S. News & World Report, isToyota Camry Hybrid SE. Weighing in at 41 mpg, he is able to go a whopping 680 miles between pit stops. His total strength of 200-horsepower comes from a 156-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (regular gas) paired to a 3-phase high voltage AC permanent magnet electric motor and 244.8-volt sealed nickel-metal energy pack, which is charged-up by his engine. Camry H claims a top speed of 117 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 7.6 seconds.

Wearing his SE cape, he gets a base salary of about $27,845 per fight— a $1,500 premium over his non-hybrid cousin. Unlike BEV contenders, Camry H does not qualify for any federal welfare benefits.

Toyota Camry Hybrid SE

As a family, HEVs added 408,484 victories to their record in the U.S. for 2013, Figure 1. This constitutes about 83 percent of the wins within the entire EV clan, and a 3 percent winning streak against all vehicle bouts including ICV, etc. HEV never needs to plug-in to go the distance. At the local pit stop around the corner, he can easily tank-up on liquid gold to go the distance. His boxing suit keeps getting greener every year while stopping less often at the local bar to get tanked.

 Figure 1: U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales – 20132013 US EV Sales (BEV, HEV, PHEV) bs numbers

Source: EDTA – Electric Drive Transport Association

HEV lives a respectful life well connect to many famous families with names such as “Toyota,” “Lexus,” “Honda,” “Ford,” “Chevrolet,” and “Cadillac.” Unknown too many, his roots go back to 1901 when his great-great-grandfather, Ferdinand Porsche, brought into the world Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid, the first heavy drinker with an electric personality. Fighting mostly in the lightweight division, his promoter is arranging some middleweight and heavyweight bouts.

HEV is a technology wizard by recovering the energy wasted when slowing down to recharge his energy pack. He loses praise from his fans for acceleration and handling. Another complaint is the relatively high price to see him fight. Owners often yell at the trainers for his high cost of maintenance. Yet, HEV typically trades at premium price.


In the blue corner, with a split personality and ability to go the distance is “PHEV.” Fighting for PHEV is Ford Fusion Hybrid Energi SE. Weighing in at 100 mpge (43 mpg gas only); he can go the full distance at 620 miles when totally intoxicated on a mixture of liquid gold and electrons. His strength comes from his muscular 141-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an 88 kW permanent magnet AC synchronous motor powered by a 7.6 kWh Li-ion secondary energy source. Ford Fusion Hybrid Energi SE claims a top speed of 102 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 8.0 seconds.

Wearing his SE cape, he gets a base salary of about $34,700 per fight – a $10,765 premium over his SE non-hybrid cousin and a $7,420 over his SE hybrid cousin – before qualifying for $4,007 in federal welfare benefits.

As a family, PHEVs added 49,000 wins to their record in the U.S. for 2013, Figure 1. This constitutes about 9 percent of the wins within the entire EV clan, and only a 0.3 percent (10-fold decline from HEV) winning streak against all vehicle bouts including ICV, etc. Many potential fans feel paying to watch PHEV fight makes little economic or practical sense. Yet, overall PHEV saw an increase in fans willing to watch him fight. The “Volt,” setting ticket sales at an all-time high for “PHEVs” in August 2013, led this trend

Ford Fusion Hybrid Energi SE

PHEV shares the fighting characteristics of both ICV and BEV, yet has to plug-in to charge-up either at home or at a station along the way. While PHEV tends to stretch his food budget to go the distance, he earns up to a $10,000 premium per match than fully loaded ICV’s. The most elegant members of the PHEV family use only their electric drive to spin their wheels; they internally combust to generate electricity rather than directly spinning their wheels. Other members of the PHEV family use both engine and electric motor to move around the ring under most fighting conditions.

New to the PHEV family is “Prius Plug-in” who lives almost exclusively in California and earns a base salary of $29,990 per fight while getting about $2,500 in federal welfare benefits. Welfare benefits given to other family members range from $7,500 for the unglamorous “Volt” who earns $34,185 per match to $3,626 for the “Honda Accord Plug-In” who earns $39,780 per fight. Surprising his wealthy brother “Porsche Panamera SE Hybrid” gets $4,751 in welfare before earning $96,150 each time in the ring.

“Volt” another member of the PHEV family qualifies for $7,500 in federal aid before earning $34,185 per match, while “Honda Accord Plug-In” earns $39,780 per fight and qualifies for $3,626 in federal assistance. Surprising their wealthy brother “Porsche Panamera SE Hybrid” qualifies for $4,751 in welfare before earning $96,150 each time he walks into the ring.

To show the potential might of PHEVs, Bob Lutz the legendary promoter behind the Pontiac GTO and Dodge Viper dreamt up VTRUX, a range-extended electric extended cab truck, to fight in the lightweight division. V purportedly goes 40 all-electric miles with near zero emissions. With a little help from his internal combustion engine, he can travel 300 miles on a single fill-up. Weighing in at over 100 mpg, he can make most contenders kiss the canvas. V’s claim to fame is not only the ability to fight in the lightweight, class 2 division, but also his efficiency, which can save his fans $43,000 over 8-years, when going 24,000 per year at a cost of 9.0 cents per kWh of electricity and $3.70 per gallon of liquid gold.

VIA Truck-on-Chasis-Overhead-Angle1

His strength comes from a small lightweight 150 kW 415 Nm torque electric drive motor powered by a 22 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 100 kw electric generator connected to a 201-horsepower 4.3-liter six-cylinder combustion engine . V claims a top speed of 85 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 9.7 seconds. At ringside, V comes in at 5,500 lbs. When fully loaded his GVW winds up at 7,500 lbs; while delivering a 1,500 lb. payload capacity. He fights with either a two-wheel or 4WD cape. He is estimated to command no less than $79,000 per fight while qualifying for $7,500 in federal aid.


In the yellow corner, stands what some consider the hope of the future “BEV.” Fighting for BEV is the upstart and headline crazed Tesla S in his 60 kWh cape. Weighing in at 89 mpge, he can go 208 miles between charging up. His strength comes from a 302-horsepower induction motor energized by a 60 kWh microprocessor controlled, lithium-ion energy source. S claims a top speed of 120 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds.

He gets a base salary of $69,900 per fight before a whopping $7,500 in federal welfare benefits.

When wearing his $10,000 85 kWh cape, his strength increases to 362 hp with a 125 mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds. When gowning this cape, his base salary increases to $79,900 per fight.

When wearing his $23,500 85 kWh high performance cape, his strength increases to 416 hp with a 130 mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds. When gowning this cape, his base salary increases to $93,400 per fight.

2014 Tesla Model S

He comes from Northern California and heavily promoted by Elon Musk of the Tesla dynasty to be unbeatable owning to excellent speed and high performance. Tesla S comes with a single 10 kW on-board charger capable of plugging into 110 standard household outlet or 240-volt outlet.

A single onboard charger plugged into a standard 110-volt outlet, will get 5 miles of range for every hour of charging. From zero to 300 miles would take about 52 hours at that rate. With a single charger connected to a 240-volt outlet, which Tesla recommends, the pace speeds up to 31 miles of range for each hour of charging, and a full 300-mile charge takes less than 9.5 hours.

Outfitting S with a second onboard charger for an additional $3,600 will double the standard rate of charge, up to 58 miles of range per hour of charge, when combined with a 240-volt 80-amp wall connector. For rapid charging, Tesla offers an external charger for an additional $2,500 to replenish half of a charge in as little as 20 minutes.

Out about town, Tesla’s snob appeal becomes readily apparent; consorting only with the upper class and a few wannabes who want to consort with the stars. On occasion, his fiery personality presents itself. He also tends to eat very slowly and rarely dines out in public. Elon has gone out limb; looking to build two high-end heart centers to ensure BEV has the juice to go the distance. Also, it’s questionable whether Elon is really making money directly from his boxer’s earnings.

As a family, BEV added slightly less than 49,000 wins in the U.S. for 2013, Figure 1. This constitutes about 8 percent of the wins within the entire EV clan, and only a 0.3 percent (10-fold decline from HEV) winning streak against all vehicle bouts including ICV, etc. BEV’s record is marginally on par with the PHEV family, which won 1,300 more fights than BEV in 2013. BEV has not stepped into the ring after losing his Belt more than 100 years ago to ICV.

Other popular members of the BEV family go by street names – i3 (BMW), Spark (Chevrolet) and Leaf (Nissan), just to name a few. To the extent that these fighters lack the performance and “bling-bling” of Tesla S, they earn considerably less per match. Leaf weighs in at 113 mpge and can go about 84 miles between pit stops to recharge. His strength comes from a 107-horsepower motor energized by a 24 kWh lithium-ion energy source. He gets a base salary of $28,980 per fight before $7,500 in federal welfare benefits. Even the i3 earns less at $41,350 per fight before $7,599 in federal assistance.

Leaf’s charging time takes roughly 16 hours via a standard 110-volt outlet, but an optional $1,250 6.6 kW 220-volt onboard charger for an additional $1,250, nearly cuts charging time by 50%. An available quick charge port allows charging to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes at public charging stations.

For the long-term bettor, odds are that BEVs lack of endurance and eating habits will not improve to the point where his fan base will amass and continue to grow.


In the grey corner, another aging fossil trying to make it into the ring is “NGV.” Fighting for NGV is the popular Honda Civic Natural Gas Sedan Navi 5AT. Weighing in at 31 mpgge, he can go 220 miles between pit stops, when tanked up at 3600 psi with 8 gge of natural gas, which in the U.S. is plentiful and relatively low cost. His strength comes from his 110-hp, 1.8-liter i-VTEC® 4-cylinder power source. Navi claims a top speed of 130 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 9.4 seconds.

He earns a base salary of about $29,920 per fight. At one time NGVs qualified for federal welfare benefits. Today, these benefits expired and no longer does he qualify for any federal assistance.

Honda Civic Natural Gas Sedan Navi 5AT

NGV has many of the same bad habits as ICV. He fights dirty when sparing against BEV but always gives a clean and cheap fight when matched against ICV. He emits about 28 percent less CO2 than ICV and rarely leaves a debris trail.

Globally, he is putting on the best AFV show. He hails from all parts of the world claiming 18 million fans; winning 16.6 million fights in the lightweight division, 1.2 million matches in the middleweight and heavyweight divisions, and 300,000 bouts in other assorted unclassified fights. NGV more often than not morphs into fighting form after a several day stay in a certified Hospital undergoing a surgical procedure on chosen ICV carcasses. This has allowed him to rank #1 in the world, and therefore, viewed by many as the likely successor to ICV.

NGV fights in 84 nations of which six countries – Iran, Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, India, and China – have more than million fans that account for 75 percent of the worldwide popularity. Worldwide, NGV can fill up at ony of 24,400 dining facilities catering to NGV’s dietary needs. In the U.S., a world leader in natural gas production, there are shamefully only 142,000 fans and 1,325 pit stops. Reportedly, NGVs trimmed about 400,000 million gallons of liquid gold from the U.S. economy.

NGVs failings are an obnoxious behavior. By taking a closer look at his entire life from cradle to grave, one finds he may actually put up a dirtier fight than ICV. Natural gas travels a long and winding route from deep below the earth’s surface to his tank. Along the way there are many values, compressors, connections, etc. where leakage can occur. The problem is as much a CH4 emissions issue from wellbore to tank, as it is a CO2 combustion concern from tank to atmosphere. Natural gas’s global warming potential is 86 and 34 times worse than CO2 over 20-years and 100-years, respectfully. Leakage can be monitored and contained but at what cost and when. The scientific community is just beginning to assess the degree of the problem.

As the ultimate successor to ICV, there may be other contenders better suited than NGV to wear the championship belt.


And finally….. in the blue corner, sits an empty stool for “FCEV.” Why the no-show? Whatever the reason, the race to zero emissions is more achievable today with EVs rather than FCEVs. Rather surprising, since FCEVs roots go back to the early 1800 when his power source the fuel cell (FC) quietly climbed onto the public stage. By 1960, Allis-Chalmers, a U.S. producer of equipment, fitted a farm tractor with a 15-kilowatt FC, thus giving rise to the first modern FCEV.

In contrast, Wikipedia states, “Battery technology goes back to the mid-1880s when Yai Sakizō f Japan developed the dry cell, patenting it in 1892. Then In 1899, a Swedish scientist named Waldemar Jungner invented the nickel-cadmium battery, a rechargeable battery that had nickel and cadmium electrodes in a potassium hydroxide solution; the first battery to use an alkaline electrolyte. It was commercialised in Sweden in 1910 and reached the United States in 1946. The first consumer grade nickel–metal hydride batteries (NiMH) for smaller applications appeared on the market in 1989 as a variation of the 1970s nickel hydrogen battery. Experimentation with lithium batteries began in 1912 under G.N. Lewis, and in the 1970s the first lithium batteries were sold.”

Now coming to the commercial wide world of boxing, the word is out that Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell SUV may make his debut performance in Southern California by the third quarter 2014. The ix35 is poised to be the first mass-marketed FCEV contender in the U.S. and possibly the world. Reported to weigh in at 67 mpgge, he can go 369 miles between pit stops, when tanked up at 10,000 psi with 5.6 kg of hydrogen gas stored in two aluminum alloy and carbon composite tanks. His strength comes from a 134-horsepower 100 kW induction motor powered by a 100 kW hydrogen fuel cell stack with energy stored in a 24 kW lithium-ion battery. Tucson ix35 claims a top speed of 100 mph and a 0-62 mph time of 12.5 seconds. And unlike BEV, he can reliably start in temperatures as low as minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius) and takes less than 10 minutes to fill up.

Hyundai Tucson ix35 Fuel Cell SUV exploded view

Fans can see Tucson ix35 fight for a 36-month lease, $499 per month and $2,999 down. The terms of the Lease includes all maintenance, an unprecedented free fuel offer, carpool lane access, and “At Your Service” concierge service for regularly scheduled complimentary maintenance and vehicle service. The Tucson Fuel Cell qualifies for a $2,500 rebate under California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project

Another up and coming contender the Toyota’s FDV-R maybe unleashed in 2015. Sources say Toyota approved 5,000 to 10,000 matches for FCV-R in 2015 at $50,000 and $100,000 per bout. Weighing in at an estimated 40 mpge, FCV-R can travel as much as 400 miles between pit stops; lasting only 3 to 5 minutes to fill-up on his favorite high-pressure diet of gaseous hydrogen. His endurance is made possible by storing his meals in two 70 MPa (about 10,000 psi) high-pressure tanks placed beneath his specially conditioned body.

His strength comes from a stack of cells having a power output density of 3 kW/L and an output of 134 horsepower (100 kilowatts) or more. To boost his endurance, a slight backup of energy is available from an on-board 21 kW nickel-metal hydride battery configured to store and discharge electrical energy regenerated whenever he slows down. Unlike “BEV,” FCV-R can startup and fight anywhere and anytime even in temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 degrees Celsius).

Not to be overshadowed by reports of these up-and-coming new boys on the street, Honda is reminding the boxing world of its epochal fuel-cell car the FCX Clarity, the world’s first dedicated platform hydrogen FCEV in and around 2008. Clarity was the first to demonstrate fuel cell electric car characteristics such as low-to-zero emissions while offering 5-minute refueling times and long range in a full function large sedan. He is fitted with a 100 kW Honda Vertical Flow hydrogen fuel cell stack. He is only available to fans in Japan and California.

Also, General Motors’ “Project Driveway” came to an end this year with 119 Chevrolet Equinox SUV fuel-cell vehicles tested in the US and Europe. Equinox FC traveled more than 3 million miles since 2007, avoiding the consumption of 157,894 gallons of liquid gold. Automotive Fleet reported “Last year, GM announced two fuel cell-related collaborations. In July 2013, GM and Honda announced a long-term collaboration to co-develop advanced fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems, aiming for potential commercialization in the 2020 time frame. In addition, GM and Honda are working together with stakeholders to further advance refueling infrastructure, which is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.”

Fans may someday place their bets on FCEV as the ultimate solution to achieve near zero emission – harmful gasses and particulates – and ability to go the distance while other contenders such as BEVs peter out earlier in the match. Like BEV, a dark shadow looms over FCEV. While their diet of electrons for BEV and hydrogen for FCEV are a pure as can be, their preparation requires mostly hydrocarbons ingredients that generate CO2, Figure 2 for a Well-to-Wheels analysis. Commercially, hydrogen comes from a reforming process of natural gas and electrons primarily come from gas- and coal-fired electricity generating stations. Both FCEV and BEV can be achieve low-to-zero emissions status, cradle to grave, only when hydrogen is generated by the electrolysis of water using 100 percent clean energy.

Electrolysis is an electrochemical process where water is decomposed to hydrogen and oxygen, by passing a current through it in the presence of suitable substances, called electrolytes. Because of its high-energy consumption and also of the quite substantial investment, water electrolysis is currently used for only 4 percent of world hydrogen production. Nowadays research and development into high efficiency electrolyzers is flourishing in many areas

Figure 2: Well-to-Wheels Greenhouse Gas EmissionsWheel to Wheels Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2) HD

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

               Now for the final count… knocking out every contender gloves down, ICV remains the undefeated Champ of the US and World. Chastised by the boxing world because of his dirty fighting, unending thirst for liquid gold and rising prices, promoters are pushing their contender into the ring in hopes of striking an early blow to ICV. Today, no contender can compete against ICE’s performance and convenience on equal grounds. More time and training is the game of the day. ICV is so entrenched around the globe a slow and costly death is the best anyone can hope for.

In other matches, the odds are HEV will eventually knockout NGV as a serious contender in the lightweight division. NGV is in the best position to threaten ICV’s rule in the middleweight and heavyweight divisions. While praised by fans for clean fighting against ICV, convertibility from ICV, and quick pit stops; NGV stands to lose ground for life as a fossil and fluctuations in the price of natural gas, which may not be wide enough to offset costs for fueling stations and conversions. Nevertheless, betters beware the final showdown between NGV and all other contenders will be a longtime in the makings.

BEV uses a combination of punches to force a decision against HEV and other AFVs only to have fans give thumbs downs tired of his poor performance, one horse pony show and pricy lifestyle. PHEV may be the best of both worlds in the lightweight division. Being nearly invincible in the efficiency and cleanliness categories, PHEV raises his gloves up high when plugging-in and juicing up. But he too commands a high price to fight and the act of plugging-in only gives a marginal edge in endurance. For local fights, the added mileage may pay off. The odds are PHEV will ultimately lose support as fans tire of his diversity and ultimately disappear from the professional boxing scene.

This leaves FCEV the only standing contender in all three divisions. Praised by fans for his elegance, perceived cleanliness and his quick turnaround time to fill up; he is also shunned by the public for high earnings, standoffishness, idiosyncratic behavior, skeletons in the closet and too few places to eat. With so much attention on the other contenders, the odd are stacked against FCEV beating any AFV by majority decision in the next 10 to 20 years.

Perhaps, FCEV needs to redraw his battle lines. Promoters need to recognize FCEV is not some outside fighter but rather a BEV with another type of chemical battery that generates electricity. The two only differ in how they store fuel. Both share the same DNA – electric drivetrain, etc. Looking down the road, unless there is some miraculous technical discovery, BEV’s batteries are fast approaching the peak of performance. Dollar for dollar, fuel cell’s promise of one giant leap in performance seems a better bet than putting money on lithium-ion misguided hope that it can fit the bill. Question is do we rob Peter to pay Paul. Should this be true, FCEV can carry on the fight against ICV as the next generation BEV. Elon do you copy!

Most who see what’s going on with our environment and believe in climate change agree on one thing – ICV must go down for the count. Advocates of change look to lawmakers to approve incentives and authorize release for research, development, demonstrations and deployment projects (RDD&D). To date, incentives have been less than uniform and deep enough to stimulate demand on a scale that will make a difference. Also, it seems RDD&D funding may be slanted in favor of big names instead of what may be the smartest and wisest, hence Solyndra and Recovery Act Funds.

Another way, though politically highly unlikely of ever happening, is any combination of bold initiatives, such as:

  • retail compliance penalties and standards regarding the amount of fossil fuels consumed or greenhouse gases and particulates emitted,
  • a AFV certificate (AFVC) program whereby owners can recover their investment in the vehicle by selling their AFVCs through spot market sales or long-term sales (this requires adoption of retail compliance penalties), and
  • incremental increases in the price of petroleum and natural gas that reflect their environmental impact or slash subsidizes to the oil and gas industries.

Eventually, one AFV will stand before the world wearing the Belt of Champions. My money is on FCEV the next-generation BEV. The only remaining question is do we have the time and resolve to do what is right?


Climate Warming Disbelievers Beware – “What Me Worry?”

May 13, 2014

alfred_e_neumanYou’re a spitting image of Alfred E Newman. Stop gambling with our future!

Part Of West Antarctic Ice Sheet Starting Slow, Unstoppable Collapse, Studies Indicate. Compliments of Huffington Post and AP, May 12, 2014

Read more:

Can Hydrogen Fueling Stations Be Far Behind?

April 9, 2014

hydroge fuel stationThis piece is a sequel to, “Are Hydrogen Fuel Cells Vehicles Dead on Arrival?” What follows is a deeper look at the infrastructure, specifically hydrogen fueling stations, needed to support fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).

“Though hydrogen fuel cells have become much smaller, cheaper, and infinitely more efficient over the years, the technology has remained stuck on a road to nowhere. “With electric car sales not living up to expectations, the carmakers are looking for a hedge to meet the standards in California, and hydrogen provides that,” says Kevin See, a senior analyst at Lux research. But the biggest challenge facing fuel-cell cars today is the same as it’s always been — a lack of infrastructure. Only a handful of hydrogen filling stations exist in the U.S.,” according to Brian Dumaine reporting for CNN Money. What exists is a Catch 22 situation – need hydrogen cars to justify building fueling stations, but you need hydrogen fueling stations to justly purchasing fuel cell electric vehicles.

“Hydrogen-powered electric vehicles represent the next generation of electric vehicle technology,” said John Krafcik, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hyundai Motor America, Figure 1.

“The technology is here and automakers are ready,” said Catherine Dunwoody, executive director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP). “Before they can sell or lease fuel cell electric vehicles, a much larger fueling infrastructure must be in place.”

The prospect of alternative fueled vehicles running on hydrogen hit roadblock after roadblock ever since former U.S. Senator Masayuki Matsunaga’s vision of a hydrogen economy led to passage of the Hydrogen Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1990. One only has look back to 2009 when former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy Dr. Steven Chu announced that the government would cut research into FCEVs. Biofuels and batteries, he said, are “a much better place to put our money.” Nature reports, “The move came as a relief to the many critics of hydrogen vehicles, including some environmentalists who had come to see Bush’s hydrogen initiative as a cynical ploy to maintain the petrol-based status quo by focusing on an unattainable technology.”

The proposed budget cuts served only to galvanize supporters of hydrogen fuel vehicles and car manufacturers investing in biofuels and batteries. They feel hydrogen fuel cells have a long-term potential and are a way to satisfy stringent zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates. Ultimately, Congress voted to override Chu and restore funds for hydrogen research, development, demonstration and deployment.

The push by the federal government to support commercialization of ZEVs turned towards lithium-ion battery technology. In many ways this was a logical move with the success of lithium-ion batteries in the consumer and computer electronics industries. Lithium-ion technology “is one of the most popular types of rechargeable battery for portable electronics, with one of the best energy densities, no memory effect, and a slow loss of charge when not in use; even modest increases in a battery’s energy-density rating — a measure of the amount of energy that can be delivered for a given weight — are important advances,” according to Lithium Air Industries, LLC.

Nevertheless, lithium-ion batteries do present a series of issues in terms or range anxiety (fear of being stranded with a dead battery), performance in cold and warm climates, and life expectancy. Tesla seems to have worked around the anxiety issue with the addition of a free Supercharger. Tesla claims “Superchargers allow Model S owners to travel for free between cities along well-traveled highways in North America and Europe. Superchargers provide half a charge in as little as 20 minutes and are strategically placed to allow owners to drive from station to station with minimal stops.” See Lithium Air Industry’s website for specific disadvantages with lithium-ion technology.

Yet interest in a hydrogen economy and hydrogen fueled vehicles remains mostly under the radar and on life support. Pundits see hydrogen as the only long-term solution to achieve energy independents and a zero-emission transportation industry. Critics still view hydrogen development wasteful government spending and another Solyndra.

Figure 1: Honda 2015 FCEV Concept Car

Honda FCEV 2015

The challenges with FCEVs seem formidable and the solution untenable, Figure 2. Converting skeptical customers into buyers depends on affordable and reliable fuel cells, competitively priced hydrogen fuel and readily accessible fueling stations. But, like any emerging technology, fuel cell vehicles, the next innovation in green technology, and hydrogen fueling stations have presented a chicken and egg dilemma: Which comes first? In this classic war of wits, it’s the fueling station.

Figure 2: Hydrogen Vehicle Challenges

The hydrogen vehicle fueling and infrastructure challengeSource: Nature

Building a robust infrastructure for hydrogen transport, distribution and delivery to thousands of fueling stations seems an impossible task. Because hydrogen is the smallest molecule there is, it possesses unique properties that requires expensive pipeline materials and compressor designs. In conjunction with its low energy density, a hydrogen network is capital intensive.

However, over the last decade, advancements in fuel cell technology and hydrogen production have made a positive impact on the marketability of FCEV. The price of hydrogen fuel cells has declined steadily since 2002, and the range and reliability have increased. Fuel cell costs are moving closer to DOE’s target of $30 per kW at which point they will be cost‐competitive in light‐duty vehicles.

Brian Dumaine reports in the September 2, 2013 issue of Fortune, “Right now hydrogen is two to three times as expensive as gasoline on a per-gallon-equivalent basis. But because fuel cells are twice as efficient as gasoline engines, hydrogen fuel is only slightly more expensive. The DOE report concluded that, at scale, hydrogen could quickly cost less than gas.”

“My, at the pump price of hydrogen is about $15.00 per kg; about 2-1/2 times that of gasoline. Depending on who it comes from and how the hydrogen is generated, my cost from the supplier could range anywhere from $4.00 per kg if produced from natural gas by steam reforming to $18.00 if produced from water by electrolysis,” said Daniel Poppe, vice president, Hydrogen Frontier Inc.

Hydrogen can be generated at a central facility or on-site by a number of production methods.

Current Hydrogen Production Methods:

  • Steam Methane Reforming – High-temperature steam is combined with methane in the presence of a catalyst to produce hydrogen. This is the most common and least-expensive method of production in use today, Figure 2.
  • Electrolysis – An electric current is used to “split” water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Gasification – Heat is applied to coal or biomass in a controlled oxygen environment to produce a gas that is further separated using steam to produce hydrogen.

Hydrogen Production Methods In The Research And Development Stage:

  • Renewable Liquid Reforming – Ethanol or biodiesel derived from biomass reacts with steam to produce hydrogen.
  • Nuclear High-Temperature Electrolysis – Heat from a nuclear reactor is used to improve the efficiency of electrolysis, again splitting water to make hydrogen.
  • High-Temperature Thermochemical Water-Splitting – Solar concentrators are used to split water.
  • Photobiological Microbes – Certain microbes produce hydrogen as part of their metabolic processes. Artificial systems can encourage these organisms to produce hydrogen through the use of semiconductors and sunlight, improving their natural metabolic processes.
  • Photoelectrochemical Systems -These use semiconductors and sunlight directly to make hydrogen from water.

Electrolysis of water can use low-carbon energy sources including renewables to make hydrogen generation essentially zero emissions. Hydrogen is not an energy source, but an energy carrier because it can be oxidized in a fuel cell to generate electricity. The fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to form water and oxygen. That is hydrogen generated from water during electrolysis produces water in the fuel cell, i.e., water to water. This is as clean as it gets.

Figure 2: Methane Steam Reforming Production Process

Steam Reforming ProcessSource: Windows on the State Government, State of Texas

Hydrogen fueled cars reportedly get an average of 60 miles per kg of hydrogen. The high efficiency of these vehicles tends to compensate for the high retail price of hydrogen, making it competitively priced gasoline. The industry is close to a price structure twice that of gasoline, at which point hydrogen starts to have a price advantage, according to Poppe.

To understand what 60 miles per kg of hydrogen means in terms of gallons of gasoline, a value called energy equivalents is used to compare different fuels. Energy equivalent is the amount of an alternative fuel it takes to equal the energy content of one liquid gallon of gasoline. For example, a typical gallon of gasoline has an energy content of about 114,000 BTU per gallon. Using standard conversation formulas, 114,000 BTUs equals 33.4 kWh (kilowatt hours). This means that one gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 33.4 kWh of electricity.

In a similar way, the energy content of one kilogram of hydrogen gas converts to 33.4 kWh. Therefore, one kilogram of hydrogen gas (33.4 kWh) has the same amount of energy as one gallon of gasoline (33.4 kWh), i.e., 1 Kg of H2 gas = 1 gallon of gasoline. (Note, it is happenstance that both 1 kg of hydrogen and one gallon of gasoline equal 33.4 kWh.)

Using this relationship, 60 miles per kg of hydrogen equals 60 miles per gallon (mpg) of gasoline. (The energy content of 60 kg of hydrogen equals the energy content of 60 gallons of gasoline.) Therefore, a hydrogen car rated at 60 miles per kg requires 4 kg of hydrogen to go 240 miles between fill ups. In the same token, a non-hybrid gasoline car rated at 25 mpg traveling 240 miles requires about 10 gallons of gasoline. The difference between 4 kg of hydrogen and 10 gallons of gasoline to go the same 240 miles is due to the higher efficiency of a fuel cell versus and internal combustion engine. The gasoline car wastes 6 gallons of gasoline and loses 684,000 BTUs of energy to go the same 240 miles.

With federal incentives drying up on the fuel side of the value chain, a powerful way to incentivize FCEV market is through cap-and-trade programs employing carbon credits. The evolution of a viable cap-and trade program in the U.S. goes back to 2006 with California’s Global Warming Solutions Act. The Act calls for a ten percent reduction in the carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuels by 2020, where CI is in grams of carbon dioxide equivalents (gCO2e) per unit energy (MJ) of fuel.

Then In 2009, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program. The program, implemented and enforced since the beginning of 2011, is a performance-based regulation enacted to meet the statewide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) specified by California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

Finally, in January 2012, California launched a refined cap-and-trade program with enforceable compliance obligations in 2013. This program makes a grand leap towards California’s ability to meet their ultimate goal of reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 and an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050.

The cap-and-trade program is a flexible market-based standard implemented using a system of credits and deficits. Transportation fuels that have higher carbon intensity values than the compliance schedule yield deficits. Fuels that have lower carbon intensity values generate credits. Regulated parties are required to have a net zero balance of credits and deficits annually. Credits can be banked and traded without limitations. Credits do not lose value.

Credits and deficits are calculated and expressed as metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Each credit represents 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide and only carbon offset credits issued by California Air Resources Board (CARB) are considered compliance offset credits.

The following five-step process adopted by the State of Oregon determines the amount of carbon credits or deficits due a regulated entity. The process is in two parts: an explanation of the “Methodology” used to determine credits or deficits and an example “Calculation” using the output of a theoretical hydrogen fueling station.


Step 1: Calculate the number of megajoules (MJ) of energy in the fuel sold

Because different liquid fuels have different energy densities, or are in non-liquid form, we cannot just use the volume of fuel in gallons. To put all of the liquid and non-liquid fuels on equal footing, megajoules are used instead of gallons, kilograms (kg), standard cubic feet (scf), or kilowatt-hours (KWh). Table 1 gives the energy densities in megajoules per unit of fuel used to calculate the number of megajoules of energy in the fuel sold.

Table 1: California Energy Density of Fuels

California Energy Economy Ratio (EER) ValuesSource: State of Oregon, Department of Environmental Quality

Step 2: Account for energy economy ratios, if necessary

Different types of vehicles use the energy in fuel more or less efficiently. For example, on average, an electric car will go three times farther than a gasoline vehicle on the same number of megajoules, while a heavy duty natural gas vehicle will go only 90 percent as far as a diesel heavy duty vehicle on the same number of megajoules. The Energy Economy Ratios (EERs) are used to adjust credits taking these differences into account. Table 2 shows California’s table of EERs for various fuels. You can see that for some fuels, such as gasoline, E85, diesel or biomass based diesel, the EER is 1.0, and the adjustment is unnecessary.

Table 2: California’s Energy Economy Ratio (EER) Vales

CA Energy Economy Ratio (EER) Values (cropped)Source: State of Oregon, Department of Environmental Quality

Step 3: Calculate the difference in the carbon intensity between the low carbon fuel standard and the fuel sold

Comparing the low carbon fuel standard for the year in question to the carbon intensity of a given fuel will tell us whether selling the fuel will generate credits or deficits, and will indicate whether selling the fuel will generate a relatively large or small number of credits or deficits. Table 3 gives the energy density of hydrogen.

Table 3: California’s Hydrogen Carbon Intensity Values

Hydrogen ( H2 )Carbon Intensity Lookup TableSource: California Air Resources Board

Step 4: Calculate the credits/deficits in grams of CO2 equivalent

Credits and deficits are expressed in volumes of greenhouse gas emissions, where credits show the emissions “saved” by selling a low carbon fuel compared to selling a fuel that exactly meets the low carbon fuel standard for that year. Deficits, by comparison, show the “excess” emissions incurred by selling a fuel whose carbon intensity is higher than the low carbon fuel standard, compared to selling a fuel that exactly meets the standard for that year. In this step, emissions are calculated in grams of CO2 equivalent, while in the next step emissions are converted into metric tons of CO2 equivalent. CO2 equivalent, or CO2E, is a unit of measurement that combines CO2 and other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide into one number. It describes, for a given mixture and amount of greenhouse gases, the amount of CO2 that would have the same global warming potential.

Step 5: Convert the grams of CO2 equivalent into metric tons of CO2 equivalent

Greenhouse gas emissions are most commonly expressed in metric ton units. There are 1,000,000 grams per metric ton (g/metric ton), so the final step in the calculation is to divide the result from step 4 by 1,000,000.

The following two calculations of Carbon Credits and Deficits are theoretical and for demonstration purposes only. Credits or Defects is a direct consequent of the State law covering its carbon cap-and-trade program, should one even exist. Entities stated in these calculations maybe exempt from the program and not liable for their carbon emissions.


Calculation: Hydrogen Fuel Credits

This calculation assumes a fueling station owner sells 255,500 kg of hydrogen per year, a H2 carbon intensity of 76.10 gCO2E/MJ (produced from on site reforming with renewable feedstock), Table 3, and a State carbon fuel standard is 91.31 gCO2E/MJ.

Calculation for ( H2 ) Credits and Deficits Note: CI = Carbon intensity.

In this example, it’s estimated the station serviced 1,278 FCEV during the year; each car goes an average 12,000 miles per year at an average range of 60 miles per kg of hydrogen:

1,278 FCEV = [(255,500 kg per yr. x 60 miles per kg) / 12,000 miles per yr.].

 On a per car basis, 1,073 carbon credits equates to approximately 0.8 credits per car:

0.8 credits per car = (1,073 credits / 1,278 FCEV).

A regulated hydrogen gas station owner only accrues credits, should credits be available, when pumping hydrogen produced on-site reforming with renewable feedstock. Only in this case is the CI of the alternate fuel less than the state standard, i.e., 76.10 versus 91.31, Table 3.

All other methods to produce hydrogen have CI values higher than the state standard, Table 3. These methods include; compressed H2 gas from central reforming of natural gas (NG), liquid H2 from central reforming of NG, and compressed H2 from on-site reforming of NG. See California’s Intensity Lookup Table for Gasoline and fuels that Substitute for Gasoline for a comprehensive list of Cl values for gasoline and a host of alternate fuels.

Looking at all possible scenarios, the impact of the State CI standard is:

  • Credit Situation: CI of Alternative Fuel is lower that the State’s CI Standard

-      A higher State standard would generate more carbon credits.

-      A lower State standard could turn the credit into a deficit situation.

  • Deficit Situation: CI of Alternative Fuel is higher that the State’s CI Standard.

-      A higher State standard could turn the deficit into credit situation.

-      A lower the State standard would generate more carbon deficits.

Furthermore, the number of credits or deficits accrued derives from the quantity of alternative fuel supplied; gallons, kg or kWh, Step 1. Regardless of the CI value, if the alternative fuel is more efficient than gasoline than either more credits or less deficits will accrue

Table 4: California’s Electricity Carbon Intensity Values (gCO2e/MJ)

California’s Electricity Carbon Intensity ValuesSource: California Air Resources Board

Moving over to EVs for a comparative credit of deficit assessment, the Tesla Model S serves as the quintessential example for consumer appeal and range, miles per charge. A Model S fitted with an 85 KWh battery requires around 93.5 kWh of electricity to charge from 0% to 100%, including on-board charger losses of about 10%. Tesla claims an estimated range of 300 miles at 55 MPH with the 85 kWh battery.


Calculation: Tesla Model S EV

This calculation assumes an owner of one Tesla Model S using uses 3,740 kWh of electricity to go 12,000 during the year with an average range of 300 miles per charge and 93.5 kWh per charge:

3,740 kWh = [(12,000 miles per yr. / 300 miles per charge) x 93.5 kW/h per charge]

Other input values include, 104.71 gCO2E/MJ (California marginal electricity mix of natural gas and renewable energy sources, Table 4) and a State carbon fuel standard of 91.31 gCO2E/MJ.

Calculation of Carbon Deficits Teslar S Car

On a per car basis, 1,073 carbon credits equates to approximately 0.8 credits per car:

0.8 = (1,073 credits / 1,278 FCEV).

The following calculation of credits or deficits results in (-0.5) metric tons of CO2 per car per year. Because this number is negative, it is a deficit. The regulated facility producing that electricity would need to purchase credits to cover the deficit, or use banked credits from previous years.

Infrastructure remains the Achilles heel of FCEV and most other alternate fueled vehicles. As of September 2013, about 208 hydrogen fueling stations are operational worldwide; 80 in Europe, 76 in North America (55 in U.S.), 49 in Asia, and 3 the rest of the world according to FuelCellToday.

As a point of reference, statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show 121,446 gasoline and diesel fueling stations in the U.S.   Navigant Research reports about 64,000 publicly accessible charging stations worldwide. While the U.S. Department of Energy records 21,669 public and private electric stations in the U.S., Table 1.

Furthermore, by year-end 2012, NGV Global counts 21,292 natural gas fueling (NGV) stations worldwide. The U.S. Department of Energy identifies 1,345 public and private NGV fueling stations in the U.S., Table 5.

Table 5: Public and Private Alternative Fuel Station Counts by State and Fuel Type

Public adn Private ALternative Fuel Stations by State and Fuel TypeSource: U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center, last update March 28, 2014


  1. “Totals by Fuel” include all 50 states and District of Columbia.
  2. Electric charging units, or EVSE, are counted once for each outlet available. Includes legacy chargers, but does not include residential electric charging infrastructure.

The cost of a hydrogen fueling station is another critical factor preventing FCEVs gaining traction, with can range anywhere between $500,000 and $3,000,000 per installation. The price depends on factors such as location (cost of real estate, codes and permits and utilities), number and pressure of the pumps, the number and types of vehicles the facility intends to serve on a daily basis – current and future (i.e., light, medium-, heavy-duty vehicles), time frame needed for vehicle refueling (fast-fill or time-fill), security and regulatory measures. Table 6 profiles ten hydrogen fueling stations operational in California.

Table 6

California Fueling Stations in Operation (CA)

A hydrogen motor fuel dispensing facility is a service station that:

1) receives hydrogen produced offsite or produces hydrogen onsite by reforming natural gas;

2) stores liquid hydrogen or compressed hydrogen gas or both; and

3) dispenses hydrogen (as a gas or liquid) to fuel cell vehicles and vehicles with hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines.

Fueling at hydrogen stations is similar to fueling at natural gas fueling stations, but at somewhat higher pressures. Equipment for these stations normally includes storage tanks, compressors and dispensers, most of which are located in steel enclosures. Hydrogen is compressed to 10,152 psi and stored above ground in cylinders. Hydrogen supplied to the station is either a compressed gas or a liquid. Because of the unique properties of hydrogen, some special site and safety considerations it is critical to take into considerations location for space, zoning, conditional use permits and building codes.

All new technologies introduced into the public arena pose various regulatory challenges to new codes and standards that provide safe but expeditious permitting by state and local governments. Hydrogen fueling stations are no exception. Especially in the case of hydrogen where there is limited information on commercial use of hydrogen and fire safety codes.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Experience in permitting hydrogen fueling stations is thus far limited to a few states and local governments. However, enough stations have been built so that local jurisdictions do not have to reinvent the wheel. In approving permits for these stations, state and local jurisdictions have used existing codes and standards available from organizations such as the International Code Council (ICC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and Compressed Gas Association (CGA). In recent years, the ICC has adopted specific provisions for hydrogen fueling stations in its International Fire Code and the NFPA has consolidated and updated key hydrogen standards as noted in the box on the next page. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy has begun a major effort at the national level to help facilitate the permitting process for hydrogen fueling stations. Individual states such as California and Michigan have similar efforts at the state-level.”

Figure 3 shows the complexity of jurisdictional authority and related codes. The U.S. Department of Energy issued a comprehensive guide on “Permitting Hydrogen Motor Fuel Dispensing Facilities.”

 Figure 3: Agencies and Codes

Fueling and Services

National Template for Vehicle Systems

Delivery and Storage

Fueling Service Permits

GenerationControlling Authority - Generation

Some state governments see public-use hydrogen fueling stations similar to gasoline stations, which offer self-service pumps, convenience stores, rest facilities and other services. The major difference is hydrogen dispensing facilities stores and dispenses hydrogen instead of gasoline and diesel fuels to cars, buses, and trucks.

These facilities will offer hydrogen pumps in addition to gasoline or natural gas pumps. Other hydrogen fueling stations will be “standalone” operations. These stations will be designed and constructed to offer only hydrogen fueling, Figure 4. See 2012 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Statute and Guidelines, Article 19, Section 15303 New Construction or Conversion of Small Structures, p. 225 for guidelines.

Figure 4: Standalone Hydrogen Fueling Station

Hydrogen Fuel Station and Car

 Locating a hydrogen dispensing facility at an existing gasoline station can expedite the permitting process by allowing the developer to bypass the time consuming environmental review process. To streamline the process, the State of California enacted a provision that often exempts hydrogen fueling station projects from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) if it is located at an existing gasoline/diesel retail fueling facility, Figure 5 . The rationale is their small size and correspondingly minimal environmental impacts. See 2012 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Statute and Guidelines, Article 19, Section 15301 Existing Facilities, p. 224 for specific guidelines.

California also allows owners granted a Conditional Use Permit for retail fueling stations to incorporate hydrogen fueling capacity without a public hearing. Public hearings are sometimes problematic and often distort the views of the majority of a community. This distorted influence can unreasonably delay a project. Other reviews and requirements specified by the local and state governments to obtain a building permit remain as is.

Figure 5: Fueling Station Provides Vehicles both Hydrogen and Gasoline/Diesel Fuels

The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development works with local, state and federal government agencies, hydrogen station developers, station hosts, electric vehicle regional planners, installers, and hosts, in addition to the automobile companies and other interested parties, to facilitate and accelerate the permitting and establishment of both the hydrogen fueling and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

As permitting officials and developers become familiar with the basic properties, uses, and safety considerations of hydrogen, they will better understand the construction and operation of hydrogen fueling stations and related codes and standards.

The high cost of hydrogen fueling facilities and lack of FCEVs makes it impossible to justly building and operating a station without Federal and/or State incentive and funding opportunities, Table 6. The Newport Beach Hydrogen Fueling Station illustrates the funding and financing structure.

The station opened to the public July 2012. The facility stores on a daily basis up to 100 kg of gaseous hydrogen from steam methane reforming of natural gas. Production, purification, compression, and storage complete the systems integrated into the station. The owner received a $2.0 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of a Hydrogen Station Analysis Project to collect data from state-of-the-art hydrogen fueling facilities and demonstrate the footprint and equipment arrangement of such a retail facility.

A general breakdown of the funding / financing structure of the Newport Beach Station is:

  • Total:   4.0 million (ARB estimate February 2011)
  • Govt:    DOE – $2.0 million (2006) for 2nd generation equipment
  • ARB – $1.7 million grant
  • Private / Cost Share: Shell – $2.3 million
  • Public Funding Period: Three years

(ARB= Air Resources Board – California Environmental Protection Agency)

On the state level, California’s Energy Commission (CEC) a leader providing both capital and O&M funding support for Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Programs. The CEC investment plan for 2013-2014 allocates $100 million in grants for alternative fuels and vehicles through its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The plan calls for $20 million in funds for an additional 68 hydrogen fueling stations to support the anticipated rollout of these vehicles in 2015-2017. Currently California has about 24 stations are built or in development.

The acceleration of FCEVs in the U.S. is being supported by several incentives. These federal incentives have either expired or about to expire unless extended by Congress and include:

  • Investment tax credits (ITC) through 2106 equal to 30% of the capital cost, up to $3,000/kW, associated with business purchase of qualifying fuel cell products;
  • ITC through 2014 equal to 30% of the capital cost, up to $200,000/station, toward the purchase of hydrogen fueling equipment; and
  • Grant-in-lieu of tax credit through 2011 (expired) equal to 30% of the capital cost, up to $3,000/kW, associated with the purchase of qualifying fuel cell products; and

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) provides information on Federal and State regulations and incentives, data and tools to help fleets and other transportation decision-makers find ways to reduce petroleum consumption through the use of alternative and renewable fuels, advanced vehicles, and other fuel-saving measures.

A listing of any applicable state incentives for FCEVs and hydrogen fueling facilities is given in   the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

In closing, this paper took a brief look at costs, carbon credits, permitting and incentives of hydrogen fueling stations. Adoption of FCEVs has a steep hill to climb. It will take legislation like California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standards and grant programs like those available through California’s Energy Commission, and partnerships with automakers, major O&G companies, and fuel cell manufacturers for FCEVs to gain any traction in the marketplace.

Neither EVs nor FCEVs are zero emission; zero emission at the car level, yes; but not when the entire life cycle of the fuel, electrons or hydrogen, is taken into consideration. Generating hydrogen by steam reforming of natural gas produces CO2 even with renewable sources of energy, unless the CO2 by product is captured and sequestered. Same is true of lithium-ion batteries charged with electrons produced from coal- and gas-fired electrical generation stations. Cradle to grave ZEVs will only happen when electricity for charging batteries or electrolyzing water comes from 100% renewable energy. For the time being reduced emissions is a step in the right direction.

Lessons learned from Tesla tell us that cost of the vehicle is not a roadblock to stimulate market interest as long as the vehicle appeals to the buyer and convenient ways to “fill-up” are available. For FCEVs this is obviously easier said than done. Where EVs can plug-and-go anywhere in America and most nations on earth, one would think it’s impossible for FCEVs to make it. But lithium-ion batteries have practical limitations. The question is how money will it take to make noticeable improvements that overcome these limitations.

Possibly the industry – electric vehicles – is looking at the problem the wrong way. Other than where the juice comes from, EVs and FCEVs are fraternal twins. Fuel cells are nothing more than next generation batteries. When lithium-ion battery technology becomes too cumbersome and costly, fuel cells will be there to take over. Got to run, time to recharge my cell phone.

Are Hydrogen Fuel Cells Vehicles Dead On Arrival?

March 24, 2014

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle SchematicThe national vision by politicians, economists, industrialists and environmentalists to transition to hydrogen economy by 2030 seems deadlocked, with hydrogen fuel cells projected to represent a $3 billion market of about 5.9 GW by 2030, according to Lux Research, Figure 1.(1)

The dream of fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen from zero-carbon sources such as renewable power or nuclear energy comes from estimates that the cost of avoided carbon dioxide would be more than $600 a metric ton – ten times higher than most other technologies under investigation.

Yet today, there are only two fuel-cell vehicles (FCEV) available in the U.S. market – Honda’s FCX Clarity, which is available to lease, and the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell.

Figure 1
Fuel Cell Market: 2012 – 2030



Fuel cells combine the best of electric and gasoline cars without the downsides, the automakers say. They drive like electric cars—quietly, with tons of off-the-line power—but can be refueled just like gasoline-powered cars, writes Jerry Hirsch for the Los Angeles Times.(2)

In another article for the Los Angeles Times, Jerry Hirsh points out:(3)

“….. As they (fuel cells) move into production, fuel cell cars should gain a price advantage over vehicles that run on battery power.”

“…..lesser weight and higher energy density of fuel cells also enable them to be used in a wider range of vehicles, from a family sedan to full-size trucks to city buses.“

BEVs have a number of significant issues. Unless you are willing to shell-out for Tesla’s Model S, range is still a significant issue. And even if you do opt for the Model S, the battery can take 20 minutes just to reach 50% charge, compared to a few minutes’ refueling for ICE cars, states Katie Spence for The Motley Fool.(4)

Robert Duffer for the Chicago Tribune states, Fuel cell cars use a stack of cells that combine hydrogen with oxygen in the air to generate electricity, which powers the motor that propels the car. The only emission is water vapor and, with a 300-mile range can run 3 or 4 times longer than the most capable electrics, aside from Tesla’s all-electric Model S, which has a range of 265 miles. The Nissan Leaf has a 75-mile range.(5)

Unfortunately, the push to develop a hydrogen economy in the U.S.; sparked by the Matsunaga Hydrogen Research, Development, and Development Act of 1990; never gained sufficient traction and political support to overcome major barriers to market entry such as high capital costs and lack of an infrastructure. Capitol Hill’s indifference to FCEVs is underscored by The Department of Energy (DoE) hydrogen and fuel cells budget history from 1990 to 2011, Figure 2.(6)

Figure 2
DoE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Budget History: 1990 – 2011

DoE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Budget HistorySource: U.S. Department of Energy


Including years 2012 – 2014, the total 25-year DoE budget for hydrogen and fuels research, development, demonstrations and deployment (RDD&D) was about $2.8 billion, an average annual allocation of $112 million. To put this into perspective, the 2014 budget for hydrogen RDD&D of $100 million, i.e., 0.35 percent of the total DoE budget request of $28.4 billion. This falls short of other renewable technologies such as solar, bioenergy and wind technologies, which received allocations of $365 million (1.25 percent), $282 million (0.99 percent) and $144 million (0.51 percent) for FY 2014, respectively.

The DoE budget for FY 2014 includes an allocation of $575 million for Vehicle Technology Programs. However, fuel cell R&D is not directly included the funding profile for these programs. The main emphasis of Vehicle Technologies is battery/energy storage R&D and vehicle technologies deployment.

The large increase in expenditures between 2002 and 2011 reflect President Bush’s announcement of a major hydrogen initiative in his 2003 State of the Union address:

“Tonight I am proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.”

Though marginalized throughout its decades’ long history, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles may not be entirely dead on arrival. Today, the media brings a steady stream of discussions, publications and announcements about activity in FCEVs. There are just two fuel-cell vehicles available in the U.S. market: Honda’s FCX Clarity, which is available to lease, and the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell, Figure 3. The most recent reverberations come from automakers, such as Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda, testing and planned production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for 2015, Figure 4.

Figure 3
2013 Mercedes-Benz F-Cell



Figure 4
Fuel Cell Vehicles: A Look Inside

Fuel Cell Vehicle Exploded View


The Tucson Fuel Cell offers, Figure 5 (7):
• Customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County region a rental price $499 per month for a 36-month term, with $2,999 down. This includes unlimited free hydrogen refueling.
• Driving range up to an estimated 300 miles;
• Capable of full refueling in less than 10 minutes, similar to gasoline;
• Minimal reduction in daily utility compared with its gasoline counterpart;
• Instantaneous electric motor torque (221 lb-ft);
• Minimal cold-weather effects compared with battery electric vehicles;
• Reliability and long-term durability;
• No moving parts within the power-generating fuel cell stack;
• More than two million durability test miles on Hyundai’s fuel cell fleet since 2000; and
• Extensive crash, fire and leak testing successfully completed.

Figure 5
Hyundai aims to produce 1,000 Tuscon fuel-cell electric vehicles by 2015



Additionally, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. recently announced a cooperative agreement to accelerate the commercialization of fuel cell electric vehicle technology, Figure 6.

Figure 6
Nissan’s Next Generation Fuel Cell Stack released in 2011

nissan 2011 Fuel cell stack


Even with insufficient support from the federal government, lack of a hydrogen infrastructure, and cost uncertainties, FCEVs are poking their head above the radar. In general, automakers see FCEVs as the most judicious path to satisfy stringent zero-emission vehicle mandates set by California and nine other states. California’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate requires 15 percent of all new cars sold be emission free by 2025. The ten-state alliance wants about 3.3 million ZEVs on the road by 2025.

Without question, the most important barrier to larger‐scale implementation of low carbon technologies comes down to one factor: the cost of the technology. Fuel cell costs continue to decline significantly for light duty vehicles, with projected volume costs lower by more than 80 percent since 2002 and more than 35 percent since 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Figure 7.(8) The cost per kilowatt (kW) for high volume production of transportation fuel cells moved closer to DOE’s target of $30 per kW where they will be cost‐competitive in light‐duty vehicles.

Figure 7
Projected Fuel Cell Transportation System Costs per kW, Assuming High Volume Production (500,000 units per year)

Cost of an 80-kW fuel cell system

Source: U.S. Department of Energy


In terms of fuel cost, “REB Research, makes hydrogen generators that produce 75 slpm of ultra-pure hydrogen by steam reforming methanol-water in a membrane reactor. A generator of this type produces 9.5 kg of hydrogen per day, consuming 69 gal of methanol-water. At 80¢/gal for methanol-water, and 10¢/kWh for electricity, the hydrogen costs $2.50/kg., or $5,000 over a 120,000 mile life. This is somewhat cheaper than gasoline, but about twice the dollar per mile cost of a Tesla S if only electric cost is considered. The hydrogen car is much cheaper on a per-mile basis, though when you include the fact that the battery has only a 120,000-mile life. A 120,000 mile life is short for a luxury car, and very short for a truck or bus.”(9)

The DoE Fuel Cell Technology Office released a 74-page report titled “2012 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report.”(10) The report concludes: “the trends for the fuel cell industry were encouraging in 2012. Total fuel cell shipments increased in 2012, in terms of total units and megawatts (MW). Other notable events highlighted include:

“Total fuel cell shipments in 2012 increased 34 percent over 2011 and 321 percent over 2008.”

“Roughly 30,000 fuel cell systems were shipped in 2012, up from around 5,000 shipments in 2008, largely due to Japan’s residential fuel cell program,” Figure 8.

“The number of megawatts shipped on an annual basis more than doubled between 2008 and 2012, rising from about 60 MW to more than 120 MW.”

“The projected cost of a transportation fuel cell system was at $47 per kW in 2012 and continues to approach DOE’s target of $30 per kW.”

“Fuel cell costs continue to decline significantly for light duty vehicles, with projected volume costs lower by more than 80 percent since 2002 and more than 35 percent since 2008.”

“The Obama Administration implemented new incentives for fuel cell and other advanced technology vehicles when it raised the fuel economy standard in the U.S. to 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks.”

“Cumulative global investment in fuel cell companies totaled $853.6 million between 2010 and 2012. This is a significant increase over the $671.4 million invested in fuel cell companies between 2009 and 2011.”

Figure 8
Fuel Cell Systems Shipped
by Application, World Markets: 2008-2012

Fuel Cell Systems Shipped (cropped)

Source: Navigant Research

 Another major challenge for FCEVs is a nascent infrastructure to produce, distribute, store, deliver and maintain hydrogen fuel. Today there are only ten public hydrogen-fueling stations in the United States, according to the DoE. California is spending as much as $20 million a year to help bring the number of fueling stations up to 100 within the next five years or so. There should be 28 hydrogen stations spread across California’s metropolitan areas by 2015, when all three of these hydrogen models will be for sale.

One remaining question is the reliability, power quality, endurance and longevity of mobile fuel cells. Although fuel cells provide electricity at high efficiencies with exceptional environmental sensitivity, their long-term performance and reliability under real-world conditions remains largely unanswered.

However, according to Fuel Cells 2000, “The material handling sector has provided the fuel cell industry with an early market and technology indicator in the U.S., with deployments and orders for forklifts and lift trucks inching closer to 5,000. This includes many big name companies with multiple repeat orders, such as BMW, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Kroger and Lowe’s,” Figure 9. The report further states that fuel cells were found to last longer than batteries, and operated in freezing temperatures as low as -20° F (-29° C).”(11)

Figure 9
Fuel Cell-Powered Material Handling Vehicle

Fuel Cell Powered Fork Lift

Source: Fuel Cells 2000


Fuel Cells 2000 reports, fuel cells last longer than batteries, and also operate in freezing temperatures, which led Walmart, a company that had already tested and deployed several hundred fuel cell forklifts at facilities in Ohio and Ontario, Canada, to choose fuel cell lift trucks for its sustainable refrigerated distribution center in Alberta, Canada. The fuel cell-powered vehicles operate in conditions as low as -20° F (-29° C).

In closing, substantial reduction of fossil fuels from all sectors of the economy by renewable energy and zero-emission vehicles is the Holy Grail of modern society. Zero-emissions vehicles come in two flavors BEV and FCEV. BEVs longer sales history and wider public-private support give them an apparent competitive advantage over FCEVs. After many decades of false hopes, FCEVs market introduction may be a Hail Mary play by automakers to achieve stringent emission standards. To succeed, FCEVs must address BEVs performance and endurance limitations. High production costs and a relatively nonexistent hydrogen-fueling infrastructure may prolong the agony of success or failure. Until automakers sell FCEV in volume, they are expected to cost more than comparable gasoline-powered and electric vehicles, not including the premium priced Tesla BEV, which is reported by Forbes to have outsold the nearest competitor by more than 30%.(12). Public-private investments in building a hydrogen-refueling infrastructure are essential for FCEVs long-term success. In the final analysis, BEVs are an inadequate technology push indifferent to consumer needs and driving patterns. As a technology solution, FCEVs are arising from the dead because the industry believes further Lithium-ion battery advances will not substantially improve the range and performance impediments of electric cars. Will FCEVs and BEVs prosecute a war of attrition? My money is on FCEVs.

1. ”The Great Compression: The Future of the Hydrogen Economy,” Lux Research, State of the Market Report, December 11, 2012;

2. “CES 2014: Toyota shows off fuel cell car that can also power a home,” Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times, January 6, 2014;,0,884109.story#ixzz2wi7vjAQx
3. “Fuel cell cars from Toyota, Honda, Hyundai set to debut at auto shows,” Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2013;
4. “Toyota’s Hydrogen vs. Tesla’s Batteries: Which Car Will Win?” Katie Spence, The Motley Fool, November 16, 2013;
5. “Hydrogen or electric? Showdown over the fuel of the future set for 2014,” Robert Duffer, Chicago Tribune, Jan. 7, 2014;
6. “Fuel Cell Technologies Program Record: Historical Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Budgets,” U.S. Department of Energy, Record #: 13004, May 31 2013;
7. “Hyundai to offer Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle to LA-area retail customers in spring 2014; Honda, Toyota show latest FCV concepts targeting 2015 launch,” Green Car Congress, November 21, 2013;
8. “2012 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report,” U.S. Department of Energy, Fuel Cell Technologies Office, October 2013;
9. REB Research Blog, Random thoughts about hydrogen, engineering, business and life by Dr. Robert E. Buxbaum, February 12, 2014;
10. U.S. Department of Energy, Fuel Cell Technologies Office, Pathways to Commercial Success: Technologies and Products Supported by the Fuel Cell Technologies Office;
11. “The Business Case for Fuel Cells 2013 Reliability, Resiliency & Savings,” Fuel Cells 2000;
12. “Tesla Sales Blow Past Competitors, But With Success Comes Scrutiny,” Mark Rogowsky, Forbes, January 16, 2014;


March 12, 2014

For those who do not understand fracking, this is a must to watch.


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