back to article Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: El Reg on the hydrogen highway

Ask me what my ideal electric car would be and I’ll probably tell you one with a range of 400 miles and a three-minute charge time. Shame no such car exists, I hear you say. Not so. I drove just such a vehicle last week. ix35_hero The ix35 at the hydrogen filling station near Heathrow. One of three in the UK at the time of …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    Petrol cars had the same problems starting out. Given the speed of refill it's possible to install the refuelling pumps in garages and you won't have time for lunch before it's full. Creating hydrogen with energy from wind turbines/solar cells etc etc would help smooth out demand and supply. The theory has been there for a while but it's nice to see the pieces starting to fall into place. The hydrogen could even be extracted on site which would avoid supply problems.

    1. The Axe

      If the wind & solar farms are generating power for making H2, what do the rest of do when we want energy. So renewable energy is only used to make H2 in times of glut - storms for wind, or summer for solar? Fine, but then how do the hydrogen fuel cell powered car travel when there is a dearth of renewable power. Do they use power from the national grid which is mainly fossil fueled?

      The problem with renewable power is that there is more to energy than just electricity. Also, even if through some miracle of technology, non-hydrocarbon power supplied 100% of our electricity, we still need to drill & dig up hydrocarbons. Fossil fuels are a major feedstock for many manufacturing & industrial processes.

      1. MD Rackham

        One can build wind and solar farms dedicated to H2 production, rather than use existing farms connected to the grid. It's a lot easier to store enough H2 to get you through calm/cloudy days than it is to store electrical power.

        Anything that reduces hydrocarbon consumption from driving little Billy the half mile to school is a Good Thing as it leaves more hydrocarbons for feedstock use. If we burn it all up for personal transport then prices for feedstock are going to get very high indeed. Plus there are the CO2/NOX et al reduction benefits.

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        "... there is a dearth of renewable power."

        The UK needs to start installing underwater power lines from Norway and Iceland.

        That sort of thing...

        /dreaming...

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "... there is a dearth of renewable power."

          "The UK needs to start installing underwater power lines from Norway and Iceland."

          Norway and Iceland don't have 30-40GW of generation capacity to sell. Nor do Fance or Germany for that matter.

          The existing undersea interconnectors are only 1-2GW. They can't get much bigger without incurring serious transmission losses and/or electroplating issues on the anodes.

          They're useful for minor load balancing but not enough to eliminate onshore generation capacity.

          1. Bob H

            Re: "... there is a dearth of renewable power."

            To be fair Iceland has loads of untapped energy production potential, there was talk of a 5TWh a year cable being laid from Iceland to Scotland and onward to mainland Europe:

            http://bicc.is/gogn/2013_bicc_complete_event_mkvii.pdf

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: "... there is a dearth of renewable power."

              "There was talk of a 5TWh a year cable"

              Big whoop. 1GW continuous is 61.3TWh per year.

              There simply aren't very many high capacity underwater cables. 2GW is about where they top out.

              That presentation says: "The Icelandic power system totals 2,639 MW and it ́s 100% renewable from hydro and geothermal resources" - that's 2.6GW

              If you look at the presentation, they're really talking about selling surplus capacity into europe at about 0.5GW (the difference between max generation capacity and minimum demand load) when possible.

              The economics of that are questionable at best for a feeder of that length.

              The future is nuclear, non-pressurised and runs at 800-1100 celsius.

              1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

                Re: "... there is a dearth of renewable power."

                Ignoring the whole issue of hydrogen supply for a moment, I LOVE having the Dictionary of Numbers installed. It really puts numbers into context.

                This is what I see:

                Big whoop. 1GW [≈ electric power output of a CANDU nuclear reactor] continuous is 61.3TWh per year.

                There simply aren't very many high capacity underwater cables. 2GW [≈ peak power generation of Aswan Dam] is about where they top out.

      3. Schultz

        "ow do the hydrogen fuel cell powered car travel when there is a dearth of renewable power[?]"

        Look up: storage, fuel tank, gas bottle, ... you get the idea.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      I'm not at all sure how long it would take to produce several kg's of hydrogen "on site". Ignoring fossil-fuel generation methods (because that's a bit of a false start already), it would require several litres of water for every person, and quite a large amount of electricity, and quite a dangerous combination of electricity, hydrogen and oxygen in an enclosed space. There's a reason that fuel tank is built to survive 10,000 psi, you know.

      Scale that up to petrol-station size, and you have, what? 2-3 customers CONSTANTLY on average over a day? 5 minutes per customer? Be conservative, call that 24 customers per hour, or 576 customers per day, or - at 5kg of hydrogen in each car, about three tonne of hydrogen at every petrol station? That's an awful lot of handling, power, and water / chemicals required. Not to mention transport of that stuff. And stockpiling it. Generating on-site at every station just isn't going to be practical unless you're next to Sellafield, a large lake and nobody cares about the risk.

      According to Wiki, "In 2006, the United States was estimated to have a production capacity of 11 million tons of hydrogen." - so, we're looking at the US being able to generate about 3 million petrol-station days in a year. There are 10,000 petrol stations in the UK, at most. Which, handily, means the entire 2006 US production of hydrogen could just about run the petrol stations in the UK for 300 days a year. Not counting that most of that hydrogen generated is a by-product of coal, oil, gas industries, that already are one of the largest users of it for oil refining, etc. and that's where most of that stuff went to in 2006.

      Hydrogen is a long way off practicality still. The convenience of a filling station is ideal, I agree, but we just don't have the investment in it yet. You cannot buy a car that you can only fill up properly in three places in the country. Petrol may have started like that, but it didn't get anywhere near viable until there was a petrol station in nearly every town. Everyone before that was paying through the nose for the inconvenience of an impractical (and temporarily unworkable) idea in order to show off to their mates. Pretty much the same as hydrogen fuel cell cars today.

      If we're going to live in fantasy land, it might be better to wish for a battery-less car that uses the electricity you charge it from to generate hydrogen itself and store that instead of a battery. No nasty lithium, probably lighter setup, but still in fantasy land with today's technology and economies of scale.

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        Meebbe I'm wrong

        but I thought most hydrogen around at the moment is produced from hydrocarbon as electrolysis is too expensive/inefficient

      2. James 51 Silver badge

        I've seen petrol stations in the south of France with twenty pumps and more sunshine than you could shake a stick at. Water supply would be an issue as they get very little rain but there is the water main or tankers if necessary. I'm not saying it's practical now, only that the technologies required to make it so are beginning to take shape not just in labs or test tracks but in 'the real world' too.

  2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Why use pure hydrogen?

    If it were combined with CO2 you'd get alcohol which can be burned in barely-modified petrol-engined cars, and refueling could use the existing liquid fuel infrastructure. Trying to store H2 in transportable form in cars seems inefficient, to say the least.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Why use pure hydrogen?

      400 miles in the car in the article seems transportable. And, believe it or not, is a lot safer than petrol in case of a crash - the hydrogen just rises up and burns away from the accident rather than frying the occupants like yesterdays plane crash.

      Its relatively easy to generate hydrogen. Mass produced wind power (we could stick a few kw on each house for around £500 if we invested in mass production) can provide the majority of our electrical needs and excess generation can be converted into H2 and stored locally for vehicle and windless days.

      1. Steve Crook

        Re: Why use pure hydrogen?

        The problem with any form of transportation based on electricity is that it requires... electricity. Which has to be generated. There's a lot of energy in a tank of petrol, and the numbers get quite scary if you assume that 25% of domestic motoring is done by Nissan Leaf drivers. Big implications for generating infrastructure, and we're having enough trouble generating the power we need now...

        The big advantage of fuel cells is that you don't have to dig up the entire country to lay cables for EV charging points and see all the front gardens in the UK paved over by car owners installing charging points (~40% of domestic cars have no off street parking).

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Fuel tank rated to 10,000psi

    Which is borderline for 700 bar.

    The UK does have quite a lot of chemical works which probably can source H2 now.

    But either you build a distribution network or a bunch of filling stations with either very high pressure or very cold tanks

    TBH I've always thought H2 a deeply stupid fuel championed only by people with zero knowledge of what a PITA it is to make, move and store.

    It's a simple fact the human race has now spend centuries developing and using room temperature liquid fuel technologies.

    My instinct is any CO2 issues are manageable if you simply re circulate the existing CO2.

    I think the way to go is to use the sugars made in plants directly side stepping the energy intensive conversion to alcohols (although biomass from the harvest can fuel the heating).

    air + sugar --> CO2 + water + electricity --> plants --> sugar

    We may not know a lot about making sugar fuel cells yet but we've been growing plants for thousands of yeas and the process is at or near room temperature.

    BTW

    This just in.

    Direct conversion of atmospheric CO2 to Carbon nanofibres. which was believed impossible.

    TL:DR video version here

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Fuel tank rated to 10,000psi

      "I've always thought H2 a deeply stupid fuel championed only by people with zero knowledge of what a PITA it is to make, move and store."

      Exactly. The best way to make it easier to deal with is to tack on carbon atoms.

      For those who don't know, there is more hydrogen in a litre of petrol than a litre of liquid hydrogen and you don't need to worry about embrittlement issues - that "tank which accounts for 1/3 of the cost of the vehicle" will need to be recertified every couple of years and probably have an overall lifespan of 5-6 years.

      Hydrogen fuel cells are good things if you have a low pressure supply but you're pushing shit uphill with a rake if you're trying to run a vehicle fleet with them. There are already enough problems with tank ruptures on CNG vehicles, H2 will be worse.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Fuel tank rated to 10,000psi

        There may be more hydrogen in a litre of petrol than a litre of liquid hydrogen but there is more useable energy in the liquid hydrogen: your lucky to get 30% of the energy in the fuel in normal driving whereas a fuel cell can offer over 90% return.

        400 miles on a tank? The tank may currently cost 1/3 of the vehicle but in mass production will be fantastically less. If someone finally works out how to make graphene in bits bigger than a postage stamp it wont be a problem.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Fuel tank rated to 10,000psi

          "400 miles on a tank? The tank may currently cost 1/3 of the vehicle but in mass production will be fantastically less."

          10,000 PSI tanks are already a mass production item for other gasses (It's about 70MPa or 700bar)

          The primary problem with pressurising H2 is metal embrittlement and there's a secondary issue that pressurised Hydrogen has a nasty tendency to simply waft through the walls of most containment vessels due to its tiny molecular size - I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the tank would lose 10-25% of its capacity if left sitting for a week.

          That's quite apart from high pressure tanks having a specified number of fill/empty cycles.

          High pressure gas tanks and road transport are a bad combination on safety and overall economics grounds.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Fuel tank rated to 10,000psi

            "The primary problem with pressurising H2 is metal embrittlement and there's a secondary issue that pressurised Hydrogen has a nasty tendency to simply waft through the walls of most containment vessels due to its tiny molecular size - I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the tank would lose 10-25% of its capacity if left sitting for a week."

            And just to demonstrate how difficult the containment situation is, recent advances in hard drives are attempting to hermetically seal hard drives so they can be filled with helium (monatomic noble gas He, weight 4) which is already known for being so tiny it can leak through practically anything (especially balloons). Hydrogen gas, despite being diatomic (H2), its molecular weight is even smaller (just 2), so the problem here is only exacerbated.

            And while I can see that hydrogen isn't as likely to react chemically in the event of an accident, there's still that high-pressure tank to consider in a crash. Strong as it may be, it may take the wrong kind of it for it to fail catastrophically, and my imagination has a little trouble visualizing the full impact a 700bar tank about the size of a car boot suddenly bursting within.

            1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: "isn't as likely to react chemically..."

              Really?

              I expect it to oxidise rapidly - no I mean explosively in contact with 21% Oxygen atmosphere and a spark.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Fuel tank rated to 10,000psi

              "recent advances in hard drives are attempting to hermetically seal hard drives so they can be filled with helium "

              Those have the intrinsic advantage that there's no appreciable pressure difference between "outside" and "inside" the container.

              With regard to the tank rupturing: About 30 years ago I saw the aftermath of a Toyota Corolla which had suffered a CNG tank rupture during filling (about 2MPa, 40 litre tank) - it looked like the rear 2/3 of the car had been put through an industrial shredder. How noone died I'm still not sure, given the owner was standing beside the vehicle when it happened. This was one of the first on-road incidents attributed to accelerated metal fatigue (hydrogen embrittlement sped up the process far beyond what engineers had expected and substantially shortened the cylinder's lifespan) and resulted in a number of design rule changes plus all existing installations had to be inspected and updated (cylinders more than 3 years old was an automatic fail, most older gas plumbing had to be replaced, etc)

              It really doesn't matter if the gas catches fire or not. With the kinds of pressures involved, if there's a rupture it will be spectacular. Gasoline tanks may leak more often, but they don't generally go off like a couple of sticks of dynamite when they do.

        2. clanger9

          Re: Fuel tank rated to 10,000psi

          "whereas a fuel cell can offer over 90%... "

          Hate to break it to you, but fuel cell conversion efficiency is actually much, much less than that: about 30%, not 90%.

          The 90% figure you're quoting includes the waste heat (for CHP schemes and the like). Yes, fuel cells are usefully better than an internal combustion engine, but not by much.

          Sadly, end-to-end process efficiency for H2-powered vehicles is "a bit pants".

          Just look at all the cooling ducts on the BMW's i8 fuel-cell prototype. That tells you everything you need to know...

    3. 100113.1537

      Re: Fuel tank rated to 10,000psi

      Fuel cells are nice as very efficient and if H2 as an energy store is such a PITA, I always thought methanol was a suitable alternative source of the H. Yes, there will be some CO2 emission, but once we get over the demonization of plant food we can actually begin to think sensibly about alternative energy.

  4. Rol Silver badge

    What's wrong with the old fashioned way?

    Burn the hydrogen in a slightly tweaked, bog standard combustion engine and avoid the rather excessive cell tax completely.

    Emissions will again be nothing other than water vapour and whatever came in through the air filter.

    I guess, but am not totally sure, the combustion approach would be slightly less efficient, but seeing as most Britons appreciate the heat from their combustion engines for 98% of the year, I'd say the contest is pretty evens, at this point.

    Where the fuel cell fails miserably, is in the excessive costs of the cells and batteries. Also there is no mention of working life, maintenance costs or environmental limitations.

    So, if you're looking to green yourself up and have no more mullah than the rest of us proles, I'd look at converting your pride and joy into a hydrogen guzzler courtesy of the many garages offering such bespoke services.

    Oh. And when you find yourself, nowhere near London, the engine will quite happily run on petrol again, with only a couple of tweaks to the carb and the odd levers twiddled around.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's wrong with the old fashioned way?

      I think you may be confusing LNG with hydrogen.

      Dual-fuel conversions are well known - though you do lose a load of boot space - but hydrogen is a completely different affair. In methane conversions, assuming you have a suitable engine (not all are, without modification to the valves and seats), you have to have a parallel injector system and electronic switching, with the ECU fooled into not knowing what is going on. I imagine for hydrogen it is quite a bit more difficult because the hydrogen molecule leaks through almost anything, and when it comes into contact with hot steel (valves and seats) it causes hydrogen embrittlement, aka busted engine.

      I suspect that is why BMW and Honda have spent a lot more money on hydrogen engines than has your average LNG converter. It is challenging stuff to work with.

      As the efficiency you will get from a spark ignition cycle is going to be around 25% if you can switch fuels (you can't take advantage of hydrogen's huge octane number to up the compression), and a fuel cell should achieve around 50%, the engineering equation is going to be very complicated.

    2. joed

      Re: What's wrong with the old fashioned way?

      Using old school ICE motor burning H2 is quite silly, might as well keep filling up with gas(oline).

      Probably just as silly is the idea that all this vehicles for "environmentally conscious" stick to SUV monstrosities. Feel good if do no good I guess.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's wrong with the old fashioned way?

        "Probably just as silly is the idea that all this vehicles for "environmentally conscious" stick to SUV monstrosities"

        There isn't room for all the add ons in anything smaller.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: What's wrong with the old fashioned way?

      Don't forget that with Hydrogen fuel (and LPG, LNG) you can't go through the Chunnel. you are stuck with certain Ferries.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: What's wrong with the old fashioned way?

      Fuel cells to electricity and then electric motors is substantially more efficient than an internal combustion engine and they do get quite hot - more than hot enough to heat the cabin.

      The issue that hydrogen generation is currently _substantially_ wasteful and the dangers of pressurising H2 make this a non-starter.

      HOWEVER: Fuel cells fed from reticulated natural gas work extremely well at generating heat and power for a house. They're not cheap but likely on par long-term with a contemporary boiler over a 10 year period.

      That said: in order to reduce CO2 emissions, reticulated gas systems will need to be phased out over the next 15-20 years and replaced with electric heating/cooling/cooking/etc (unless the gas is generated via nuclear plants from atmospheric carbon and electrolysed water)

    5. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: What's wrong with the old fashioned way?

      Burn the hydrogen in a slightly tweaked, bog standard combustion engine and avoid the rather excessive cell tax completely.

      No! Jet engines all the way! Who has seen the classic 60s Batmobile and not had the visceral longing to own one of those? If widespread use caught on, we would eliminate any problem with tailgating. Also, development of this technology should lead to flying cars, so it must happen. Hydrogen jet powered cars for everyone!1

      The keys are in my pocket.

      1 It is election season here in the US so I am running a test of my stump speech with this. Vote now. Vote often. Vote for me.

    6. grumpyoldeyore
      Go

      Re: What's wrong with the old fashioned way?

      Mazda are already getting there : http://www2.mazda.com/en/technology/env/hre/ - where there is Norway and California. No 'carb tweaking' needed.

  5. Hairy Spod

    grrr

    I love it how electric cars are always fuelled by dirty coal power stations and hydrogen always comes from excess capacity nuclear or renewables. It costs more than an electric car, costs the same or more to run than a petrol car, looses luggage space like a hybrid, you can't charge it at home. Seriously what it is the point of these things

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: grrr

      I run a Hybrid (Outlander PHEV). I charge it from the PV Array on my roof.

      I very rarely use Grid leccy to charge the vehicle. I think it must be oh, once in the 4 months since I bought it.

      I did a test the other week. I threw the switch to isolate my house from the mains. I charged the car fully from the PV surce.

      I get between 25-30 miles from the car on a full charge. All my short journeys are leccy only.

      I last time I put unleaded in the tank was almost a month ago.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: grrr

        If your solar panels are at home, then are you working nights?

        Most people would be parked at work during the day, when the Sun is up.

        So, explain yourself.

        (Expecting to hear about how the solar panels feed into the grid during the day, and then the truck is recharged >>from the grid<< at night.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: grrr

          Errr .... I work from home 4 days a week. On the other day, I (shudder) commute to Docklands by train.

          The Station is 2.5 miles from home.

          Problem solved eh?

          Oh, and several companies around here have leccy car charging points in their staff car parks.

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: grrr

            Sounds like the perfect application of solar powered electric vehicles...

            One 5-mile round trip per week.

            I believe you. No question that this use model is perfectly feasible and absolutely practical.

            Sorry I doubted you.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: grrr

              "what is the point of these things"

              If the electricity generation has to be by burning fossil fuels, then because the source of the electricity is ground based and static, equipment installations that would be too heavy to efficiently be carried on a vehicle can be used to clean up the emissions at the generator..

              ICE vehicles carry their fossil fuels into our town centres and High Streets, and burn them right there spaying their noxious fumes directly into these spaces that are crowded with people. Hence the London emissions zone. Electricity generation can be done away from crowded places and avoid spraying the noxious fumes directly into our faces.

              1. Hairy Spod

                Re: grrr

                ....in which case you are better off with a pure electic vehicle, or, if you must, a range extended hybrid which can have its ICE turned off in an urban environment.

                (also bear in mind that hydrogen production requires lots of heat and/or electricity)

                I cant help but feel that those billions would have been better spent on improving other existing solutions.

                The only advantage I can see is for energy companies (these things require lots of overall well to wheel energy) and as they have a more complicated parts that a typical BEV the makers of all the parts that will need replacing as they get corroded by the reactive hydrogen.

                The only plus (as you correctly point out) is that like electric cars there are no ground level emmisions

      2. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: grrr

        Guess you have a garage/drive then?

        I don't have enough roof for a decent PV array.. and would have to snake a cable over the pavement to charge a car.. :(

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: grrr

          Chloe is there anything else you cant do that everyone else should stop considering immediately?

          1. Stephen 1

            Re: grrr

            She didn't say anyone should stop considering anything, no need to be rude.

            She made a perfectly valid point that those of us with on street parking have no real options apart from government support for on street parking charge points.

            Since that is a substantial fraction of the population it is a serious issue and one that must be addressed before electric vehicles can take over.

      3. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: grrr

        I get between 25-30 miles from the car on a full charge. All my short journeys are leccy only.

        I last time I put unleaded in the tank was almost a month ago.

        I own a large 4WD, mainly for the 7 seats but it also goes off-road where a normal car couldn't. It gets used 7 days a week. The last time I filled the tank was a month ago, what's your point?

  6. Flatpackhamster

    So...

    Apart from being slow, poor to handle, short of internal space, unattractive, far too expensive and entirely unsuitable for British roads due to being left hand drive, it's great?

    The author is definitely a glass-half-full person.

    1. Al Taylor

      Re: So...

      Don't recall saying any of those things in the review. On the contrary re. handling and performance.

      As for being unsuitable for British roads, the world doesn't actually stop at Dover.

      Al

      1. Flatpackhamster

        Re: So...

        Well no, you didn't say any of those things but perhaps you ought to have done. 0-60 in over 12 seconds is SLOW. Slow and dull. You didn't say it was short of space but it clearly is from the pictures you've posted. It IS an unattractive car. And it is also VERY expensive for what it is. I'm glad that you're very rich and don't think that £50k is much for a car, but I'm not, and I do.

        It's not a matter of whether or not the world 'stops at Dover'. I'm not being parochial. Unless you spend a majority of your time driving on the right then a LHD car is more dangerous to drive in the UK.

        1. Robert Grant

          Re: So...

          Well no, you didn't say any of those things but perhaps you ought to have done. 0-60 in over 12 seconds is SLOW. Slow and dull. You didn't say it was short of space but it clearly is from the pictures you've posted. It IS an unattractive car.

          Maybe Newton had a delicate little friend who complained that the apple wasn't a perfect taste and colour.

          This car is a technology showcase, and you feeling a little better about yourself by being able to go ever so slightly faster is not a good enough reason for people to stop researching every method possible of making transportation more sustainable. The last 50 years have done enough to screw the current/next generations; it's time to grow up and think of them for once.

          1. Flatpackhamster

            Re: So...

            If I were reviewing this car, I would certainly dedicate a page or two to listing its virtues, and admiring the clever engineering. However, a page needs to be produced showing the weaknesses of the car, amongst which are the unattractive nature, the cost, the shortage of space and the fact that it is considerably slower than the equivalent petrol or diesel which is available for 60% of the price. It is, in fact, considerably slower than every single vehicle in its price band. If you choose to cluck your tongue at the selfishness and moral inferiority of people who make purchasing decisions based upon performance and handling, that's up to you. But they will make those decisions in that way regardless of your snooty attitude to them.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: So...

            "This car is a technology showcase"

            And as such it shouldn't be a production vehicle.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: So...

      There does seem to be more than three H filling stations in the UK, more than 10 in fact. Maybe there are differing standards and only three are compatible with this Hyundai? Would be interesting to know.

      Most ix35s sold in the UK are 2WD versions. Same with the sibling Sportage.

      Hyundai weren't selling just automotive tat 10 years ago, I recall back in 2002 a friend was driving a Hyundai Coupe which was respected. There does tend to be a snobbery about car marques in the UK which held the brand back here for a while meanwhile in other territories like the US it was doing fine.

      But the world doesn't end at Dover.

  7. Old Used Programmer

    Yet Another Fuel Cell Vehicle

    Whatever happened to the RiverSimple project to build a two-seat "town car" (50 mph top speed) for use in urban areas? The idea was minimal weight (the working prototype was 350 Kg), which reduced the fuel cell to 7KW and instead of a battery for surge power, a supercapacitor bank.

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Yet Another Fuel Cell Vehicle

      From what I can google, they scrapped the idea of producing it in favour of designing another one. I think it's a non-starter. Too slow, too expensive and from the pictures I can see absolutely no boot space (which would be the main reason someone would want to own a car in a city (to be able to move stuff around that you can't take on a bus)).

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Yet Another Fuel Cell Vehicle

      We have cars like the Twizy on the road, but I think people have an instinctive idea of Newtonian physics and don't fancy being the vastly inferior mass object on our roads.

    3. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Yet Another Fuel Cell Vehicle

      Even the best available supercaps are abysmal in energy storage density compared to batteries (which are themselves rather poor compared to classic fuel) so I don't see the point. Being able to recharge much faster / many more times is not going to help you if it only lasts for, say, 5 miles.

  8. Rusty 1

    Obvious, really

    Certainly the transportation and storage of hydrogen poses problems. Now that these fine chaps have done the hydrogen -> power side of things, what we need is a better source of hydrogen.

    Surely we just need to transport two things: sodium and water. Let them react in a robust "hydrogen generator" unit (probably a few kilos of something strong), and you have hydrogen for the car, and a spot of drain cleaner for when you get home.

    Back of the net!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Obvious, really

      A vast fortune awaits you if you can make that work.

      What are you waiting for?

  9. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Brown hydrogen

    Nice to learn about the abundance of 'brown hydrogen'.

    In some locations,commercial quantities of hydrogen are produced by steam reformation of abundant natural gas. A process that releases 4 kg of CO2 for each kg of H2 produced. So a kg of such H2 emits the same 4kg of CO2 (at production) as 1.7 L of petrol (at combustion).

    "106km from 1kg of hydrogen and since 1kg of hydrogen can produce a similar amount of energy to 3.7 litres of petrol you could say it’s doing the equivalent of about 29km per litre..." =3.45L/100km

    Or, from the CO2 point of view, 106km per 1.7L petrol worth of CO2 is 1.6L/100km equivalent.

    .: Even in the worst case, with H2 from natural gas, it's still extremely efficient in terms of CO2.

    Yay!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want my

    glove-box nuclear reactor (and some lead y-fronts)

  11. JP19

    hydrogen as a fuel is absolutely rubbish.

    It isn't green, it isn't practical, it isn't efficient, it isn't cheap.

    95% of hydrogen is obtained by reforming natural gas, the other 5% from coal gas. It requires additional energy (almost certainly obtained by burning more fossil fuel) and produces more waste carbon than burning the natural gas. That isn't going to change for decades if not centuries.

    When we are eventually forced to use electricity to synthesise chemical fuels it won't be hydrogen to put in fuel cells to turn it back into electricity. Gees I have moaned enough here about how rubbish batteries are but if you want portable electricity from electricity they are way more sensible and economical than making hydrogen for fuel cells.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: hydrogen as a fuel is absolutely rubbish.

      "106km from 1kg of hydrogen..."

      Even with steam reformation (ignoring 'brown' H2 as mentioned), 1kg of H2 (and thus 4kg of CO2 from the steam reformation process) is only about 40g/km of CO2. Twice as good as is common.

      Or 1.6L/100km or 175 MPG equivalent.

      So it clearly *is* efficient.

      1. JP19

        Re: hydrogen as a fuel is absolutely rubbish.

        "1kg of H2 (and thus 4kg of CO2 from the steam reformation process)"

        How could you possibly get more energy from a given amount of natural gas (and so given amount of carbon emission) by extracting and only using the hydrogen? You are limited to a fuel cell and electric motor being more efficient than an ICE burning the gas and they are but not enough to overcome inefficiency of hydrogen production, storage, and transport.

        The reforming process produces 4 x H2 and 1 x CO2 with molecular weights of 2 and 44 which makes 5.5kg of CO2 per kg of H. Additionally you need burn about half as much natural gas again to provide heat for the reaction bringing it up to 8.25kg/kg.

        Then compression or liquefaction (which is probably how it would be moved around) needs about another 3 kWh of energy per kg and another 1.5kg of CO2 emission if you do with with UK generated electricity.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: hydrogen as a fuel is absolutely rubbish.

      It isn't green, it isn't practical, it isn't efficient, it isn't cheap.

      Your use of the present tense makes your statement correct.

      Fortunately there is also a future tense.

      In 1896 as I unwrapped a bale of hay for my carthorses I wryly observed a self-propelled motor car using refined spirit to feed his motor and thought the same 3 out of your 4 criticisms. I had no concept of green back then.

  12. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Maybe worth holding out for this...

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v400/n6745/full/400649a0.html

  13. Jim84

    More articles on the Dearman engine please

    The Dearman engine runs on liquid air/nitrogen, which is a better for automotive engery storage than either batteries of hydrogen.

    The real problems with hydrogen fuel cells are:

    - Cost of the hydrogen, sure industrial hydrogen can be cheap, but fuel cells require 99.99% pure hydrogen to avoid fouling, and the cheapest way to produce that is (expensive) electrolysis (cheaper than filtering dirty hydrogen).

    - Expensive storage and transport of the hydrogen (requires specially lined pipes as it embrittles steel).

    The Dearman engine also provides 'free' air con, and is being trialed in refrigerated trucks in London.

    http://www.dearmanengine.com/#!Time-the-UK-woke-up-to-Cold-Economy-–-Toby-Peters/ccrp/55afba8b0cf24f011b6475b4

  14. POSitality

    These are your options...

    Hydrogen - annoying to make, store or use

    Natural Gas - already has distribution system, can be stored compressed, liquefied or adsorbed

    LPG - slightly easier to store than natural gas but not widely distributed

    Petrol/Diesel - very easy to store, existing distribution

    All these can go into a conventional engine with some modification. Not a particular "clean" way of utilising the energy though and losing half your boot space for another/different tank would be a shame.

    However, there has been some research into fuel cells that run on Natural Gas. Apparently they can be up to 60% efficient with the "waste" being heat (which could be piped into the cab for dear old Blighty summers!)

    They do need some "warm up time" so you'd have a similar set up as this: small bank of Lithium Ion batteries for rolling away until the fuel cell is running. Basically replacing the conventional engine of existing hybrids.

    Sounds like the way to go: still hooked on fossil fuels but killing the planet at a much slower pace, win win!

  15. Greg 16

    Green crap

    As someone who works in the 'green industry' and can assure the author that the vast majority of it is indeed 'green crap'. Astronomical amounts of money are wasted. A cost effective and wholly achievable policy to massively reduce emissions would be the following 3 things:

    1. Generate at least 75% of our electricity via nuclear and close down all coal fuelled power stations.

    2. Promote energy efficient lighting, appliances and vehicles via scrappage schemes and regulation.

    3. Tighten building regs and promote rebuilding of the 10% least insulated homes (which are generally concrete blocks which are falling down anyway).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Green crap

      "1. Generate at least 75% of our electricity via nuclear and close down all coal fuelled power stations."

      How do you stymie NIMBY protesters and panic mongers who cite Chernobyl and Fukushima, not to mention where all the waste (not just from the plants but from the mines) will go?

      "2. Promote energy efficient lighting, appliances and vehicles via scrappage schemes and regulation."

      What will you do with the waste products from when CFLs and FTLs break down or go bad? Lest we forget, any fluorescent light is going to contain mercury in it (tiny amounts, but now multiply by millions of bulbs).

      "3. Tighten building regs and promote rebuilding of the 10% least insulated homes (which are generally concrete blocks which are falling down anyway)."

      And if the inefficient homes are in historic districts that have conflicting regulations of their own?

      1. Greg 16

        Re: Green crap

        1. Replace existing nuclear sites and double them up (which is already happening to an extent).

        2. LED is the future. Just in my house, I replaced the 15 halogens in my kitchen with LED's 3 years ago. They're brighter than the halogens, not a single one has blown and the energy use has gone from 750w to 75w. Most councils are now doing the same with their street lights via a limited scale PFI, because it's an investment that is guaranteed to pay off. It's a no brainer, but regulation is needed to push it in homes and the private sector.

        3. Some very old homes are amongst the most inefficient, but most of the 10% are actually concrete homes built after the war. This is the area in which I work and I can assure you that these homes are not in historic conservation areas. Some are currently being retrofitted, but the results are poor and the cost/waste is insane. These houses could be completely rebuilt for not much more money, which would make them far more energy efficient and have all kinds of other benefits and savings.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Green crap

        "How do you stymie NIMBY protesters and panic mongers who cite Chernobyl and Fukushima, not to mention where all the waste (not just from the plants but from the mines) will go?"

        Ever seen a coal ash slurry dam? The waste from a conventional nuke plant is less than 0.5% of that (it can be stored in pools onsite)

        Thorium cycle systems can munch on that "waste" as a sidestream input and reduce that down by a factor of 99%

        Most uranium mined is as a byproduct of other mining. The real waste is in "enriching" it, which is fantastically energy expensive (so much so that the costs are a classified military secret in the USA).

        _All_ thorium is a byprodict of rare earth mining. In fact it's the largest byproduct and currently the biggest waste disposal problem for such mines. Having a market for it would be a big step forward - and it doesn't need "enrichment" for use in nuclear plants.

        NIMBYs will be NIMBYs. That usually stops when given a choice of keeping warm in winter or protesting about the power plant.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Green crap

          "_All_ thorium is a byprodict of rare earth mining. In fact it's the largest byproduct and currently the biggest waste disposal problem for such mines. Having a market for it would be a big step forward - and it doesn't need "enrichment" for use in nuclear plants."

          But thorium reactors are touchy. Otherwise, a commercial plant would've sprouted up somewhere where there's little regulation. Plus there's STILL a weapons proliferation risk from U-232. Too difficult for terrorist-level enemies, yes, but not state-level.

          As for the choice between keeping warm and the power plant, the NIMBYs will just reply, "How did we do it before electricity? Hint: A nice thick blanket helps. After all, we're warm-blooded.

  16. Dapprman

    Quite possibly uses Toyota technology

    If you can watch it, the latest episode of Samurai Wheels on NHK World (not available on their own streaming site, but possibly around on YouTube) they cover the Toyota Mirai - the first commercial produced hydrogen powered car. In it they explain how it works, take it for a drive (they find the Mirai heavy, but handles well and has a decent turn of pace, including being able to overtake safely), cover costs - cost per mile works out similar in Japan to petrol (think it was about $90 gave them ~800 KM range).

    Also they interviewed the head of the Toyota department behind it - he explained they have created some thing like 5000 patents for the technology, all of which they have made free for others to use to try and help push the technology.

    Of course the Mirai is expensive and looks odd/large, but from they way the tanks are positioned I suspect much of that is cosmetic to produce a futurist looking car.

    Oh and they talked about crash tests on the hydrogen tanks. Apparently they even shot one up and it still failed to explode.

  17. JP19

    Hmm

    "In his January 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush announced a $1.2 billion research initiative, “so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.”

    And in the next 12 years the DOE did indeed spend $1.4 billion on hydrogen production and fuel cell research. This poxy Hyundai and no economical or pollution-free hydrogen supply is the best that and the rest of the spending across the globe has achieved.

  18. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    I don't buy it ...

    and not just a £50k car either !

    Hydrogen is a terrible fuel. As pointed out, until we have a surplus of CO2 free energy (which in practice means a LOT more nuclear than we are even considering (let alone are actually seriously being planned) then manufacture of H2 is not clean.

    But to then expend the energy needed to compress it (that take a lot of energy) is daft. And of course it needs a complete new distribution system that's incompatible with existing distribution systems.

    And you can't park an H2 powered car up and expect the fuel to stay there - it'll empty it's tank in a week or two.

    Assuming we got round the "clean supply of H2" issue - then it's actually fairly easy to convert it chemically to methanol - not by growing plants, but by adding atmospheric CO2 in a two or three stage process I don't recall the details of.

    We already have an established distribution network for methanol - because it can use the same system we already use for petrol and diesel. Existing cars need very minor modifications (few £10s of pounds/car at most if designed in) to run on any mix of petrol, methanol and/or ethanol.

    It would be no harder to distribute methanol than it is handling separate fuels like petrol (often still sold in 2 grades) and diesel.

  19. Douchus McBagg

    I like the stink of hydrocarbons on refilling. just like the smell of jet-A1 puts me into holiday mode.

    I also like the swooshy wave of hexagons on the side to denote "it's the future-ture-ture-ture..." al-la lawnmowerman... welcome to 1992?

    also interesting; the presence of "brown hydrogen". not really realised how prolific it is. however, only when we harness the power of "brown methane" will we be really cooking with gas, also potentially marriage saving for long road trips.

  20. Tithras

    Internal generation

    Just add water to your car and let the hydrogen generation happen when needed in the car. This would resolve all your problems tbh, shame that this would never happen as too much money invested in the petrol world for me to just put a jug of water into the my car once a week!

    Why do you think that all the options on display rely on putting hydrogen into the car first? It means you need to "fill up" at a station forecourt!

    I am sure that the technology for this doesn't exist now, no reason it couldn't in 20 years, but you don't really see much in the way of news on this type of generation as its all about the ready to go hydrogen cars.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Internal generation

      1. Put Water in Tank

      2. ????

      3. Profit

      Where's step two? HOW do you turn the water into hydrogen suitable for a fuel cell?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plug in capability

    Does this car have a plug in capability in case hydrogen is not available to re-charge the battery ?

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