Tuesday, 8 January 2008

I'm missing something

And I'm too lazy to do further research.

This is interesting, a cross-over SUV that gets 300 miles (482 kms) on a single tank of Hydrogen. That's not far off the distance you can travel on a single tank in gasoline powered cross-overs.

The part that made me blink is this statement "getting 280 miles from hydrogen power and 20 miles from batteries". So why bother with batteries if they only prvide such a measly range? Dump them, save the weight (and thereby extend the range) and send power directly to the wheels when needed.

Personally, I think Mercedes has the right idea. Don't bother with fancy-dancy fuel cells. Just burn the hydrogen in an internal combustion engine. As Jay Leno pointed out (yes THAT Jay Leno) in his column in Popular Mechanics, we've been using internal combustion engines for over 100 years. They're proven technology. Why fix what isn't broken? Throw in that Mercedes has made their engine flex-fuel (can burn gasoline or hydrogen) and you have a winner technology. You can drive on gasoline while a hydrogen infrastructure is developed. Consumers aren't forced to plan all their trips around available hydrogen fueling stations. Even if fuel-cells get off the ground, they're 100% dependent on a hydrogen infrastructure being in place first. Which just doesn't exist, and won't magically appear over night. Hydrogen powered fuel-cells put us in a nasty chicken and egg scenario. How do we build demand when there isn't supply, and how do we justify supply when there is no demand?

Granted any Hydrogen powered vehicle needs a reliable, energy efficient, and cost effective mass supply. But science is making progress on that front.

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