Eventually fossil fuels will no longer be our primary fuel source for personal transportation. Not to say that we will completely run out, but once the easy to get to sources are exhausted, it will no longer be cost effective, relative to the alternatives. Even the president of Shell Oil publicly acknowledges this. Hybrid cars can stretch the remaining supply, but crude oil will eventually be replaced. Big oil, the US government, and auto OEMs are discussing new fuel possibilities. Their primary focus, hydrogen.
...the first car driven by a child born
today could be powered by hydrogen,
and pollution-free.— President Bush,
State of the Union Address,
January 28, 2003
Despite the single mindedness of the Hydrogen-future from these three, hydrogen is certainly not the only option for the future of transportation, there are bio-fuels, compressed air, batteries and many many other options.
You can see that see that Hydrogen does not score well on this scale. Battery powered EVs score significantly better. Looking at the report in detail, this is a conservative estimate for batteries since the battery calculations included losses when comparable losses for the other technologies were overlooked. Even given this, battery transport was 3 times better than hydrogen. A compressed air car even scores better. It would be much easier to build an infrastructure for plug-in transportation or compressed air than a "hydrogen highway". Outdoor electrical outlets are at RV parks across the country. Most gas stations already have coin-op air compressors and you can buy one at any Home Depot for your garage at home.
If these other options score so much better, why the big push for Hydrogen? Simple, it uses the same business model of consumers going to fueling stations. With battery or compressed air, you don't need a gas station. You could plug-in or "pump-up" in your own garage, at work or any parking lot could install coin-op (or free for customers) electrical outlets or compressors. Who can blame big oil for wanting to maintain a revenue stream. They can control the hydrogen market, just as they control the gasoline market, so it is the only future they are interested in helping to create.
Now you understand why many EV proponents refer to hydrogen fuel cells as "fool cells" or "fool sells".
As mentioned at the start of this entry, this is only one aspect to consider. Things such as energy density, refueling time, pollution & many other aspects must be considered for the complete picture. All great future blog topics.
- This site has quite a few interesting reports about the efficiency of various alternative energy vehicle programs, including Fuel Cell Vehicles, Internal Combustion Hydrogen, Compressed air and Battery Electric Vehicles.
- Comparing Apples to Apples: Well-to-Wheel Analysis of Current ICE and Fuel Cell Vehicle Technologies
- Bring Back the EV
- Consumer Reports - The Ethanol Myth