Hydrogen Shortage Leaves FCVs Stranded

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by KentuckyKen, Sep 6, 2019.

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  1. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    ICYMI, an explosion at a hydrogen production facility has left hydrogen fueling stations dry and stranded FCV Claritys, Mirais, and Hyundais. At least it looks like they’re getting free loaners until this is corrected.
    If you think the charging infrastructure is not yet mature, try finding a hydrogen fueling station in California.
    Good thing the rest of us can charge and but gasoline with no worries.

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  3. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    The reason there are so few is because the delivery mechanism is extremely unwieldy. It's not like gasoline where a truck fills up at a nearby distribution center and then pumps gasoline into each station's underground storage tank. In the case of hydrogen there are no pipelines like with gasoline so the trucks have to fill up at the production location where the hydrogen is extracted from natural gas. And each truck can only deliver hydrogen to one fueling station, not several like a gasoline truck can. This makes it impractical to deliver the hydrogen beyond a certain range from the production facility.

    The trucks don't just fill up a big tankful of hydrogen. Because it is pressurized the hydrogen has to be stored in several individual pressurized cylinders that are stacked together on the trailer. Each cylinder on the trailer has to be filled separately.

    Air Liquide.JPG

    The entire trailer is then left behind at the station and the previous trailer with (nearly) empty cylinders is taken away. The cylinders are individually connected to the station's pumping system. As far as I know only two cylinders at a time are connected, when one cylinder runs out it switches to the other connected cylinder, then someone has to manually move the hose from the empty cylinder to a "fresh" cylinder.

    The hydrogen from the cylinders flows into a small holding tank where it is pressurized to the super high pressures needed for storage in the FCV fuel tank. This additional pressurization that occurs at the hydrogen refueling stations requires a lot of power, which is one of the reasons hydrogen is overall not very energy efficient in terms of the amount of fossil fuels and overall energy required to produce the equivalent amount of usable energy as electricity.

    Many are pessimistic that the delivery methods for hydrogen or its environmental benefits will ever improve, especially since BEV battery capacity keeps increasing, charging locations keeps increasing, and charging times keep getting shorter, thus reducing the problem that hydrogen is trying to solve.
  4. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I've heard for years that a nuclear plant could be designed to turn out tons of hydrogen, but if it's this difficult to transport, cheaper hydrogen would still not solve the problem.
  5. bfd

    bfd Active Member

    Fuel Cells for vehicles - in theory at least - are a cool idea. We don't yet have the technology to grow capacity to a level that it makes economic sense. One thing these FCVs have done, at least for now, is to provide us with an existence proof. Hydrogen is plentiful here on earth - and if we can just figure out how to extract it economically, it'd be a whole new - and clean - way of providing fuel. But if we're just going to tap natural gas and fossil fuels to get the hydrogen… well, that doesn't make much sense.
    insightman and bpratt like this.

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