Quantron shows off some massive new hydrogen trucks, auto companies are spending less on ads, there’s a new Subaru Crosstrek. Al this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Quantron Announces Massive New Hydrogen Trucks
Hydrogen’s been experiencing a bit of a rebirth in recent months. From the hydrogen hybrid Hyundai N Vision 74 to news of a hydrogen-powered BMW X5, this renewed interest in fuel cells should make up for some of the shortcomings of batteries. Now, it’s the commercial vehicle sector’s turn to really consider hydrogen. Truck company Quantron just unveiled its QHM FCEV 60-2000 truck, a hydrogen-powered rig that’s expected to pack up to 1,500 km (932 mi.) of range. Perhaps more surprisingly, Quantron unveiled another rig with an estimated 1,500 km of range called the QHM FCEV 44-2000. So how has Quantron done it?
Well, really big tanks is the short answer. The tanks that enable 1,500 km of range can hold 116 kg of hydrogen, an absolutely insane amount of energy given hydrogen’s energy density of 120 Mj/kg. Shoehorning these tanks into trucks requires a little bit of clever thinking, but Quantron has pulled it off and integrated the tanks into the chassis.
The announcement comes as fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power Systems takes a minority stake in the truck company. Speaking in a media release, Ballard Power Systems’ CEO seems fairly stoked on the arrangement.
“We are seeing growing global demand and policy support for zero emission transport as companies strive to reach decarbonization targets. This collaboration accelerates our entry into the European truck market and aims to have Quantron’s initial hydrogen-powered, zero emission trucks on the road in the next 18 months,” said Randy MacEwen, CEO, Ballard Power Systems.
Eighteen months, huh? That’s not a very long amount of time, so I’m very interested in watching this play out. Should things actually launch as planned, this could be a thorn in Elon Musk’s side as Tesla has promised an all-electric battery-powered semi truck with no firm timeline on manufacturing. Could battery power be entering this race on the wrong foot?
[Ed Note: The nice thing about hydrogen for long-haul trucking is that, unlike with regular passenger vehicles, you generally know where people are going so you could, in theory, stack up fewer hydrogen stations in obvious places. – MH]
Hyundai And Iveco Team Up On Hydrogen Trucks
Hyundai and Iveco have unveiled something new at IAA Transportation 2022, a Hyundai fuel cell stuffed into an Iveco chassis cab. While it remains a prototype for now, it holds incredible promise regarding the future of commercial vehicles.
Called the eDAILY FCEV, this fully-functional prototype features Hyundai’s 90 kW hydrogen fuel cell system and a 140 kW electric motor. Six fuel tanks offering a combined storage capacity of 12 kg of hydrogen doesn’t sound like a lot, but hydrogen’s energy density should mean that 12 kg are plenty. The prototype packs an impressive driving range of 350 km (217 miles), a maximum payload of three tons, and a refueling time within 15 minutes.
While it’s easy to not take hydrogen seriously, it’s one of the most viable ways of powering zero-emission commercial fleets. Hydrogen refueling is quick, reducing downtime, while hydrogen itself is incredibly energy-dense, likely enhancing towing capability over current battery technology.
The Automotive Industry Is Spending Less On Ads
If you feel like you haven’t been seeing as many car ads as you used to, you’re not going crazy. Reuters reports that auto industry ad spending over the first seven months of 2022 fell 4 percent year-over-year to $4.8 billion.
Digital ad spending accounted for 53% of the total $4.80 billion the industry spent during the period, according to data from Standard Media Index (SMI).
The overall ad spend was 12.7% less compared to the same period in pre-pandemic 2019 at $5.50 billion, as spending from dealerships, traditionally among the biggest in the industry, suffers due to a shortage of vehicles.
It’s no secret that cars are a hot commodity right now, and when new models aren’t just sitting around on lots, there isn’t a ton of incentive for automakers and dealerships to spend money on advertising. While there’s a chance that ad spending will rise once supply catches up with demand, any possibility of that happening won’t occur for at least a few months.
Subaru Has A New Crosstrek
I’d like to apologize to all Subaru fans for not covering the new Crosstrek on Thursday as I was going through the rather lengthy process of an EV road trip. Still, a new Crosstrek is here, and while the changes aren’t massive, here’s what’s worth noting. While the exterior styling is best described as almost identical to the old model, the interior looks like a massive improvement. It’s largely identical to the interior in the new WRX, which means that ergonomics and material selection should be much nicer than on the old car. In addition, the new Subaru Global Platform should pay dividends in cabin noise and structural rigidity.
While powertrains for the North American market haven’t yet been revealed, I wouldn’t expect anything radically different from what’s in the current car. Look, the new Crosstrek isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but that’s okay. It looks like a pragmatic little car that should have decent snow capability. There’s something fairly pleasing about having a car that simply works, and the Crosstrek should be a perfectly good daily driver.
So long as the new Crosstrek doesn’t move the needle too far on pricing, it should be a smash hit. It shouldn’t alienate the legions of Crosstrek fans who feel that the Forester has simply grown too big, plus the interior improvements should be very welcome indeed. Maybe Subaru can even get Hobo Johnson for the ad campaign… assuming they even do an ad campaign.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. It’s Monday, which means we’re setting down the Torx sockets and getting back into the daily grind. Still, I’d love to know what car stuff you got up to this past weekend. Whether you picked up body supplies like I did, went for a quick rip around some backroads, or finally saved up enough to buy your own lift, let’s hear all the wonderful car things last weekend brought you.
Lead photo credit: Quantron
Last weekend I put the transmission back in Trixie the Miata. There was one “oh fuck” moment when I discovered that I had carefully torqued the bell housing down onto the end of the speedometer cable, but miraculously nothing was damaged and I only lost about 30 minutes or so. Everything else went really smoothly to be honest, I feel like I’ve really leveled up as far as automotive work—accessing awkwardly-located fasteners, in particular.
I did have a frustrating moment when I started to put the car back down and gear oil began pouring out of the transmission because I’d forgotten all about the transmission output seal, and then discovered that I didn’t actually have one to install because it hadn’t shipped with the rest of my Rock Auto order. Amazon got me a genuine Mazda one the very next day though, and I put that little guy in after work today. Reconnected the driveshaft, put the car back down on her wheels, and done!
The test drive went smoothly and she’s shifting better than ever. It seems like I managed to get it all right on the first try, which is a fantastic feeling. This was one of the biggest projects I’ve done to date (I know it’s pretty basic stuff to a lot of folks, but it’s a big deal for me) and I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. Plus, there’s still a good 2-3 months of driving left before the snow and salt hit. Time to have some fun!
Weekend vehicular hijinks we’re limited to loading the fam in the CUV and driving through forested mountains to the coast. Spent the day with friends and drove slower on the way home. Even modern high beam headlights are no match for the big Hydrogen power plant we spin around.
Please tell me the truck is real and isn’t just a shell rolling down a hill
I’m not going to argue with the numbers but in Northeast Ohio the number of car commercials I see far outnumber any other industry. Of course that will soon be overtaken by the worst ads ever created: political ads.
Is there a courtesy in Japanese culture where it would be extremely rude to tell a car manufacturer that their product is ugly? Does Subaru just intimidate people so no one speaks up?
Also, those seats, why does it look like they have cheap ill fitting auto parts store covers on them that are already sagging? Are they are the trendy mom jeans of car seats?
What did I do this weekend? Drove a 2022 BRZ the length of Angeles Crest Highway first thing Saturday morning. That’s a fantastic car and a fantastic road. After that, I finished re-wiring the lighting on my tow dolly so I can put it up for sale.
Started the pre-winter process of draining fuel from summer toys, and found I still had a few gallons left over from last year’s drain. Trying to find a good plan to dispose of this fairy stale fuel….some of it premixed with oil for the 2-stokes. I think my best bet might be to run it through a filter and pump it into my 2004 G35x. I don’t think the rest of my direct injected fleet would like it much. Any suggestions?
I used my Torx this weekend on the Caddy. Oil change and tried to fix the trunk release mechanism. Not sure why it wouldn’t work, had it FULLY disassembled, diagnostics, motor works with my bench supply, etc… must be wiring. Funny thing is, it worked the first couple times as I was diagnosing it, then never again. No clue. Gonna head to Chuck-n-Eddies to grab a new one at some point this week I think.
What none of these hydrogen announcements talk about is cost per mile. ‘Round numbers, the electricity-to-motion efficiency of a BEV is 90% and an FCEV is 30%. This means the BEV is always going to have a 3:1 cost-per-mile advantage– that’s huge. And if you are going to make the hydrogen from natural gas (as is the case for 95% of hydrogen production), why not just run the trucks on CNG? That’s cheaper too, and probably a wash as far as CO2 emissions.
Hydrogen *may* find a niche in long distance air travel and ocean shipping, but otherwise it won’t make sense unless carbon taxes are HUGE.
That is where Cummins and Hyliion are coming in. Cummins is launching a new 15 liter natural gas engine that should finally measure up to diesel in terms of performance. Hyliion is launching their electric/natural gas hybrid, using the Cummins engine to generate electricity to drive the wheels. Pretty neat stuff, and it uses infrastructure that actually exists. Throwing in “renewable” natural gas (RNG) takes the environmental benefit to another level.
I, um… washed my Corolla for the first time in about a year. Wanted to get the filth of that godawful neighborhood that I never have to park in again off it. Didn’t seem to make much difference to its appearance, but sadly, the Refreshments bumper sticker that had been hanging by a thread came off when I sprayed it. Here’s your suckerpunch, indeed.
Subaru, please give me the option of the good engine and a manual. They finally put the 2.5 in the crosstrek, but made it CVT only. They put a turbo in the forester, CVT only.
I will abandon Subaru before I will ever buy a CVT from Subaru.
WXR is the only option they offer, but no manual in the top trim and no hatch / wagon. I’ll probabyl keep my manual subarus as long as I can, but at some point they’ll become more project cars than daily drivers – and they’re not that interesting to me as project cars.
“Well, really big tanks is the short answer. The tanks that enable 1,500 km of range can hold 116 kg of hydrogen, an absolutely insane amount of energy given hydrogen’s energy density of 120 Mj/kg. Shoehorning these tanks into trucks requires a little bit of clever thinking, but Quantron has pulled it off and integrated the tanks into the chassis.”
“Eighteen months, huh? That’s not a very long amount of time, so I’m very interested in watching this play out. ”
“Hyundai and Iveco have unveiled something new at IAA Transportation 2022, a Hyundai fuel cell stuffed into an Iveco chassis cab. While it remains a prototype for now, it holds incredible promise regarding the future of commercial vehicles.”
In the late 1970’s, Checker Motor Company (yes, that Checker) in response to the gas crisis, started experimenting with LPG fueled Chevrolet 305’s. (Or 350’s, the history isn’t 100% clear there.)
It took them less than 12 months to make it an orderable option on the A11/A12.
That’s it. Fuel is fuel. If the engine can burn it, then it simply becomes a question of storage and delivery. Checker solved this by locating a very large ballistic wrapped cylinder in the trunk. A cylinder which could survive crashes and would not explode.
Do you know how long it took manufacturers to develop a hydrogen fueled bus from an LPG fueled bus? Months. Literally months. Hydrogen’s problem has always been storage and nothing else. All that Quantron had to do was solve the storage problem. Which is increasingly a solved problem itself; see the Toyota Mirai. They have a tank that stands up to the worst condition crash tests already.
The issue with hydrogen is that we can’t store it in liquid form, only pressurized gaseous form. Why? Because keeping hydrogen liquid requires true cryogenic temperatures. You have to keep it below 33K even while you’re pumping it. Otherwise, you get an exothermic reaction. Otherwise known as ‘big fucking boom.’ And the amount of pressure in hydrogen tanks directly correlates to their capacity. Higher pressure means more hydrogen storage. So a Type IV tank in this application has to handle 700 bar or 10,000psi rupture strength and will have a normal working pressure of 5,000psi. Contrast with the highest pressure GM DI systems where fuel is run at a mere 2,250psi. A Type V composite tank can get to 1,000 bars. They started testing those in 2014.
Anyone doubting their 18 month timeline is, frankly, just plain wrong. Hydrogen conversion – particularly in applications that have existing LPG and CNG implementations – is trivial. And the technology is far further developed than any of you seem to realize. There have been hydrogen fueled vehicles on the roads for years upon years now. Years of incremental improvements have continually marched forward with no fanfare. There is no cult of hydrogen, just a lot of companies getting the hard work done.
You can, at this very moment, order all the parts you need to convert a bus to hydrogen from a number of companies. These aren’t magical space-elevator shit. AC Transit in California ran a study using diesel, BEV, and FCEV (hydrogen-generator) buses over 2H20. Their FCEBs logged 112,233 miles versus the BEVs at 64,648. The diesel fleet was the most reliable at 94% availability, the BEVs were barely above half useful at 57% availability, but the FCEBs? 85% availability – despite being over 2 years old already.
Oh did I neglect to mention they were 2017-2018 FCEBs? Uh-huh. Like I said: people have been quietly doing the work a long time. New Flyer has the Xcelsior already available as a normal production H2 vehicle. Uses the Ballard FCmove-HD H2 fuel cell driving a Siemens ELFA3 motor system giving over 370 miles of range on typical transit service routes and a 6 to 20 minute refuel (shorter than diesel.)
Iveco expects to launch that hydrogen fuel-cell heavy duty chassis within 2 years. Proterra has quietly spent their time since 2009 delivering over 550 buses, many with H2 fuel-cell APUs. Van Hool has been offering 5 different H2 fuel cell models for a few years now.
Batteries don’t work. If batteries worked as well as the cultists claimed, everyone would be spending all their time and money on NCM battery vehicles. They aren’t. The BEVs largely exist to shut the cultists up; trolleybus (catenary EV systems) and H2 fuel-cell have already proven themselves superior by orders of magnitude in every single metric there is.
So yeah. 18 months to production deliveries? I suspect the only thing keeping them from shipping the H2 heavy duty stuff sooner is supply chain issues.
It’s no secret that cars are a hot commodity right now, and when new models aren’t just sitting around on lots, there isn’t a ton of incentive for automakers and dealerships to spend money on advertising.
Conversely, as the recession settles in and buyers run for the hills, expect to see the ads everywhere. I expect them to start ramping very, very soon. New subcompact SUV sales (one of the hottest segments) is down 24%, compact crossovers taking up 23.8% of the market are down 18%, midsize SUVs are down 12%, and large pickup trucks are down 18%.
That, is fucking huge. Last year saw a 7 year low due to supply issues. Now with supply issues largely resolved but the economy in shambles worldwide, sales across the board are collapsing. Repossessions have also been skyrocketing despite record low unemployment, because those numbers ignore the people working 3 jobs just to make rent. They can’t afford the average new car price of $47k or average used car price still hovering around $29k. Much less with interest rates over 6% and an average monthly payment of $700.
Repos for subprime are over 11%, but repos for prime more than doubled to over 4%. Across the board, repossessions have more than doubled from 2021 to 2022, more than 70% of repos at auction had loans originated in 2020 or 2021, and the number of repossessions continues to increase. Outstanding loans were already at well beyond record levels and only increasing drastically year over year. Even the experts are saying there is an extremely dangerous auto bubble, and it’s starting to pop. The only thing holding it back is that banks are reluctant to dump the cars into a collapsing market because that will just increase their losses. But eventually they’ll be forced to, because storage is running out. Fast.
After all the money and time spent on fixing the supply chain? Manufacturers gotta sell cars. That’s what they exist to do. And advertising is the only way they have to try and increase demand. But all the ad spend in the world isn’t going to help when people can’t afford them.
But hey, if you can hold out a while longer, you might see the return of 0/0/0 financing and below MSRP pricing.
It’s Monday, which means we’re setting down the Torx sockets and getting back into the daily grind. Still, I’d love to know what car stuff you got up to this past weekend.
This weekend was shit.
Authorized a shitload of money at my one mechanic because I hate working on Jeeps without a lift. Particularly brakes. I have a method, especially when bolts are likely to be seized. And I just can’t do it without the car actually flown.
Thursday last week, client had their car towed home, ‘sounds like rod knock.’ Ha ha. Like I’m ever that fucking lucky. Got the photos Saturday. Fully magnafluxed and salted cast iron block, next to zero machining, and somehow the fucking lifter gallery fractured. No, not the lifter bore; big goddamn chunk sheared from bore to bore, seized the intake lifter (fully closed thank fuck,) but completely destroyed all four lifters. And of course the block is scrap.
Got nothing but lies and the runaround from the local Saab “specialists” about even diagnosing the A/C and transmission. So now I’m having to try shops two hours away. (I have to play extra nice with EPA, so no refrigerant recovery, no touchy.) It’s not even that fucking big an ask. Either you can diagnose and decide if you’re up for fixing it, or you can’t. That’s all that was asked. One of them outright lied to my face, which means they’re for sure ripping off customers by lying about what cars actually need, too.
And of course, retail fucking sucks. Two stores said they had the guide pins I need (M12x1.5) since my set is only M14+ and inventory turned out to be incorrect at both stores. But hey, I finally bought a cordless impact gun and ratchet to supplement my air tools. Yay, right?
Nope. Charger worked once and then got murdered by the defective ratchet battery.
” The diesel fleet was the most reliable at 94% availability, the BEVs were barely above half useful at 57% availability, but the FCEBs? 85% availability – despite being over 2 years old already.”
That’s because they were using crappy Chinese-made BYD busses
I’ve read other studies that tell a different story. Studies that involve the Toronto Transit Commission and their BEV bus test fleet. And the availability of their BEV bus fleet is a lot better than 57% for 2/3 electric bus models they were/are testing. And the 1 one model that wasn’t? Yeah, that was a POS BYD bus. Here is a summary of the report:
And here is the actual 100+ page report:
See page 19 for fleet availability
In terms of availability, the Canadian-Made New Flyer and US-Made Proterra had an availability rate of over 80% by the end of the study period. The Chinese-made BYD bus had much worse service availability.
So the real issue is the people in California need to buy some higher quality Canadian or American made buses… and take a pass on BYD’s Chinese-made crap.
And hydrogen? Yeah TTC tried that in the past and it was found to be expensive-to-operate CRAP.
They have exactly zero hydrogen buses now… but they have a 60 BEV bus test fleet and are planning on ordering more.
And those hydrogen buses they’re using in California might be more reliable than the BYD garbage buses… but that’s not saying much. It would be a different story if they got some buses from Proterra, New Flyer or Novabus (which is the Canadian reincarnation of the old GM Diesel Bus operation after GM sold off that business).
As a matter of fact, 2023 is the last year they plan on ordering any more diesel-powered buses. From 2024 and on, all orders will be battery-electric buses… and exactly ZERO hydrogen buses.
And what is also interesting is on 30 of the buses in the test fleet, they are testing overhead charging rails… enabling them to be charged on the fly or as they come into bus stations.
Great, 900 miles on a tank (or tanks) of a fuel you cannot get. Hydrogen has such a long way to go, it isn’t funny. Still, I am happy to see development in propulsion outside of pure EVs, as it will take a combination of tech to meaningfully cut emissions long-term.
As for vehicle-related tomfoolery, I spent more time this weekend getting acquainted with the oil-injected 2-stroke Mercury on my in-laws’ boat. Darn oil level float switch was on the fritz, and had to get creative. Once that was sorted, she got up and down the Mississippi just fine.
It’s a long tunnel, but there is light at the end. As opposed to the current lithium whatever batteries, they are a dead end for 18-wheelers. 40 minutes of charging for 300miles is a non-starter for a long haul truck. Not to mention these trucks can’t afford to gain thousands of pounds of battery weight.
The likelihood is large that engineered fuels will be found superior in the market to battery only vehicles for long haul. This is about what I expected. Now we just need to flesh out the renewable hydrogen supply with large static baseload iron/nickel batteries on our solar and wind farms. Then we can pipe it to recharge stations like natural gas. Sorted.
Put the turbo 4 in the Crosstrek, cowards
Give us a Crosstrek WRX you cowards. I’d buy one in a second. I think the Crosstrek is a good looking, useful little car but it’s let down by its engines, transmissions, and options. Forcing you to get the CVT with the bigger engine is ridiculous, although to be honest I’ve driven a manual one and the transmission in that example was really lackluster. The one I drove was rubbery, the clutch was heavy and had no feel whatsoever, and I found the reverse lockout to be fussy.
I’ve become a halfway decent manual driver given my circumstances of living in the city and only knowing 1 person with a manual car within 4 hours of me, but man…that base Crosstrek with the stick was a chore to drive between the anemic engine and the lousy transmission feel (An aside: I’m assuming the manual they offer is different from the WRX’s, right?). I felt worse about my skills after driving it for a few hours, but maybe it was for the best because I decided to seek out more manual wheel time as a result.
SO…just chuck the powertrain from the WRX in there. Problem solved. An attractive and useful but underwhelming to drive car becomes an amazing one. I know they’ll never do it because Subaru has given up on enthusiasts, but I think it would sell. I’d buy one in a second and suck up having a manual in the city to have a car that’s that fun and functional.
In regards to car stuff this weekend…just the usual. I got some spirited driving in on Saturday and washed my car. I don’t really have the time/motivation to hand wash it all the time so I’ve taken to going to a local do it yourself place that has the automatic laser washers as an option. I’ve read that drive through washes wreak havoc on your paint, so I try to avoid them.
The laser ones don’t touch your car in any capacity and do an *okay* job. I usually have to follow it up with a microfiber cloth to get out all the stubborn stuff, but that’s fine with me. For $16 I’ll take it. I usually vacuum my interior while I’m there too, and there are always enthusiasts kicking around with cool rides who I talk to when I’m feeling social.
It’s become a go-to Saturday activity for me…spirited drive then a wash. I’m an introvert who works in a field where I have to interact with people all week, so my alone time is sacred and very zen…not to mention I had to give up drinking in 2020 because I’d become a raging alcoholic….and unfortunately when you do that you need to get creative with your free time to avoid the temptation to lapse back into your old habits. In a way becoming an enthusiast has been a godsend for me in that regard. When in doubt, take the car out!
the 2011 WRX I had didn’t have a great stick shift either. A bit rubbery, though supposedly a short throw shifter goes a long way on them.
From my memory, so might need to be checked for accuracy: all Subaru manuals that aren’t the STI are the same (start with TY75 on the sticker on the side of transmission, STI starts with TY85). They added a 6th gear around 2010 to the TY75 and made them cable shifters rather than rods, which made the feel worse.
Personal opinion from my own experience: It’s an awful transmission and I would never own one again. The TY85 is stronger but still not great to shift.
Washed and waxed the new Miata. Wouldn’t think it would be a difficult job, but all that stooping and squatting kinda hurts after the third or fourth panel.
Ended up sitting on the wet concrete and scooting around on my butt for most of it
My dogs scoot on their butts sometimes, too. Maybe you should see a vet. Seriously, though, nice car. I love the latest Miata. It looks like they just stretched the sheet metal as tightly over the structure as possible, with absolutely nothing extra added. Enjoy this great driving weather!
Get yourself a mechanics creeper and install a cupholder for your beer.
Awesome, congratulations! At least with Miatas, there’s not all that much to wash! I love how everything on my NA is reasonably-sized, and not too heavy. It makes everything so much easier than it would be if I were dealing with a great big truck or something. Although with a truck, I might not have to put it up on stands whenever I needed to work on the greasy side… hmm.
I’ve always said hydrogen was a better vehicle storage mechanism than batteries. It doesn’t make sense to me that anybody could think that (x)1000 rechargeable AA batteries in a case under the floorboards is the best way to do things. And with the issues getting materials for batteries (like lithium) cropping up, hydrogen seems to be a better long term solution. (Unless the fuel cell has the same manufacturing issues.)
Whether or not I’m proven right before I die remains to be seen.
Believe you are correct. Will I live long enough? Yes.
As soon as governments, people, and manufacturers get the true taste and profits of/from electrics maybe progress may be made with hydrogen.
While I’m spouting beliefs, Elon was pretty close to correct for CA, but not the world. I could have been dead already, but am hanging on for another few years. I believe I will be around when a dispensed fuel can be turned into propulsion while meeting all requirements is available, in about 10 years or less. BEV is not the way as proven by the Bolt and all BEV in their own ways.
Maybe. I’d invite you to head over to your local H2 refueling facility and watch the folks fighting with the frozen fillers. It’s a big issue. H2 is a pretty annoying gas to handle which is why a lot of rockets are going to Methane (See: the currently unlaunched SLS for why it’s an issue). I’m betting on the batteries personally.
Hydrogen gas has much worse energy density than batteries. Fuel cells require batteries anyway as the hydrogen powerplant just generates electricity for the electric motors.
Actually, the ~4,600 cylindrical cells (96 in series, 48 in parallel) was a brilliant solution. Think of them as extra sectors on a disk or redundant bits in a flash memory. If a single cell fails, you lose 1/4600 of the total range and 1/48 of the maximum power. The bond wires connecting the cell to the PCB act as a fuse, so a short circuit in the cell would immediately be isolated. This fault tolerance means you don’t need to make the pack repairable, so it can be welded and glued together. The cooling tubes wrap around the sides of the cylinders, so no point in the cell is more than 2cm from coolant.
Other automakers used 96 pouches in series, 2 in parallel. If one fails, you lose half the max power — so it must be replaceable. This means bolted connectors instead of welds, springs instead of glue — heavier, more prone to corrosion. Heat goes out the side of the pouch, to an Al cooling fin, down to the floor of the pack — ~10cm from points in the pouch to coolant. The pouches expand and contract – so how do you get good physical contact for cooling?
It depends. Hydrogen scales down poorly but scales up well. The overhead from the fuel cell stays static and the overhead from the tank grows slower than tank contents mass (square-cubed law). So for a passenger car a battery is simpler and lighter (and has more room to improve with tech). For something the size of a semi that needs a lot of range, hydrogen is smaller and lighter. Batteries are also a lot more efficient and a lot easier to fill.
There are 3 major problems with hydrogen as a transport fuel:
1. The only way to make it economically is via reformulating natural gas into hydrogen so it it emits more than just burning natural gas. https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2021/08/touted-clean-blue-hydrogen-may-be-worse-gas-or-coal
2: Hydrogen is very hard to work with. It is stored at very high pressure and hydrogen embrittles many metals it comes into contact with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_embrittlement
3. It requires a completely new infrastructure. Electricity and gasoline are already commonly available everywhere. The electrical grid will need upgrades but all the basics are already there. For that matter if you have an battery EV, you have a way to fill up your “tank” at home.
This. Hydrogen is mostly pushed by the fossil fuel industry as a last ditch effort to have a product they can sell in their losing battle against BEVs. If they can get companies and buyers convinced to produce hydrogen vehicles, they can use their legacy fossil fuels to create the hydrogen, and keep on doing what they’ve been doing — disguising their polluting behind a mask of “clean” energy hydrogen.
The assumption that BEVs will replace all ICE vehicles is shortsighted, in my opinion, given the current constraints on lithium production, battery technology and lack of a viable infrastructure that aligns with current consumer needs. So unless someone can magically unlock a lithium supply without blowing up the planet, I fail to see how BEVs will ever scale to meet production demands. It would be foolish not to explore hydrogen, syn fuels, etc. until we figure out what the future of propulsion will look like. By the way, hydrogen can be made from a number of different sources that doesn’t rely on fossil fuel; electrolysis, direct solar water splitting and biological processes all produce hydrogen.
4. It’s very leak-prone, being the tiniest molecule. It just loves to build up somewhere and then ignite from a stray static discharge.
5. H2 flames are nearly invisible and mainly emit in UV.
6. It takes more energy to split water into H2 and O2 than you get back
7. Compressing the H2 so it is useable takes another huge amount of energy
8. Even when compressed, it is still a lower energy density fuel than gasoline or diesel.
9. (This one is personal) Hydrogen can’t decide if it should be in Group 1 or Group 17
Subaru should just bring over the Levorg already
This afternoon, after work, will be diagnosing lean fuel trim DTC’s that my Acadia started throwing on the weekend (while towing at night, with the family, to add drama). Likely a bad MAP or MAF. Fingers crossed, as I’ll be trading it in this fall.
So will hydrogen will become the diesel of old: available at relatively few stations along commercial routes serving the trucking industry, eventually spilling over to cars as infrastructure grows?
I want mobile hydrogen fuel cell quick charging for my EV one day. Deliver me that 350kW juice…in the parking lot of the restaurant I happen to be enjoying.
Well, hydrogen could take off as a viable fuel for trucks, but I predict it would come to a screeching halt the first time one of these driving bombs gets into a crash and the deflagration kills everyone in a small town. These 116 kg hydrogen tank trucks blowing up would be terrible enough, I can’t imagine what one of the tankers supplying a hydrogen refilling station exploding would do..
I think they might reach the 1957 nuclear-powered Ford Nucleon levels of success 🙂
The power-paste method of hydrogen storage seems like the real winner to me. It’s nearing the end of its pilot phase, and it seems to have been generally successful.
It’s essentially magnesium hydroxide and silly putty…add water and get a crap-load of H2 out on demand. The leftover goo can be recycled to make more power paste.
Of course, it doesn’t solve sourcing the hydrogen in the first place, but in terms of transport, I think it beats tanks.
“Power Paste”? Isn’t that a brand of running nutrition gel?
That is pretty interesting. I was just reading about solid state hydrogen in Pop Mech a couple of months ago. Plasma Kinetics has a proposal that works like a cassette where the hydrogen is stored in a solid state on a light-activated film. They run the film past a laser, and it releases the hydrogen. A lot of cool ideas out there…If only they could produce it in a more sustainable way..
Which really demonstrates that you know absolutely nothing about hydrogen or highly explosive fuels. They get in accidents – often very bad ones – on a daily basis. Thousands of them. Going back years.
What the fuck do you think the “C” in CNG stands for? Those are highly explosive tanks, in literally tens of thousands of buses, and huge chunks of UPS and FedEx’s fleets. And statistics says: they get in accidents, regularly. Buses get in accidents and catch fire. These things happen every single day and you have never heard of a bus taking out a city block or a UPS van exploding and killing bystanders.
Know why they DON’T blow up? Because the people designing this stuff aren’t nearly as stupid as you think they are, and they’re most certainly orders of magnitude smarter than you. There’s numerous safety measures to ensure tanks don’t get punctured or rupture in the first place, and even more safety features to ensure in the event of a catastrophic rupture the fire is controlled.
I definitely don’t know everything about hydrogen, but I sure know something, which is more than nothing.
For instance I know that CNG doesn’t permeate metals and doesn’t cause embrittlement, but hydrogen does. And now you know it too, so you’re welcome! 🙂
Those tanks are pretty sturdy. They have to be, to hold the pressure. So odds of them totally bursting open in a wreck are pretty low.
The bad news is, hydrogen goes boom if you look at it funny. Huge range between LEL and UEL and very low ignition energy. Unlike natural gas, which only ignites in a narrow range of mixes with air.
The good news is, unlike natural gas it doesn’t tend to stick around and pool up if there’s a leak. Most of it’s going straight up, so no problem unless there a roof to capture it. Could be a problem for tunnels are are higher in the middle, like the Eisenhower on I-70.