Electrolyte Hydrogen Fuel Cell e-Bike to Debut

Next week German e-bike maker Electrolyte will be showcasing their first hydrogen fuel cell bicycle. According to the manufacturer this e-bike can travel 300 miles before refueling.

BikeBiz.com states, “German electric bike maker Electrolyte is to debut what it says is the world’s first cartridge hydrogen fuel cell electric bike at Eurobike next week.

“Having formed a partnership with one of the companies at the forefront of hydrogen fuel cell production, Electrolyte have come up with the Vorradler S3 FC, which the firm claims is capable of 300 power assisted miles.”

Now, I’ve talked about hydrogen fuel cell ebikes many times before. But what makes this hydrogen ebike special is the range which is on par with many gasoline powered cars today.


Stanford + AAA Battery + Water = Hydrogen

Researchers at Stanford University have discovered a way to produce hydrogen using an AAA battery to split water. The device uses electrodes composed of nickel and iron, which are both abundant and cheap.

According to Stanford, “Now scientists at Stanford University have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis.  The battery sends an electric current through two electrodes that split liquid water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive and abundant nickel and iron …

“…The discovery was made by Stanford graduate student Ming Gong, co-lead author of the study. ‘Ming discovered a nickel-metal/nickel-oxide structure that turns out to be more active than pure nickel metal or pure nickel oxide alone,’ Dai said.  ‘This novel structure favors hydrogen electrocatalysis, but we still don’t fully understand the science behind it.’”

It’s true that sometimes happy accidents in science aren’t fully understood at first. Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming in 1928 discovered penicillin by happy accident. If this nickel and iron device can be scaled up to industrial levels, producing cheap and abundant hydrogen, then this will go down in history as a turning point in the emerging global hydrogen economy.


BMW May Have Fuel Cell Vehicle by 2016

There is a rumor floating around now that BMW may have a commercial fuel cell vehicle for sale as early as 2016. In addition, BMW will have Toyota to thank for its fuel cell technology.

According to Ecomento.com, “Speaking to Craig Scott, Toyota’s National Manager Advanced Technology Vehicles, the Australia magazine learnt that BMW will almost certainly launch a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in the foreseeable future, with the i3 cited as the most likely vessel.

“’We have a joint partnership with BMW, so we know … where they’re headed,’ says Scott. It’s a technology development program where we are supposed to be jointly developing a fuel cell powertrain.

“’I’ll just say that BMW had a lot of choices – there are a lot of people who make fuel cells – and we’re very happy they chose us. They’ve never made a fuel cell before, so this is going to be a good experience, I think, for them and probably for us.’”

Originally, BMW was planning to bring a fuel cell vehicle to market by 2020, but because of competition of the other major automakers who all have FCVs lined up before then, BMW most likely decided to move their timeframe for rollout up a few years.

Toyota’s Bob Carter Calls Hydrogen Cars the NEXT BIG THING

At the recent J. P. Morgan Auto Conference in New York City, Toyota’s Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations gave a speech highlighting the future of hydrogen cars.

Carter calls hydrogen fuel cell cars the NEXT BIG THING in automotive technology. And Toyota’s newest fuel cell vehicle, speculated to be called the Mirai, will go on sale in California the summer of 2015.

The FCV has a range of around 300 miles and can be refueled in about 3 minutes. Toyota is also working with First Element Energy and Linde on the operation and maintenance of hydrogen fueling stations in California.

What about the cost of hydrogen fuel?

Bob Carter says, “Well, according to Department of Energy estimates, the cost of hydrogen fuel will initially be higher than gasoline…but longer term…it will come down and be more economical.

“Based on those numbers, we estimate that to fill our fuel cell sedan to go 300 miles initially will cost about $50 and then go down to about $30.”

The numbers are based on the fuel tank holding 5kg of compressed hydrogen gas and the FCV averaging around 60 miles per gallon equivalent.


28copper15hydride May Solve Hydrogen Storage Issue

Hydrogen storage is one of the biggest issues facing the rollout of fuel cell vehicles. And scientists in Australia and Taiwan may have found the answer in a new molecule named 28copper15hydride.

According to Ansto, “Scientists say that the newly-discovered ‘28copper15hydride’ puts us on a path to better understanding hydrogen, and potentially even how to get it in and out of a fuel system, and is stored in a manner which is stable and safe – overcoming Hindenburg-type risks.

“’28copper15hydride’ is certainly not a name that would be developed by a marketing guru, but while it would send many running for an encyclopaedia (or let’s face it, Wikipedia), it has some of the world’s most accomplished chemists intrigued …

“…The discovery puts us one step further along a path to developing distribution infrastructure – one of four obstacles to hydrogen fuel-cell technology as a viable power source for low-carbon motor vehicles, as cited by Professor Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate and former Secretary of Energy in the United States.”

The new molecule (pictured at top) combines copper with a borohydride (hydrogen + boron) with double the hydrogen atoms as was expected before the experiment began. The new molecule is in a solid state which will make it much easier to transport and distribute than highly pressurized hydrogen gas.


Japan Offering $20,000 Subsidies for FCVs

As both Toyota and Honda are readying to rollout fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in 2015, the Japanese government has announced rebates of $20,000 USD per car. So, for instance, a Toyota Mirai with a sticker price of $68,000 USD would actually cost around $48,000 USD in Japan.

According to the Herald Sun, “Japan is readying subsidies to help Toyota Motor Corp and key suppliers take the lead in hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles that could top $US400 million over the next several years if the most bullish projections for the technology play out.

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned consumer rebates of at least $US20,000 per vehicle would be the largest government support plan for hydrogen vehicles yet, raising the stakes for a commercially unproven technology with roots in the space race that Toyota and others see headed for the mainstream over the coming decades …

“…Besides Toyota, Honda also plans to start selling its fuel cell vehicle in 2015. Automakers including General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have been working on fuel cells for years and Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) and Hyundai Motor Co lease fuel cell cars in the United States, but so far there are no plans for sales in Japan. That means the subsidy will be offered exclusively to Toyota and Honda for the time being.”

For several years now, early adopters have been clamoring for a commercial hydrogen car selling at or under the $50,000 mark. With the temporary subsidies in place, Japanese consumers will have their wishes granted in as little as 8 months from now.

Austrian Company Gets Onboard with Hydrogen Production

The largest oil and gas company in Austria, OMV has stated recently that they intend to pursue hydrogen as their future fuel of choice.

According to Shanghaidaily, “OMV stated in a press release that hydrogen is the company’s ‘first choice in the fuel technology of the future,’ and that given the requisite infrastructure for its use is already in place in Austria, it is set to become an important energy alternative for car manufacturers and motorists in the coming years.

“CEO Gerhard Roiss said the continued research efforts into the technology are also aimed at addressing climate change issues, and in providing a viable solution in order to be able to meet European Union climate targets.”

OMV has stated that they will use the existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure in order to transport hydrogen. They have also stated that they intend to explore the creation of hydrogen gas via electrolysis of water.


Mira IBM Supercomputer Used for Artificial Photosynthesis

Last week I talked about Mirai, Toyota’s new production fuel cell car. So today I want to talk about Mira, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers that is helping to create hydrogen fuel.

Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) is using Mira, a 10-petaflop IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer to study artificial photosynthesis. The idea is to study how to use cheap, abundant and non-toxic materials in a photoelectrochemical (PEC) cell to split water into hydrogen and oxygen with the focus of producing massive amounts of H2 fuel.

According to Argonne, “To help accelerate research and development efforts, Giulia Galli, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering, is leading a project at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science user facility, to advance the understanding of PEC water splitting.

“Galli is carrying out large-scale simulations on Mira, the ALCF’s 10-petaflops IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer, to model the physical and chemical processes occurring at the interface between solid photoelectrodes and electrolytes (water with dissolved salts, acids, and bases) at the microscopic scale. Her research team, in collaboration with Professor Francois Gygi at the University of California, Davis, is using a set of simulation programs as a computational spectroscopy tool to probe and predict vibrational and electronic properties at the solid-liquid interface.”

Mira is a heavyweight when it comes to supercomputers. In 2012, Mira was the 3rd fastest supercomputer in the world able to conduct 10 quadrillion floating-point operations per second. With this kind of raw computing power at their disposal ALCF is likely, at some point, to crack the code for producing cheap and abundant hydrogen for fueling cars.


Toyota Mirai – What’s In a Name?

While it is still just rumor and speculation, the Toyota Mirai may be the name of the company’s first production fuel cell car available to the buying public. Mirai means “future” and is a leap forward from Prius which means “to go before.”

According to Bloomberg, “Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to name its $69,000 fuel-cell car Mirai, the Japanese word for future, a person familiar with the matter said.

“The person asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public. The name of the car will be unveiled closer to when it goes on sale, said Danny Chen, a company spokesman, declining to comment on Mirai, which has been trademarked by Toyota in the U.S.”

Well if they call the wind Mariah then my vote is that Toyota stays with the name Mirai at least for the foreseeable future. Does anyone else think the leaking of this name may just be a trial balloon?

Oh, what a feeling. 未来


Japan Says All Ministries Must Use Fuel Cell Vehicles

On Friday, 07/25/2014, in Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga had stated that all official vehicles at the various ministries must be fuel cell vehicles. The government is also discussing subsidies to help promote the introduction of commercial fuel cell vehicles in that country.

According to 4-Traders, “Toyota Motor Corp. is expected to start selling a sedan-style FCV in Japan by March 2015, likely becoming the world’s first automaker to begin commercial sales. Other Japanese carmakers such as Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are also developing such vehicles.

“Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a separate press conference that the year 2015 will ‘mark the first year of FCVs,’ adding that his ministry is willing to introduce them.”

Government support of FCVs is essential in growing the hydrogen car economy. The Japanese government is taking an important step in making sure that the rollout of commercial fuel cell vehicles is a success in that country.


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