Breaking News
Home » Hydrogen Cars » Even If Bankrupt GM is High on Hydrogen Cars

Even If Bankrupt GM is High on Hydrogen Cars

Even if auto giant General Motors goes into bankruptcy they still see their future survival tied to hydrogen cars. GM continues to parade its Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell SUV, which made an appearance in Tonawanda, New York recently.

And on May 15, 2009, GM plans to have a ride and drive day for its Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell in Southern California for members of its Project Driveway team. The problem for hydrogen car makers has always been a lack of supporting fueling stations nationwide.

But, according to Daniel O’Connell, GM’s director of fuel cell commercialization, “… the United States already produces enough hydrogen to run 130 million fuel cell cars each year, and that more than half of that hydrogen is used to remove sulfur from gasoline. If that gasoline is no longer needed, the hydrogen would be available to fuel cars and other machines.”

So, in a nutshell, there is no shortage of hydrogen in the U. S. right now. What we need to do it redirect the H2 from the refineries to the fueling stations. Hopefully GM will be around long enough to see this transition happen.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

Check Also

FEV Puts Fuel Cell Range Extender into Fiat 500

FEV has developed a fuel cell range extender and successfully integrated it in the subcompact …

One comment

  1. I fear that GM is overly focused on pursuing plug-in battery electric vehicles.

    I don’t see the fuel cell Equinox being successful if GM doesn’t find a way to
    make the fuel cell both cheap enough and reliable enough to compete with
    the Honda FCX Clarity. The U.S. automakers don’t seem to be giving up on
    platinum which is likely going to keep their fuel cell stacks in the exceedingly
    expensive category. The Japenese on the other hand seem more than willing
    to pursue carbon nanotubes and possibly other materials.

    Here is the email exchange between me and Ken Brown revealing some problems with hydrogen carriers that are blocking their adoption for
    automotive applications:

    We are aware of hydrnol. Assemblon is using an organic liquid to carry
    hydrogen. Air Products had a similar project 3 years ago but have since
    dropped it. We are not sure why they did it but it was probably because of
    cost and that the temperature to release the hydrogen was too high to be
    practical. I do not know the details of the physical characteristics of
    hydrnol. It is hard to compare without the details but they are obviously
    working on something similar to us.

    Safe Hydrogen worked under a DOE contract from Jan 2004 to Jun 2008 to
    explore the reaction of a magnesium hydride slurry with water and to see how
    such a technology would work in an automotive application. In short, the
    technology works, the gravimetric and volumetric densities are close to the
    DOE’s 2010 goals, and the cost of a kg of hydrogen delivered could be
    $4.50. Unfortunately, the DOE and the auto companies want to wait for a
    technology that will meet the 2015 and later goals and our technology can
    only meet the above cost on a mammoth scale–about 25% of the US auto fuel

    During our work on the DOE project, we found that we could discharge the
    hydrogen from the slurry, not only with a water reaction, but by simply
    heating it up. Also, the depleted slurry after it gave up its hydrogen can
    be recharged. Therefore, we changed the direction of our R&D to building a
    system to discharge and charge the slurry. The advantage is that the
    hydrogen delivered can be at a low enough cost to compete with fossil fuel.
    The chemical reaction is governed by a simple equation: MgH2 + heat = Mg +
    H2. It takes 12 kg of Mg and about 8 kg of mineral oil to carry 1 kg of
    hydrogen. That is about $35 worth of material. The material can be used
    for many cycles (We have cycled a batch of slurry for 50 cycles with no
    degradation and believe that it can be cycled many more times). If we
    assume 100 cycles, than the material costs only $.35 per cycle. When you
    add in labor, amortization of the systems for charge and discharge,
    transportation, and a $1.25 per kg cost of producing H2, the total is about
    $2.30 per kg. If the number of cycles is 1000, the cost drops below $2.00
    per kg. A kg of H2 has the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline.
    Plus you can use today’s liquid fuel infrastructure.

    Problems arise when you place this rechargeable slurry on board an
    automobile that is using a fuel cell. The slurry needs to be heated to 350
    C to get the hydrogen out. The PEM fuel cells run at 80-100C which is not
    hot enough. The only option would be to burn about 1/3 of the hydrogen to
    provide the heat but that ruins the cost advantage against fossil fuel. A
    better idea is to burn the hydrogen in an auto with an internal combustion
    engine which has a lot of waste heat.

    Having a slurry system, a hydrnol, or some other system on board an
    automobile adds a layer of complexity that the auto companies shy away from.
    That is why the have opted for high pressure H2 tanks (except for BMW with

    The use of hydrogen in large scale for transportation is way down the road.
    We are targeting the backup power market and the electricity storage market
    as areas where our slurry will see its first commercial applications. Once
    proven in those markets, we will take another run at the auto market.

    Ken Brown
    Safe Hydrogen, LLC

    —– Original Message —–
    From: “Michael Robinson”
    Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 7:17 PM
    Subject: How does this compare with hydrnol?

    > Assemblon is a Redmond Washington based company that
    > is developing hydrnol, another hydrogen carrier. It
    > is an alternative to Magnesium Hydride Slurry. How
    > do these two hydrogen carriers compare to each other?
    > What is the cost of manufacturing Magnesium Hydride
    > Slurry in terms of electricity and materials? What
    > is the probability of the depleted slurry becoming
    > contaminated? Why is the latest news story you
    > have up 6-7 years old? Have you any idea why the
    > auto manufacturers are still using compressed
    > hydrogen gas or liquefied hydrogen in their fuel
    > cell prototypes even though it boils off, the
    > tanks are horrendously expensive, and it takes
    > an excessive amount of energy to liquefy or compress
    > hydrogen gas?
    > Say you are asked to modify the Toyota Highlander FCV
    > fuel cell vehicle that has a 518 mile range using 10k
    > PSI hydrogen tanks. Could you install a Magnesium
    > Hydride Reformation system in place of the tanks and
    > still manage to achieve the 500 mile range? Would a
    > reformation system be cheaper than a compressed gas
    > system?
    > What will be your first commercial application of
    > slurry?

    I’m impressed with Ken Brown’s response and maybe
    we should all be a little encouraged that there is a possible
    application for slurry in the near term. I’m curious how
    the stationary fuel cell market is going as this sector may
    eventually use technologies that will work on fuel cell cars.
    I wish Ken Brown’s company had more information on hydrnol
    as this would create competition and competition would bring
    either hydrnol or magnesium hydride slurry to the point of being
    useful on cars sooner. If fueling creates an exothermic reaction,,
    I wonder if that heat energy can be stored and used to release
    the hydrogen from the hydrogen carrier later? I believe with
    solid metal hydrides that refueling them is typically an
    exothermic reaction.

Leave a Reply