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Fuel cell as emergency charger for PHeV?

Discussion in 'EV (Electric Vehicle) Discussion' started by R-P, Jan 6, 2012.

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  1. R-P

    R-P Member

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    Fuel cell as emergency charger for plug-in EV?

    In theory, I should be able to work this out (studied chemical technology and electrical engineering long, looooong ago :D), but to be honest, I'm too lazy do spend 10's of hours on the Net to get all data to do the calculating.

    So does anyone know if this been discussed before or if it's viable? How much range (or better energy) would a one gallon canister give you?

    I did obviously do some searching, but haven't found too much relevant data to make this an easy DIY job, nor enough data to do a quick&dirty calculation if it's a possibility.


    Edit: corrected the "PHEV" in the title to "plug-in EV"
  2. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Senior Member

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    This might be a good starting point:
    [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density]Energy density - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
    [​IMG]
    looks gasoline wins even with engine efficiency <35%

    If fuel cells weren't that expensive, 5kW fuel cell + liquid natural gas and 5kW battery would be a ticket
  3. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    Fuel cells are insanely expensive and they have a relatively short lifetime. Plus, carrying compressed H2 or natural gas around in your car "just in case" adds a whole new level of complexity.

    You're much better off getting a car with more range than you need, and/or paying for a tow when/if you run out of juice.
  4. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    A gasoline engine is probably the best bet for backup power, whether it is the ICE under the hood (PHEV) or a portable generator in the back/on a trailer (EV).
  5. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    If it's a PHV, why would you need an emergency charger?

    Fuel cells might have the potential for emergency, or main, electrical power supply to a building where they can be sheltered. They don't have to run on hydrogen gas. Just about any hydrogen carrier will work, like the natural gas mentioned and alcohols.

    Their price and the availability of generators and batteries will likely limit where they will be practical. That said, the fuel cell would likely have a 'greener' life cycle.
  6. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    This is the key point. PHVs already have a backup power source.

    If we switch the topic to EVs, then a fuel cell would work, but an ICE is a lot more cost effective.

    Tom
  7. R-P

    R-P Member

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    What my question more or less boils down to is if a fuelcell would be smaller than a small ICE. Obviously the byproduct of the fuelcell has some major advantages over that of the ICE :D.

    I can imagine me doing business runs that can easily be done with the full range Model S, but on rare occasions, the range may not be enough. If you were to have a briefcase-sized generator adding 100miles to your range, than this would definitely be an interesting add-on...

    And as for PHEV, I made a mistake there. I meant to say plug-in EV. Not plug-in hybrid. Chalk it up to English not being my first language, so I though I used an abbreviation correctly without knowing what the letters stood for, my bad.
  8. drinnovation

    drinnovation EREV for EVER!

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    A 5 KW fuel cell, such as
    H-5000 Fuel Cell System

    Which is about the smallest on the market, weights 40lb without any fuel, connecting/voltage conversion.

    The above 5kW is about $22K (university pricing).

    And if 10Kw is 35-40m in a EV, a 5kW FC means you need 6 hours to add your extra desired 100m of range.
  9. R-P

    R-P Member

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    That'll almost do!



    I think you mixed those numbers up somehow.
    5kW will mean it can charge a 5kWh pack in an hour (forgetting charging inefficiencies here) Which means it can seriously help our Prius out: there are people with 4kWh Hymotion or Enginer packs. I think they get couple of dozen miles of pure EV out of those?

    iirc our Prius only has 20kW of pure EV? So 5kW is a lot already, for gliding at 30mph it would probably be more than enough.

    Edit: liquid H2 tank would give you close to 10 minutes per liter (uses 84l/min and liquid H2 is 808 times compressed according to lb/cuft ratio (LH2 vs. environment))
  10. drinnovation

    drinnovation EREV for EVER!

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    I was thinking Leaf (34kw/100miles) or Tesla (the only ones with 100m to add).
    For a Volt (36kw/100 miles) or figuring a PiP is will be in that ball park (10-15 miles for ~4.4kw) you'd have to charge multiple times or charge while driving.

    Normal flatland driving is ~15kw at 55mph so 5kw could not keep up. Maybe gliding at 30 would be doable.
  11. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    No. Maybe half that. Hymotion is a little better, as it can deliver more power than an Enginer.

    A briefcase-sized container of energy that will provide a 100 miles of extra range is called a gas tank. I don't think fuel cell + tank will provide a smaller footprint than a gas tank + generator. Consider this: if 99% of your mileage is EV, then you don't need to feel so bad about that 1% that uses gas.

    Better still would be range-extending battery packs for rent...maybe someday.
  12. hmcgregor

    hmcgregor New Member

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    I would love to see something like the Rav Long Ranger created.

    Rav Long Ranger

    Using either Diesel, Gasoline, CNG, or Fuel Cell.

    What would be really cool, is a rental buisness at the Car Dealers. If you have a long trip to make, you rent a towed range extender for the trip, and bring it back.

    That would make your 100 Mile Leaf or 160 mile Model S good for a 500+ mile/day trip, even if the engine does have to run during "stops" to be able to fully meet the range without plugging in at night. Your engine could be running over night at the hotel getting your battery to full charge to give you that extra 100/160 miles each day.

    At this point it's more practical to rent an entire vehicle instead of just a range extender, but I could see this as being very doable in the future.

    Basically it's a PHEV with the ability to leave the engine behind most of the time.

    -Harry
  13. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    Range extenders tend to be dirty and inefficient. Trailers play havoc with c.d. and therefore efficiency. You would really be much better off to take a car designed for the range you need to drive. Rather than rent a range extending trailer for a Leaf so that the car could make a 500-mile trip, you'd burn far less gas, and you'd burn it much cleaner, by renting a Prius for the trip.

    I know people are thinking: "Wouldn't it be nice if I could buy a Leaf so I'd be driving electric, yet be able to rent something so I could make an occasional road trip in it?" But even if a range-extending trailer were built to the efficiency and emissions standards of a Prius, the trailer itself will cut your mpg way down. The same would be true of a battery-pack trailer. As for building in a gas engine, well, that's what the Volt is. And for long road trips, a Prius burns less gas and does it cleaner.

    If fuel cells were affordable, reliable, and as long-lived as ICEs, then a PHEV using a fuel cell in place of the ICE would be a possibility. But that's an IF that's way in the future and IMHO won't ever happen. An external-combustion engine, such as a steam engine, burning clean fuel, would be a much better solution.

    And for today, your best option is an EV for daily driving, and a rental Prius (or an owned Prius if you already have one and it's not worth selling it when you buy the EV) for longer trips.

    Fuel cells are so far from being practical and affordable, that they're in the realm of fantasy today, and IMHO for a very long time into the future.
  14. drinnovation

    drinnovation EREV for EVER!

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    I agree with Daniel, use the right tool for the trip. If you want an range extender, there is the Volt with one built in. Soon there will be the PiP.

    I posted on the FC because if one is interested in doing research, then its different question. Its not practical, yet, but won't be until people work on it. A trailer would be so inefficient to make it pointless. If you have the room for a 5K or 10K FC in the back of the car or trunk it might be interesting research but not practical.
  15. R-P

    R-P Member

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    Thanks for engaging in the discussion with me. It did put things into perspective. Not impossible, but not (yet) viable.

    Obviously I could charge at the supplier/client site for those long trips, but somehow I feel this is not-done.
  16. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    Why not? Are your clients BP, Total Fina?

    What about charging stations?
  17. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    There have been billions of dollars invested in FC research. It's not impossible that an individual working from a garage will come up with a breakthrough, but it is extremely unlikely.

    Fuel cells are cool, and probably have some applications. But I highly doubt that personal transportation will ever be one of them.
  18. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney EditProfOptInfoCustomUser Title

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    The problem is that for many the annual savings in running costs wouldn't cover much rental. It might work for day trippers, but not so much for road trippers.

    The idea works better overall for ICEVs where a smaller, more efficient vehicle not only reduces running costs but is cheaper to purchase and insure than a larger road-tripper. The big problem is getting people to appreciate that part of the rental charge is offset by saved miles on the owned vehicle.
  19. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    lol. you got half of the way there, then crawled into the anti-phev hole.

    Wouldn't it be nice if you could buy a range extender for the leaf. What if you could remove it, but it fits in the leaf. Say it polutes 5 times more than the prius, but you only use it 10% of the time? That doesn't sound to bad now does it.

    But.... there is a problem, the second you allow this thing into the car, all of a sudden CARB starts looking at you funny. Same leaf, but now its a phev and now you lose your at sticker because the battery warenty isn't 10 years. This is why we won't see them, stupid regulation. What up this that? A removable, sharable, range extending generator is a great idea. The problem is its heavy, so you couldn't do it yourself, and you need to hook up the fuel, emissions, and electrical. Its all straightforward, but you likely would need to go to a garage. In major metro areas it would not be a problem though. The cars would need to be outfitted with emissions equipment, fuel tanks, and connections, but that is straightforward.

    But say you never took the generator out? That is exactly what a phev is. It could even be a 300 mile tesla with a 1/4 liter rotary generator to be used in emergencies. PHEVs when they have the proper ev range and cheap enough generators seem like a way to get around lack of charging infrastructure. Most people would rather buy a little heavier car that does what they want, then have to rent for road trips. And if I'm doing a road trip rental, you can bet my milage will be worse than in a volt.
  20. R-P

    R-P Member

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    Loving this!!! And it's real and someone actually got hold of one!!!

    And it answers my question if engines in hybrids could be smaller: yes they can!



    Charging stations are scarce. And the suppliers would actually also be electronic companies who would probably marvel at me driving an EV :)
    Me not wanting to plug in is just a feeling. Even if it is just a few dimes, I'd feel like I was kind of a beggar. Same goes for the company I work for: they pay me travel-money. So I'd feel very awkward plugging in there when they are already paying me for my travel (not enough to pay for all runningcosts, but enough to cover pure gasoline for my motorcycle or Prius). Therefor I'd want an EV that could do a roundtrip (50 miles), not just one way.
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