Wolfgang Ziebart, the man who oversaw the I-Pace's development, has dismissed hydrogen as a fuel for cars due to poor well-to-wheel energy efficiency
Matt Burt
16 November 2016

Jaguar Land Rover’s technical design director Wolfgang Ziebart has dismissed hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles as a “complete nonsense”.

Ziebart, who was appointed by JLR boss Ralf Speth in 2013 to orchestrate the development of the company’s I-Pace battery electric vehicle, said hydrogen did not make sense as a fuel for electric vehicles due to its inherent poor efficiency.   

“The well to wheel relationship from the energy source to the vehicle is a disaster,” he said. 

The process of producing the hydrogen and then compressing and cooling it for use in a fuel cell vehicle uses a great deal of energy.

“You end up with a well to wheel efficiency of roughly 30% for hydrogen, as opposed to more or less well to wheel 70% efficiency for a battery electric vehicle,” explained Ziebart. “So the efficiency of putting the electric energy directly into a battery is about twice as high as the efficiency of producing and using hydrogen.

Read more about the Jaguar I-Pace battery electric vehicle

“Also, you have to consider the fact that the battery itself has a high efficiency of around 90% or so.” 

“This is the most important argument. The other stuff – for example, the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell refuelling not being developed yet – that can be overcome. If there was a strong reason to have a hydrogen infrastructure, then I think it would be set up, but with this disastrous well-to-wheel relationship, it doesn’t just make sense.”

Ziebart conceded that hydrogen production “makes some sense if you just want to get rid of energy”. This is particularly applicable in Germany, which often ends up with a power surplus in the electricity grid because it has a lot of coal power plants that cannot be easily adjusted to control the energy production.

“In Germany we have a so-called ‘power to gas’ (P2G) initiative as the German electric grid is very inflexible,” he said. The P2G initiative converts excess electrical energy into hydrogen gas. 

A recent study by scientists at Stanford University and the Technical University of Munich, published in the journal Energy, concluded that battery electric vehicles offer a more affordable way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions than cars powered by hydrogen. The study cited lower costs and higher energy efficiency as the key reasons why it recommended BEVs. 

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Comments
26

16 November 2016

At last the penny drops! Over to you 5Wheels and BrowserSheepDog

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

16 November 2016

He is more expert than I would ever hope to be. My point however is still an environmental one - hydrogen does not need to power batteries my point is to get rid of this batteries altogether because in 20 years time the world will have a pollution issue they just didnt care about or wish to think about. I still prefer the option without batteries. Hence driving petrol powered cars and not diesel because i never bought into the diesel being cleaner etc.

what's life without imagination

16 November 2016

Strange i find myself agreeing with xxxx for once. But I disagree with 5wheels over his not buying into the diesel is good popularity. The biggest benefit of diesel is that you use oil far more efficiently by turning it into diesel and get far more mpg. Hence why I believe it is far better for the environment.

16 November 2016

Yes, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are about twice as efficient as electric vehicles driven by hydrogen and fuel cells (FCEVs). Heating is a large problem for electric cars. Not so for FCEVs. You should factor in that in the comparison.
Batteries are expensive, big and clumsy. And will remain so for the foreseeable future. Fuel cell cars can be refuelled in a few minutes, battery cars need much longer times. Fuel cells and hydrogen tanks weigh less than batteries and are superior for applications like aircraft. So one should not be so categorical.

Jonas is a private person interested in fossil free vehicles

17 November 2016

Because most electricity used to charge batteries comes from fossil fuel power plants, which are about 1/2 as efficient as turning methane into hydrogen via steam methane reformation .

You people! Look at ALL variables!

16 November 2016

Unlike an electric plug in vehicle, where the electricity is made from another power source, such as a power plant,
in a fuel cell vehicle, the fuel cell itself is the power plant.

I wonder if in these comparisons this was fully considered. For example, are all these electric vehicles expected to simply plug into the existing power grid with no additional capacity being added to it? How much cost would be involved in adding enough capacity to the existing power grid in order to accommodate everyone plugging into it? In addition to more power, would new transmission capacity also need to be added?

Also, a fuel cell vehicle, as a power plant, can be easily used as a source of needed power to power other things, during such times as an emergency or when there is a power grid failure.

While the hydrogen itself must be made, it can be made at the filling station, and therefore does not needed to move long distances from a central point of production, such as along power lines, avoiding the substantial associated costs of providing and supporting those power lines, as well as loss of energy during transmission from production to point of use.

The benefits of de-centralizing power production, in terms of greater security and availability, should also be considered as advantages of fuel cells.

16 November 2016
iamgary wrote:

Unlike an electric plug in vehicle, where the electricity is made from another power source, such as a power plant,
in a fuel cell vehicle, the fuel cell itself is the power plant.

I wonder if in these comparisons this was fully considered. For example, are all these electric vehicles expected to simply plug into the existing power grid with no additional capacity being added to it? How much cost would be involved in adding enough capacity to the existing power grid in order to accommodate everyone plugging into it? In addition to more power, would new transmission capacity also need to be added?

Also, a fuel cell vehicle, as a power plant, can be easily used as a source of needed power to power other things, during such times as an emergency or when there is a power grid failure.

While the hydrogen itself must be made, it can be made at the filling station, and therefore does not needed to move long distances from a central point of production, such as along power lines, avoiding the substantial associated costs of providing and supporting those power lines, as well as loss of energy during transmission from production to point of use.

The benefits of de-centralizing power production, in terms of greater security and availability, should also be considered as advantages of fuel cells.

1. "in a fuel cell vehicle, the fuel cell itself is the power plant." makes no sense, you still need to go to a non-existant hydrogen station to fill up
2 "existing power grid with no additional capacity" Norway's head of electric power said it's not been a problem and non will it because people mainly fill-up at night. He knows more than you
3 "would new transmission capacity" no-one with a Leaf has a problem at the moment, you could just un plug a toaster.
4. "emengcy ..is a power grid failure." can't remember the last time power was out for more than 10 minutes
5. "While the hydrogen itself must be made, it can be made at the filling station, and therefore does not needed to move long distances" - that's like saying build a oil field at every petrol station
6. It's over the Hydrogen nightmare was never going to work

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

17 November 2016

A coal or gas power plant is only around 40% efficient in generating electricity. Space but steam methane reformation to make hydrogen is around 70% efficient. This is a huge difference that is not being accounted for and I am annoyed by this total distortion of fact!

16 November 2016

For those who do not have a garage for their vehicle and park on the street instead, the issue of charging vs. filling becomes more of an issue.

The ability to fill a fuel cell vehicle in approximately the same amount of time as a gasoline car, about five minutes, vs. about 20 minutes for a fast charge electric vehicle, is a very big difference.

Also, when it comes to the profitability of the electric charging station vs. the hydrogen filling station, the need of the vehicle to remain on the property in the charging space for 4 times longer than it would at a fuel cell filling station, means that this space is not available to service other customers during that time.

I wonder if these considerations have been factored in as well?

16 November 2016
iamgary wrote:

For those who do not have a garage for their vehicle and park on the street instead, the issue of charging vs. filling becomes more of an issue.

The ability to fill a fuel cell vehicle in approximately the same amount of time as a gasoline car, about five minutes, vs. about 20 minutes for a fast charge electric vehicle, is a very big difference.

Also, when it comes to the profitability of the electric charging station vs. the hydrogen filling station, the need of the vehicle to remain on the property in the charging space for 4 times longer than it would at a fuel cell filling station, means that this space is not available to service other customers during that time.

I wonder if these considerations have been factored in as well?

1. "do not have a garage for their vehicle " just a drive will do, most people park their cars on a drive still
2. "five minutes, vs. about 20 minutes for a fast charge electric vehicle" -- most existing EV owners plug-in and go in doors, takes around 10 seconds, wake up in the morning unplug, 10 seconds and get enough power overnight to drive 200+ miles if they have a rapid charger.
3."electric charging station " -- will hardly be used when electric cars are doing 200 miles + on a home charge.

Basically electric cars won't suit everyone but they cover 80% of personal use no problems. £60,000 Hydrogen cars with no refuelling stations, 3 times the running costs etc suit no-one

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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