To ensure maximum energy efficiency, both powertrains have their place, says Riversimple founder

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen-fuelled vehicles should sit alongside one another in the future to ensure maximum energy efficiency, according to one expert.

Hugo Spowers, founder of Riversimple, which hopes to launch its first hydrogen vehicle in 2022, said: “Hydrogen and electricity as two parallel vectors gives us maximum energy efficiency. Some demands are met better by BEVs and some by hydrogen. We need both these technologies; we don’t argue over solar or wind turbines winning the energy race.”

He explained: “Electricity and hydrogen are very complementary. You can make electricity more efficiently from some sources and hydrogen more efficiently from others. For instance, producing electricity from wind is far more efficient than hydrogen. But when there’s excess wind, you can’t store electricity but you can store hydrogen. On the other hand, hydrogen is made more efficiently from biogas than electricity.

“There are pros and cons of both. Hydrogen makes more sense for vehicles with longer range or commercial vehicles, while BEVs make more sense for short-range vehicles. The efficiency advantage of having both is compounding.”

BEVs currently make up 1.4% of the new car market in the UK, whereas hydrogen take-up is negligible. The Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo are the only commercialised hydrogen cars currently available, while just 18 public filling stations are in place.

However, many manufacturers are working on hydrogen-fuelled vehicles in the background, even though electrification is a more immediate priority.

Helen Lees, electric and connected boss at the PSA Group, speaking at the same Auto Futures event, added: “Ultimately, our [vehicle] platforms have been designed for hydrogen in the longer term." She added that consumer perception of hydrogen cars remains a barrier alongside infrastructure, and that PSA believes hydrogen is much better suited to light commercial vehicles.

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Comments
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1 November 2019

Why use an analogy of our not arguing over the use of wind or solar, when they are two entirely complementary means of harvesting energy.

As against BEV and hydrogen being two entirely different means of powering cars, only one of which is likely to be needed in future.

 

1 November 2019
Hughbl wrote:

Why use an analogy of our not arguing over the use of wind or solar, when they are two entirely complementary means of harvesting energy.

As against BEV and hydrogen being two entirely different means of powering cars, only one of which is likely to be needed in future.

Your statement is simply incorrect. A hydrogen fuel cell drives an electric motor, and also uses electric batteries (just smaller ones) to store additional energy and recoup braking energy.

BEVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are absolutely complementary.

1 November 2019

The Riversimple car doesn't use batteries, only capacitors for energy storage.  It is an interesting design in many ways but I just don't see it working out - the use cases they emphasise (short-medium distance commuting) are perfect for BEV.

1 November 2019
CarNut170 wrote:

Your statement is simply incorrect. A hydrogen fuel cell drives an electric motor, and also uses electric batteries (just smaller ones) to store additional energy and recoup braking energy.

BEVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are absolutely complementary.

Hydrogen vehicles can afford to sit on yesterdays battery technology, as they only need just enough energy to charge and discharge without running empty. The only restriction is the size of the hydrogen tank. Battery development in this case seems unnecessary - Unless you need a car that can travel thousands of miles on one tank (Which is not needed).
In this case I disagree with you, as BEV's depend solely on the latest battery tech. Hydrogen fuel cell vs. BEV technology cannot be more different.

1 November 2019
Hydrogen is a) much less efficient overall compared to BEV, b) saves the consumer no money whatsoever compared to equivalent petrol cars, c) has about 12 filling stations in the UK...

So it makes much more sense buying a lovely new EV with 300+mi range from either Tesla (or soon VW).

The sales of the Mirai & Nexo haven't exactly exploded - unlike that hydrogen station in Norway.

1 November 2019

1) It's liquid at -33°C thus far less cooling or pressure required. 2)The energy available from 1 liter, is 2 times that available from pure Hydrogen. 3)It can be burned directly - not workable for fuel-cells, however the flip side is that -- residues from burn are; 2NO and H2O, Nitric-Oxide and water in other words. 4)It's a larger molecule, thus doesn't leak through substances at quantum level like pure H does. Thus storing it is cheaper by far. Demerits; well Ammonia is slightly poiconous thus safeguards have to be made when refuelling and fuel tanks would have to have reinforced lids openable only with special tools, and fuel tanks would require reinforcing to prevent leaks in potential accidents. But compare that with - fuel easy enough to store that could technically replace all fossil fuel in every setting fossil fuel is used, while fully eliminating all emissions of Carbon.

5 November 2019

If the big car makers had started making Hyrdogen cars in the 60s, when they were using fuel cells to power the Apollo progam, then perhaps we might still have them now.but they didn't, and battery technology has already got to the point where hydrogen just isn't economic now.For a clear explaination of why, go to you tube and search for "Tony Seba hydrogen"where his 5 year old video comparing battery and hydrogen is still true today.Hyrdogen might have a place on ships or heavy construction or long distance lorrys on the Oz outback, but it just doesn't make sense for small passenger cars

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