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Slideshow: Automakers Look to a Hydrogen Car Future
5/8/2013

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Introduced in 2009, the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster concept car mimics the Benz Patent Motor Car from 1886. Fitted with spoked wheels, carbon fiber bucket seats, and a hydrogen fuel cell drive, the car was the product of 150 students and Daimler AG trainees tasked with designing an alternative fuel vehicle. The F-Cell Roadster is controlled by drive-by-wire technology and employs a joystick instead of a conventional steering wheel.(Source: Mercedes-Benz)
Introduced in 2009, the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster concept car mimics the Benz Patent Motor Car from 1886. Fitted with spoked wheels, carbon fiber bucket seats, and a hydrogen fuel cell drive, the car was the product of 150 students and Daimler AG trainees tasked with designing an alternative fuel vehicle. The F-Cell Roadster is controlled by drive-by-wire technology and employs a joystick instead of a conventional steering wheel.
(Source: Mercedes-Benz)

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Rob Spiegel
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Love the Mercedes
Rob Spiegel   5/8/2013 8:34:57 AM
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Nice slide show, Chuck. I particularly like what the students did with the Mercedes-Benz. Going back to 1896 looks like a big step forward.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Love the Mercedes
Elizabeth M   5/8/2013 9:02:54 AM
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I'm with you, Rob, the Mercedes-Benz stands out. It seems like hydrogen car makers are already thinking about more stylish designs than the current EV/hybrid makers. Or maybe it's just Mercedes, an icon of great car style, that's thinking retro to get ahead.

Debera Harward
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Re: Love the Mercedes
Debera Harward   5/8/2013 4:15:46 PM
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Elizebeth you are absolutely correct this Mercedes Benz is an extremely stylish one it is looking like very unique and delicate vehicle i havent seen such a goodlooking car even in hybrid technology .

The concept of using hydrogen gas as a feul is a good one,  with the same amount of hydrogen gas the car will cover twice as much distance as by petrol. Secondly it is enviornmental healthy because it only emmits water vapour when burned not carbon dioxide .

However every new technologyhas pros and cons one disadvantage of using hydrogen gas as feul is that it is expensive .Secondly it is difficult to store it because its a gas not liquid .

Charles Murray
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Re: Love the Mercedes
Charles Murray   5/8/2013 6:32:31 PM
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I agree, Debera. The Mercedes F-Cell Roadster is eye-catching. That's why we led off with that photo. Leave it students and trainees to develop a vehicle so unique.

Charles Murray
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Re: Love the Mercedes
Charles Murray   5/8/2013 6:36:43 PM
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Liz, I was particularly intrigued by the Roadster buggy's use of drive-by-wire technology. It has a joystick instead of a steering wheel. For years, engineers have told us that drive-by-wire allows us to do away with the steering wheel and replace it with a joystick or some othr device. Well, here it is.

patb2009
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Re: Love the Mercedes
patb2009   5/9/2013 1:03:46 AM
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generally hydrogen fuel cells haven't worked out.

The storage density is too low and and the catalysts are touchy.

If they can make a fuel cell work on LNG or Propane or Ammonia, but,

hydrogen gas seems wildly impractical

Elizabeth M
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Re: Love the Mercedes
Elizabeth M   5/9/2013 4:26:33 AM
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A joystick! interesting. I can't even imagine how that would work. Of course it would take some getting used to, but it could be more comfortable, easier and more responsive than a wheel. I guess that's the point?

Ratsky
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Re: Love the Mercedes
Ratsky   5/10/2013 11:53:00 AM
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One word: AIRPLANES

ttemple
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Re: Love the Mercedes
ttemple   5/8/2013 3:05:39 PM
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Looks like a big step forward until you hit a 2013 pothole!

 

GTOlover
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Re: Love the Mercedes
GTOlover   5/9/2013 9:22:40 AM
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Yes stylish for a student that is probably used to driving their bike around campus and then has the brilliance to put his bike tires on a "car"(?). Innovation, sure. Practical, NOT.

I think this was mentioned, but what is the energy input to make hydrogen fuel compared to the energy output to motor a vehicle?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Love the Mercedes
Rob Spiegel   5/9/2013 1:38:31 PM
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Good point, Ttemple. Or, let's see how it would do in a fender bender with a massive SUV. I like the idea of smalling down cars, but that's only positive until you come in contact with an SUV.

theboz808
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Re: Love the Mercedes
theboz808   5/9/2013 11:08:43 AM
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I believe the joy stick would be the 2013 equivalent of a tiller.

The speed and range specifications and refueling times for Hydrogen Fuel Cells certainly seem more practical than the all electric vehicles.  The explosion risk is always there with hydrogen.  I think development of a large scale hydrogen infrastructure would be the hardest thing to overcome.  It is very hard to store.

Charles Murray
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Re: Love the Mercedes
Charles Murray   5/9/2013 5:03:09 PM
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Good point, theboz808. It's not the first time someone jettisoned the steering wheel.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Love the Mercedes
Rob Spiegel   5/10/2013 6:50:46 PM
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I'm with you, Thebox808. I can't imagine we'll see a hydrogen infrastructure. As for explosions, I didn't realize that was an issue with these vehicles.

warren@fourward.com
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H2 cars
warren@fourward.com   5/8/2013 12:43:42 PM
H2 cars coming?  I need to go out and invest in a H2 gas station before all the franchises are gone!

I think we have a problem here, Houston.  First, H2 is a great gas.  I appreciate all its many fine qualities, inluding space rockets, welding, breathing, etc.  Great gas!

But, although it is plentiful and God makes more all the time, it is a tough nut to crack in using it on a large scale.  H2 and He are the only gases that escape gravity into the ionosphere and are gone, gone, gone!  So, bottles to hold it are special.

Then there is the explosive storage problem.

And it eats metal problem.

But other than that, bring it on! 

Having said all this, I do believe the fuel cell is viable and I look forward to seeing them everywhere.  I don't know if it is an efficient method of converting hyrofuels, but neither is the ICE! 

We need breakthroughs!

AnandY
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Re: H2 cars
AnandY   5/8/2013 1:17:28 PM
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Even though hydrogen is available plentiful, laws of thermodynamics restrict its usage. Laws prove that hydrogen will always be less efficient than any other alternatives. The phase changes required to produce and then burn hydrogen will always waste more energy than simply using electricity directly.

AnandY
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Re:Hydrogen production
AnandY   5/8/2013 1:25:19 PM
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Hydrogen is not a readily availabe fuel like fossil fuel. How is this hydrogen fuel produced? Do hydrogen fuel face the problem of storage and transportation?

Charles Murray
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Re:Hydrogen production
Charles Murray   5/8/2013 6:27:43 PM
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You're absolutely correct that the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel is nearly non-existent. Today, most hydrogen fuel is derived from natural gas using a steam reforming process. Automakers know the infrastructure is weak, of course. They also know the costs will be high and they have no idea how reliable these cars will be. Still, they're dipping a toe in the water as an engineering exercise. They want to know how much long-term potential is there, and how many years it will be before these cars can be a viable option.

GTOlover
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Re:Hydrogen production
GTOlover   5/9/2013 10:21:44 AM
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What about the "BOOM" factor of carrying around a substance that is know to blow up space shuttles? Drivers do not seem to be getting any better at driving, even with the advancments in safety technology!

Rockne1865
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Fuel cells burning natural gas
Rockne1865   5/9/2013 8:45:40 AM
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There was a lot research being done on Fuel cells using natural has there been any progress made? With all the sources of NG this could be used right away! PS what happens to the small amount of carbon when NG or propane is run through a fuel cell?

ratkinsonjr
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Re: Fuel cells burning natural gas
ratkinsonjr   5/9/2013 9:31:20 AM
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Bloom Energy corporation has been producing fuel cells using methane a.k.a. natural gas or CH4 for fixed installation as commercial building power sources for a few years now. Lesley Stahl did a piece on 60 Minutes about them. A link to their website appears below:

http://www.bloomenergy.com/

It shouldn't be a problem to scale the technology down for either home or mobile use.

While it doesn't completely eliminate carbon from the fuel cycle, the higher efficiency of fuel cells versus internal combustion engines drastically reduces the carbon footprint and my understanding is that the cell chemisty used can be adapted to hydrogen fuel without too much trouble.

MWBailey
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equivalence between mpg and mpkg
MWBailey   5/9/2013 10:38:59 AM
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The caption of slide 6 states one mile per kg of gasoline is considered equivalent to 1 mpg.  Since a gallon of gasoline is approximately 13.3 kg, this does not seem to make sense.  Is this a misprint or am I missing something?

bronorb
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Never happen
bronorb   5/9/2013 11:23:59 AM
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This is a cute engineering exercise but my advice to auto makers is to put these cars in their respective museums right now as an example of an evolutionary dead-end.

As mentioned above, this technology will never scale to the point of providing hydrogen "gas" stations that our mass motoring public could take advantage of. Elements in a gaseous state (also mentioned above) are difficult to maintain and transport. Can you imagine how expensive it would be to transport compressed hydrogen gas from point A to point B?

The real problem with this technology is cost. It's extremely expensive to make, store, transport, and dispense hydrogen gas SAFELY. It will never progress beyond the few science experiments you see in this slideshow.

IMHO, of course.

Charles Murray
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Re: Never happen
Charles Murray   5/13/2013 8:14:31 PM
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Bronorb, you've used the exact right word to describe this technology: engineering exercise.

NadineJ
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Re: Never happen
NadineJ   5/14/2013 1:34:24 PM
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I agree that it is mostly an engineering exercise.  But, I guess we need to start somewhere.

Your slide shows are always fun.  Thanks for the article.

Bob Hulme
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Hydrogen Power
Bob Hulme   5/9/2013 3:41:01 PM
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There are still some hurdles for Hydrogen powered cars to be commonplace on the roads, however don't be too quick to discount them.  All that is needed is an efficient system for extracting Hydrogen from water that can be used on board a vehicle and all the storage problems dissappear.  In fact filling stations would also dissappear as all the vehicle owner needs to do is top up with water from the tap at home.

The nay sayers will talk about this being impossible, but look at the technological achievements over the last 50 years and consider what has been possible that people thought could not be done.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Hydrogen Power
Jack Rupert, PE   5/21/2013 2:57:56 PM
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Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions here, but it is good to see that auto companies are engaging alternative designs (even if it is just an exercise) WITHOUT government subsidies.

bobjengr
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HYDROGEN AUTOS
bobjengr   5/9/2013 5:31:31 PM
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Excellent post Charles.  The company I have a partnership in is now producing our REV 7 on-board hydrogen generator.  Our concept will be to "bleed-in" H2 and combine that will fuel promoting improvement in gas mileage.  This is not a fuel cell but an installed device producing hydrogen.   We have five trial installations so far that generate a 17% minimum improvement in mileage.   The package also includes data retrieval so carbon fuel credits can be "booked".  It also gives the transportation company indications as to actual savings and information relative to long-haul and short trip numbers.  We are working towards installation on 300 and 400 HP diesel engines.  These typically get 5 MPG so; any improvement would be a significant cost savings to that industry.  Many thanks for the information and it's good to know what others are doing along these lines.

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