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20 responses to “More on transport: ‘petrol stations’ of the future”

    • Paul

      Very interesting, I am glad I now know how much energy hydrogen takes. Hopefully this will be exposed in time, before there is too much invested, maybe its too late already?

    • Chris

      I may be wrong about this (-maybe more modern tech is better?), but a man once told me that you need platinum or palladium for hydrogen fuel cells – very hard, non-corrosive, rare and expensive metals. I read that if you got all the platinum in the world it would barely half fill an olympic sized swimming pool!

      But I wasn’t aware of that power difference between electric & hydrogen. That’s staggering. I also agree with what you said about burning fuels. Business & government are as addicted to the burning process as we are as consumers. It’s no wonder electric vehicles have been around in some form for nearly 200 years without anyone really pushing the technology. I mean we could potentially generate electricity in our back gardens – all those miles without making anyone rich or giving billions to public services. Shockwaves galore!!

      Oh well, we’ll worry about that ‘problem’ when we get to it!!! 😉

    • Will

      Why did you decide not to go for the swap-in swap-out battery methodology? Surely this is quicker than waiting around for the recharge. It becomes just like bbq gas cylinders then, although when you swap them out they can be put on to recharge and tested to check if they are ok. The other benefit is that the battery (one of the most expensive parts of the electric car) becomes a service rather than a product, so you can spread the costs like a mobile phone contract.

    • James

      Business and Social mind set…
      But there are individuals out there making it happen anyway! Go Dale and Team Ecotricity!

    • Simon

      I was going to mention battery swapping as it seems to be the approach Renault Nissan and Project Better Place are going with.

      I think its a bit unrealistic to expect people to sit around for 20 minutes waiting for their car to charge back up. You’d also need a lot of parking and charging points for all those cars as I wouldn’t imagine you’d be able to service many cars otherwise.

      I would imagine that charging batteries in such a short space of time would put quite a load on the local electricity grid.

    • Jeff

      Is there a possibly a little typo/arithmetic error here? Is a unit of electricity not 1kWh, which is 1000 Watt-hours? And a megawatt (MWh) is a million Watt-hours, or 1000 kWh? So 1MWh is 1000 units isn’t it? Or am I wrong?

    • Darkshine

      Hydrogen-anything cars could never be a cost effective viable alternative, at least not how they are going about it and/or present world economy setup. I was convinced of this the second I saw President Bush standing next to a prototype of one. (laughs, and yes, I am American)

      You want a fast car… so I am guessing about 1500 hp output with decent torque for the capability and speeds you are talking about.

      Rough math says you are looking at generating a constant of 1.2 MW for sustaining, before considering all the fun things of drag, friction, etc. (Straight est. conversion at 800 watts per hp)

      But you have to get there first. Batteries aren’t my forte, but I would think you would need a special one and/or setup to not only hold, but discharge the massive amount of energy you will need to accelerate that quickly.

      However, through all that and I am sure the massive problem-solving and brick wall smashing you do with your heads everyday, I do see a point to it all.

      It is the learn to run before you learn to walk method. If you can build a sports car, building a more (how did you put it…) “Noddy” drummed down version will be a piece of cake, and only slight variation to the build, with the energy setup going towards longevity, rather than speed.

      Keep up the good work, and I do hope you succeed, as I really don’t look forward to paying 7-10 US a gallon here in the states. I’d much rather spend 7-10 bucks on gourmet coffee for my wife and I, have a pleasant conversation for even an HOUR, and then go about our merry way. Hell, throw in a restaurant even, that serves health conscious food, killing two birds with one stone.

      Of course, if that scenario plays out, I think Starbucks and all other major coffeehouses/restaurants worldwide will have to start looking over their shoulders for hostile takeovers from the oil companies….(chuckle)

      *Imagines an Oil Tycoon trying on a Red Clown Wig, checking for appropriate fit*

      Thank you for listening to me rant.

    • john b

      Good morning. The concept of electric charging stations is one that is being seriously considered by BP right now. I was involved in a creative think tank session last October, hosted by Research international of London. BP’s brief was “what is fuel and the re-fueling experience going to be in ten years”.
      We came up with around 25 concepts that day, ranging from electric vehicle moped and car pools to dual level fuel stations that incorporated electrical charging posts and ‘chill out and wait cafes’.

      I am of the opinion that there is another way, just as you (Dale) know in your heart that wind power is a massive part of the solution to harmonious living of this planet.
      We can all comment/rant/pontificate until the cows come home but what is needed is collective thought and action to create a sustainable future.
      Dale, you are already leading the charge in “wake the F**K up and take responsibility”, respect to you for having the courage to do that. I can envisage an evolution in ideas that goes beyond anything we can currently imagine.
      If you put several, seemingly unconnected people in a room together and give them a problem within minutes they collectively start to create solutions. Those build and grow organically until in no time at all something completely new emerges that answers the question.

      No man is an island Dale, you are a great inspiration so orchestrate the setting up of a collective of thinkers and doers. Before the year is out together we will have created concepts that are unimaginable right now, but they will become reality with our focused energy.

      John B

    • Staffan

      It is easy and comforting to oversee erroneous information if it serves ones purpose to do so. This is unfortunate as it is very counterproductive. What I refer to is a statement made by Dale. I reiterate:

      Dale states:
      Oh and if you use a MWh (million units of electricity) to produce hydrogen to run a car – you can get about 1,500 miles from it. If you use the same MWh to power an electric car you can get about 5,000 miles.

      Consider this:

      Assuming that the figure of 1,500 miles above is based on using electrolysis to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen at an efficiency of approx 95% and internal combustion engine to convert hydrogen gas and oxygen to water and useful work (it would be reasonable to assume that this process has a cycle efficiency of around 25 %) the total energy input would have been 1.05MWh and the useful work 0.25MWh.

      If instead a hydrogen fuel cell was used to convert the hydrogen to useful work at an efficiency of 90 %, 0.9MWh of useful work would be available which is 3.6 times that of the internal combustion case. Assuming that also the hydrogen car can travel 1,500 miles on 0.25MWh of useful work, this method would allow the car to travel 5,400 miles on the 1MWh input energy.

      Furthermore, in order to have the electrical car charged up with 1 MWh of energy stored in the batteries it is reasonable to assume that approximately 1.1MWh of electricity has to be generated at the source (this assumes a battery charging efficiency of 90% but IGNORES electrical grid transmission efficiency of 96% as also the hydrogen gas has to be brought to the fuel station one way or another)

      So in total:
      Hydrogen fuel cell car requires 0.97MWh to travel 5000 miles
      Battery electrical car requires 1.1 MWh to travel 5000 miles.

      I’m not suggesting that your figures are wrong Dale, nor that the figures I’ve used above are particularly accurate, but I want to highlight that overstating an argument and excluding information only because it doesn’t serve your purpose is the best way to loose an argument and, rather than aiding the movement towards a greener society, you hamper the development by doing so!

    • Chris

      I just stumbled on this. Impressive stuff. I want the performance of Dales wind powered car, with the simplicity & green credentials of an air powered car!!

    • Chris

      I just realised that may not make sense what I just said about air being greener than a wind. But what I meant was electric cars will no doubt in part (atleast) be powered by fossil fuels/nuclear. That’s until we sort out our planning regulations to take full advantage of the wind/hydroelectric on offer in the UK.

    • Staffan

      Dale, as much as i dislike it, i accept defeat. I guess my lecturer at uni had no idea about actual fuel cell efficiencies, or perhaps he had a secret agenda 😉

      Anyway, shame on me for blindly trusting him…

    • Adrian Wilkins

      I’ve been watching this battery technology for some time ; it continues to offer hope.

      If they pull it off, you’ll have a unit that can store 3-4 days of domestic electricity usage – just the sort of thing for filling the troughs in wind or solar generation.

      And as it charges up in about 5 minutes (given a thick enough wire…), it’s pefect for cars – not only does it have more range than Li-ion batteries, it charges faster, removing one of the last few disadvantages of switching from liquid fuel.