Question
Asked 15th Aug, 2018
  • Unemployed looking for a new position in France

Is hydrogen fuel cell technology viable economically and safe?

At the dawn, of the 21st century during a reign governed by money and greed the buzz in the economic and technological race was to build an economy based on hydrogen. A couple years later with the financial internet crisis of 2001 all this buzz disappeared and we entered a reign of terror and war governed by a different type of ethics…
Now, we are facing a different challenge: the climate change due to the over consumerism and accumulation of pollution since the 19th century. After decades of foolish hard geo-engineering experiments scientists, engineers and technologists have to come up with all kind of ineffective “solutions” (some are doing worse than good) to master the astronomical forces involved in order to control the effects of climate change and continue business as usual…
Hydrogen is seen as a non-polluting way to store renewable energies and nuclear energy since its recombination with oxygen produce only pure water. It is a transportable fuel for vehicles and other tools and devices running on electricity.
Further, some scientists fascinated by the solar nuclear energy (“illimited source of free energy”) have convinced uneducated deciders that the ultimate goal was to master the nuclear fusion and build an experimental international power plant called ITER.
Please, justify your position by sound arguments.
Thank you in advance for your esteemed expert contributions and for your understanding.
Kind regards.
No personal attacks, insults, pollution of the answers with popular press clippings from other discussion will be accepted.

Most recent answer

15th Jan, 2020
G. Havet
Unemployed looking for a new position in France
Thank you all for your contribution.
I am quite disappointed that scientists and engineers cannot make a proper scale-up or/and an energy balance or/and mass balance the latter being the most dangerous for our planet.
The danger is not the risk of explosion as we all agree on. I would have hope that physicists would have pointed out the risks with regard to climate change and/or the acceleration of the degradation our ability to live on Earth. Of course, when they’ll have understand it, they would have found another (bad) solution or mankind will have found another planet to live on. Will it be before a point of no return? Therefore, just like other warnings it will be laughed at, denigrated, or disregarded since the precautionary principle is just that, just a theoretical principle.
Luckily, so far, as some have pointed out the limiting point is mainly economical for the lack of an efficient cheap catalyst for this technology to be mass produced. May it remain that way.
With respectful regards to all living beings.
Science without consciousness is the ruin of humanness, humankind, and all living beings.

Popular answers (1)

23rd Dec, 2018
Omar Hazem MOHAMMED
Northern Technical University
I agree with Dr. Dariusz Prokopowicz
3 Recommendations

All Answers (17)

16th Aug, 2018
Harshil P Raval
Pandit Deen Dayal Petroleum University
As per my knowledge, particularly for smaller scale like useage in day to day commutes etc hydrogen fuel cell may not be economically viable, as the cost for production of hydrogen either from water by electrolysis or other process is costly, though water is freely available in plenty.
Also handling of hydrogen fuel cell is a challenge, as it may be explosive unless handled with care, hence it doesn't remain economical with current technology.
But it's combustible properties can be advantageous for high speed and high thrust application like super sonic vehicles, space crafts etc.
2 Recommendations
16th Aug, 2018
Florian Glodeanu
Kinectrics
1. The fuel cell uses the chemical energy of hydrogen or another fuel to produce electricity. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are almost as good as battery-powered electric cars, they are efficient and have no emissions. The two prime dangers from hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles are the danger of electrical shock and the flammability of the fuel.
2. Hydrogen produced without emitting greenhouse gases could form the basis of the sustainable hydrogen economy. As an energy carrier, it can replace all forms of final energy in use today and provide energy services to all sectors of the economy. There are many processes for hydrogen production from both conventional and alternative energy resources such as natural gas, coal, nuclear, biomass, solar and wind.
3. Nuclear fusion is an option for energy production in the future. It is not a “free energy” source. The statement that some scientists fascinated by nuclear fusion have convinced the uneducated deciders to build ITER is at least questionable.
1 Recommendation
22nd Aug, 2018
G. Havet
Unemployed looking for a new position in France
Washim Akram,
Thank you for pointing out these papers they are indeed addressing all the points even though the conclusions are not clear with regard to the question. The danger of flammability of hydrogen is considered in a theoretical way by a simulation rather than by realistic experiments. There is no EROIE analysis either. Also, there is no assessment of the lifetime or power density of the fuel cells. Further, they don’t address properly and neglect the environmental pollution of the fuel cells.
The cost-benefit or risk-benefit analyses for the cost of developing, building, and running these fuel cells is not assessed.
What is your experience or position on this from your readings?
Kind regards
1 Recommendation
22nd Aug, 2018
G. Havet
Unemployed looking for a new position in France
Harshil Raval,
Thank you for sharing your experience.
Indeed, the EROIE may be quite low. Would you have an estimate for it or a reference paper that would talk about it? Would you also have an experimental estimate of the amount of water necessary for 1kg of hydrogen and 1kWh?
I concur that hydrogen maybe explosive however in rare circumstances like in the 1986 Challenger take off due to a flaw in a sealing design and the failure of of a O-ring with thermos-mechanical properties that were inappropriate as one of my professor who was on the expert committee to find the root cause told us. I concur with Prof. Glodeanu, that hydrogen is flammable as a labmate witness auto-ignition of hydrogen at the outlet of a fuel cell testing bench running at non stoichiometric levels, probably due to the build-up of static electricity.
In Europe, the LPG has been utilized in cars since the 1970s. It has a lot more energy density than hydrogen, it is flammable, and explosive under special circumstances. However, such accidents is unheard of. The cost and the environmental analysis of constructing and running fuel cells should be compared with LPG engine as well as diesel engines for a fair assessment.
Kind regards
1 Recommendation
22nd Aug, 2018
Timotheos Palmer
Charles Darwin University
Recently in Australia, the CSIRO (Commonwealth Science Industry Research Organization) demonstrated an effective way to store, transport & utilize Hydrogen as a fuel source, by way of using ammonia as the vector for the Hydrogen being used in the fuel cell. I'm assuming it can also be used in Hydrogen combustion engines; not just in ground vehicles, but maritime operations and my favourite; civil and military aviation >.<
- apparently Hydrogen powered experimental aircraft were getting double the range of fossil-fuel combusting jets in the 1950s; perhaps soon we shall see a return to this method of propulsion by using Ammonia as the Hydrogen source, instead of having to carry Hydrogen in sophisticated & pressurized tanks?
The future of Hydrogen powered vehicles, on land, sea & air, might yet reach its full potential..
2 Recommendations
24th Aug, 2018
G. Havet
Unemployed looking for a new position in France
Tim,
Thank you for pointing out this advertising campaign from CSIRO. Indeed research is expensive and they need to demonstrate the use of their work with the help of sponsors. However, in the link you provided, I have not found technical data to support the technical, economical, or ecological viability of their current project.
Your comment raises more questions than give answers to my question.
How do you get the ammonia to begin with?
Would you be able to dig some more specific data on the process they use to extract the hydrogen from ammonia, how much ammonia would be necessary to get a for a kWh and on the energetic rationale (EROIE)?
12th Nov, 2018
Dariusz Prokopowicz
Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw
In my opinion, hydrogen fuel cell technology should become economical and safe in the future. However, currently hydrogen production is not cheap. The storage of hydrogen, e.g. in cylinders in cars that would be fueled by this fuel, is associated with a high risk of a dangerous explosion. Space shuttles in space programs in the USA were fueled by hydrogen-oxygen fuel. However, there have been tragic catastrophes.
I invite you to the discussion
1 Recommendation
15th Nov, 2018
Samuel Lakew
University of Nottingham
Dear G. Havet safety is not much an issue at today's technology. Concerning the economy, it is a matter of number; as mass production comes to exist, then the price go down, simple ! as this is the low of economics called economy of scale. How that happen? it may take some time, people will be get awareness about bogus safety issue rumour and will learn from first buyers (risk takers) and in no time, companies will start to get lots of order. By 2030, FCVs will have the same price as conventional IC vehicles.
1 Recommendation
17th Nov, 2018
G. Havet
Unemployed looking for a new position in France
In March 2013, Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn has rendered his company's verdict on the future of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles: They're not viable.
I do not see the infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles, and I do not see how hydrogen can be produced on large scale at reasonable cost. I do not currently see a situation where we can offer fuel cell vehicles at a reasonable cost that consumers would also be willing to pay.
BASF Fuel Cell, Inc., Somerset, New Jersey, will be closed on August 1, 2013. The site produced membrane electrode assemblies for high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell systems. Aug 1, 2013
Now Toyota admits that Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who called hydrogen fuel cell “incredibly dumb”, “is right,” but the company is still heavily investing in the technology. Oct. 2017
The alliance of Daimler, Ford and Renault-Nissan working on commercialising a fuel cell car has hit a road block as Renault-Nissan pull out. June 2018
What is the rationale behind Tata’s decision?
1 Recommendation
21st Nov, 2018
Dariusz Prokopowicz
Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw
Unfortunately not yet. If this were the case then large companies would be interested in these technologies for the purpose of industrial large-scale production. Unless these processes of development of these technologies are deliberately slowed down by corporations of oil refineries and power plants producing electricity in the formula of traditional energy based on the combustion of minerals.
1 Recommendation
16th Dec, 2018
Benjamin Britton
Ionomr Innovations Inc.
Safety has never been a major issue - Department of Transport has blown up a few tanks and all you get is a jet of flame out the trunk (hydrogen has nearly an order of magnitude jump on upward velocity vs. natural gas, which people consider safe), while ICE and BEVs are inarguably more dangerous.
More importantly, the world has changed massively in the last couple of years since big finance has come to believe PVs and wind will be able to go below $0.03/kWh without subsidy in many parts of the world, alongside a growing realization among governments that infrastructure for all-electric is effectively impossible, while you can use the natural gas network for hydrogen. When Barklays says fuel cell vehicles will happen and begin to see market penetration in the 2025 range, that's a massive substantiation today's tech is good enough for market, and there are some fundamental improvements coming in the near future besides that will allow us to get even closer to platinum parity with ICE.
Commercially, things are vastly different than in 2013 - even Volkswagen subsequently partnered with Ballard to make vehicles. The Hydrogen Council formed. Nikola raised big, received huge pre-orders, and claims big cash commitments for a full US hydrogen filling network. In Norway they're electrolyzing water to supply the Haber process and the same in Germany for the steel industry. Bosch did a gigantic pivot from Fuel Cells. Multiple gigantic powertrain makers like AVL are moving into fuel cells. Shell is investing ahead to put in a network, even in places that have zero FCV sales today. Large companies and big-raising new players re taking up the challenge and running with it.
1 Recommendation
23rd Dec, 2018
Omar Hazem MOHAMMED
Northern Technical University
I agree with Dr. Dariusz Prokopowicz
3 Recommendations
13th Apr, 2019
Andrii Shevchenko
The Independent Expert in the Field of Hydrogen Energy.
Is hydrogen fuel cell technology cost-effective and safe?
This question, in my opinion, should be considered in a wider context.
This technology has not yet received a mass introduction, due to its cost (the use of expensive and rare earth materials). For its safety, it has reached an acceptable level.
 But there are other criteria:
- the political will of the rulers;
- lobbying their interests by oil companies;
- market conjuncture-absence of more efficient, cheap and environmentally friendly technology at the market of energy carriers.
There are still a lot of variables here and we cannot talk about sustainable development yet.
5th Jan, 2020
Hamdani Saidi
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Hydrogen is more safer than gasoline, methane, and other fuels. I have seen cars involved in accidents caught fires immediately. H2 has less probability to ignite in an open air. I have invented and successfully tested a 7 HP fuel cell Hydrogen motorcycle at South African Highway covering more than 1,000 km under adverse weather conditions ...... safely
15th Jan, 2020
G. Havet
Unemployed looking for a new position in France
Thank you all for your contribution.
I am quite disappointed that scientists and engineers cannot make a proper scale-up or/and an energy balance or/and mass balance the latter being the most dangerous for our planet.
The danger is not the risk of explosion as we all agree on. I would have hope that physicists would have pointed out the risks with regard to climate change and/or the acceleration of the degradation our ability to live on Earth. Of course, when they’ll have understand it, they would have found another (bad) solution or mankind will have found another planet to live on. Will it be before a point of no return? Therefore, just like other warnings it will be laughed at, denigrated, or disregarded since the precautionary principle is just that, just a theoretical principle.
Luckily, so far, as some have pointed out the limiting point is mainly economical for the lack of an efficient cheap catalyst for this technology to be mass produced. May it remain that way.
With respectful regards to all living beings.
Science without consciousness is the ruin of humanness, humankind, and all living beings.

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