Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10
Page 11
Page 12
Page 13
Page 14
Page 15
Page 16
Page 17
Page 18
Page 19
Page 20
Page 21
Page 22
Page 23
Page 24
Page 25
Page 26
Page 27
Page 28
Page 29
Page 30
Page 31
Page 32
Page 33
Page 34
Page 35
Page 36
Page 37
Page 38
LiquidAirMediaCoverage20121315October2012EconomistDifferenceEngineEndoftheelectriccarDigitalmobileEventsTopicsA-ZNewslettersJobsSearchRegisterSubscribeLoginWorldpoliticsBusinessfinanceEconomicsSciencetechnologyCultureBlogsDebatediscussAudiovideoPrinteditionOurcookiespolicyhaschanged.Reviewourcookiesinformationformoredetails.Bycontinuingtobrowsethissiteyouareagreeingtoouruseofcookies.PreviousNextLatestBabbageLatestfromallourblogsOct15th2012901byN.V.LOSANGELESNitrogencycleDifferenceEngineEndoftheelectriccarBabbageScienceandtechnologyTweet190AboutBabbageReportsontheintersectionsbetweensciencetechnologycultureandpolicyinablognamedafterCharlesBabbageaVictorianmathematicianandengineerFollowEconSciTech38.6KfollowersRSSfeedComment448PrintE-mailPermalinkReprintspermissionsLike2.5kStillhappyonhydrogenACOUPLEofdozenelectriccarswithfuelcellsunderthebonnetinplaceofthemoreusualflat-packofbatteriesbeneaththefloorhavebeenzippingaroundyourcorrespondentsneighbourhoodforthepastfewyears.MostareFCXClaritymodelsfromHondaallinthesamerichcrimsoncolour.AcoupleofothersaresilverF-CellstationwagonsmadebyMercedes-Benz.Theseexperimentalvehiclesareleasedtoselectedusersfortrialperiodswhiletheirmanufacturersseehowthehydrogen-fuelledcarssurvivethecutandthrustofLosAngelestraffic.Sofarmostseemtohaveacquittedthemselvesratherwell.Meanwhiletheirdriverscanfeelrightlysmugabouttheonlyemissionfromtheexhaustpipesbeingwatervapour.Anotherplusisthatthefuel-cellvehiclesarelargelyfreeoftherangeanxietythatplaguesbattery-poweredelectriccarssuchastheNissanLeaf.BoththeHondaandtheMercedeshaverangesnotthatfarshortofcomparablepetrolcarsie190to240miles300to380km.Soonerorlaterthoughtheyhavetoreturntooneofonlyfivehydrogen-refuellingstationsopentothepublicinthegreaterLosAngelesarea.ButoncetheretheirtankscanberefilledAdvertisementASmarterPlanetSocialBusinessFromlikingtoleading.FollowIBMSocialBizIBMSocialBizDownloadNotesandDomino990days.httpt.coohUuFm34min23secagoIBMSocialBizHowSocialIntranetsCultivatehttpt.coyRFQE8T74Lviasocbiz1hour36minagoIBMSocialBizDidumisstheIBMCreatingaWorkforcewebcastApr26herehttpt.coj1k4dfWybH2hours37minagoSocialBusinessInfographicTheBusinessofSocialBusiness-IBMInstituteofBusinessValueReportLikingIsntLeadingTheRiseofSocialBusiness-IBMPOVinminutesratherthanthehoursneededtorechargeabatterycar.Andtherestherub.Givenfurtherrefinementpluseconomiesofscalefuel-cellvehiclesoughttobeanattractivealternativetopresent-daymotoringifonlyhydrogen-refuellingfacilitiesweremorecommon.Asitisoutletsarefewerandfartherbetweenthanchargingstationsforelectricvehiclesorevenpumpsforcompressednaturalgas.Apartfromtheusualchicken-and-eggproblemtheplantandequipmentneededforproducingdistributingandstoringhydrogenishugelyexpensive.Unliketheindustrialhydrogenusedtomakeammoniafertiliserorforconvertingheavyoilfractionsintopetrolthehydrogenneededforfuelcellsmustbe99.999pure.Thatrulesoutallthecheaperwaysofmakingitotherthanelectrolysisofwater.Thereareproblemsonthedistributionsidetoo.Becausehydrogenhasthesmallestmoleculeofallitleaksthroughpracticallyeverything.Inparticularitembrittlessteelandcausescorrosionhasteningcrackpropagationintheprocess.Pipelinesandstoragetankshavetobespeciallylinedatadditionalcost.Unlikefossilfuelssuchaspetrolordieselhydrogenisnotasourceofenergyinitsownright.Itismerelyameansforstoringelectricitygeneratedinapowerstationanddeliveringittothemotordrivingthewheelsofanelectricvehicleinmuchthesamewayasabatteryworks.Andasfreehydrogendoesnotoccurinusefulquantitiesinnatureithastobemadebyusingelectricitytocrackwaterintoitsconstituentelements.InCaliforniadespitethemanysolarinstallationsandwindfarmstheelectricitycomingoutoftheplugisneithergreennorcleanbeingderivedpredominantlyie62fromfossilfuel.Duringcheap-rateperiodsatnightwhenelectricvehiclestendtoberechargedandelectrolysisplantsarerunningflatoutmostofCaliforniaselectricityisimportedfromcoal-firedpowerstationsoutofstate.Thuslikeelectricvehicleshydrogencarscontributetheirshareofgreenhousegasesaswell.ExploretrendingtopicsCommentsandtweetsonpopulartopicsReaderscommentsUSJapanChinaBrazilEuropeGermanyRussiaMuslimIranEnglishBrazilianTurkeyBraziliansIsraelSyriaLQjhvJGVkFranceAbePakistanOECDFrenchTVIndiaUSALulaFullversionChangetimespanCertainlymovingtheemissionsfromthevehiclesexhaustpipetothepowerstationmakesiteasiertocontrolthepollution.SothequestionbecomeswhetherthereisamoreefficientwayofpackagingelectricityforuseinvehiclesotherthanchargingbatteriesormakinghydrogenbyelectrolysisofwaterAgrowingbodyofopinionseemstothinkliquidairistheanswerormorespecificallythenitrogencomponentthatmakesup78ofair.Itisnotexactlyanewidea.Airwasfirstliquefiedin1883usingessentiallythesameprocessastodayiecompressingitto200atmospherescoolingitto-190Candthenlettingitsuddenlyexpandandcondense.Theprocessturns1000litresoftransparentgasinto1.4litresoflightblueliquid.Aslongasitsstoragecontaineriswellinsulatedliquidaircanbekeptatatmosphericpressureforlongperiods.Butonexposuretoroomtemperatureitwillinstantlyboilandrevertbacktoitsgaseousstate.Intheprocessitexpands700-foldprovidingthewherewithaltooperateapistonengineoraturbine.Liquidnitrogendoesanevenbetterjob.Beingconsiderablydenserthanliquidairitcanstoremoreenergyperunitvolumeallowingcarstotravelfurtheronatankfulofthestuff.Weightforweightliquidnitrogenpacksmuchthesameenergyasthelithium-ionbatteriesusedinlaptopsmobilephonesandelectriccars.Intermsofperformanceandrangethenanitrogenvehicleissimilartoanelectricvehicleratherthanaconventionalone.Thebigdifferenceisthataliquid-nitrogencarislikelytobeconsiderablycheapertobuildthananelectricvehicle.ForonethingitsenginedoesnothavetocopewithhighLatestblogposts-AlltimesareGMTCentralbanksandthemarketsThelonggoodbyeButtonwoodsnotebook-1hour42minsagoCanadasmisbehavingmayorsThescandalskeeponcomingAmericasview-1hour42minsagoThecar-hireexperienceTroubleontheSignUpRecentActivityCreateanaccountorLogIntoseewhatyouThestreetserupt10244peoplerecommendthis.Highspirits3287peoplerecommendthis.Drinkinghabits1099peoplerecommendthis.Maybebusesshouldbefree1097peoplerecommendthis.Facebooksocialluintemperaturesandcouldthereforebefabricatedoutofcheapalloysorevenplastics.Foranotherbecauseitneedsnobulkytractionbatteriesitwouldbelighterandcheaperstillthananelectricvehicle.Atpresentlithium-ionbatterypacksforelectricvehiclescostbetween500and600akilowatt-hour.TheNissanLeafhas24kilowatt-hoursofcapacity.Analects-1hour51minsagoConservationSlowdemiseBabbage-3hours23minsagoAtaround13200thebatteriesaccountformorethanathirdofthecars35200basicprice.Anitrogencarwithcomparablerangeandperformancecouldthereforesellforlittlemorethanhalfthepriceofanelectriccar.Athirdadvantageisthatliquidnitrogenisaby-productoftheindustrialprocessformakingliquidoxygen.BecausethereisfourtimesasmuchnitrogenasoxygeninairthereisinevitablyaglutofthestuffsomuchsoliquidnitrogensellsinAmericaforatenthofthepriceofmilk.Finallyabreakthroughinenginedesignhasmadeliquidnitrogenanevenmoreattractivealternativethanthelithium-ionbatteriesusedinelectriccars.AninventionmadebyanindependentBritishengineercalledPeterDearmandispenseswiththecostlyheatexchangerthatisneededtovaporisetheliquidnitrogenquickly.Insteadasmallamountofwaterandanti-freezeegmethanolisinjectedintothecylinderjustastheliquidnitrogenisdrawnincausingittoboilandexpandrapidlytherebyforcingthepistondowninsidethethecylinder.WithoutthatsaysMrDearmanyouhadtohaveamulti-stageenginewhichiscumbersomeinefficientandexpensive.TheInstitutionofMechanicalEngineersinLondontheleadingstandards-settingandregistrationbodyfortheprofessionwassoimpressedwiththeDearmanEngineCompanysdevelopmentsthatithasnowestablishedaworkinggroupcomprisingengineersacademicsgovernmentofficialsandindustryleaderstoexplorewaysofexploitingliquid-nitrogentechnology.Ifthenitrogenvehiclewithitsloweroverallcostandrapidrefuellingcapacityprovestobethesolutiontozero-emissionmotoringthatelectricvehiclesoncepromisedwheredoesthatleavethenewgenerationofhydrogenfuel-cellcarsAccordingtoHondaafuelcelldrivinganelectricmotoristwotothreetimesmoreefficientthananinternal-combustionengine.Unfortunatelyafuel-cellvehicleisevenmoreRecommendedCommentedTheBigMacIndexgoestoNorthKoreaCheeseburgerinParadiseIslaBanyan-Jun20th0359TheEconomistexplainsWhoarethSyrianoppositionTheEconomistexplains-Jun19th2350SaudiArabiaDrivingforfreedomPomegranate-Jun19th2302MorefromourblogsMostpopularAdvertisementSurveillanceSecretsliesandAmericasspiesProtestsinBrazilThestreetseruptPoliticsthisweekRevampingSkopjeStonesofcontentionSurveillanceShouldthegovernmentknowlethanGoogle12345Recommend368expensivetobuildthanabatterycar.ThethirdgenerationofHondas100kilowattfuel-cellstackdevelopedfortheClarityisreckonedtohavecostaround350000aunit.TheMercedesstackprobablycostmuchthesame.ThatisonereasonwhyHondabuiltonly200ClaritycarsandMercedesamere70F-Cells.Inrecentyearscarmakersarereckonedtohavemorethanhalvedthemanufacturingcostoftheirfuel-cellstacks.Installedtheynowprobablyrunto1500akilowattofcapacity.Neverthelessthatstillleavesthemanorderofmagnitudeormorepricierthaninternal-combustionengines.Squeezingyetmorecostoutoftheirfuelcellsproton-exchange-membranetechnologywillnotbeeasy.Thatsaidsevennewfuel-cellcarswereexhibitedattherecentParisMotorShow.Admittedlymostwereconceptmodelsbutallwerefullyfunctional.Sotheindustryseemstobehedgingitsbetsonbattery-poweredelectrics.ButisitbackingtherighttechnologyWhileheisatoddswithsomeofthebestbrainsinthebusinessyourcorrespondentcannothelpbutthinkthatlikebattery-poweredelectricvehiclesbeforethemthefuel-cellcarsrunningaroundhisneighbourhoodtodayaredestinedtooccupyatmosta3nicheinthemarket.Andthoughstillalongshotnitrogenwouldseemtohaveabetterchanceoffulfillingtherolehydrogenwasonceexpectedtoplay.PreviousCo-workingChildishoccupationsNextArevolutioninlens-makingChangingfocusTweet190Share13892EconomistblogsAnalectsChinaAmericasviewTheAmericasBabbageScienceandtechnologyBanyanAsiaBaobabAfricaBlightyBritainButtonwoodsnotebookFinancialmarketsCharlemagneEuropeanpoliticsDemocracyinAmericaAmericanpoliticsEasternapproachesEx-communistEuropeErasmusReligionandpublicpolicyFeastandfamineDemographyanddevelopmentFreeexchangeEconomicsGametheorySportsGraphicdetailChartsmapsandinfographicsGulliverBusinesstravelJohnsonLanguageLexingtonsnotebookAmericanpoliticsNewsbookNewsanalysisLike2.5k