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Electric and Alternative Vehicle Fuels


I reckon the pollies would disagree with that :wink: but as always, they are a ‘special case’.

Ford at one time dipped their toe in the waters of ‘trying to do the right thing’ (being kind to them) by marketing an LPG only vehicle. I know times and tech and views have changed, but its similar - one hopes that in the move ‘forward’ the right incentives will be there to promote green(er) while not isolating those for whom the tech isn’t there yet.


Well Toyota seems to have wasted no time in getting a fuel cell vehicle out there . The Toyota Mirai looks interesting .


Honda has had fuel cell cars production ready for about a decade. It is now selling the Clarity in hydrogen fuel models.

Hyundai is the other manufacturer with a fuel cell production model…

Toyota has indicated that it believes hybrid/plug in electric vehicles are a interim solution to fossil fuel replacement. It also sees fuel cell vehicles as another interim solution, without the current drawbacks of battery systems, namely refueling (taking 40-50 minutes for rapid charge up to 18 hours for a standard charge). As more batteries are added to vehicles in attempt to increase range, recharge times are likely to increase. Fuel cells take about 5 minutes to fully refuel.

The Japanese and US government believe hydrogen is the long term solution as is supporting research and development of fuel cell technologies.

If Australia is ‘smart’, it should also be supporting similiar or colaborating with the Japenses and US on its research and development. The first to solve some of the current hydrogen fuel cell constraints, will benefit the most. Such constraints don’t appear to be insurmountable. With near ‘unlimited’ solar resources, Australia could easily become a world leading hydrogen fuel supplier.


That’s really interesting! Do you record your data? You could get that information online to help further the knowledge of fuel consumption. I record the fuel efficiency of my vehicle, but I don’t stick to one particular company, so I wouldn’t be able to notice any changes between brands.

Thanks, I’ll check it out!

Oh no, that doesn’t sound like a very scientific way to think; to make up your mind when there isn’t yet any conclusive evidence. What I said was,

There are a lot of misguided journalists who repeat the claims of a debunked article called ‘Dust to Dust’. This thoroughly scrutinised paper drew false conclusions when comparing the overall environmental impact of eletric cars to fossil fuel cars.

I will review the USEPA article, noting that it states, “In addition, the SWCNT nanotechnology applications assessed show promise for improving the energy density and ultimate performance of the Li-ion batteries in vehicles. However, the energy needed to produce these anodes in these early stages of development is significant (i.e., may outweigh potential energy efficiency benefits in the use stage). Over time, if researchers focus on reducing the energy intensity of the manufacturing process before commercialization, the overall environmental profile of the technology has the potential to improve dramatically.”

An electric bus that drives 1774km and refuels in an hour, a production electric vehicle that drove Melbourne to Sydney with the same number and duration of stops as a fossil fuel car, electric trucks that can drive return trips of 80% of truck routes on a single charge and can refuel in half an hour if the trip is particularly long (ie. longer than 800km). That covers an immense majority of vehicle users.

While I understand the technology wasn’t perfect in it’s early stages, and warranted such concerns, electric vehicles have come a long way since then (pun intended). :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks! I’ve got it now and will read through it soon :slight_smile:

@syncretic, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Naysayers will always point out the one person who lives 60km south-east of Warburton that won’t benefit from this technology, but seem to ignore the overwhelming majority of people that would benefit from this technology.


Interesting thought! Could they implement some form of environmental impact scale, I think Europe does this? The final proposal would have greater detail, but something that looks at a bunch of factors such as vehicle weight and size, emissions output, fuel efficiency for fossil fuels, etc.

What limitations would there be using this method? This form of taxation could impact people from lower socio-economic communities who don’t have the ability to spend the short-term investment for the long-term savings, and therefore would be forced to pay the higher tax.


The generalisation ‘naysayers’ is a little pejorative for constructive discussion; the “one person who lives 60km south-east of Warburton that won’t benefit from this technology” will also point out the “one person who lives 60km south-east of Warburton that won’t benefit from this technology” … not because they are ignoring anything, quite the opposite, because so often the people pushing the ‘greater good’ are ignoring her/him and they are the one who will be adversely affected, silenced and forgotten. Who knows whether the people actually living in Warburton will benefit either - given it is one of the more remote towns in the country …

That’s not to say the technology that suits most of the people most of the time isn’t a wonderful thing … but a holistic solution has contingency for everyone, even aspects that are distasteful and/or don’t fit.


Perhaps a partial answer to your [quote=“tndkemp, post:53, topic:13915”]
how long the federal government will allow electric cars to enjoy a holiday from the ‘road users tax’ that we know as fuel excise

and from the Minister for Urban Infrastructure & Cities on ABC Breakfast 20/1/2018:

"Paul Kennedy: Your government previously said, the former prime minister Tony Abbott said, that particular recommendation for road pricing is unlikely to be accepted by any government. What’s changed in your government’s mind?

Paul Fletcher: We’ve had a number of recommendations, including from the Productivity Commission, Infrastructure Australia and others, and so in late 2016, when the Government announced its response to the Infrastructure Australia 15 year plan, the Prime Minister and I said that we did intend to commission a review of the question of how Australia’s roads are funded and paid for. That would be a 10 to 15 year journey if there were to be any change to our current system, because of course there’d need to be agreement by all of the state and territory governments as well as the Commonwealth Government. We’d need to be satisfied it was a better system, a fairer system, and a system that produced better roads. But we are spending $24 billion a year on our roads, so there’s very substantial expenditure. Many Australians don’t understand, or are not aware that they are paying to use our roads today through the fuel excise system, through state motor vehicle registration charges, through a whole range of other ways, and so it is worth having a look at what is the system today, and are there any changes that could be made to it? But as I say …

Paul Kennedy: [Interrupts] Paul Fletcher, just asking on behalf of- I think the number is two out of three people use their car to get to work, but in some parts, further out, some people have to get to the city—four in five have to drive from outer suburbs. In some places, like outer Melbourne, talk about infrastructure, infrastructure hasn’t quite caught up with those communities, so they have to drive. Some are paying tolls. Some are struggling to afford driving their cars already. How would road pricing affect those people?

Paul Fletcher: Look, that’s a really good summary of some of the issues that any review would have to look at, and I emphasise that any change in this area is a 10 to 15 year journey, but it’s worth bearing in mind that people in outer suburbs, people in rural Australia who are travelling longer distances are already paying more to use our roads today because they’re using more fuel. So the question to look at is could there be a fairer system, could there be a system that would give us better roads? That’s worth looking at, but it’s worth taking a thorough look at. This is about any change here being a 10 to 15 year journey, not anything to happen overnight, but we do want to have a thorough look at some of these issues."

and the Report from the Productivity Commission which recommended a review (the section on Transport covers much of this costing issue):


Electric vehicles are certainly the future.Love the move England has done in the city,by only allowing electric vehicles only great way of cutting down the smog.Not sure when it starts i’m sure someone knows.Be great to see other cities around the world to do the same thing.Would certainly help the environment and peoples health especially in those cities where they are chocking on smog daily


Hydrogen vehicles are still leading edge, but here they come.


Fast fill-up is only useful if you are near a service point, otherwise its a no-fill-up. Regardless of any supposed advantage of technical merit the winner between E and H cars will be the one that builds an efficient network first. People won’t buy the cars til the network is there and won’t build the network til the customers are there. This is the Beta/VHS situation, each battling to get enough titles/machines into the market. VHS got over the hump where growth in both became reinforcing before Beta did.

I think the recharge time of batteries will reduce before the hydrogen network is in place. One confounding possibility is if a central authority like government or a big transport consortium builds it in the hope that they will come, this solution will take much coordination and capital. I think providing a charge point at most homes (maybe using their own solar power) will happen much sooner than local H stations. This requires no coordination, little capital and fits the distributed model being taken up now with gusto. Thus E will beat H.

These commercial/cultural competitive situations are very like Darwinian evolution in some ways. Success can be determined as much by where you start from, and the possible paths leading from there, as finding the best objective to go towards. Biologists recognise this and declare that evolution has no specific destination or pre-defined objectives. Politicians shake their heads and wonder why nothing ever works the way they plan.


Yes, current electric vehicle direction coild be compared to vhs, beta and possibly dozens of alternative systems as each manufacture is going its own way.

There was talk early on about having a battery exchange program, whereby one stops and the used battery in a vehicle is swapped for fully charged battery…the exchange takes minutes rather than up to the potentially many hours to charge the insitu battery.

Unfortunately the car industry is intent on each manufacturer doing their own thing and as a result vehicles being manfactured have non-swap battery systems. This will ultimately may be the Achilles heal of the battery electric cars. Recharging insitu batteries may be okay for drivers only using their vehicles for short distances each day (where charging can occur overnight/at work when vehicle is not in use), but won’t necessary be the best solution for those drivers who do long distances, even if they are done infrequently. Exceed the distance capacity of the battery, and one needs to charge the battery on route for considerable time (to get back to a full battery to continue the journey).

Yes battery recharging if becoming faster through higher voltage systems (both batteroes and docking systems), but fast charging may also be to the detriment of the batteries longevity.

The other failing of Lithium batties is long term capacities. Every time a battery is charged and discharged, the next fully charged capacity is slightly less than the previous one. It will be interesting to see how the longevity of battery electric systems stack up when there is slow degradation with continual, albeit slow, degradation of the battery.

There is also lower ranges when the batteries are not used under optimial conditions (range decreases when the battery is placed under additiinal load or stress).

This is where hydrogen battery (or mixed fuel systemsn such as petrol/diesel battery systems) will have advantages over pure batter car systems for the average user (unless of course the average user changes behaviour to meet the limitations of the battery system).

The main downside for hydrogen is there is a huge energy losses to create the hydrogen, especially if ir is sourced from water.

Also the infrastructure is virtually in place for hydrogen, there are existing distribution networks that compressed fuel companies use (propaje/butane) as well as it would be realitively easy to modify existing petrol stations to also provide hydrogen.

With battery recharge stations, there would need to be sufficient placed at locations to meet the peak demand for recharging at that location (gold plated recharging network will be needed). Such will be a significant and costly task likely to be borned either by the taxpayer or through a user pays system. With different manufacturers dorin their own thing, the installation of a multi-manufacturuer charging system becomes more difficult or costly as well.

Just think of the number of vehicles which drive say between Brisbane and Sydney or Sydney and Melbourne each day and the number of charging stations positioned strategically to service these moving vehicles if they were all battery electric. While I don’t know the vehicle numbers, it could be expected that 1000s or even 10000s of docking stations would be needed along the route otherwise the queues to recharge will be very long and driver may have to wait hours or even days (for long recharging times) for a station to become free. The advantage of hydrogen is the number of refuelling facilities will be similar to that which exists today.

I am not sure this will every be a reality as cars with <75kW batteries would need very large PV systems (about 18kW or 80 panel system for the car battery of 75kW alone) to meet the recharge requirements of a electric car. Most dwellings would not have the space/area to install such large PV systems.

Article on Toyota moving towards hydrogen future.


We need a diversification in fuels, hydrogen, LNG, CNG, ELECTRICITY, LPG away from petroleum products.This country is abundant in the former. The petroleum refinery and retail industry is dominated by the major oil company’s, 90% of our oil is now imported. Let’s get back to local energy and nation energy self sufficiency.


The ABC News website has an article this morning regarding CSIRO scientists commencing road testing today of their breakthrough technology which provides hydrogen fuel from ammonia.

The scientists advise that the average hydrogen powered car will be able to travel around 800 Km for a fuel cost of about $75.

I guess Big Oil won’t be very happy about the breakthrough.

Elon Musk probably won’t be too excited either.


The break through is just one improved solution towards making hydrogen an effective alternative fuel. It provides one alternative to storing and transporting hydrogen in bulk more safely.

It is not really about the hydrogen car being any better at being a car.

Yes it’s a great opportunity that needs the excitement to generate more support. It may or may not be part of the future. Hydrogen cars will still hold pure hydrogen and not ammonia per the press release. Still potential bombs.

Ammonia is also not safe. Ammonia is also a not so nice chemical compound. It is just easier to manage than hydrogen. There are different risks. Very low levels of ammonia are in the environment all around us at one or two parts per million. Liquid ammonia boils at -33 degrees Celsius. So if you let it escape it becomes a gas which is deadly to most living things, at very low concentrations. It burns and damages internal tissue in our lungs and airways. In water it is also deadly to marine life in very low concentrations. For plants in low concentrations it is a nutrient (think fertiliser), but too much promotes algae blooms in waterways. The fact it is also a component of many powerful household cleaners is an indicator of how agressice a compound it can be.

It will be interesting to see how this develops with real world economics applied.


Hi Mark.
The article does actually state that the ammonia is converted back to hydrogen before being put in vehicles.
“It is converted back into hydrogen using their membrane, then pumped into hydrogen-powered cars.”
It will certainly be interesting to see how it all plays out.
I recall seeing a documentary some time ago which compared the safety of hydrogen to petrol in the case of an accident and a fire. It showed that the hydrogen burnt instantly whilst the petrol burnt for a long period of time.
The CSIRO information states that a tank of hydrogen will allow a car to travel around twice the distance of a petrol car and for about half the cost per tankful.
If he was still alive, Joh would have been saying “I told you so”.
I have posted a link to a 2006 ABC article about it.


All good info.
I’m just a little cautious about getting too excited as I’ve worked in the real world surrounded by both products. I would wish to live further away from a servo storing large volumes of ammonia which might be the reality one day.

Hydrogen can burn very rapidly, if you look at the Hindenburg for instance. Given some conditions it can also be highly explosive, burning instantaneously. And given other conditions it will burn steadily much like a gas stove burner, but with an invisible flame you cannot see ( a fire you do not know about).

Edit: Added the following link to a guide on the considerations of the safe storage and use of anhydrous ammonia. As a community the risks are well understood. It is always stored and used in highly controlled environments because of the potential for harm from leakage at very low concentrations.


This often comes up… if we look at the advances in solar and battery efficiencies then it won’t be too long before you can just pull over and setup you personal solar array (if you’re out back of Bourke with no fuel) whereas if you out back of Bourke with no fossil fuel…

Tesla is running a recycling service for batteries and a lot of solar farms etc are looking at this too. Sure, lithium needs to be mined but if it can be recycled responsibly it’s a lot better than oil and gas that is just burned off.

About 20 years ago I was looking into using hydrogen cells to power electric scooters… it was interesting stuff… the cells were about the size of a 1.25lt water and were charged up via a domestic charging station which was pretty much a metal wardrobe. Efficiency at the time was not huge but it was still much better than batteries back then. There was still quite a bit of study to do but the major push back was the fear people had for hydrogen… when ever I mentioned hydrogen, due to thermonuclear weaponry, particularly the H-bomb, people would look aghast… “Won’t that be dangerous? Everyone riding around with a nuclear bomb?”

I look forward to seeing more alternative fuels out there but it takes a lot to convince the sheeople :expressionless:


I can never leave a straight line. Although it might not be too long, I for one am not interested in camping out under the stars until then.

More to the point, for now most of us are clever enough to manage a petrol/diesel supply and take a few jerry cans of fuel to get across the empty spaces. Having to do (eg) a mid-Simpson recharge is a different experience.

It is as much influencing the pollies to have real policies to support advances, as it is influencing people to buy into them. I think you are underestimating how the consumer will respond when given an economically viable, reliable alternative where there is a reasonably robust and practical solution for range in place.


I hope this was your little joke. For those not in on the fun the water powered car espoused by Joh was a fake created by a charlatan. Joh had a predilection for such things, he supported a number of extremely dodgy inventions including a fake cancer cure. Whether he was himself taken in by these frauds of he quickly recognised a fellow scammer and was just ‘feeding the chickens’ as he was wont to say, is hard to know.


The efficiency of the hydrogen cycle tops out at about 30%. Adding the ammonia cycle would further reduce that. Batteries can exceed 80%.