CHOICE membership

Electric and Alternative Vehicle Fuels


Indeed I haven’t. I need to get to the Newcastle/Central Coast for the next few days, but have a fair bit to do first. My wife is driving down today, but I’m planning to ride most of the way tomorrow, just using pedal power :wink:
It’s going to be an early start :new_moon_with_face:


The time related ro a standard charge compared to a rapid charge. The time difference between these is hours not minutes. If one is willing to save time using a rapid charger, this may impact on the battery more so than compared to a standard charge.


I think you’re right. Those wedded to their smartphone seem to have no trouble remembering to plug it in at every opportunity regardless of state of charge.


Segway lanes in built-up areas…


Government will love that. Their coffers will swell.


There is another interesting article on the ABC News website today regarding the CSIRO hydrogen powered car testing.

I am sceptical about the claim by Dr Jake Whitehead that hydrogen fuel will cost more than $2.00 a litre which flies in the face of the CSIRO advice that the cars will travel around 700 Km at a cost of about $75.00.

An RAC article dated 21.02.2018 states that Hyundai advised that their Nexo hydrogen powered car can travel 800 Km on a tank for a cost of less than $90.00.

Perhaps the good doctor is a tad miffed that it was Australia’s leading scientific organisation and not UQ who made this breakthrough right in UQ’s back yard.

I also note that he is a civil engineer, not a chemical engineer, and his research interests include electric vehicles.

Considering that petroleum requires exploration, wells, pipelines, transport across the globe, refining, and transport across Australia before retailing for around $1.50 per litre for Unleaded 91 and less than $1.00 per litre for LPG, I would expect that large scale production of hydrogen would result in lower costs than petroleum fuels.


I did wonder about the CSIRO claim. The unavoidable fact is that the hydrogen fuel cycle is comically inefficient. The ammonia cycle on top merely adds to the inefficiency. IIRC, AEMO reported that Australia’s solar resources are about 10,000 times consumption, so it can be done. Has to impact cost though.


Hydrogen is expensive and difficult to manufacture, transport and store, I expect actual prices to be above the optimistic suggestions being bandied around now.
If it is going to be produced using renewable energy, then that partly covers for some of the inefficiencies of the processing required, but right now, our grid is mostly fossil fuel powered, so we’d be burning coal to produce Hydrogen if done by electrolysis, hardly a good environmental outcome, or otherwise extracting it from Methane, as is mostly done now… likely to lead to more CSG wells, also a bad environmental outcome.

Personally I don’t think it is likely to progress very far, given how efficient Lithium batteries are.


Is that an issue? If you’re sleeping/at work/doing the shopping, who cares? I’m struggling to see a real need for rapid charging. To me, it looks like a marketing gimmick - one that will probably fade away within a decade.

That brings up another factor - autonomous vehicles. If we can call for a vehicle that’s appropriate for the job at hand, have it turn up, then go to its next assignment when we’ve finished with it, do we need to own a vehicle at all?


Indeed, it is probably more accurately referred to as a very inefficient energy storage system, rather than a fuel.


Practically not at all!
It’s all in the minds of the marketing gurus and manufacturers who will see their business model broken and massive declines in sales through so many fewer vehicles needed. All old technology will be relegated to static museum displays, and memories like the bullockies of old. Imagine a driverless Bathurst with silent projectiles hurtling down con-rod?

In total agreement the quoted costs appear optimistic. They have not been substantiated or qualified by the source?

There is a need to consider all the costs including production. Something will need to replace the lost tax income from the lost sales of hydrocarbon fuels. A super big tax on hydrogen is one option.

Another pricing risk is one or two big conglomerates will tie up key patents for any core technology essential to a hydrogen fuel future. Between governments and private companies it is reasonable to predict the price per km travelled for hydrogen fuelled transport will always equal or exceed the carbon alternatives. After all we already pay more for E10 fuel per km, while lpg has more than doubled in price to be uncompetitive.

Will the world agree to hydrogen technology patent being free for all to use?


History has many good ideas that for whatever reason were relegated to obscurity.

Remember the Sarich Orbital Engine? It was petrol but initially touted to be cheap to manufacture, light, and fuel efficient. In the end it did not go well :frowning:

How about the Pritchard steam car? I met Ted Pritchard around 2004 and his tale about how he was led along to do tweaks on his own capital, and finally done over by lowball licensing offers, put him in bankruptcy. His description of his car engine reminded me of an automotive thermoblock - seconds to startup and off you went.


To quote the RAC WA article linked above:

Unlike petrol, hydrogen does not actually fuel the vehicle, but acts as a storage medium for electrical energy like a battery.

I was surprised to read:

Although hydrogen cars need batteries to store electricity, they get away with lighter and cheaper battery packs than required by EVs.

So hydrogen vehicles are more like hybrids.

That’s probably where the main interest lies for Choice.

There will still be manufacturers, though their market might shrink (if poorer communities find that they can now afford transportation, it might actually expand).

There will still be dealers, though they will sell very few vehicles. Most of their business will be in providing a service - transport. Imagine all those autonomous vehicles, returning to the dealership for maintenance, recharging, garaging or whatever, to await their next assignment.


Some devil’s advocacy here.

There has been considerable reference to efficiency in the interesting to and fro above, but little about basic resource constraints.

In our water parched continent water is generally a scarce commodity. Using a single example to make a wider point, no matter how efficient or inefficient power generation may be, a plant that uses less water could be the only viable option in the absence of more significant overriding constraints.

Further, the assumption is coal, petroleum, and gas are finite. Perhaps technology will one day deliver those commodities from man made processes, but not today. OTOH if something is plentiful and renewable in a balance that sustains or at least minimally affects life, does it matter how efficient it is?


It was in the context of long distance travel, where the distance and required duration exceeds the capacity of the battery or the expected duration of the driver/passengers.

I personally would not be all that impressed having to wait hours/overnight each 400km of a journey waiting for the car batter to recharge. This is the issue and has been a significant limitation of battery systems.

Using rapid charge technologies has the potential to reduce the functional life of a battery/its return charge capacity.

Downside of using rapid charges, if they don’t affect battery warranties, is something which one needs to consider. Namely, reducing charge times at the expense of the battery.

Time waiting to continue a journey will be far more critical than battery impacts as one also needs to consider the time to wait for a standard charge (e.g. accommodation and additonal meals while [overnight] charge occurs). At the end if the day, it may be more cost effective to rapid charge and potentially impact on the batteries than doing a slower standard charge.

The other downside to lithium is many locations where it exists and available for mining, the environmental impact will be significant. For example, Bolivia’s salt lakes which once mined, may take 1000s, if ever, to return to premined or stable conditions. While lithium is a useful metal for battery systems, there are externalities which also need to be considered before jumping head first into exploiting the earth’s resource for a potentially short term solution.


Like that at Millmeran that uses 90% less water than a conventional plant. The same technologies could be added to new/retrofited to existing power generating plants which use steam turbines, to reduce water use. Anything is possible, but comes at a price.


Indeed. Photosynthesis isn’t very efficient. That doesn’t seem to have stopped plants. :grinning:

The questions then become:

  • which is most efficient?
  • Which are efficient enough?

In this context, battery technology seems most efficient. Is hydrogen efficient enough?

As the article notes, if you’ve travelled 500 km, it’s probably time to take a rest. If you really feel a need to drive for 15 hours non-stop, then I guess gas-guzzlers will be available for a while yet. I strongly doubt hydrogen will be an option in the lifetime of anyone alive today - if ever.

You’ll need to link to your sources for those assertions. Here’s a balanced overview:

So you’re saying that a coal-fired power plant uses less water than a solar array of equivalent output?


And a more humorous take:


Yes, but you took an example I used to make a wider point and made it a specific. I believe my point still stands. Perhaps put another way one ‘size’ will not fit all because of variations of what constitute scarce resources, that could become overriding considerations.

That ignores long distance where there are relief drivers and ‘time is of the essence’. Assuming there is a shift to ‘something else’ it will be one-way, and at some point if the issue of range and refuelling/recharging is not solved ‘transport’ could become collateral damage one way or another.

It is getting harder and harder to know which fact is most factual. From the linked article ‘The primary sources of lithium are from the Atacama Desert in Chile, and the Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia’, and that could be referring to specific mining sites, but we are way up there as a country.

This SMH article could be subscription walled to some, but the gist is ‘Western Australia is tipped to produce more than half of the world’s lithium supply by the end of this year, as new mines come online and the world’s appetite for the materials used to make batteries for electric vehicles grows.’

And a more humorous take: If the search for life referenced in the Daily Kos found none around the mines except for some flamingos, WA might get more desolate than it is.


Having been in Chile recently and seen the impacts first hand, there is no need to post a link. The impacts in Bolivia are just, if not more significant. One can also google if they chose to as there are numerous papers in Google Scholar which provide infromation on the mining and processing risks of lithium, as well as other metals used in battery production.

I prefer to either see things myself or review independent journal articles rather that that posted by the popular and often biased, other forms of information dissemination.