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Tesla CEO Elon Musk: Fuel Cells Are 'So Bull@%!#'

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the oh-the-humanity dept.

Transportation 479

Frosty P sends this quote from AutoblogGreen: "Elon Musk is unafraid to speak his mind. Whether he's talking about other players in the electric vehicle space or sub-par reporting from The New York Times, this is a man with few filters. Musk says that fuel cells are not part of the solution that electric vehicles offer for giving up the hydrocarbon addiction. After commenting that the only reason some automakers are pursuing hydrogen technology is for marketing purposes, that lithium batteries are superior mass- and volume-wise for a given range, and that fuel cells are too expensive, Musk capped it all off with the safety issue. 'Oh god, a fuel cell is so bull@%!#,' Musk said. 'Hydrogen is quite a dangerous gas. You know, it's suitable for the upper stage of rockets, but not for cars,' he said."

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Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (4, Insightful)

clonehappy (655530) | about a year ago | (#45216177)

In many regards, but especially to Mr. Musk's business model.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (5, Funny)

durrr (1316311) | about a year ago | (#45216245)

Hydrogen gas is quite safe, if a tank is just punctured, it will remove itself harmlessly from the vicinity.
If the tank is ruptured and the gas set on fire, you might set a tree overhang on fire, but the car will avoid most of the damage. Unlike gas that pools under the car in a manner perfect for human BBQ.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#45216273)

Whoosh?

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216353)

Bull$#!^

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216441)

Just like the roof in Fukushima.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

zoomshorts (137587) | about a year ago | (#45216303)

Did you forget the Hindenberg? Hydrogen can explode, as well as burn. Back to elementary chemistry for you Bubba.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (4, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45216443)

Did you forget the Hindenberg? Hydrogen can explode, as well as burn. Back to elementary chemistry for you Bubba.

The cause of the Hindenberg incident has never actually been determined. [wikipedia.org] Maybe do a little research yourself before launching the ad hominems, eh?

Thanks for playing.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (1, Informative)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year ago | (#45216507)

Hindenburg.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216649)

spelling doesn't matter for transliterated names, as long as the english pronunciation is close enough to the original language.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (3, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45216697)

In that case, I'm going to start calling it the Hyndinbourgh.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (3, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45216795)

Hindenburg isn't transliterated, it's German, which uses the exact same alphabet as English (with the exception of four additional characters). So spelling does matter.

If you were talking about an Arabic or Chinese name, you'd be correct.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (3, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#45216911)

You don't need to transliterate it, it is written on the side. [msn.com]

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (2)

quantumred (1311571) | about a year ago | (#45216745)

Did you forget the Hindenberg? Hydrogen can explode, as well as burn. Back to elementary chemistry for you Bubba.

The cause of the Hindenberg incident has never actually been determined. [wikipedia.org] Maybe do a little research yourself before launching the ad hominems, eh?

Thanks for playing.

What? The fact no one is sure what sparked the fire doesn't invalidate his point that hydrogen can explode/burn.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (5, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45216859)

The Hindenberg cause of ignition hasn't been determined, but hydrogen wasn't deadly to the people. It rises faster than it burns, so the flame front will go up as it burns, leaving those on the ground safe. And unlike nearly every other fuel, the combustion product is safe. Most people who die in home fires die from smoke. The "smoke" from hydrogen fire is water.

"Hydrogen fires are notable for being less destructive to immediate surroundings than gasoline explosions because of the buoyancy of H2, which causes heat of combustion to be released upwards more than circumferentially as the leaked mass ascends in the atmosphere; hydrogen fires are more survivable than fires of gasoline and of wood. The hydrogen in the Hindenburg burned out within about 90 seconds."

Hydrogen fires are some of the safest to be around. Most of the people inside on the ship at the time survived the Hindenberg disaster. The fire wasn't as deadly as many other transportation accidents with diesel or jet fuel or gasoline.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (3, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45216545)

Yes, it's so dangerous I remember them demoing it in elementary school. Indoors. Without so much as warning the fire department. They filled some balloons with hydrogen and then lit them with a match. It was so horribly explosive, students had to stay at least 10 whole feet away. So dangerous, you'd miss the fireball it if you blinked.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (5, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#45216637)

Did you forget the Hindenberg? Hydrogen can explode, as well as burn. Back to elementary chemistry for you Bubba.

The Hindenberg did not explode. It burned quickly, but most of the hydrogen burned outside of the frame. Of the 97 people on board, the majority survived. Many of those that died were killed by gravity, not heat. As long as your electric vehicle doesn't rely on hydrogen's buoyancy to keep it suspended hundreds of feet above the ground, you will likely be fine. The problem with hydrogen is not safety, but economics.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (1)

HedRat (613308) | about a year ago | (#45216753)

Oh, the humanity!

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (4, Funny)

lesincompetent (2836253) | about a year ago | (#45216345)

Hydrogen gas is quite safe, if a tank is just punctured, it will remove itself harmlessly from the vicinity. If the tank is ruptured and the gas set on fire, you might set a tree overhang on fire, but the car will avoid most of the damage. Unlike gas that pools under the car in a manner perfect for human BBQ.

This message is brought to you by Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin and Paul von Hindenburg!

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216415)

Add to that just how well pressurized canisters are made. Propane has similar "oh God it's a vapour and will kill you properties". The tanks are bulletproof (yes, seriously, it takes excessively large ammunition and a lot of time to puncture a propane tank made to DOT specifications--these aren't BBQ tanks--and even then, they still don't explode).

I would rather be in my propane car than any gas car any day in an accident. Heck, even the propane fuel line has an automatic shutoff (based entirely on the physics of it leaking out too quickly and nothing else, no electronics and no other feedback mechanism) should the line be ruptured.

Even the filling mechanism (assuming you're not filling up at a several decades old pump with those silly bleeder valves, and that your tank isn't decades old and lacking an auto shutoff) is much safer than gasoline. The location of the tanks is even safer than gas tanks. They're rarely located underneath the vehicle, but rather in the cargo space (with proper direct external ventilation as required by law). The gasoline tank on my car, which they were still building just 2 years ago, is between the axle and trunk! Idiotic!

The one thing that hydrogen does have as a more dangerous aspect is the lower and upper explosive limits. It's certainly easier to touch off than propane, gasoline, natural gas, etc.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216743)

Propane doesn't cause hydrogen embrittlement of the metal the tank is made of. Propane in the tank is also liquid, not highly pressurized (few thousand PSI) gas.

Tanks for H2 need to be lined (which can wear out over time) or constructed of exotic (expensive) materials.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (1)

c-A-d (77980) | about a year ago | (#45216873)

It is still pressurized to about 250psi (if I remember correctly from my LPG pumping days).

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45216843)

The location of the tanks is even safer than gas tanks. They're rarely located underneath the vehicle, but rather in the cargo space

Yep, that's the main problem with propane and LNG/CNG-powered cars. Since the big-ass tank is in the cargo space, you now have no more cargo space (or very little).

In most modern gas-powered cars I've seen, the gas tank is underneath the rear seat: it's between the two axles, yet in a space where there's no other practical use for that space. Most car owners like to have a decent amount of cargo room.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216877)

What propane tanks are you referring to? Bullet proof to what, paintball, BB, .22? Apparently you've never shot at steel targets before, nor with .223, .357, .44, .308, etc. Unless they're 1" hardened steel, you're right, it would take multiple shots. The liquid propane would still spray and dump all over the ground and as it vaporizes, still burn. For the same effect, take a can of liquid air, and slowly drip the liquid on to something. Eventually you can get a pool of the liquid on the table.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216455)

Hydrogen gas is quite safe, if a tank is just punctured, it will remove itself harmlessly from the vicinity.

Yes, and no.

The gas is fine, and there are decent ways of storing, but you are suggesting that it be stored in a pressurized tank? And that punctures are nothing to worry about? You're crazy, dude.

The reason why pneumatics are so dangerous compared to hydraulics is that gasses do not depressurize instantaneously in a leak, so you can have a very dangerous invisible stream of pressurized gas, even before considering flammability.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#45216669)

Are you suggesting it's *not* stored in a pressurised tank? You'd travel about three foot on that amount of hydrogen.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216849)

He might be saying that, yes. Check out the magic of chemistry:
http://noscope.com/2005/hydrogen-pill-storage/

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216707)

The problem with hydrogen fires is that the flame is damn-near invisible, especially in daylight. You could set yourself on fire walking into the flame (from a leak, say) because you don't see it.

I

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (4, Funny)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about a year ago | (#45216297)

In many regards, but especially to Mr. Musk's business model.

So, you're proposing that Tesla will face competition from a car that uses alternatives to alternative fuel?

Hofstadter would be proud.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (4, Insightful)

RenderSeven (938535) | about a year ago | (#45216439)

You may be right, but then again a) Musk doesnt seemed very worried, and b) if good fuel cells became available he's in a better position than most to adopt them.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (0)

borcharc (56372) | about a year ago | (#45216533)

Musk's business model for building power-trains is safe but the whole cars based on lithium batteries is rocky at best. Tesla's charging system is a joke, having to go park in some far off small town and wait a hour for your car to recharge is not a solution to range anxiety. Maybe ultra capacitors could solve the recharge time/lithium battery issue, but I am unaware of anyone pursuing that. Hydrogen fuel cell powered electric vehicles have fast refill and long term will have better performance. As fuel cells are in continued development, I am unaware of any new game changing battery tech that will solve its limitations.

Most commercial hydrogen is produced by reformation of natural gas (similar source as electricity). Personally I would rather just have natural gas powered cars until more cost effective methods of producing hydrogen are developed. The real game changer by Musk is showing how cheaply a car can be built in a modern automated facility, the majors and their unions should take notice.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (5, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45216883)

Tesla's charging system is a joke, having to go park in some far off small town and wait a hour for your car to recharge is not a solution to range anxiety

n.b. I own a Leaf.

Range anxiety is real, but subsides pretty quickly when you realize that since your car tops off every day when you get home, you're rarely in danger of exceeding your range -- and that's true even for me, living in a suburb of Phoenix with it's massive sprawl.

While you certainly need to conscious of your driving plans and charger locations, rarely do you have to divert to some far-away location. Most of the time you're driving your car, it's to work and back, or running errands, or out socializing -- and there's a pretty good chance that you're going to end up somewhere where there's a charger already in the front row waiting for you at your destination. There's 232 Blink chargers alone in Phoenix proper and over 500 in Metro Phoenix -- and that doesn't count chargers from the other companies.

You don't go somewhere foreign to charge. You just top off occasionally while you're already doing what you're doing - many times for free.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45216909)

Musk's business model for building power-trains is safe but the whole cars based on lithium batteries is rocky at best. Tesla's charging system is a joke, having to go park in some far off small town and wait a hour for your car to recharge is not a solution to range anxiety.

The Model S can go at least 200 miles between charges (depending on exact model, they have different battery packs available). Most people don't drive that far in a day, with the prime exception being road trips. Most people don't take a lot of road trips; they use their car for commuting and local travel. The charging system isn't a joke, it's a solution for those rare times that you want to take a road trip and would prefer to use your Tesla rather than renting a gas car to do it. Besides, what's wrong with waiting an hour? You need to stop for food anyway, so if you can recharge at or near the place you stop to eat, then you're not losing any time.

Hydrogen is dangerous only because. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216569)

I recently wrote an article on the ability to extract hydrogen from plants and a discovery by Percival Yang but the results of the discovery means that hydrogen can be extracted from plants at almost maximum efficiency in a low cost enzyme based process. Not only did Zang discover a way of way of extracting the hydrogen but he also went out an a limb and suggested another method using hydrocarbon storage of the extracted hydrogen as a method of holding the hydrogen in a safe and easily extractable form of storage. It wouldn't have the ability to go boom with car accidents and wouldn't require huge temperatures to extract the hydrogen. It would be safe or safer than lithium batteries. It would however require a beginning startup period where electric batteries would be required for the first 15 minutes of vehicle operation.

This discovery met ALL of the long term goals of power density, including an equivalent to 300 to 500 mile power density.

So in short I think Mr. Musk is wrong.

Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216709)

Air-Fuel Cells *should* have the best of both the battery and ICE worlds:

Unlike combustion engines, fuel cells aren't limited by the Otto cycle demand for high pressure = high efficiency. High pressures = heavier containment.
Unlike batteries, air-fuel cells don't have to lug around their own oxidizers. Oxidizers are heavy. A typical car gas tank (15 gal / 45kg) needs 150 kg of oxygen to burn it. Getting that for "free" from the environment is a huge advantage.

The basic physics makes a great case for fuel cells; it's just the implementation that's hard. Maybe someone will crack that design problem soon. On the other hand, the same is true for nuclear fusion.

Well, he's not wrong (4, Insightful)

atlasdropperofworlds (888683) | about a year ago | (#45216181)

But the danger of fuel cells is not so much from the hydrogen storage part, you can engineer around that - ffs lithium batteries can burn too, and they carry their own oxidizers to do it, it's more from the fact that the cheapest source of hydrogen will be from gasification of fossil fuels, and from the fact that hydrogen via electrolysis is horribly inefficient, and then you actually have to build an infrastructure for the hydrogen distribution...

Re:Well, he's not wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216335)

One strange thing about the way lithium batteries burn, when the battery undergo a controlled burn online images exaggerated it.

Re:Well, he's not wrong (4, Insightful)

atlasdropperofworlds (888683) | about a year ago | (#45216505)

Again, you can engineer around how they burn. That is not the issue. The issue with hydrogen as a fuel is that it's a stupid idea: Just process fossil fuels again, and have cars the "burn" the product using a remarkably complex machine. No wonder it's taking decades to get to market. Batteries are far simpler, can be recycled, and don't require us to build any new infrastructure.

Re:Well, he's not wrong (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216399)

In europe, en netherlands in particular we have a gas distribution system for cars. liquified petroleum gas is already safely implemented in many cars without any major incidents. It's sold by all gas stations except those in city centers. So transport, en storage is not a real big issue.

The simple fact that you can quickly pump gas into a car versus hours of charging is a huge advantage if you want to drive beyond the action radius of a single charge.

Re:Well, he's not wrong (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | about a year ago | (#45216437)

it's more from the fact that the cheapest source of hydrogen will be from gasification of fossil fuels, and from the fact that hydrogen via electrolysis is horribly inefficient

You don't say.... I hear that won't be true for much longer though... [oilprice.com]

Re:Well, he's not wrong (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year ago | (#45216445)

Interesting. Those sound like the same problems that batteries have: the main source of electricity is fossil fuels, and the need for infrastructure for charging stations.

Re:Well, he's not wrong (2, Informative)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#45216773)

The new infrastructure needed for charging stations is not anywhere near as great as would be needed if we switched to fuel cells for cars.

Re:Well, he's not wrong (4, Interesting)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#45216881)

No, not the same thing at all. Hydrogen is usually produced directly from fossil fuels within the chemical reaction itself (see here [wikipedia.org] for details). This is in opposition to electricity for batteries, which is just as good coming from a solar plant as it is from a coal or gas plant. Hydrogen can also be produced from electrolysis, which is actually the most popular way to talk about it in schools, but it's very inefficient and expensive in terms of energy.

Re:Well, he's not wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216459)

and what is the cheepest source of electricity to charge those lion cells?

Re:Well, he's not wrong (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45216907)

How do you measure cost?

Wind, solar, hydro, nuclear mostly.

...unless you're in Oklahoma, where they just burn coal endlessly.

And lithium extraction pollutes the earth (4, Insightful)

casings (257363) | about a year ago | (#45216197)

They all have their drawbacks, Elon.

Wait... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216201)

Didn't I just see a Tesla in WA in flames after hitting a bump in the road? Tell me more about your uber-safe batteries...

Re:Wait... (4, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#45216289)

There's a bit more to it than that, jackass. [teslamotors.com]

a Model S traveling at highway speed struck a large metal object, causing significant damage to the vehicle. A curved section that fell off a semi-trailer was recovered from the roadway near where the accident occurred and, according to the road crew that was on the scene, appears to be the culprit. The geometry of the object caused a powerful lever action as it went under the car, punching upward and impaling the Model S with a peak force on the order of 25 tons. Only a force of this magnitude would be strong enough to punch a 3 inch diameter hole through the quarter inch armor plate protecting the base of the vehicle.

As well, the firefighters made it worse before they made it better:

"When the fire department arrived, they observed standard procedure, which was to gain access to the source of the fire by puncturing holes in the top of the battery's protective metal plate and applying water. For the Model S lithium-ion battery, it was correct to apply water (vs. dry chemical extinguisher), but not to puncture the metal firewall, as the newly created holes allowed the flames to then vent upwards into the front trunk section of the Model S. Nonetheless, a combination of water followed by dry chemical extinguisher quickly brought the fire to an end."

Re:Wait... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216393)

causing significant damage to the vehicle.

Wait, didn't we hear just a few weeks ago that because Tesla cars are engineered so brilliantly, they are like 1000x times stronger than regular cars and don't damage?

with a peak force on the order of 25 tons

OMG, peak force. What was the duration of the peak, 0.00025 microseconds?

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216523)

OMG, peak force. What was the duration of the peak, 0.00025 microseconds?

Anyone know the peak force that a mosquito exerts while it is biting?

Re:Wait... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45216623)

Why would the duration matter, unless you think cars being impaled from underneath with 25 tons of force for any duration is normal? Who the hell taught you how to drive?

Re:Wait... (1)

atlasdropperofworlds (888683) | about a year ago | (#45216647)

Good thing it hit a battery pack. Considering it was sufficient to go through an inch of metal it would have had no problem impaling the driver of a different car.

Re:Wait... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216761)

Obviously, long enough to cause "a curved section that fell off a semi-trailer" to create "a 3 inch diameter hole through the quarter inch armor plate". (3 inches being about 7.6cm, and 1/4 inch being a little over 6mm).

they are like 1000x times stronger than regular cars and don't damage?

For any engineered device, there's a level of force that can act on it to damage it. Obviously, the vehicle encountered something that shouldn't be considered a standard road condition, and it handled it better than a vehicle with a gas tank might've under similar circumstances.

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216419)

Sadly, I can only upmod you once.

Re:Wait... (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45216655)

It was totaled after hitting a large piece of metal at speed. A similar-size gasoline car would have probably killed the driver, and probably caught on fire as well. Did you forget that everyone else is driving around with a tankful of highly flammable liquid in their car?

Other car manufacturers... (0)

guytoronto (956941) | about a year ago | (#45216225)

Other car manufacturers say "batteries are so bullshit".

Be careful what you Mr. Musk. It can be embarrasing when somebody proves you wrong.

Re:Other car manufacturers... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#45216587)

Is to Mr. Musk already a verb?

I didn't realize he was so direct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216227)

I didn't realize he was so direct. I like him.

Re:I didn't realize he was so direct. (5, Funny)

guytoronto (956941) | about a year ago | (#45216279)

He's like the Linus Torvalds of the automotive industry!

Re:I didn't realize he was so direct. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216323)

Tell us the full story. How does his cock taste?

Re:I didn't realize he was so direct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216547)

Wow, quite a leap there. Time for your meds.

Re:I didn't realize he was so direct. (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about a year ago | (#45216633)

Clearly you have a broad experience for frame of reference in this matter from which to draw comparisons?

Re:I didn't realize he was so direct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216819)

You are sex maniac!

Re:I didn't realize he was so direct. (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#45216871)

Tell us the full story. How does his cock taste?

Tell us the full story. Why would you want to know that?

Re:I didn't realize he was so direct. (2)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#45216663)

Yeah, a CEO with the moral courage to bad-mouth competitors' products. Truly, he's a hero for the ages.

That's PR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216251)

Speaking his mind is what he does at meetings with employees. Also, don't his car batteries burn brighter than those in the Dreamliner?

That's been said before. (1)

negativeduck (2510256) | about a year ago | (#45216317)

Same thing was once said about Gas. Your strapping a massive storage of energy to wheels and sending it off at speeds faster than most peoples reaction time. I think the one that batteries have going for it over any other source today is that they can be used and deployed without the need of specialized fueling or anything like that.

That's a hard thing to change, just look at DEF, you still have very limited supply locations if your a general consumer that isn't always going to truckstops.

Re:That's been said before. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216701)

DEF is easy to get... just get a bunch of college students and a keg of Budweister, and let them do the work.

Re:That's been said before. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216813)

speeds faster than most peoples reaction time

What does this even mean? How can a time be smaller than a speed? Which is greater 10 seconds or 55 MPH? You might as well say that my car is heavier than my reaction time too.

Sorry, But He's a Douche (-1, Flamebait)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45216355)

I know this goes 100% against the Slashdot groupthink, but really - this Elon Musk character bores me to no end. If he's not pissing and moaning about the (actually pretty good overall) review his car received on a comedy show, or making excuses for why some of the models he's sold aren't living up to expectations, or acting like a martyr because a certain state won't bend their car selling rules just for little-ol-Elon, he's criticizing everyone and everything that presents a challenge to his own bottom line.

Basically, the dude is Donald Trump, minus the guard-weasel that sleeps on his head.

'Hydrogen is quite a dangerous gas. you know, it's suitable for the upper stage of rockets, but not for cars,' [Musk] said."

Man, just wait until he finds out how many people are unwittingly using the deadly substance dihydrogen monoxide! He might just have a conniption.

Re:Sorry, But He's a Douche (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | about a year ago | (#45216515)

guard-weasel

lol

Re:Sorry, But He's a Douche (1)

atlasdropperofworlds (888683) | about a year ago | (#45216549)

He may well be a douch, but he's not the only one out there, and he is doing something that will push us in the right direction. Also, it takes considerable effort to get hydrogen gas from dihydrogen monoxide. Perhaps he knows this already?

Re:Sorry, But He's a Douche (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216615)

While I will agree that Elon has about all the charm and tact of the average fanboy around here I will say that your calling him out over his claims that hydrogen gas is dangerous because hydrogen is an element to be found in water is about as dumb as it gets.

Re:Sorry, But He's a Douche (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216887)

Top Gear maliciously reviewed his car. They editorialized a perception about his car. Calling it a "comedy show" does not invalidate their motive.

Other kinds of fuel cells (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#45216361)

His comment applies only to hydrogen fuel cells. There are other kinds, and they offer higher energy storage densities. Don't let this guy's comments deter from the research.

Re:Other kinds of fuel cells (1)

atlasdropperofworlds (888683) | about a year ago | (#45216691)

And those will come to market in........

Is Hydrogen more dangerous than other gasses? (1)

Marrow (195242) | about a year ago | (#45216371)

We deal with Propane, Methane, and other gasses which seem like they would carry a lot more energy and thus be more dangerous. Does hydrogen have a lower flashpoint or some other quality which makes it more dangerous? We can oderize the gas like the others.
It seems like hydrogen would be the least dangerous gas. At least it burns cleanly and is not poisonous to breathe. Its light, so it would rise into the atmosphere away from people and property and not hang around near the ground.
Is this all about that black and white movie? Because I saw a fire, not an explosion.

Re:Is Hydrogen more dangerous than other gasses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216483)

It seems like hydrogen would be the least dangerous gas.

Uncontrolled, hydrogen gas will be one of the fastest burning of gases so it is not one of the least dangerous gases.

Re:Is Hydrogen more dangerous than other gasses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216509)

It was the fabric skin of the Hindenburg that was the problem. The hydrogen flashed away fairly fast.

Re:Is Hydrogen more dangerous than other gasses? (4, Insightful)

sfm (195458) | about a year ago | (#45216727)

Hydrogen has a wider range of flammability mixtures than any of those other gasses mentioned.
Unlike propane, hyrdogen liquifies at temperatures too cold for normal use so this storage mechanism is not feasible.
H2 also has a nasty habit of permeating the metal structure of high pressure tanks leading to embrittlement and reduced strength.

These, and other factors, combine to push Hydrogen higher on the list of "dangerous gasses".

Re:Is Hydrogen more dangerous than other gasses? (3, Insightful)

DCFusor (1763438) | about a year ago | (#45216845)

I use an isotope of hydrogen in my lab, in this case deuterium, which is about the same chemically speaking, if anything, a little less reactive (see how they separate the two normally). At any rate, a hose with a few psi supply of it popped off my gear once and was *instantly* on fire - flames invisible at first, but I could hear it, and then see it when the hose material (silicone) itself began to burn. There was no proximate ignition source - maybe some static electricity in the lab.

No other gas even comes close...the guy who provides my welding gasses, for example, even acetylyene which has to be dissolved in acetone to be "safe" at any pressure over 15-20 psi - it self-explodes otherwise (those unsatisfied carbon bonds) - can't even get the license to sell hydrogen, it's far too much a hazmat.

Now you want to let joe sixpack work with the stuff in quanity, all over the world? Yeah, it'll solve the population problem anyway. Along with the other stuff mentioned, like embrittlement, no way to liquify it at normal temperatures, a continuous explosive range with any air mixture...inefficient production, energy-wise...long list.

Sour grapes. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216385)

Hydrogen is as dangerous as a big block of lithium batteries.. ie. not very unless you're doing something stupid.

Bonus. Many fuel cell designs and systems dont need replaced like a lithium battery pack WILL eventually.
He's just bullshitting to drum up some sales.

Someone slap him and tell him to shut up before he says something stupid that costs him alot of money.

energy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216405)

Well, anything that stores high amount of energy per volume tends to be a bomb in the limit of things. Superbatteries of the future will be used by terrorists.

What's the debate? (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45216407)

Fuel cells have been a "promise" for decades. Heavy investment and R&D has not yet come close to yielding a product the mass market can make use of. They will be relegated to niche markets unless some tremendous breakthroughs occur.

Re:What's the debate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216863)

Gasoline from garbage has ...
Flying cars have ...
Benign and efficient communist government has ...
Gas producing algae has ...
Disease repairing nanobots have ...
Honest politicians have ...
Wives and girlfriends who don't want to talk about feelings have ...
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Un-losable car keys have ...
"Happily ever after" has ...

been a "promise" for decades. Heavy investment and R&D has not yet come close to yielding a product the mass market can make use of. They will be relegated to niche markets unless some tremendous breakthroughs occur.

I'm inclined to agree (2, Interesting)

sackvillian (1476885) | about a year ago | (#45216417)

I've seen hundreds of researchers work to try to come up with a car-ready inexpensive fuel cell that's, if not safe, at least not going to level a block during a fender-bender. The conclusion I came to long ago was that the big car makers pursue fuel cells to avoid explaining why they've not pursued (or actively stalled) the development of electric vehicles. The fact is that electric cars have a much, much greater potential to replace internal combustion engines than fuel cells for the near future.

Even just the fact that infrastructure is basically in place for widespread transportation of electricity and not even on the radar for hydrogen gives electric a huge edge!

I'm not saying the technology might not prove itself within a few decades, but if half of the fuel-cell resources were placed into improving batteries, electric vehicles would be damn near ubiquitous by now. Would anyone argue that the existing automakers really wanted that?

Re:I'm inclined to agree (2)

triffid_98 (899609) | about a year ago | (#45216537)

I'm not saying the technology might not prove itself within a few decades, but if half of the fuel-cell resources were placed into improving batteries, electric vehicles would be damn near ubiquitous by now.

Really? Did Elon come to your house and ask you to say that? Battery R+D has been going on, they just keep running into energy density limitations vs combustion based designs. It's not like electric cars are some outrageous new idea, we've had them since the late 1800s.

Forget GM and Ford, think about all of the small lithium powered devices with power hungry chips in them. Most likely you have one in your pocket right now.

Re:I'm inclined to agree (1)

Scott Ragen (3378093) | about a year ago | (#45216847)

You do realise a "fuel cell vehicle" is also known as a "fuel cell electric vehicle? Yes, that's right they make ELECTRICITY not fuel for ICE engines.

Also, what evidence do you have to state that a fender bender would level a block? Hydrogen isn't that dangerous. Li-ion batteries explode and catch on fire too.

What Elon is saying is short sighted and arrogant.

That All Depends... (1, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a year ago | (#45216435)

Musk's criticisms depends on the particular type of "fuel cell" under discussion, I would think. There are many architectures & designs, some which only create small amounts of hydrogen & oxygen from electrolyzing H2O which is burned almost immediately internally which have a very low likelihood of causing/starting an explosion or fire.

There are any number of devices that could be called a "fuel cell". He may be quite correct in his criticisms of what is being currently proposed as automotive "fuel cells". That does not mean a different type/design of "fuel cell" would not be safe & practical.

It's also somewhat like asking MS's marketing their opinion on the suitability of linux as a replacement for Windows. Musk sunk his money into battery-powered-vehicle tech. You expect a favorable statement about that which could possibly threaten his investments?

Strat

Re:That All Depends... (4, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#45216591)

Musk's criticisms depends on the particular type of "fuel cell" under discussion, I would think. There are many architectures & designs, some which only create small amounts of hydrogen & oxygen from electrolyzing H2O which is burned almost immediately internally which have a very low likelihood of causing/starting an explosion or fire.

Sweet! Does it then use the electricity from the fuel cell to electrolyze more water? Or does it perhaps use it to run a fan, which in turn drives a windmill?

Rocket fuels (3, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | about a year ago | (#45216511)

'Hydrogen is quite a dangerous gas. You know, it's suitable for the upper stage of rockets, but not for cars,' he said."

You mean like that other common rocket fuel, gasoline, which is used in the Russian R-12 [wikipedia.org] also known as the Scud missile? Yeap, we would never use that in a car.

Re:Rocket fuels (1)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year ago | (#45216679)

Elon's Falcon 9 rockets use Rocket Propellant 1 (RP-1) as fuel instead of dangerous gasoline.

Remind me, what's the "snark" tag in HTML5 again?

Re:Rocket fuels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216805)

and RP-1 is.............kerosene

Still internal combustion (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216559)

With fuel cells your still use the internal combustion engine, with all its drawbacks. Also, what do you do with the water that is produced when hydrogen burns? If the temperature is below 0 you can't just drip it on the road. Lastly, advancements in battery tech will benefit many industries besides automotive, while fuel cells won't.

story is from an agenda blog rag (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216579)

So a blog called "AutoblogGreen" has an entry in which the phrase "giving up the hydrocarbon addiction" is used. Yeah, I'm sure there are no agendas at work there.

Water - Hydrogen - Space (0)

Dark Fire (14267) | about a year ago | (#45216593)

I believe that using hydrogen for a fuel on a large scale is a terrible idea since it is usually extracted from water and some of it will undoubtedly escape in to space. Over time, all of those leaky vehicles will bleed off more and more hydrogen into space reducing the amount of available water which is essential for weather patterns and life itself.

Filters (1)

Azure Flash (2440904) | about a year ago | (#45216749)

Don't worry if Elon has few filters, everyone else seem to have plenty of filters they are dying to lend him. I'm pretty sure Elon didn't walk up to a reporter and say "Fuel cells are bull at percent bang crunch"...

That word is spelled "bull$#!+" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45216755)

Correcting.

Hydrogen might be the solution for aviation (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about a year ago | (#45216839)

and one of the solutions for large-scale electric power grid storage to accommodate massive expansion of intermittent renewables.

We have to remember that the rational premise is we need to cut carbon emissions almost totally out of the economy, and fast, so why not experiment with multiple technologies as alternative energy and transportation infrastructure.

I don't see lithium battery powered intercontinental jetliners on the horizon any time soon do you? And it goes without saying that aviation can't continue to run on fossil fuel.

Elon Musk went on to say.. (1)

Lohrno (670867) | about a year ago | (#45216889)

Elon Musk went on to say that Biofuels are cocksuckers, he did Clean Natural Gas's mother and compressed air vehicles lick donkey balls...

Quandary (4, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year ago | (#45216895)

As much as I regard Elon as a self-aggrandising pillock, I have to agree with him here.

The perfect fuel cell as used on spacecraft and the like burns hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat and water. Fuel cells intended for use on Earth use air rather than pure oxygen for logistical reasons, air is all around us after all, and the resulting exhaust contains nitrous compounds as well as water. Sometimes the NOx, nitric acid etc. corrodes the red-hot fuel cell catalysts which can be an expensive bummer.

Fuels used in fuel cells can range from hydrogen up through assorted hydrocarbon fuels like butane, ammonia, oddballs like dimethyl ether and the like. Adding carbon gets more energy per kilo of fuel but adds CO2 to the exhaust and possibly traces of other interesting chemicals like CO, cyanogens, dioxins etc. and may cause more damage to the catalysts in conjunction with the NOx compounds.

Hydrogen is a piss-poor fuel for vehicles. It's low-density per joule stored, damages ordinary steels through hydrogen embrittlement and in gas form leaks very easily through joints, gaskets and even through the metal walls of containers given a chance as hydrogen is the smallest molecule known, the escape artist of the periodic table. Liquefying it is energy-intensive, it has to be kept very cold and LH2 is also very low density, the least dense liquid known in fact.

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