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How to Reach 200 MPH on Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the good-use-of-ice dept.

Power 158

the_manatee writes "Ford's 999 hydrogen-powered speedster is making waves for its upcoming speed record attempt in the Bonneville Salt Flats, but details on what's actually going on under the hood have been scarce. As it turns out, there are NASCAR-style brakes, steering, and suspension components, along with 16 Ballard Mk902 fuel cells that produce 350 kW of electricity. All that juice spins up a 770-hp motor and the rest is (hopefully) history. One final ingredient: 400 lbs of ice for cooling, which will melt in seconds once the car gets up to speed."

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AC? (1)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198167)

The DC current generated by the fuel cell stack is fed into an inverter, which converts it to AC current. That current then spins a huge, 770-hp electric motor..
I wonder why not just a DC motor? There must be some advantage which caused them to take this converter-to-AC approach.

Power/Weight Density (3, Informative)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198205)

An AC induction motor has the highest power/weight density of all electric motors. Brushless DC motors are only competitive for very small motors. Even so, they could probably get a better power/weight number by burning the hydrogen in a modified internal combustion engine or in a jet engine.

Re:Power/Weight Density (2, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199269)

From browsing conversion sites, another reason for using an AC motor over a DC one is the ability to do regenerative braking. The DC kits don't offer it. Apparently it's a lot easier to run an AC motor as a generator than a DC one.

Re:Power/Weight Density (2, Informative)

Agripa (139780) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199409)

I am not sure why that would be true. If so it is probably a controller issue. Effective DC regenerative breaking would certainly require an impedance transformation via a switching regulator to be effective but that is no different then dealing with an AC motor. High power AC motor control design certainly benefits from large scale use since high power DC motor applications are relatively rare.

AC motors can be used as incredibly effective non regenerative breaks if DC is applied to the field.

Re:Power/Weight Density (2, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199507)

It may be a controller issue; I can only report what I've seen. Thus far all builds I've seen by auto manufacturers have used AC motors, and even the home brew electric car sites place AC conversions as more effective and efficient than DC conversions. Just more expensive.

Reading through more sites, AC motors are more efficient, last longer, and emit less pollution. Apparently brushes wear out and can spark, leading to ozone creation.

Re:Power/Weight Density (3, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#20200103)

Add to this that the power curve of a DC motor meas a transmission is desirable (but robs you of energy), whereas the AC induction motor's power curve is conducive to direct drive-trains.
As to the regen braking issue, DC motors are optomised towards the production of kinetic energy at an expense of not so good generation capability. In fact, some DC motors can not be generators as part of the DC is used to energize a coil as a reaction magnet (rather than having ultra high cost rare earth magnets), to use them as generators would require energizing that coil(s) and since the circuit is integral to the motor that is not possible.
-nB

"Brushless DC" vs "synchronous AC" motors. (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199405)

An AC induction motor has the highest power/weight density of all electric motors. Brushless DC motors are only competitive for very small motors.

Er, no. A "brushless DC" and a "variable-frequency synchronous AC" motor are the same thing. Smaller motors tend to be called "brushless DC" and are driven by "motor controllers", while larger motors are called "variable-frequency AC" and are driven by "drives" or "inverters". The threshold is around 1KW. The difference in terminology comes from different industries.

All motors are AC at the windings, or they'd reach a steady state position and stop. "Commutation" refers to the means provided to switch power to the windings so the motor continues to chase the minimum position for the magnetic field. Commutation can be performed with brushes and a commutator (which is just a drum of contacts), with external electronics, or simply borrowed from the power line frequency. "Brushless DC" and "variable AC" motors are driven by external electronics. They're usually at least 3 phase devices; this allows starting from a stationary position without the possibility of being stuck at a neutral point.

This concept scales up just fine. Here's the General Electric AC6000 [railfan.net] , the most powerful locomotive in the world, driven by 3-phase AC variable-frequency motors. The software, written in C++, locks all the wheels together as if they were geared together, even though there's a separate motor for each axle. This allows more tractive effort without wheel slip than any previous locomotive. There are thousands of these locomotives (mostly the smaller AC4400, but a few hundred of the big AC6000) in use today.

Re:AC? (1)

The Terminator (300566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198209)

With AC, especially three phase AC you can build more efficient and light motors. If I were to setup a device like this, I would install a motor in every wheel. I'm no electric engineer but to my knowledge that would be a viable construction.

CU

Re:AC? (4, Interesting)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198251)

Installing a motor in every wheel is intuitively a nice idea. Unfortunately, electric motors have a great deal of inertia. At high speeds, the effects of this rotational inertia dramatically affect the stability of the vehicle when it hits a bump.

At lower speeds, vehicle performance is maximized when the motors torque/speed curve is matched to the maximum speed of the vehicle while simultaneously matching motor diameter to wheel diameter. Unfortunately, the wheel diameter, tire diameter, motor diameter, and peak motor RPM rarely agree. Thus mechanical gearing often helps.

Re:AC? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198437)

At high speeds, the effects of this rotational inertia dramatically affect the stability of the vehicle when it hits a bump.

No, thats the unsprung mass problem. It is caused by linear momentum up and down when the wheel has to negotiate a non-flat surface.

Wheel mass is a problem, but we haven't yet seen much development in integrated motor-wheel assemblies. It will be interesting to see what happens once some smart Japanese engineers have had a go at optimising it.

Re:AC? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199381)

Doesn't seem like a huge problem. Just have the motors situated a foot or so in from the wheels, with a short driveshaft connecting them to the wheel. Might not be as efficient as having the motors inside the wheels, but it gets rid of the unsprung mass problem.

Anyway, don't some modern cars already have motors connected to the wheels in order to provide regenerative breaking?

Re:AC? (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199483)

Just have the motors situated a foot or so in from the wheels, with a short driveshaft connecting them to the wheel

I think some sports cars have brake disks mounted this way, to reduce the inertia of the wheels.

Re:AC? (2, Funny)

Tmack (593755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20200161)

Anyway, don't some modern cars already have motors connected to the wheels in order to provide regenerative breaking?

Unless you happen to own a jet-car like this guy [youtube.com] or a bike like this guy [youtube.com] , generally the motor is connected to the wheels....

sorry.. just had to :P

tm

Re:AC? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198441)

At high speeds, the effects of this rotational inertia dramatically affect the stability of the vehicle when it hits a bump.

Which is why they do these high speed experimental tests in salt flats :)

Re:AC? (3, Interesting)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199365)

Installing a motor in every wheel is intuitively a nice idea

This was the subject of a few papers and subsequent articles in popular automotive and popular mechanics type magazines.

The conclusion was that technology would be needed to offset these effects and even at the time of the articles/papers 20years ago, it was not too farfetched.

With today's high response computers already in cars with active suspension, linear traction, etc. the computer technology to offset these problems is something that can easily be tuned using today's technology.

Some aspects of independent motors, or 'drive trains' to each wheel is 'enhanced' stability and traction control, as well as rotational tricks that would allow the car to rotate one wheel backwards while rotating the others forward. This would give a performance car incredible cornering, handling, as well as make available some interesting turning radius effects.

I can remember back when 'performance' car people hated the idea of 'alternative' energy or electric powered cars and saw them as the death of the sports/muscle cars. At the time I spoke up and tried to explain how wrong they were, as alternative technology could yield faster, better performing and safer sports cars. This is just one area and example of how new technology would achieve these results.

Re:AC? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199375)

The simple approach would be to mount the electric motors somewhat inboard and connect to the wheel by a cv joint. That way, you get to minimize the unsprung weight while avoiding most of the drivetrain.

Re:AC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20198409)

Well, my only consideration with that would not only be more moving parts, but also the fact that you'd have to overcome increased friction, correct?

I'm no great shakes at eletrical engineering, but those are the kind of things that I'd be wondering about.

Re:AC? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198961)

Another dirty little part of the equation is that the bigger the electric motor(IE higher power), the more efficient it is. So far it's been found to be more economical to have a conventional driveshaft powered by one motor over having two or more smaller motors.

IE it's better to have 1 300 pound 95% efficient motor and some connecting equipment than two 200 pound 90% efficient motors at the wheels.

Re:AC? (3, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198569)

You must be new around here... ever see how much energy an AC-troll post can generate?

Re:AC? (2, Informative)

systems_joe (873447) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198895)

Probably for the same reason that Toyota chose a permanent-magnet synchronous that runs off of 500V DC for the Prius. Six big honkin' IGPT transistors convert the DC voltage to 3-phase AC with pulse-width modulation and variable frequency control.

Re:AC? (BRUSHLESS) (1)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199485)

its been a while, but I believe one advantage is that AC motors can be both brushless while not needing a permanent magnet.

Re:AC? - because they are idiots... (3, Insightful)

nickull (943338) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199697)

Anyone who has a basic knowledge of physics knows hydrogen is stupid. If you have electricity, use batteries - you can skip the 400 pounds of ice and twenty five other major problems with trying to convert good electricity into hydrogen and back again. It will never work for terrestrial applications. See: http://technoracle.blogspot.com/2005/12/hydrogen-a gain-tweedle-dumb-and.html [blogspot.com] and http://www.tinaja.com/h2gas01.asp [tinaja.com] Hydrogen is dumb. Hydrogen is a bad idea.

Cold Boxes (-1, Flamebait)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198189)

Luckily, hydrogen is easy to produce. You just suck in atmospheric air, distill the contents and, voila! H2.

But then you've got to squish it reeely teensy tiny to make it into a liquid.

Re:Cold Boxes (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198297)

According to an article [popularmechanics.com] published at Popular Mechanics last summer, the cost to make hydrogen is $3 per kg on a GE's 10' x 20' machine. It looks pretty easy indeed.

Re:Cold Boxes (1)

maraist (68387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198849)

Seems like a liberal reading of the various articles. $8 / kg with a goal of $3 / kg was in the GE article. The 'traditional' costs were $1k / kg. Whereas the Hydrogen Fuel Cell in the Pop Mech article showed to be the most expensive annual cost of all available options. Compressed Natural Gas was half way between petrol and electricity. If the projected advances in Hydrogen synthesis reduce costs, and containment technology advances as well, I take Pop Mechanics to project Fuel cells at 68% of gas prices..

Of course a lot has changed since this article.. They show petrol at $2.34/gal, whereas I'd say it's more like $3.0 for all intents and purposes of current and future projections. They also rank electricity costs at $0.10 / KHW, whereas in my area it's $0.06 to $0.09 depending on time-of-day and time-of-year. Granted this is because of the regulated monopoly so this is really much below market rates.

All things considered, a plugin-in hybrid (where the hybrid part can be bio-diesel or E85 gas or whatever) makes the most sense to me.

I'm very much against growing fuel though. Currently in the US this means taking US subsidy dollars to product corn which is of the lower efficiency crops from which to produce fuel.. Corn prices world-wide rise as a result. But so do fertilizer costs and other costs of agreculture.

Re:Cold Boxes (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199039)

If the point of $ per kg and per gallon is to establish some sort of direct comparison between fuels, I suggest making sure that a kilogram of hydrogen fuel is comparable to a gallon of gas in terms of distance.

I hear it is not.

Re:Cold Boxes (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199169)

The kg-gallon comparison is based on energy. The fuel cell's efficiency is about 2-3 times higher than the efficiency of gas internal combustion engines.

Re:Cold Boxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20198349)

Idiot. N2. O2. CO2. Yes

H2 no. It's a bit reactive in the presence of oxygen. That's kind of related to the fact it stores energy and all.

Did I mention idiot?

Re:Cold Boxes (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198445)

AC, how many cold boxes have you designed? Mine are in Dallas, Wabash, Seoul, Flin Flon, Hamilton and Inchon.

Re:Cold Boxes (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199081)

you forgot to mention idiot ;)

Re:Cold Boxes (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198413)

There is not any significant quantity of H2 in the air, for at least two reason: it reacts with Oxygen (suprise!), which there is a lot of, and it would tend to drift to the top of the atmosphere and escape into space (even Helium does this to some extent).

Re:Cold Boxes (1)

steveha (103154) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199315)

Parent post is so nonsensical that it must be a troll.

Luckily, hydrogen is easy to produce. You just suck in atmospheric air, distill the contents and, voila! H2.

Let's check Wikipedia. What's the atmosphere made out of?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth's_atmosphere [wikipedia.org]

Oh, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, water vapor... and 0.002% "other". Even if almost all of "other" was H2, that's a ridiculously small yield. And every other gas will liquefy at a higher temperature than the H2, so you will have to deal with everything else first and only at the end get the H2.

Let's double check. Look up "Hydrogen" in Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen [wikipedia.org]

Oh look, less than 1 part per million of the atmosphere is H2, and practical methods for producing H2 don't mention chilling the atmosphere.

Let's triple check. Google search for "methods hydrogen production". Here's one result:

http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/Hydrogen/Producti on.htm [corrosion-doctors.org]

Nope, still not listed.

I suppose it might be possible to use a "cold box" to produce some hydrogen, but I'll bet the electricity costs would be far higher than simply buying some hydrogen from a gas company. If you wish to claim otherwise, please provide references.

But it sure looks to me like you are just trolling, in which case: shame on you.

steveha

Re:Cold Boxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20199349)

Hey champ, what do you think "water vapor" is made from?

WATER! And what is water made out of? Oxygen and __________

It will be fun, I'll let you fill in the blank.

Re:Cold Boxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20199553)

Wow, that's even stupider than the original idea. Put air in a cold box, extract the water as dew, and then separate the hydrogen from the oxygen. Instead of, you know, just getting some water and then separating it. Oh it's too simple to just get some water, let's set up a refrigerator and get our water from the AIR! Thanks for this brilliant idea!

Oblig (0, Offtopic)

Sergeant Pepper (1098225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198215)

I for one welcome our new ice-cooled overlords.

Stupig (1)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198595)

Wow, putting 400 pounds of ice too get this thing up to 200MPH is so completely retarded, is this what passes for engineering at Ford?. Like, wow, look we got our oh so powerful GM four-cylinder up to 200mph we just needed 400 pounds of rocket propellant to keep the ride "hot".

OT: minor nitpick (1)

British (51765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198217)

Why does the same link need to be posted twice in the summary?

Re:OT: minor nitpick (2, Funny)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198787)

They're trying to get the dupe in early.

Photos (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198219)

I'll have photos up on Jonesblog in the next couple of days on this effort and others out at the Bonneville Salt Flats here [utah.edu] .

Re:Photos (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198229)

I should have also pointed out photo coverage of last years even here [utah.edu] and the 2005 event here [utah.edu] .

770 hp? (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198249)

350 kw = 469 hp. Why the 770 hp motor?

Re:770 hp? (2, Informative)

msmikkol (155023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198281)

Fuel cell cars usually have some buffer batteries to shave the peak demand on the fuel cell stacks. I would guess that this car is no different - The motor draws juice from both the fuel cells and the batteries.

770hp... no. (1)

rsw (70577) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198257)

Lessee here. 1 kW = 1.34 horsepower. So if they're generating 350 kW, that's 456 horsepower. Where is the other 300 coming from?

Stupid tech journalists strike again.

-=rsw

Re:770hp... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20198315)

from the 1.21 jigawatts!

/I was waiting for the cliché but it never showed up ... So I did it.

Gravity! Terminal velocity... (2, Funny)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198387)

How do you make a hydrogen fuel cell car move 200 MPH?


Get a regular hydrogen fuel cell car and drop it out of an airplane! ;-)

Re:Gravity! Terminal velocity... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20198571)

Go ahead and try to score a speed record like this. You will have to go in the opposite direction after a short time, and the average speed of both runs will count for your record attempt.

Now, filling a balloon with the hydrogen might get you up...

Both directions, eh... (2)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198757)

Two words:

Car Cannon.

Re:Gravity! Terminal velocity... (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198593)

How do you make a hydrogen fuel cell car move 200 MPH?

I'd rather have a hydrogen fuel cell car that did 200 MPG.

Re:770hp... no. (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198585)

I'm not sure, but maybe peak power is delivered from capacitors or something (although i would have thought that this car needs maximum power at all times).
Nevertheless, something has to be the weakest link, and it shouldn't be the motor

Re:770hp... no. (1)

jjthegreat (837151) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199343)

Oh I know, perhaps they are applying magic numbers to the same way the calculate "total music power" 350 HP is the RMS value, turn it into PMPO and add some magic, poof! we now have a more sensationalistic number.

Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (2)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198259)

From TFA:

The pressurized helium/oxygen mixture allows the fuel cells to generate more power than ambient air because of its higher oxygen content, and high-pressure storage eliminates the need for an air compressor

Nice. I expect the common press to make that kind of mistake, but you'd think that Popular Mechanics would get it right.

Frankly, I don't consider this "details". "NASCAR style brakes, suspension and steering" doesn't say much, unless they're literally identical to the NASCAR stuff Ford uses in their "Fusion."

FYI, that car is no more a "Fusion" than a NASCAR "Fusion" is; they're both entirely tube-frame chassis cars with shells that are approximately the same shape, and then overlaid with graphics to fool the eye into thinking they're shaped more like the car they're claiming it is.

There isn't a single component in the car in common with the production Ford Fusion. Hasn't been true in over a decade or more in NASCAR.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (1)

Enleth (947766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198353)

Read this paragraph once again. It states that the helium/oxygen mixture is a substitute of ambient air to be mixed with the hydrogen. There's 40% oxygen in it and helium is probably just a filler, it's mostly inert even in high temperatures so it serves well as one. It's probably safer that way, than hauling a pure oxygen tank next to a pure hydrogen tank, or easier to mix while keeping proper oxygen/hydrogen ratios, or whatever. That's pretty clear even for me, a non-native English speaker.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20198397)

Not to mention a hydrogen-oxygen tank would be incredibly dangerous. You're just one spark away from a violent explosion. Hydrogen alone may not be as dangerous as commonly believed, but anything, especially hydrogen, is incredibly dangerous when mixed with pure oxygen.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198721)

Not to mention a hydrogen-oxygen tank would be incredibly dangerous. You're just one spark away from a violent explosion.

      Unlike gasoline, you mean?

      It's just a question of engineering it right.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198935)

Not to mention a hydrogen-oxygen tank would be incredibly dangerous.

So is a gasoline [fordpinto.com] tank. Well, Ford's anyway.

Hydrogen/Oxygen mix not so dangerous (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198641)

I have bottles of it on my desk right now .. in the ratio of 2 hydrogen to 1 oxygen .. whats it called again? di-hydrogen monoxide or something.

No Way! Di-hydrogen monoxide too so dangerous (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199085)

I should report you to HomLanSec for possession of that stuff. But then again, they would likely not be able to tell the difference between that and regular Water. It's probably safe if it's cut with fluoride.

Re:Hydrogen/Oxygen mix not so dangerous (1)

Enleth (947766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199267)

Actually, this name, while used in those famous public surveys, is needlessly redundant. Hydrogen monoxide is enough and correct, yet still no one would have any more clue. Even hydrogen oxide would do, as in being precise, but English chemical nomenclature seems to still favor those prefixes in particular places in compound names, however redundant they are - in Polish, those were dropped altogether, we just add the valence number only, as in sulfur (II) oxide, instead of sulfur monoxide, in English it seems to be sometimes that way, sometimes the other...

Re:Hydrogen/Oxygen mix not so dangerous (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199347)

HOOH is also hydrogen oxide, so some prefix seems desirable (unless you do add the valence number).

I think dihydrogen monoxide is used because the abbreviation, DHMO, is similar to DMSO, which will bring up some negative associations for some.

Re:Hydrogen/Oxygen mix not so dangerous (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#20200173)

Nah,
that's hydrogen dioxide.
or di hydrogen monoxide oxide?
duo oxidized di hydride?
oxyhydrate? (I like that one, wonder if you could bottle it and stupid people would drink it? "Oxygen and water in one bottle? Must be good... Gimmie, gimmie!")
or how's about D2O2 (or as my buddy has a small sample of: T2O2) di deuteride dioxide
-nB

Re:Hydrogen/Oxygen mix not so dangerous (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 6 years ago | (#20200169)

I have bottles of it on my desk right now .. in the ratio of 2 hydrogen to 1 oxygen .. whats it called again? di-hydrogen monoxide or something.
Well, that's because it's the reaction product of that GIGANTIC EXPLOSION!

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (3, Informative)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198359)

The pressurized helium/oxygen mixture allows the fuel cells to generate more power than ambient air because of its higher oxygen content, and high-pressure storage eliminates the need for an air compressor
Nice. I expect the common press to make that kind of mistake, but you'd think that Popular Mechanics would get it right.

I think you misinterpreted the article. The oxygen cylinder contains a helium/oxygen mix. They have 2 additional cylinders to get the hydrogen from. The compressed oxygen is used so the fuel cells can absorb oxygen at a much faster rate than if they were burning regular air. Likely the fuel cells can't absorb 100% oxygen, hence they dilute the oxygen with a light inert gas like helium.

Using a dedicated helium/oxygen tank is not likely to be economical for a conventional car.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198635)

The compressed oxygen is used so the fuel cells can absorb oxygen at a much faster rate than if they were burning regular air

I have often wondered if there is a benefit in this for internal combustion engines as well. You could do away with quite a bit of plumbing around the engine and get better performance by feeding pure oxygen into the engine. Maybe it would help with low-performing biofuels.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20198753)

You may end up burning the metal piston and cylinders as well as any lubricant if you had a mistake with too much Oxygen.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (1)

Zuato (1024033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198769)

NASCAR and technology used together is an oxymoron. 50+ year old engine, braking, and suspension technology in a "modern" race series is not what I'd call a great comparison. F1 technology would be a better idea, especially since the FIA is pushing towards renewable energy sources on the F1 cars in the upcoming years.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (2, Interesting)

br14n420 (1111329) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198937)

Don't be so ignorant. You speak as if carbon fiber and other modern materials aren't even used. If you want an idea of what a "nascar style" brakes and suspension are like to purchase, a brake kit is just about $23,000. I'm actually interested in what you think the material differences are between a Nascar and a F1 brake, aside from differences related to the size of the wheels, as that is something that'll make an impact in both classes. The same goes with the engines. Just because a class is allowed take advantage of superchargers, turbos, compressed air, etc, doesn't mean it's any higher technology than a class that disallows these things. On both courses, you are building cars to run at peak horsepower for multiple hours. The limitation of these motors is a limitation of current technology, not any particular class. Anyway, if you think forced induction is high technology, you are getting close to a century off.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (1)

Zuato (1024033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199115)

Wow. I just don't even know where to begin with this one. Formula one has not been force induced for more than 10 years. They are using a naturally aspirated 2.3 V8 engines producing more than 750 to 800 horsepower. The only thing compressed air is used for is valve actuation since the engines are cam less. Not only are the engines not force-fed, but the FIA mandates that the engine last two full race weekends, whereas Nascar is swapped out after every race. for reference, please see www.f1.com While there, please peruse the braking, suspension, and engine tech areas. It's better to read up before posting posts like this.

Re:Helium, Hydrogen...hey, it's all the same. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20199765)

You, sir, are a prime example of why no one likes nerds.

Sounds impractical and useless (1, Flamebait)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198295)

I guess in a way, it's showing that alternative fuels can do good things, but it just seems to be about making alternative fuels too difficult to use.

Someone reading this might thing "Wow, looks like there's a LONG way to go because Hydrogen Fuel Cells can be useful on a consumer vehicle. Oh well, I'll just buy an Explorer."

If they actually cared about alternative fuels or electric vehicles, they'd be making ones that are practical and could be mass produced.

Re:Sounds impractical and useless (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20198355)

Like this one [tfl.gov.uk] ? And this one [honda.com] ?

How to Reach 200 MPH on Hydrogen Fuel Cells? (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198303)

Strap a rocket to the back, duh!

Is the ice really necessary? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198309)

I would think that at these high speeds, you should be able to duct a little bit of air over the battery and get all the cooling you could possibly need.

-jcr

Re:Is the ice really necessary? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198425)

If you're putting out enough heat to melt 400lbs of ice in a few seconds, then yes, you need the ice.

Re:Is the ice really necessary? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198521)

I would think that at these high speeds, you should be able to duct a little bit of air over the battery and get all the cooling you could possibly need.
It's about aerodynamics.
Anytime you have a duct or radiator opening, you lose downforce.

P.S. I imagine that professional engineers and race car designers know what they're doing.

Re:Is the ice really necessary? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198699)

Anytime you have a duct or radiator opening, you lose downforce.

Not if you suck air from under the car.

Re:Is the ice really necessary? (3, Informative)

PhiberOptix (182584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198537)

quoted from engadget:

The car itself will be cooled through "ice bath cooling" because the front is sealed in order to keep the drag coefficient as low as possible

http://www.engadget.com/2007/07/11/ford-fusion-999 -fuel-cell-car-goes-for-land-speed-record/ [engadget.com]

It's all over for H2 when... (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198313)

It's all over for H2 when I see a mushroom cloud over the salt flats.

Cooling (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198343)

Why do they need ice to cool the car? 350kW is not so different from some other high-performance cars and fuel cells should produce less waste heat than other engines. Certainly they could cool this car with an ordinary radiator.

Re:Cooling (1)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198639)

What do you expect? It's Ford.. Why have some newfangled radiator/compressor technology when you can substitute 400 pounds of ice? Hell why use wheels? we could just put it on skates and freeze the desert. That seems like pretty reliable transportation to me.

Re:Cooling (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198669)

Why do they need ice to cool the car? 350kW is not so different from some other high-performance cars and fuel cells should produce less waste heat than other engines. Certainly they could cool this car with an ordinary radiator.

I could speculate that the fuel cell power output degrades at high temperatures so when doing a standing start you have with zero cooling and lose performance until cooling becomes effective. IC engines may perform better as temperature rises.

were you surprised? (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198391)



As it turns out, there are NASCAR-style brakes, steering, and suspension components...

Piloting an experimental vehicle with this kind of power / weight ratio @ 200mph requires some pretty serious steering and braking equipment.

Seth

Re:were you surprised? (1)

dopaz (148229) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198767)

This vehicle's power-to-weight ratio is good, but it weighs 6700lbs: 8.7lbs per HP. Some street-legal vehicles exceed this, such as the Corvette.

http://www.aspecpro.com/ [aspecpro.com]

Re:were you surprised? (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199741)

Bonneville cars usually carry a ton (sometimes literally) of ballast. Since they have seven miles from start to stop, they don't need a lot of acceleration. The extra weight give them better traction.

My motorcyle will do 0 to 200 to 0 in under 2 miles and has a power to weight ratio of 3 pounds per HP, including rider. I have quality parts on it, but the brakes and suspension certainly aren't NASCAR grade. NASCAR grade stuff can take a relentless pounding for hours on end and that simply isn't relevent for top speed racing.

We need more battery research. (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198535)

This shows that what is needed is more research on higher capacity batteries, from the capacitor type which charges in seconds, to having exponentially more energy density per pound.

Its a lot easier to engineer a power distribution and charging electrical system, compared to having multiple systems to handle highly explosive gas as well as an electrical system. Its also a lot easier to generate electricity, pipe it into a charging system, compared to the energy used to split water into H2 and O2.

I used to like fuel cells, and thought a H2 based economy would be a good thing, but I'm having second thoughts now, because once batteries are able to carry a respectable energy density, there is pretty much no need for carrying H2 around anywhere.

Energy spent to cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20198561)

I studied my bit of physics as EE major, but can't one of you smart young things figure out how to make use of heat as energy, rather than wasting extra energy to cool them off? Heat is a energy in a purest form, and why are you double-wasting it by: not making use of it as energy source, and why spend extra energy to get rid of it?

Re:Energy spent to cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20198741)

Getting usable energy out of heat is very inefficient. Also, just getting rid of the unwanted heat while testing something else is probably more useful to these people.

FORD = Fscked On Race Day (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198601)


In this case by the 300 mph hydrogen fuel cell Buckeye Bullet.

http://jalopnik.com/cars/alternative-energy/300%25 2B-mph-buckeye-bullet-hydrogen-fuel-cell-streamlin er-259765.php [jalopnik.com]

Re:FORD = Fscked On Race Day (1)

Corgha (60478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198751)

It's more complicated than that. Those two vehicles are in different classes (the 999 looks like a passenger car; the BB2 looks like a missile just wide enough for a driver), and OSU and Ford are actually working together on *both* vehicles, so it's a bit weird to try to portray them as being in competition with one another.

This article will give you some more context:
http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/07/10/fords-hydr ogen-999-racer-shooting-for-fuel-cell-land-speed-r eco/ [autobloggreen.com]

The Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 fuel cell car - a collaboratively engineered racer with Ballard, Roush and Ohio State University - is one of two vehicles Ford's fuel cell research team is helping prepare to set world land speed records. Ford researchers also are working with Ohio State University student engineers on its Buckeye Bullet 2, a fuel cell-powered racer that will compete for a similar world record in the unlimited class category.

The effect of water vapor exhaust? (2, Interesting)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198811)

Here's a question...

The exhaust of a hydrogen car is mostly warm water vapor - the same output as a humidifier.

If the whole planet switched to hydrogen, what would be the overall effect of running a billion humidifiers on our roads? Would Arizona suddenly become as humid as Florida?

Re:The effect of water vapor exhaust? (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198987)

If the whole planet switched to hydrogen, what would be the overall effect of running a billion humidifiers on our roads? Would Arizona suddenly become as humid as Florida?

Not if we can actually get some laws to take away their drivers licenses. But seeing as they're the majority of people who actually go out and vote, that's not likely to happen any time soon....

Re:The effect of water vapor exhaust? (3, Informative)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199197)

The principal biproducts of current combustion engines are CO2 and... wait for it... H2O.

Yes, water vapor.

Has Arizona turned to a jungle yet?

Re:The effect of water vapor exhaust? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199367)

If the whole planet switched to hydrogen, what would be the overall effect of running a billion humidifiers on our roads?

Wet roads.

Would Arizona suddenly become as humid as Florida?

Not the remotest chance.

Urban areas have long faced higher levels of humidity than is natural, thanks to human use of water. However, even with all the people with all the sprinklers spraying all the water, on all the lawns... it only raises the humidity a very small amount. A few million fuel cell vehicles couldn't hope to compete.

Fuel cells drip a little water, but they aren't constantly blowing out large volumes of gas, similar to current car exhaust, somewhat like a humidifier. Even millions of cars, spitting out a few drips of water constantly, can't compete with a few people watering their lawns. It really wouldn't make a noticeable difference. Maybe you'll see a few more plants growing on the roadside.

Re:The effect of water vapor exhaust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20199399)

The quick answer; no, physics doesn't allow anything to be as humid as florida. The Mediteranian Sea is almost as humid, but it still tops out around 100%. FL FTW.

On-line results available soon (1)

tcgroat (666085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198905)

The Southern California Timing Association will have the results [scta-bni.org] of this year's Bonneville trials on-line, along with many photos. Today is the first day of the trials, so no results are in yet. There's still daylight out on the flats.

Transmission? (1)

thegoofeedude (771803) | more than 6 years ago | (#20198907)

The article mentions using a 6-speed manual--the same transmission used in the Ford GT. I would have a few questions about this:
Why go manual instead of automatic? (I'm guessing because it's a race car ;-)
Can the transmission handle the torque? In my understanding, electric motors generally have an even amount of torque throughout the rpm range.
Can this transmission handle the extra juice on startup? I have no idea how much torque a Ford GT has in comparison to what this thing can output.
How about the clutch?

This thing looks so cool!

400 pounds of ice (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199611)

One final ingredient: 400 lbs of ice for cooling, which will melt in seconds once the car gets up to speed.

Not really the most ... practical ... automobile, is it?

"Excuse me, but could you forklift that ice block a little faster? I'm late for work!"

Can't beat the Buckeye Bullet 2 (2, Insightful)

SamAdam3d (818241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20199757)

Just objectively, the Buckeye Bullet 2, made at the Center for Automotive Research at OSU (where I work) will soon beat whatever record this car creates. This car is designed for speed, rather than using some bulky Ford Focus shape. I have seen it in person; it is very large and very powerful. The engine is simply massive, and the fuel cells are the size of V8s.

http://buckeyebullet.com/vehicle.htm [buckeyebullet.com]

tuners.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20199785)

and all the ricers out there ran to the bathroom and bust a nut.
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