refineries are where most of our fuel comes from now.
Credit: David Parsons
#2: Hydrogen fuel is too expensive to compete with gasoline.
of the biggest challenges of judging hydrogen's potential,"
writes Lovins in Twenty
Hydrogen Myths "is how to compare it fairly and consistently
with other energy carriers.... Different questions yield different
the cost of fossil fuels is measured by volume. Gasoline costs
about two dollars per gallon in the United States. Hydrogen
gas compressed to 170 times atmospheric pressure contains
just 6% of the energy in the same volume of gasoline. Comparing
the two fuels' efficiency, however, paints a very different
picture. A combustion engine car on the road today converts
about 15% of the energy in its gas tank into forward motion.
In hybrids like the Toyota Prius, this so-called "well-to-wheels"
ratio rises to 26%. But a well-designed fuel cell engine converts
50-70% of its hydrogen energy into forward motion.
writes that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates hydrogen
fuel and gasoline actually cost about the same for the same
amount of energy $0.71/kilogram of hydrogen compared to
$0.72/gallon of gasoline. But since fuel cell engines are
two to three times more efficient than combustion engines,
the real price of hydrogen fuel drops to one-half to one-third
that of gasoline. The bottom line is the fuel cell gets far
better mileage, even if the cost per tank seems much higher
you buy automotive fuel to get miles," writes Lovins, "ignoring
. . . efficiency is a serious distortion, and accounts for
much of the misinformation being published about hydrogen's
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