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Old 20-07-2021, 11:48   #1
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Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

Will the future include quiet Hydrogen Fuel Cells helping to power private sailboats across the oceans replacing your loud noisy diesel engine?

If so would that mean you would put the sails up less often if you had a quiet hydrogen fuel cell to power you around the world?

On Bloomberg yesterday this guy was talking about how the EU was investing heavily into Hydrogen powered fuel cell trucks because electric battery trucks don't have the range. They are first targeting truck that return to the same location everyday where they can be refueled on Hydrogen.

Will BVI boat charters be the first to provide hydrogen refueling in the future?

Here is recent article in Yacht World on this subject.

https://www.yachtingworld.com/gear-r...-yachts-128948
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Old 20-07-2021, 12:29   #2
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

Long term infrastructure costs, low energy density and low specific energy when the high pressure tanks are included make hydrogen unlikely to take hold in anything other than niche markets.
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Old 20-07-2021, 13:04   #3
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

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Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
Long term infrastructure costs, lost energy density and low specific energy when the high pressure tanks are included make hydrogen unlikely to take hold in anything other than niche markets.
Can you reference anything to back that up?

I agree the infrastructure for refueling is a long way off.
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Old 20-07-2021, 13:41   #4
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

Those pure hydrogen fuel stacks/cells have been around for a while and have never taken off. The stacks themself can be made by a good machine shop, but the real issue was having concentrated sources of hydrogen to run it. Hydrogen fuel stations we supposed to be made for cars, but I may only remember one being available.

Previously had looked at cracking/splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen to use in a fuel cell. Two issues came up, one was the amount of energy need to break the bonds was slightly more than the energy created by the fuel cell. This wasn't major surprise if one learned the law of conservation of energy theory (energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only converted from one form of energy to another). One could use a solar panel to split regular water into to create H2 & O. Now we have a diluted source of hydrogen. (years ago we filled small balloons w/H2 with a wick up into the air to create a small version of the Hindenburg).

Second problem was to now get the diluted hydrogen concentrated enough for the fuel cell to make energy. This takes more energy to pump it into a tank, etc. Now you are at a losing proposition (energy wise) and it all sounds good until you look at the numbers.

People spend their whole careers attempting to make the better storage device/batteries and haven't cracked the nut.
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Old 20-07-2021, 16:14   #5
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateny View Post
Can you reference anything to back that up?

I agree the infrastructure for refueling is a long way off.
1. Long term infrastructure costs. Existing fuel infrastructure is for liquid that does not need to be heated or refrigerated nor pressurized to store. H2 will need to be stored at very high pressures or very low temps, both involve special tanks and specialized equipment. However many service stations in the world is how many will need to be converted. And electrolyzing plants built, and pipelines for distribution.


2. Low energy density. L2 at 5000psi has about 280Wh/l energy, vs about 150 for LFP. Better yes, not nearly as good as Diesel or gas/petrol.
https://www.energy.gov/sites/default...attery_evs.pdf


3. Mediocre specific energy when the high pressure tanks are included
The specific energy of H2 is about 33.6kWh/kg vs. diesel at 12-14kWh/kg. Specific energy of H2 looks great sitting there at atmospheric pressure but you can't run a vehicle with H2 stored at 1atmo, it needs to be compressed or liquified.
If you account for fuel cell and storage tank weight the specific energy of h2 in 5,000psi tanks is about 600Wh/kg vs about 150Wh/kg for LFP. L2 is better than LFP but not stunningly so.
https://www.energy.gov/sites/default...attery_evs.pdf


4. Low efficiency. Fuel cells are topping 60% efficiency turning the energy in Hydrogen into electricity. Lets say they hit 70%. That doesn't take into account the inefficiency of turning water into hydrogen (50-55kWh electricity produces about 1kg of H2), compressing the hydrogen to 5000psi (3.1kWh/kg, 9.25%) or cooling to a liquid state (10-13kWh/kg currently or about 30%). Let's say you use compressed H2, you are looking at getting about half the electricity back out as you put in.
LFP batteries give back about 92% of the input power and Lead acid 85-90%
https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/fuel-cells
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrog...%20electricity.
https://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs...ompression.pdf

My sense is that in the long run different industrial niches will use different energy sources in the future.

The one niche I believe H2 has a chance in is trans continental or trans-oceanic air travel, the time savings in flight will justify the inefficiency of using hydrogen as a fuel source. Even there flight speeds will be significantly cut, and prices will increase.
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Old 21-07-2021, 06:27   #6
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

And here's a YT video that makes the same point.
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Old 21-07-2021, 06:38   #7
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

Is there a link to the video?
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Old 21-07-2021, 06:45   #8
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
4. Low efficiency. Fuel cells are topping 60% efficiency turning the energy in Hydrogen into electricity. Lets say they hit 70%. That doesn't take into account the inefficiency of turning water into hydrogen (50-55kWh electricity produces about 1kg of H2), compressing the hydrogen to 5000psi (3.1kWh/kg, 9.25%) or cooling to a liquid state (10-13kWh/kg currently or about 30%). Let's say you use compressed H2, you are looking at getting about half the electricity back out as you put in.
LFP batteries give back about 92% of the input power and Lead acid 85-90%

Thank you for posting the numbers. I did my gross calculations almost a decade ago which proved to me it was a losing proposition. This was enough to discontinue going down the fuel cell path.
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Old 21-07-2021, 09:26   #9
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

Oops.
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Old 21-07-2021, 10:08   #10
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

The main reason Hydrogen is still news worthy is special use like long distance trucks AND Toyota is behind it for autos, but as pointed out above……..distribution infrastructure ain’t there and is not happening any time soon.

Look at LNG for autos, it lasted about 10 years then disappeared, and it’s combustion by products where less than gas or diesel.
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Old 21-07-2021, 10:49   #11
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

Here’s what I expect to happen in the road vehicle market:
A. Short range trucks will become battery powered and will recharge in the yard every night.
B. Medium range trucks will be battery powered with pantographs on the roof so they will be recharging while driving on major arterials. Double overhead power lines will need to be installed. Test work is already being done in this in Europe and possibly in LA. Battery power will provide traction for the last 75-100km past where overhead power is installed.
C. Long haul trucking will be mostly supplanted by electric powered rail. Battery trucks will handle mileage at each end of a rail connection.
D. If the Gov’t chooses to install overhead power on the major highways then trucking will hold onto a bigger share of long distance cargo.
E. Whether C or D dominates is going to depend on whether rail can manage to create a smoother means of intermodal transition, ie moving loads from truck to train to truck again.
F. Busses will be similar to long haul trucking.
G. Personal vehicles will transition to battery power. Around town and to towns close by there’s not much issue except finding overnight charging. The question is how to deal with folks that want to take their vehicles on long trips. There are several apparent solutions: some sort of power connection like the overhead power for trucks but I don’t see that as likely. Battery swapping but folks will be antsy about accepting a battery they haven’t been taking care of. Most likely solution I see is auto-trains that carry people and their personal vehicles over long distances and then they drive a much smaller distance at each end.
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Old 21-07-2021, 11:14   #12
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

I cannot look into the future any better than the next guy but could not avoid to notice that hydrogen will be up and coming in 5 years time. These 5 years being constant since about 1995.
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Old 21-07-2021, 11:22   #13
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

One of those Solar powered boats, planet solar I think, uses power from the solar panels to make hydrogen on board for energy storage b/c it is much much lighter than Lithuim batteries. while maybe not energy dense, sometimes light weight is more important than small size. the hydrogen is then converted to electric with a fuel cell, though it would be interesting if solar to hydrogen then ICE engine is viable as an ICE engine would save $ over fuel cells.... In any case, with green/solar powered boats hitting the market, I wouldn't be surprised to see hydrogen in some production boats in the next decade.
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Old 21-07-2021, 11:23   #14
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

I saw a news report about some German science lab ,that had managed to make a hydrogen paste , battery \ solar may well work in the countries that get a lot of sun , in Nordic countries there is not enough sun in the winter
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Old 21-07-2021, 11:28   #15
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Re: Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cells to Power Your Sailboat

If anyone thought that hydrogen fuel cells are a green solution, you need to think about how the hydrogen fuel is produced. The commonest way to produce hydrogen is a process involving heat and fossil fuels. No green benefit there. The alternative is producing hydrogen by electrolosis which requires a substantial amount of electricity. This is actually quite energy inefficient as you have to first produce the electricity, use it to produce hydrogen, then use hydrogen to produce electricity in fuel cells.
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