Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hydrogen is not the answer to peak oil, Jeremy Clarkson, think again

In a recent blog post, TopGear Jeremy Clarkson makes the point that hybrid cars are the wrong direction to go and lean burn would have saved the world better than catalyst converters. He claims that Hydrogen cars should be the future. Now, I really like Jeremy Clarkson, but I think he is not really right in his entertaining article. Firstly lean burn wouldn't have brought the improvements in terms of clean emission than the catalyst did. A catalyst cleans about 90-99% of what the car produces while lean burn may lead to a 1.5-2.5 times improvement. Only the combination actually helps. Secondly Hydrogen suffers from many different problems that are difficult to solve and make the introduction very expensive. I strongly believe that improvements in battery technology will make the electrical car more viable than hydrogen powered cars. And if we don't think we need 400 HP and 2 tons to drive from London City Airport to Piccadilly Circus then efficiency should be okay. Hydrogen may make sense for certain types of usages, maybe even for powering the range extender, but I don't believe it's the future of motoring. As we have seen over the last 10-20 years there are many ways of improving already existing technologies. Cars today need probably 50-60% fuel of what they did for the same performance ten years ago. Electrical cars have substantially increased in efficiency over the last three to five years. Combining this with new technologies such as hybrid (ideally not with batteries but rather super caps) and hydrogen we still have a lot to gain before we are running out of affordable oil.
One comment to the blog was quite interesting as a thought - we may find other and better ways to fuel more and more cars, but there's a clear limit in terms of how many streets we can build and have. And that limit is given by the size of the earth ...
And as I am just on it, if you haven't watched the movie "who killed the electric car", then you should.

1 comment:

John L said...

I can't see hydrogen happening. Not in my lifetime anyway. Sometimes I wonder whether Jeremy Clarkson is a devil's advocate or whether he really believes what comes out of his mouth. I treasure my copy of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and support the conspiracy consideration.