Arno's EnergyIdeas (33)
Online live attendance: NHA Conference and Hydrogen Expo, April 2009
Nowadays it is possible to participate at hydrogen and fuel cell conferences, without setting the foot out of the (office) door. Last week, we attended the NHA (National Hydrogen Association) Conference and Hydrogen Expo live and online. "In reality," the conference was taking place with the subtitle: "Celebrating 20 years of the hydrogen Growing Industry" in early April in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. With the support of modern information and communication technology, we invested in the U.S. Dollar 300 package: "NHA Conference Webinar" to participate in "real time" at all six Keynote sessions. Thus, we had immediate access to the presentations by 14 international keynote speakers. Even one of our questions, was passed via the moderator to the speakers. That feature worked well ...
Screenshot from a conference
Photo: Arno A. Evers FAIR-PR,
Courtesy: Citrix Systems, Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA
Our impressions of the NHA Conference: The theme of the six keynote sessions are based on reality: The spectrum ranged from „U.S. Government" via "International" to"Emerging markets " and "Infrastructure". Everything is not necessarily new, and came also not too much as a surprise. The Keynote Session 3: "Transportation" was the most interesting for us. Representatives from General Motors, American Honda and Linde AG were on stage. Our question in the subsequent discussion was actually relayed via moderator David Houle, and also beeing answered, however without mentioning the name or the organization of the asker.
Charlie Freese, Executive Director, Fuel Cell Activities, General Motors (GM) explained the GM Powertrain Strategy - Electrification of the vehicle. He presented the known values of energy density / weight at a vehicle range of 500 km for diesel (37 liters) compared with 700 bar hydrogen (170 liters) or lithium ion batteries (360 liters). In his perspective to a hydrogen economy, Freese correctly noted that: (...) "We live in a closed system, solar energy is the only significant input "(...) and (...)" The only sustainable solution is to operate within the constraints of captured solar energy." Freese also showed diagrams and photos on the connection between renewable energy and hydrogen, among others by the German Wind Energy Association and the Federal Association of German utilities, such as E.ON.
On my question, which was passed to the speakers verbally, for concrete cooperations between GM and German power companies, Freese gave only an evasive answer: "... here we have only used German studies ...". The solution proposed by GM would be, according to Freese, in "Energy Diversity to displace petroleum, (...)" That meant a future mixed use of liquid fuels, hydrogen and electricity. The proposed Volt, the GM Extended Range Electric Vehicle, achieves a future range of 40 miles in electric operation on batteries and "... several hundred miles" in the Extended Range, driving at 100 mph top speed. And this with: "... a 250 hp V6 Midsize Sedan comparable acceleration from 0 to 60 miles in around. 9 seconds." That, however, I think, are not necessarily desirable design criteria. The question, in my opinion, will rather be whether the conservation of resources is more important than the much cited "driving pleasure" for all.
Initial applications for fuel cell vehicles saw Freese in buses, medium trucks, as well as in highway operation. For their current model Equinox Fuel Cell GM received over 80,000 applications from potential users. About 100 vehicles would now be in „customers hand“, having driven over 1 million kilometers at 7.200 fillings (Note: This corresponds to an average of one tank filling every 139 km ...). They were using 17,000 kilograms of hydrogen fuel, giving it an average of 2.36 kilograms per H2 tank filling equivalent.
This leads us to the lecture from Markus Bachmeier, Head of Hydrogen Solutions at Linde AG. His company orients itself according to his Keynote Lecture at the decades-long well known "chicken and egg" or "egg and chicken" -syndrome in the commercialization of hydrogen. Presented were some, in real life existing hydrogen filling stations. The TOTAL hydrogen filling station in Berlin; Germany, with 240 Nm3 / h, in booster mode 1.200 Nm3 / h, had, since its opening in October 2008 until today 350 filling operations reported, ie approx. 70 per month. The TOTAL hydrogen filling station in Munich looks a little better with nearly 100 fillings per month since its opening in December 2006. The next important steps, will be according to the Linde AG, to achieve a desirable bigger demand for service and/or more hydrogen-operated vehicles. The proposal from Linde would be to the opening of smaller H2 filling stations first, in order to make: "... these nasty little loss making triangles" as small as possible.
Stephen Ellis, Manager Fuel Cell Vehicle Sales and Marketing of American Honda, introduced the development steps for the current model hydrogen CFX Clarity, which Honda has been since summer of 2008 given to the disposal of: "... selected customers“.
For the launch of Hydrogen vehicles, Honda presented at the 2009 NHA conference an approach using the support of "clusters" in which, H2 vehicles will gradually enter the market. However, these charts show, starting from the intersection with more than 500 H2 vehicles "on the road ..." in the 1st quarter 2011 (!?!) a growing "problem". Who will be able to solve this problem? This I asked myself. Ellis concluded his speech with an impressive rendering of the Honda FC Sport Concept by Honda Advanced Design Studio, Pasadena, CA, USA. However, if it would be possible to change the world with such a vehicle, this question should be allowed.
All in all we saved with our participation in the webinar of the NHA Conference among others time, nerves, travel costs and we also reduced our CO2 footprint dramatically, as we were not flying over the Atlatic Ocean to the U.S. from Germany, but participated the NHA conference in Columbia, SC, USA, from our well heated office in Starnberg, south of Munich, Germany. My this be a model for future conferences or trade fairs? The Group Exhibit on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells at the upcoming Hannover Fair, also in Germany, from April 20-24 2009 will tell, I am rather curious. Did they not have, at one time, also a virtual trade show there?
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