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Published on June 20th, 2008 | by Andrew Williams

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Revolution in Hydrogen Cars – 650 Miles Per Tank

A team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have revealed a potential revolution in hydrogen cars, after driving 650 miles on one tank of liquid hydrogen. In a recent test, the scientists set a new world record after they installed a super-insulated hydrogen gas tank in a standard Prius hybrid that was able to keep a full load of the liquid without evaporating for six days.

The tank, weighing in at around 300 pounds, removes a heck of a lot of obstacles to the advancement of hydrogen-powered cars. Current versions, such as the fleet of hydrogen-electric Toyota Prius’s used by various city governments across Southern California, run on compressed hydrogen gas, and have a limited range of around 80 miles between refuels. Even a pretty unambitious three-gallon tank fills the entire trunk of a Prius, yet still only enables a range of approximately 200 miles, not really enough to compete with gasoline-only vehicles.

One way to avoid this limitation is by using liquid hydrogen, which takes up around a third of the volume of compressed gas. However, it is much more problematic to handle, mainly due to the fact it must be kept at extremely low temperatures (around -420oF) and very high pressure to stop it from evaporating as the engine gets hotter.

Announcing the breakthrough, Livermore Lab engineer Salvador Alceves said, “We think if you have the cars, and the technology for the cars, the infrastructure will follow. The cars are the hard part.”

The tank can also hold cheaper compressed hydrogen, allowing users to use it for shorter drives with the option of switching to liquid to triple their range for longer journeys. It can also withstand crashes and fires without exploding. The team apparently even shot one tank with a gun without blowing it up – that must have been an exciting day at the office!

Livermore Lab estimates that we could see prototype cars in 2012. Lead technician Tim Ross said, “We will get there, I truly believe I will see this in my lifetime.”

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About the Author

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.



  • nights

    The probnlem is to manufacture hydrogen as you use it, not sote it. The automobile industry are stillin the same old rut.”how to force auto owners ot fill up at oil company owned stores “. To hell with oil companies they are not a neccessary part of our lives and manufactures need consentrace on getting cars on the market which require no oil company services.

  • nights

    The probnlem is to manufacture hydrogen as you use it, not sote it. The automobile industry are stillin the same old rut.”how to force auto owners ot fill up at oil company owned stores “. To hell with oil companies they are not a neccessary part of our lives and manufactures need consentrace on getting cars on the market which require no oil company services.

  • nights

    The probnlem is to manufacture hydrogen as you use it, not sote it. The automobile industry are stillin the same old rut.”how to force auto owners ot fill up at oil company owned stores “. To hell with oil companies they are not a neccessary part of our lives and manufactures need consentrace on getting cars on the market which require no oil company services.

  • Keith

    OK, now what do I do while I wait SIX HOURS for it to be filled ? Where do I put my spare tire and luggage and groceries ?

    Hydrogen is a fairy tale and it is about time to drop it. It isn’t funny anymore.

  • Keith

    OK, now what do I do while I wait SIX HOURS for it to be filled ? Where do I put my spare tire and luggage and groceries ?

    Hydrogen is a fairy tale and it is about time to drop it. It isn’t funny anymore.

  • Cec

    Shows that hydrogen should be produced onboard the car like stanley myers water powered car. copyright protected refined ocean water sold at service stations (alternate fuels a bit like kfc or maccas), but if people where given the choice, would they take it?

  • Cec

    Shows that hydrogen should be produced onboard the car like stanley myers water powered car. copyright protected refined ocean water sold at service stations (alternate fuels a bit like kfc or maccas), but if people where given the choice, would they take it?

  • Cec

    Shows that hydrogen should be produced onboard the car like stanley myers water powered car. copyright protected refined ocean water sold at service stations (alternate fuels a bit like kfc or maccas), but if people where given the choice, would they take it?

  • Erik

    Hey,

    Look at what “nights” and “keith” said. You can tell they work for the oil companies and troll these message boards so they can promote their counter intelligence measures with the goal of prolonging America’s dependence on oil.

    They love to pretend they are just average people with their own individual opinions, not paid company moles planting again and again the company line whenever they see something potentially coming into the market that could upstage oil.

  • Erik

    Hey,

    Look at what “nights” and “keith” said. You can tell they work for the oil companies and troll these message boards so they can promote their counter intelligence measures with the goal of prolonging America’s dependence on oil.

    They love to pretend they are just average people with their own individual opinions, not paid company moles planting again and again the company line whenever they see something potentially coming into the market that could upstage oil.

  • Erik

    Hey,

    Look at what “nights” and “keith” said. You can tell they work for the oil companies and troll these message boards so they can promote their counter intelligence measures with the goal of prolonging America’s dependence on oil.

    They love to pretend they are just average people with their own individual opinions, not paid company moles planting again and again the company line whenever they see something potentially coming into the market that could upstage oil.

  • Michael Tenery

    How to solve the refueling problem. Buy a refueling station for your own home for 4,000.00$ A manufacturer in the UK has created a home electrolyzer that converts water and electricity (both of which are available in most homes) to compressed hydrogen. It is time to end the BS. It’s obvious the technologies aren’t 10 years away they are ready they just need to be massed produced and rolled out.

    The high cost for this stuff and any new technology has a simple answer, mass production. Based on the arguments I hear it was impossible for gasoline powered cars to exist. After all they were sold before the gasoline stations were widely available and before the range and reliability were high enough to be practical.

    It is sad to see American’s say can’t do. That’s not what the countries history has been up until now.

  • Michael Tenery

    How to solve the refueling problem. Buy a refueling station for your own home for 4,000.00$ A manufacturer in the UK has created a home electrolyzer that converts water and electricity (both of which are available in most homes) to compressed hydrogen. It is time to end the BS. It’s obvious the technologies aren’t 10 years away they are ready they just need to be massed produced and rolled out.

    The high cost for this stuff and any new technology has a simple answer, mass production. Based on the arguments I hear it was impossible for gasoline powered cars to exist. After all they were sold before the gasoline stations were widely available and before the range and reliability were high enough to be practical.

    It is sad to see American’s say can’t do. That’s not what the countries history has been up until now.

  • frank

    I prefer the idea of solid state hydrogen storage in coffee thermos sized cylindrical tanks with a quick coupling type valve at one end(7-10 lbs. gross weight)that could be easily be handled and slid into a downward sloping array accessible from about waist high at the sides of a vehicle. A sufficient supply of rotatng tanks could be recharged from a home based hydrogen generator (solar, wind, or other)or exchanged for charged tanks at a refueling station. I also prefer a vehicle constructed of strong composite and light weight materials propelled by 4 computer controlled hub wheel electric motors with electricity supplied via a hydrogen fuel cell. But thats just me.

  • frank

    I prefer the idea of solid state hydrogen storage in coffee thermos sized cylindrical tanks with a quick coupling type valve at one end(7-10 lbs. gross weight)that could be easily be handled and slid into a downward sloping array accessible from about waist high at the sides of a vehicle. A sufficient supply of rotatng tanks could be recharged from a home based hydrogen generator (solar, wind, or other)or exchanged for charged tanks at a refueling station. I also prefer a vehicle constructed of strong composite and light weight materials propelled by 4 computer controlled hub wheel electric motors with electricity supplied via a hydrogen fuel cell. But thats just me.

  • frank

    I prefer the idea of solid state hydrogen storage in coffee thermos sized cylindrical tanks with a quick coupling type valve at one end(7-10 lbs. gross weight)that could be easily be handled and slid into a downward sloping array accessible from about waist high at the sides of a vehicle. A sufficient supply of rotatng tanks could be recharged from a home based hydrogen generator (solar, wind, or other)or exchanged for charged tanks at a refueling station. I also prefer a vehicle constructed of strong composite and light weight materials propelled by 4 computer controlled hub wheel electric motors with electricity supplied via a hydrogen fuel cell. But thats just me.

  • Chad

    Keith said on June 24th, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    OK, now what do I do while I wait SIX HOURS for it to be filled ? Where do I put my spare tire and luggage and groceries ?

    Hydrogen is a fairy tale and it is about time to drop it. It isn’t funny anymore.

    ===================================

    One of the main advantages of hydrogen is that it’s as fast to fill as gasoline, not sure what you’re talking about.

    I actually prefer compressed as opposed to liquid hydrogen. Toyota has come up with a tank that can go 500 miles between refills.

  • Chad

    Keith said on June 24th, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    OK, now what do I do while I wait SIX HOURS for it to be filled ? Where do I put my spare tire and luggage and groceries ?

    Hydrogen is a fairy tale and it is about time to drop it. It isn’t funny anymore.

    ===================================

    One of the main advantages of hydrogen is that it’s as fast to fill as gasoline, not sure what you’re talking about.

    I actually prefer compressed as opposed to liquid hydrogen. Toyota has come up with a tank that can go 500 miles between refills.

  • Chad

    Keith said on June 24th, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    OK, now what do I do while I wait SIX HOURS for it to be filled ? Where do I put my spare tire and luggage and groceries ?

    Hydrogen is a fairy tale and it is about time to drop it. It isn’t funny anymore.

    ===================================

    One of the main advantages of hydrogen is that it’s as fast to fill as gasoline, not sure what you’re talking about.

    I actually prefer compressed as opposed to liquid hydrogen. Toyota has come up with a tank that can go 500 miles between refills.

  • Bill

    More than ethos and ethics, and what the old rights of estovers and turbary were about, energy security is now proving to be priceless. The idea of never again being held to ransom by oil or energy organisations must be a big motivator for the marketplace. What is there then to motivate the manufacturers… to develop the machines and vehicles in the necessary economy of scale to make it afordable? Energy companies should be encouraged to facilitate this not resist it.

    It’s clear that the public will want ‘sensible’, scaled tanks that are no more or less in weight and size than the petrol tank and still delivers 400 miles +. Clearly, people would love to manufacture their own as they need it… the technology, if proven, would be a very desirable investment. It would overcome the other barrier of distribution infrastructure. This would devolve more production to the enduser… something to date, we see the energy companies dont really like. Short of a lobotomy… make them facilitators not producers. I expect, if we have cars running successfully on it, we will have production lines and homes also benefitting from it. What then of the hydrogen applications for the big National Grid scale power turbines to make the electricity we currently use?

  • Bill

    More than ethos and ethics, and what the old rights of estovers and turbary were about, energy security is now proving to be priceless. The idea of never again being held to ransom by oil or energy organisations must be a big motivator for the marketplace. What is there then to motivate the manufacturers… to develop the machines and vehicles in the necessary economy of scale to make it afordable? Energy companies should be encouraged to facilitate this not resist it.

    It’s clear that the public will want ‘sensible’, scaled tanks that are no more or less in weight and size than the petrol tank and still delivers 400 miles +. Clearly, people would love to manufacture their own as they need it… the technology, if proven, would be a very desirable investment. It would overcome the other barrier of distribution infrastructure. This would devolve more production to the enduser… something to date, we see the energy companies dont really like. Short of a lobotomy… make them facilitators not producers. I expect, if we have cars running successfully on it, we will have production lines and homes also benefitting from it. What then of the hydrogen applications for the big National Grid scale power turbines to make the electricity we currently use?

  • Steven Danielson

    I have an old 1973 Chevrolet Camaro with a 350 V8 engine. Can I convert it to hydrogen burning?

    Steve

    631-281-9180

  • Steven Danielson

    I have an old 1973 Chevrolet Camaro with a 350 V8 engine. Can I convert it to hydrogen burning?

    Steve

    631-281-9180

  • T-rex

    It’s like Frank said… solar/electrical(110volt) powered home use, Hydrogen making machine. go to http://www.unitednuclear.com this guy has already built it and been using the system for his own vehicles. he now is selling it.

  • T-rex

    It’s like Frank said… solar/electrical(110volt) powered home use, Hydrogen making machine. go to http://www.unitednuclear.com this guy has already built it and been using the system for his own vehicles. he now is selling it.

  • T-rex

    It’s like Frank said… solar/electrical(110volt) powered home use, Hydrogen making machine. go to http://www.unitednuclear.com this guy has already built it and been using the system for his own vehicles. he now is selling it.

  • me

    Bring on the hydrogen! I’ll take it compressed, liquid or solid, just so long as I can burn it all day and hear the roar of my 350 Hemi without any guilt.

  • me

    Bring on the hydrogen! I’ll take it compressed, liquid or solid, just so long as I can burn it all day and hear the roar of my 350 Hemi without any guilt.

  • Howard

    The thing is that it though H is a great way to go in many respects, the real show-stopper is making the hydrogen. You have to split the H and O atoms from water, resulting in a huge expenditure of energy to make the stuff in the first place. If we magically went to all H cars in the US our energy consumption would increase 60%. Since nukes are not liked by our political overlords, that means burning oil and coal even faster. Even though plants are more efficient than cars more is more. Do not look for H to be anything more than a pleasant parlor trick despite great efforts by the LLNL or anyone else.

  • Howard

    The thing is that it though H is a great way to go in many respects, the real show-stopper is making the hydrogen. You have to split the H and O atoms from water, resulting in a huge expenditure of energy to make the stuff in the first place. If we magically went to all H cars in the US our energy consumption would increase 60%. Since nukes are not liked by our political overlords, that means burning oil and coal even faster. Even though plants are more efficient than cars more is more. Do not look for H to be anything more than a pleasant parlor trick despite great efforts by the LLNL or anyone else.

  • bowlan

    these guys are just sucking up taxpayer stimulus funding

    hydroxy and hydrogen are only good for steam powered turbines that generate power.

    who in their right min d would drive that car around with a hydrogen bomb sitting in the trunk.

    a bunch of fools.

    even the department of energy is only concerned about powering a car with hydrogen gas.

    it will never work yet the idiots keep handing out tax payer money to support these idiot projects.

    they need to get their had out of their ass and start using sea water to power steam turbines and replace those coal powered power plants.

    one thing for sure a acedent in one of those cars would be easy for the ems to locate.

    just look for the huge mushroom cloud.

  • bowlan

    these guys are just sucking up taxpayer stimulus funding

    hydroxy and hydrogen are only good for steam powered turbines that generate power.

    who in their right min d would drive that car around with a hydrogen bomb sitting in the trunk.

    a bunch of fools.

    even the department of energy is only concerned about powering a car with hydrogen gas.

    it will never work yet the idiots keep handing out tax payer money to support these idiot projects.

    they need to get their had out of their ass and start using sea water to power steam turbines and replace those coal powered power plants.

    one thing for sure a acedent in one of those cars would be easy for the ems to locate.

    just look for the huge mushroom cloud.

  • bowlan

    these guys are just sucking up taxpayer stimulus funding

    hydroxy and hydrogen are only good for steam powered turbines that generate power.

    who in their right min d would drive that car around with a hydrogen bomb sitting in the trunk.

    a bunch of fools.

    even the department of energy is only concerned about powering a car with hydrogen gas.

    it will never work yet the idiots keep handing out tax payer money to support these idiot projects.

    they need to get their had out of their ass and start using sea water to power steam turbines and replace those coal powered power plants.

    one thing for sure a acedent in one of those cars would be easy for the ems to locate.

    just look for the huge mushroom cloud.

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