Ford, Daimler, Nissan to research hydrogen cars

Jan 28, 2013 by Tom Krisher
Renault chief operating officer Carlos Tavares with a Zoe electric car in Paris in December. The Franco-Japanese automakers Renault-Nissan said on Monday that they have signed a deal with Daimler and Ford jointly to develop a fuel cell which would equip electric cars from 2017.

Ford is joining with Daimler and Renault-Nissan to speed development of cars that run on hydrogen, with hopes of bringing a vehicle to market in as little as four years.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles generate electricity after a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is stored in special high-pressure tanks, and the only emissions are water vapor and heat.

Under the alliance, each company will invest equally in the technology. They plan to develop a common fuel cell system that the companies will use to power their own vehicles. The companies also plan to take advantage of their combined size to reduce costs.

Many automakers have been testing the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for years, but so far haven't been able to bring costs down enough to sell the vehicles in mass markets. The zero-emissions cars have great potential to cut pollution and reduce the world's reliance on oil for transportation.

"Working together will significantly help speed this technology to market at a more affordable cost to our customers," Raj Nair, Ford's group vice president for global product development, said in a statement issued Monday. "We will all benefit from this relationship, as the resulting solution will be better than any one company working alone."

The companies said that engineering work on the individual fuel cells and the overall hydrogen system will be done jointly by the companies at several locations around the world. They also are studying joint development of other parts for fuel-cell vehicles in an effort to bring down costs.

Work will be done at the site of a previous fuel cell joint venture between Ford and Daimler in Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as a Daimler facility in Nabern, Germany, and a Nissan operation in Oppama, Japan, Ford spokesman Alan Hall said. He was not aware of an executive being appointed to run the joint venture.

The automakers say that together they have 60 years of experience developing fuel cell vehicles. Their test vehicles have traveled more than 6.2 million miles (10 million kilometers).

The alliance between Ford Motor Co., of Dearborn, Michigan; Daimler AG of Germany, maker of Mercedes vehicles; and the joint operations of France's Renault SA and Japan's Nissan Motor Co., is another example of global automakers combining forces to develop engines and other new technology. The companies are trying to share expensive development costs, yet keep their products different.

Nissan and Renault have had combined operations for years. Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW AG said earlier this month that they are working together on next-generation batteries for green vehicles called "lithium-air." Their collaboration, first announced in late 2011, also is working on fuel cells with hopes of completing a vehicle by 2020.

French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen and General Motors Co. of the U.S. have a deal to share in purchases of parts and services to cut costs. Toyota already has a joint venture with Peugeot Citroen to make small cars in Europe.

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Shootist
2.1 / 5 (7) Jan 28, 2013
Are Ford, Damlier, Datsun, et. al. also going to research the absolute lack of Hydrogen mines, the inability to safely transport, cheaply, and the odious storage requirments of this most slippery of substances?
Ryan1981
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 28, 2013
Are Ford, Damlier, Datsun, et. al. also going to research the absolute lack of Hydrogen mines, the inability to safely transport, cheaply, and the odious storage requirements of this most slippery of substances?


Whether you like it or not, Oil reserves will be depleted in the near future and I suspect the price will be higher than hydrogen way before this happens. Eventually we will have to change. Yes storing hydrogen is not straight forward, but there is a large amount of it available.
Malebuoy
1 / 5 (5) Jan 28, 2013
What's the point? A vehicle that burns hydrogen in an internal combustion engine will still produce NOx emissions. NOx is a result of compressing air at high temperatures. The EPA strictly regulates emissions of oxides of nitrogen. A vehicle with higher compression will have a higher fuel efficiency, however it will also produce more NOx. It doesn't matter if the fuel is gasoline, oil, or hydrogen, compressing air at high temperatures makes these NOx emissions.
Also, hydrogen is expensive. Whether it is produced in a manufacturing environment or in a fuel cell vehicle, hydrogen gas isn't cheap. I believe the real solution is biodiesel. The oil pressed from plants burned, releasing only the CO2 that was removed from the air as the plant was growing. Yes it will produce NOx and a very small amount of CO, but the CO2 contribution to the atmosphere is zero. Let's face it, there is no such thing as a clean car.
Sanescience
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 28, 2013
Why has the public recently been focusing on the processes and solutions that nature has been using for so long yet when it comes to molecular hydrogen loose all reason?

When nature needs to store or transport energy, it sticks hydrogen onto strings of carbon atoms, called hydrocarbons. If we are going to be using our organic wastes as alternative fuels, their going to be hydrocarbons. If we are going to recycle our mega billion dollar energy infrastructure we already have instead of incurring massive expenditures of capitol to replace it, we need to have renewable hydrocarbons.

But wait, lets ignore nature and investigate hydrogen technologies which ultimately will not be able to cost compete in operation or maintenance.
Mannstein
1 / 5 (1) Jan 28, 2013
Surprisingly no one brings up the usual Hindenburg bugaboo.
Mannstein
not rated yet Jan 28, 2013
@ Maleboyuo

Haven't you read the article these companies are collaborating to develop fuel cells not internal combustion engines to burn hydrogen.
djr
not rated yet Jan 28, 2013
Are Ford, Damlier, Datsun, et. al. also going to research the absolute lack of Hydrogen mines, the inability to safely transport, cheaply, and the odious storage requirments of this most slippery of substances?

Naaaah - I am sure they have not given those issues any thought whatsoever - you need to contact them immediately - they will probably give you a six figure salary for making them aware of these issues they have not yet thought about.......
Thadieus
not rated yet Jan 28, 2013
This is an incredible amount of money that will be thrown at this. There are still a ton of hurdles to clear, some of these are not in their control.
It makes you think. Why would they not throw this money into perfecting the electric vehicles that is much further ahead.
I like to be a fly on the wall when they discus this with the CFO. It does not make smart financial sense.
Perhaps they are thinking that we will bail them out again in 5 years when the s#$% hits the fan.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2013
Also, hydrogen is expensive.

Maybe not. Current alternative power sources like wind, solar an wave energy sometimes produce more than needed. In these cases the power is simply shed. But you could use this 'free' (or more precisely: otherwise wasted) power and make hydrogen instead.

When nature needs to store or transport energy, it sticks hydrogen onto strings of carbon atoms, called hydrocarbons.

But nature doesn't free that energy via combustion. So storage in terms of hydrocarbons isn't sensible if you're looking at it from a clean air perspective (at least not when thinking about transportation/heating in cities or burning lots of it at central power plants)

The point of hydrogen is that it's clean.

Why would they not throw this money into perfecting the electric vehicles that is much further ahead.

The companies are doing that, too. i's curently just not clear which one will win out. Batteries or refuleable/clean vehicles.