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Thread: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

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    Senior Member AGTDenton's Avatar
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    JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    Thought this was a really interesting interview with JCB by Harry's Garage demonstrating a prototype Hydrogen engine.
    Many manufacturers could learn a thing or two here.

    Last edited by AGTDenton; 12-02-2022 at 05:03 PM.

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    I see the attraction, but I keep seeing figures like 350 bar pressurised storage bandied about and that just seems bad.

    If you have gone to the bother of creating H2 from salt water, then why not blend in some atmospheric CO2 and make some ethanol or methanol that is easily stored and has higher energy content?

    The comment on that video of how much energy there is per kg of fuel seemed misleading as well. A denser liquid should give more energy per litre, in the same way that diesel has more energy per litre than petrol. Or put another way, just how many litres is a 5kg hydrogen tank? Google says that's a 125l tank.

    I would prefer to see governments mandating E50 petrol at some point in the future, before jumping to E100.

    Porsche is already making fully synthetic petrol. Just sticking with Ethanol feels like it would be easier.

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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    When you have to take green electricity, convert to hydogen and burn the efficiency is low. When stored in batteries it a lot higher:
    https://www.volkswagenag.com/en/news...-question.html

    The heir to JCB has invested a lot of cash into hydrogen and is desperately talking it up but its not the answer in most cases.
    Trust

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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    If you have gone to the bother of creating H2 from salt water, then why not blend in some atmospheric CO2 and make some ethanol or methanol that is easily stored and has higher energy content?
    I'm woefully ignorant about industrial processes - how feasible is it to do the above? I know how plants capture carbon to store as carbohydrates and it's fiendishly delicate to get everything lined up so the reactions can take place efficiently.

    I guess the main advantage of H2 over ethanol/methanol is for use in a fuel cell, rather than burning it (as per the video) - burning is energy wasteful and can produce unwanted by-products (we've got to stop heating up those pesky nitrogen molecules )

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    I'm woefully ignorant about industrial processes - how feasible is it to do the above? I know how plants capture carbon to store as carbohydrates and it's fiendishly delicate to get everything lined up so the reactions can take place efficiently.

    I guess the main advantage of H2 over ethanol/methanol is for use in a fuel cell, rather than burning it (as per the video) - burning is energy wasteful and can produce unwanted by-products (we've got to stop heating up those pesky nitrogen molecules )
    Porsche have a pilot plant already, taking water, air and solar power and generating petrol. Their target is $2 per litre of carbon neutral synthetic petrol, which is what we are paying already for dinosaur juice. Now that's based on the fact that the overwhelming majority of cars that Porsche have ever made (something like 85% from memory?) are still on the road, so they kind of see supplying petrol as something they will have to do in the future as the oil companies drop out of the market.

    https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/09...rmula-1-races/

    My comment on ethanol was just the thought that for new cars you shouldn't have to make a complicated blend of light-ish hydrocarbons that make up petrol, because you can tweak the engine design appropriately like they already have for 10% ethanol in petrol. Just choose a molecule big enough to be liquid at room temperature & pressure, and use that. I would hope it would make a simpler plant than the one Porsche is cranking up, If that can get me cheaper fuel that also just happens to be high octane to boot (a return of 5 star fuel?) by running E100 in what is basically a slightly adapted petrol engine, that seems a decent way forward.

    AIUI ethanol can be used in fuel cells, but just a different fuel cell to hydrogen. So still viable, but I'm sure like all engineering just moves the practical problems around

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    Senior Member watercooled's Avatar
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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    Seems I missed this thread initially so forgive the thread revival, but just wanted to mention a couple of things.

    I personally do see a future for hydrogen and/or synthetic fuels, particularly in areas where there's no straightforward electric replacement such as jet aircraft.

    However, there are still some things to consider. Combustion with air leads to NOx pollution regardless of how 'clean' the fuel is - not everything is about global warming, however if it's reduced to niche applications it's likely less of a concern.

    Also, regarding ethanol added to fuel, it rather depends on where that ethanol comes from, as in some cases it might be worse than burning straight fossil fuels, due to a combination of deforestation, fertiliser use, etc. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/...-prices-20-30/

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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    We'll see leaps and bounds in hydrogen power over the next decade, even the guy that came up with Formula E, Extreme E and E1 is adding Extreme H to the Extreme E events in the next few years so could be interesting stuff going off as we'd need to use different radios for the cars.

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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    Quote Originally Posted by watercooled View Post
    Also, regarding ethanol added to fuel, it rather depends on where that ethanol comes from...
    There's plenty of high carbon hydrogen out there as well, so if we want to reduce the carbon impact of burning things in cars and planes we need to build factories/refineries to make that fuel as it currently doesn't exist.

    From an environmental point of view, we need more battery vehicles than we can possibly make to hit the two degree target. Synthetic fuel seems like a really good addition. Not convinced it is a stop-gap either. Synthetic fuel in a plug-in hybrid would be about the perfect car for me, and the smaller battery compared to a pure BEV means we can make more of them and they can be way cheaper.

    Perhaps, if we need synthetic fuel to get around the engineering problems of a battery powered 747, we should just standardise on jet fuel for everything. I quite liked the Jaguar idea of a jet powered serial hybrid

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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    There's plenty of high carbon hydrogen out there as well, so if we want to reduce the carbon impact of burning things in cars and planes we need to build factories/refineries to make that fuel as it currently doesn't exist.

    From an environmental point of view, we need more battery vehicles than we can possibly make to hit the two degree target. Synthetic fuel seems like a really good addition. Not convinced it is a stop-gap either. Synthetic fuel in a plug-in hybrid would be about the perfect car for me, and the smaller battery compared to a pure BEV means we can make more of them and they can be way cheaper.

    Perhaps, if we need synthetic fuel to get around the engineering problems of a battery powered 747, we should just standardise on jet fuel for everything. I quite liked the Jaguar idea of a jet powered serial hybrid
    With current tech, I agree we cannot make enough battery vehicles. However I still see the plug in hybrid going the way of the dodo eventually. Simply because the chemistry is already known for extremely energy dense batteries than can charge very quickly. It's just that the manufacturing and lastability isn't there yet - i.e. more R&D needed. For the areas where electricity is lacking, I suspect affordability for a vehicle with an engine and battery power isn't the case. So probably sticking with just the engine then............

    P.S. Hydrogen sceptic here. I doubt it will ever be used outside of Nuclear fusion and some very niche applications.
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    Senior Member watercooled's Avatar
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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    Another thread revival - I should check subscriptions more often!

    Yeah much of the hydrogen you can buy today is produced from fossil fuels. Naturally, I'm referring to hydrogen produced by other means i.e. large scale electrolysis. And I'm aware that has its own challenges, but it also has potential besides the obvious.

    There are lots of engineering 'miracles' posted on news sites about battery technology and how the solution is just a year or two away. Lab vs commercial production is quite different though, and while we do see many of the innovations incorporated incrementally into battery technology (Li-ion batteries have certainly not stood still over the past decades), the old adage applies - if it was easy, we'd already be using it. Most of the headline-grabbing breakthroughs come with more than a few asterisks which challenge commercial adoption for one reason or another, whether that's safety, cost, longevity, complexity, etc. A battery technology that can double current Li-ion energy density but only lasts a handful of charge cycles is fairly useless as a replacement. There are, however, some promising battery chemistries that are more suited to stationary applications as they lack Li-ion's energy density but theoretically gain in cost and durability.

    There are also some solutions thinking outside of the box. E.g. BEVs utilising LiFePO4 - while the raw cells are lower energy density, their robustness means they require less peripheral hardware so once the entire battery solution is considered, the difference is not so great between them and Li-ion in larger arrays.

    Regarding hydrogen usage, it already has widespread uses, so certainly not limited to niches. It can be added to the national grid (gas) up to a certain percentage without major modifications to reduce CO2 emissions, a bit like adding ethanol to petrol (provided the hydrogen itself is not from fossil fuels of course). The main challenges with entirely replacing natural gas with hydrogen are corrosion of metallic pipes (though recent upgrades to plastic largely resolve that) and explosion concentrations, i.e. it's a lot easier for hydrogen to accidentally cause gas explosions than natural gas, so safety concerns are a thing. Carbon monoxide poisoning ceases to be a concern though.

    Hydrogen is also perhaps one of the most pragmatic large-scale energy storage solutions as governments push for more intermittent renewable electricity sources. Pumped storage is very area intensive, and batteries are very cost intensive. With economies of scale, and for instance by utilising the existing gas infrastructure, hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis off-peak, and converted back to electricity at peak times or when renewables are lacking. Pumped storage in this country can manage perhaps hours of top-up supply to the grid; not even remotely close to being a backup for baseload. The national grid (gas) however carries weeks to months of supply on reserve. It's an obvious asset to utilise moving forward.

    As for fusion, that's even further down the R&D pipeline than some of the near-term energy solutions utilising hydrogen in one form or another!!

    Overall, I think looking for one perfect solution is unrealistic. It seems far more likely that we'll adopt a mix of complementary solutions where practical.

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    Senior Member AGTDenton's Avatar
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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    I hope we do adopt a mix of competing solutions.
    For me hydrogen is the preferred one based on long distance driving and overall practicality as a driver.
    But we'll see, I still remember Top Gears first drive of the Honda FCX but sadly it's still not with us on a mass scale.

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    Re: JCB - Is combustion still viable...

    Quote Originally Posted by watercooled View Post
    Overall, I think looking for one perfect solution is unrealistic. It seems far more likely that we'll adopt a mix of complementary solutions where practical.
    That is the beauty of a battery vehicle, the fact that the energy charging it comes from whatever mix of sources is powering the grid so you get an evolving diversity of power sources. I think people who complain about charging cars from a grid that uses fossil fuels are missing the idea that in 5 years time the fossil fuel percentage will be much lower. An ICE car, unless you can swap to E100 or synthetic petrol is harder to improve.

    ISTR reading about one earth moving truck that was a huge win to be electric. They drive the truck to the top of a hill where mining is taking place, fill the truck, then regeneratively break all the way back to the skip where they offload and partly empty the battery with all the electricity they generated on the way down. Nice when things pan out

    Hydrogen is great for rockets. Perhaps we should all drive rockets

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