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GM CEO Dan Akerson: 3k miles, 1 Gal gas.

5952 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  petefoss
Fortune interview: "We've developed an engine we're now putting in the market that will cost you on the order of $1,500 and has two reservoirs of energy, one for compressed natural gas and the other for gasoline. Why are we building an engine that can burn either? Because the infrastructure is not ubiquitous enough in this country to have compressed natural gas. On an energy-equivalent basis, compressed natural gas sells for about a third of what gasoline sells for. So that's another way of revolutionizing the market."

http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/05/31/leadership-gm-akerson/

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There's the Atkinson cycle engine - now this can be called the AkersonFlex engine. :)

He's good for GM and I wish him a lot of success.

I wish we could talk him down from this:
"And then there's one we feel strongly about, which probably won't happen in this decade, and that's hydrogen fuel-cell technology. It's kind of the nirvana of where this eventually goes."

H2 fuel cells compared to good battery storage is going to be beaten by the advances in batteries. H2 is a battery and must go through chemical reaction to create power. Just store the electricity efficiently and power an electric motor. No need for H2.
 

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This is an interesting article. Sure sounds like Boone Pickens is back for round two after losing teh first one. Part of me thinks this is great news, but it's a move that stays dependent on fossil fuels. Now if they combine that nat gas engine with the Voltec platform, then we're talking national security! I don't want to see GM dump one tech and move to the next just on a whim. SLow and steady wins the race (remember GM?)!
 

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There's the Atkinson cycle engine - now this can be called the AkersonFlex engine. :)

He's good for GM and I wish him a lot of success.

I wish we could talk him down from this:
"And then there's one we feel strongly about, which probably won't happen in this decade, and that's hydrogen fuel-cell technology. It's kind of the nirvana of where this eventually goes."

H2 fuel cells compared to good battery storage is going to be beaten by the advances in batteries. H2 is a battery and must go through chemical reaction to create power. Just store the electricity efficiently and power an electric motor. No need for H2.
The big advantage Hydrogen has is the possibility of fast refueling. It also can be produced at industrial (i.e. highly controlled and predictable) levels based off cheap electric times (surplus from sporadic renewables, extra base-load at night, etc). Of course, most hyrdrogen isn't produced that way now (stripping hydrocarbons instead), but hopefully someday we could and at high electrolysis efficiencies.
 

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There's the Atkinson cycle engine - now this can be called the AkersonFlex engine. :)

He's good for GM and I wish him a lot of success.

I wish we could talk him down from this:
"And then there's one we feel strongly about, which probably won't happen in this decade, and that's hydrogen fuel-cell technology. It's kind of the nirvana of where this eventually goes."

H2 fuel cells compared to good battery storage is going to be beaten by the advances in batteries. H2 is a battery and must go through chemical reaction to create power. Just store the electricity efficiently and power an electric motor. No need for H2.

Well that's sort of the awesome thing about the Volt design, 2 engines with different advantages can mitigate their drawbacks. Electrics are cheap per charge, but charge slowly, and while battery capacity may improve and weight decrease, there will always be an issue with charge time , since high amp direct current is not likely to make it into consumer hands even if the battery could take it (without issue).

Hydrogen and Gas on the other hand are expensive to charge but can be safely charged (filled) within 5 minutes at a station... I can easily see a Volt in the future using a high capacity battery as its main drive (charged overnight) and a hydrogen fuel cell engine as its quick to fill back-up.
 

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An EREV with H2 backup is just as range-anxious as an H2-only vehicle for longer trips. The refilling infrastructure for an EREV(H2) would require regional filling stations (fewer than gasoline, but all across the country) before H2 was viable. Plus, there would need to be electrolysis systems all over the place. Either get Solar PV down to sub .50/W installed and build vast acres of electrolysis systems (which is a possibility). A national H2 infrastructure is decades away.

My big worry is not the USA building H2 infrastructure. It's how will the world manage things when oil hits $300/gallon in a few decades. Our one hope is to get EREVs going now so that they are mainstream when that happens and drivers are typically only using 2-5 gallons per 1000 miles due to their commuting routines, conservation and larger batteries. In the mean time, more people are moving to cities and that's one way to conserve. I've been doing a lot of work in NYC and staying in various hotels off of Manhattan. The public transportation in cities like NYC, Hong Kong and London move millions of people per day without any real use of gasoline. It's great to see that work out. But it's not possible to do that nation-wide and commuters do need to burn gas. Once drivers are in EREVs - they have the oil resource usage of city-dweller.
 

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One scary thing about storing hydrogen in a car is that you need to constantly bleed a bit off. BMW couldn't decide whether they should continuously vent the excess hydrogen, which would lead to an explosion for a garaged vehicle, or continuously burn off the hydrogen, which of course is an open flame...

I hear they resolved it by not parking the test vehicles indoors.

Nate
 

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One scary thing about storing hydrogen in a car is that you need to constantly bleed a bit off. BMW couldn't decide whether they should continuously vent the excess hydrogen
Why is that needed?
 

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Great article. Thanks for posting Steverino!
 

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One scary thing about storing hydrogen in a car is that you need to constantly bleed a bit off. BMW couldn't decide whether they should continuously vent the excess hydrogen, which would lead to an explosion for a garaged vehicle, or continuously burn off the hydrogen, which of course is an open flame...

I hear they resolved it by not parking the test vehicles indoors.

Nate
Not quite true. If you store liquid H2, you need to let it bleed. If you store compressed you don't need to let it bleed but have much lower density. BMW did the liquid because they need much much more to burn than say the folks doing Fuel Cells.
 

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Correct. GM is using high pressure compressed gas tanks for that reason.

But it sure takes a lot of carbon fiber mass (and cost and space) to hold a small amount of H2 gas. With the improvements in energy density and charge rate of batteries, I really wonder if H2 fuel cells will ever win when you include the cost and mass of a fuel cell stack and H2 storage system as compared to batteries (BEV) and/or batteries + engine (EREV). Now a fuel cell that runs on a liquid fuel, that may be another story.
 
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