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Welcome to another Two Bit Da Vinci video. Today we are talking about the future of clean
transportation, and whether it will be batteries or hydrogen fuel cells that drive the EVs
of the future. Both are pure electric vehicles, with electric
motors, not a drop of gasoline, and zero emissions. The difference is in how these unique technologies
store their electric potential energy. It’s no secret that battery electrics like
all Tesla Models, the Nissan Leaf, and Chevy Bolt, have been dominating EV sales, with
more battery EV models coming online all the time. In contrast, hydrogen fuel cell technology
has seemed rather stagnant, with only a few options penetrating the market. The two most notable models being the Honda
Clarity, and the Toyota Mirai. So we are going to look into why battery EVs
have had so much more success so far, and if there’s any chance for hydrogen fuel
cell cars to turn the tide in the future. To understand the full story, we have to look
at the complete energy life cycle for electric vehicles. We’ll look at energy generation, distribution,
storage, and consumption. First, let’s talk about why battery EVs
have been so dominant so far, and the answer really is two-fold. One, the infrastructure was already largely
in place. A battery EV is just like any appliance in
a home and just needs to be plugged in. The second reason for their success is one
company, Tesla, who forged their path to market against long odds. Before Tesla, companies weren’t serious
about EVs and only made them as compliance cars, a category of car created not really
for making money, but to meet emission and clean energy requirements. Tesla massively increased the lithium-ion
battery production globally with their Gigafactory, and also invested in their supercharger network
around the world. Again, because the electric infrastructure
was already in place, creating new supercharger stations was as simple as plugging into the
existing grid. New technology typically suffers from a chicken
or the egg problem and this was no exception. For Hydrogen fuel cell cars, there just isn’t
enough sales volume to justify large production of hydrogen at scale. For battery EVs, there weren’t enough EV
sales to justify large-scale increases in battery manufacturing. Tesla changed that by vertically integration
their process and ramping up battery production alongside their automobile manufacturing. The same just hasn’t been the case for the
hydrogen fuel cell car, where no company has taken the lead to drive the industry forward. Now let’s talk about the benefits and challenges
of each technology throughout their respective energy lifecycles. The first step is, of course, is energy generation. For battery EVs, the energy just comes from
the grid, and how clean that energy is, depends on where you live. One comment we’ve seen several times is
that an electric car is just a coal powered car, and while that’s a smirk-worthy talking
point, is it actually true? Let’s compare the extremes here in the united
states. California has the cleanest grid with 41%
coming from renewable resources, 9% from nuclear, 4% from coal, and 34% from Natural Gas. In contrast, West Virginia has one of the
dirtiest grids in the country, with 94% of its energy coming from coal, 2.5% from natural
gas, and about 3.5% from renewable sources. Coal is the dirtiest energy source by far
at 1.142 kg of CO2 emitted per kWh of energy generated. Natural gas is much cleaner at only .572 kgs
of CO2. And lastly, burning a gallon of gasoline emits
9.07 kg of CO2. If we compare a battery electric like a Tesla
Model 3 which gets roughly 4.5 miles per kWh, to a pure gasoline BMW 3 series at 25 MPG,
and a Toyota Prius Hybrid at 50 MPG, the results are pretty interesting. In California, The Tesla emits .0521 kg of
CO2 per mile, while the same model 3, powered by the West Virginia Power grid, emits .2366
kg of Co2 per mile, a whopping 4.5x increase. The 3 Series emits .3628 kg of CO2 per mile
and the Prius, .1814 kgs per mile. If we factor 12,000 miles per year, the yearly
results are as follows. The Model 3 in California, is the clear winner
here, but interestingly, if you live in West Virginia, and want the smallest carbon footprint
possible, the Prius is actually your best bet. These were the grid numbers for 2017-2018,
but as insightful as it is to see where we are, looking at where we’re headed is even
more so. West Virginia doesn’t really seem particularly
interested in moving towards renewables. Their local economy is largely coal based. But California is moving at breakneck speeds. The solar make up of the California grid was
less than 1% until 2013, and now it’s over 10% just 4 short years later. It’s a similar story for hydro-electric
and wind. Oh, and by the way, this solar figure only
counts grid-scale solar production, not individual homeowners with distributed solar. So for anyone with a huge solar system powering
your EV, your recurring mileage based emissions are basically zero. Now, before we switch gears and talk about
hydrogen, we wanted to take a moment and say thank you to all our viewers, all of our subscribers,
and especially our Patrons on Patreon. You guys make this possible, and we are just
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launching our official merchandise store, so take your swag game to the next level with
merch listed below the video description. Ok, so hydrogen is a little trickier to quantify
because there currently only minimal hydrogen infrastructure in place in most countries. And this is precisely the problem. Imagine iPhone sales, before the wireless
high-speed internet proliferation of the past 15 years. Imagine automotive sales before widespread
development of interstate highways and paved city roads. It’s a similar story with hydrogen, with
few customers, and few producers. Hydrogen gas can be generated in two main
ways: 1 is the extraction of hydrogen from natural gas in a process called natural gas
reforming. The process is basically two steps: first
heated water in steam form is reacted with natural gas, which contains methane, in the
presence of a catalyst to produce hydrogen gas, and carbon monoxide, and relatively small
amounts of carbon dioxide. In a second water-gas shift stage, the resulting
carbon monoxide is reacted again with steam to create more hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The final steps remove the carbon dioxide
and other impurities leaving pure hydrogen. To understand the problem with this, we need
to discuss the topic of Energy- ROI or return on investment. It’s just like an ROI on a financial investment. If you spend $1,000 dollars to make $2,000
then your ROI is 2x. Coal is king here, with E-ROI values of 80,
which means for every unit of energy spent to prepare coal, 80 units of energy can be
extracted. Oil isn’t what it used to be, and E-ROI
levels continue to drop, from 50 in the 1960’s to 35 in 1990 to 18 in 2005, and 12 in 2007. As all the easy to reach oil dries up, this
value will continue to fall. Biodiesels are pretty poor at 1.3, but hydrogen
from natural gas reforming is less than 1. That means, the energy present as natural
gas before the process, is actually higher than the resulting hydrogen extracted. 95% of the hydrogen produced in the United
States comes from natural gas reforming. Oh, and yeah, there’s a fair bit of CO2
produced in this process, which doesn’t exactly make this clean. [ https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-natural-gas-reforming
] The second way is through electrolysis, a
process where an electrolyzer splits water into hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of
an electrical current. This sounds great because this could prove
to be a truly zero-emission energy source, but yeah, again, the E-ROI at today’s technological
levels is below 1. The most efficient form of electrolysis is
using a proton exchange membrane, which results in an 80% efficiency. This approach also makes the technology beholden
to, however, clean the energy grid it draws its power from, happens to be. To be clear, the first method of natural gas
reforming, can not, and will not be the answer, because it emits carbon dioxide, and results
in less energy than when you started. Hydrogen through electrolysis, however, might
very well play a roll in the energy storage story of the future. Sure, it is currently an inefficient process,
but its clean, and offers some key benefits. Next, let’s look at the distribution system
for these technologies. Again the story is simple with battery EVs
because they will just leverage the existing power grid. The one note here is that if we suddenly shifted
every gasoline car to a battery EV, the stain on the power grid would be substantial. In just the US alone, in 2017, 28,000 TWh
of electricity were consumed, and converting 200 Million cars to EVs would increase that
by about 2%. So let’s look at the economics of these
two approaches to EVs. Starting with electricity, we have a 98% efficiency
in charging batteries, and an 80% efficiency in PEM electrolysis. The hydrogen extracted from electrolysis isn’t
very useful at atmospheric pressures. To store it in a meaningful way, we need to
compress it to about 700x the atmospheric pressure. This too requires energy, in fact, about 15%
of the total energy available. Another approach is to cool the hydrogen,
which is naturally a gas at room temperatures, to a liquid, which would make it denser and
easy to store. But this cooling requires even more energy,
so highly compressed hydrogen gas is currently more viable. So between electrolysis and compression, we’re
down to 75% of the initial energy, which the battery EV is still sitting pretty at 98%. For production, we have two options, either
distributed on site, at the station where you’ll fill up, or centralized in big production
factories. Costs will be higher on site, due to smaller
systems with smaller hydrogen output, but transportation costs will be nonexistent. Large production facilities can lower prices
with higher outputs but will be forced to ship highly compressed hydrogen either by
trucks or pipeline. To produce hydrogen at levels to make this
technology viable, it’ll have to be offsite in large commercial operations, much like
gasoline currently. These transportations costs will eat another
20% of the total hydrogen energy, dropping us to about 55%. In contrast, grid losses in the transmission
of electricity would be around 5%, bringing the battery EV efficiency, to 93%. When we factor the losses of converting the
energies to DC or AC for the motors and electric motor efficiencies of 90% we’re left with
a pretty decisive blow to the hydrogen fuel cell car. Here the battery EV is about twice as efficient
as the hydrogen fuel. For an in-depth look at this in action, check
out Real Engineering’s video on “The Truth about Hydrogen” links will be in the description. But if all this wasn’t enough, there’s
one more problem here, and that is the price per kilogram of hydrogen. Prices in the United States are roughly $15
/ kilogram for hydrogen. The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle gets 366
miles of range with 5.5kg of hydrogen. That means it would cost about $82 to fill
up, and cost about $0.22 per mile to operate. In contrast, a Tesla Model 3, would cost just
$0.05 per mile at 20 cents per kWh. This incredibly high price is a function of
demand and production. Until some company pushes for the proliferation
of hydrogen fuel cell cars, creating a market for the fuel, these prices aren’t likely
to drop. Elon Musk, from the very outset of Tesla,
stated that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were “Incredibly Dumb” and others like Toyota
have eventually agreed. It would seem he was right, but we’d say,
Hydrogen fuel just might have its place. Hydrogen has a few key advantages, the first
and greatest is energy density. Hydrogen has one of the highest energy densities,
at around 39 kWh/kg. In contrast the 75 kWh Extended range Model
3, stores only about 0.2 kWh/kg. How does gasoline stack up? At about 13 kWh/kg. This means adding range to a hydrogen fuel
cell EV is as simple as increasing the size of the tank, while for battery EVs that would
mean hundreds of addition kilograms in weight, and thousands of dollars in cost. So Elon Musk might have a point about Battery
EVs for personal transportation, but Batteries, as they currently stand, can never replace
gasoline for applications like boats or airplanes, while, as you saw in the energy density figures,
hydrogen very well could. There is actually a company introducing a
brand new semi truck for Europe called Nicola. No, not Tesla, Nicola, yeah we know, it’s
confusing. But this upstart company is preparing a hydrogen
fuel cell semi truck that very well might disrupt the status quo of diesel trucks in
Europe. Details are sparse, but you’re probably
thinking, isn’t Tesla building an all battery electric semi too? Yes, they are, but this should prove really
interesting. The one very crucial detail that Tesla didn’t
reveal, is the curb weight of the truck without any payload. This is crucial because most municipalities
place weight limits on large cargo trucks, and the 500-mile range Tesla Semi will probably
require about 1000 kWhs of batteries, that would weight around 13,000 lbs (6000 kg). This means a Tesla Semi would have less weight
available for cargo, which means less profit per trip, and longer periods to break even. In this scenario, it’s obvious why a hydrogen
fuel cell semi might be quite the game changer. The second advantage is the short refueling
times. For a consumer car, an average fill-up would
take about 5 minutes, while a battery EV can take several hours to fill up. This one seems pretty obvious, but in a world
where not everyone has a garage, and charging at home isn’t always an option, the hydrogen
fuel cell EV might make sense. Another key benefit of hydrogen is that it
doesn’t drain energy as it sits around. Lithium-ion batteries will slowly drain if
let alone for long enough. This could make Hydrogen a great choice for
grid storage since the sun and wind aren’t always out when energy demands peak. If thinking about highly compressed hydrogen
is conjuring up images of the Hindenberg, don’t worry fuel cell cars are actually
quite safe. The tanks are highly reinforced, to withstand
car crashes, and special vents can safely discharge the compressed hydrogen before anything
bad happens. So batteries are much more efficient in taking
energy and storing it, but it takes very high upfront capital costs in battery manufacturing. There’s also the mining of elements like
cobalt, which we discussed in our Tesla Battery Video series. Hydrogen production wastes more energy than
batteries, but the resulting fuel can be stored in larger quantities for lower prices. In closing, we wanted to also touch on the
different market forces at play, and how both of these technologies will fundamentally disrupt
the future of big business. First, we have the car manufacturers, who
don’t much care if they’re making gasoline cars, battery EVs or hydrogen fuel cells. For them, it’s just about building what customers
want, and making healthy margins. But then there are the energy utility companies,
that provide electricity to us all, and the oil and gasoline companies. The utility companies are really sitting pretty
in all of this because they are poised to be at the center of the Electric Vehicle revolution. Petroleum companies, however, know their time
in the sun, is coming to an end. They rely on supplying a product, that we
consumers can’t readily create ourselves. But with Battery EVs, that’s no longer the
case. So it is no surprise, that companies like
Exon Mobile and Shell, are definitely keeping their eye on hydrogen fuel cells as the solution
of the future. Sure it is possible to run electrolysis from
your own solar panels and create hydrogen, it isn’t really all that practical. So in a hydrogen economy, the petroleum companies
would shift gears and embrace this new fuel source that they could create and supply. These market forces play a huge role, in where
funding for research and development is prioritized. The 2020 Olympic Games are coming to Tokyo,
and they plan on unveiling a “Hydrogen Society” as one of their cornerstone showcases. Japan is pretty serious about Hydrogen and
for good reason. It is an inevitability that battery technology
will get better and better, and eventually have that breakthrough moment where energy
densities can compete with other fuels. The same is true for hydrogen, where extraction
methods will continue to improve and get even more attractive. How will we store all those renewable forms
of energy, batteries or hydrogen? Hopefully, we’ve made a case for why both
can be viable options, and why further funding and research into both technologies will be
a win-win for all of us. We’ve only scratched the surface of this
topic, we realize we have many more videos to make to dig deeper, and that’s why we
ask you hit that subscribe button, the bell icon, and make sure you don’t miss any of
the videos we have planned in the coming months. We’re Two Bit da Vinci, thanks for watching.

52 thoughts on “Why Battery Electric Cars are Dominating Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars

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  2. Very shortly when lithium runs out hydrogen will take off. Also if the government stopped giving subsidy electric would die in a short while. CO 2 is not a pollution.

  3. California is not how america should go. All industry is moving to places without brown outs because of the green energy lie. Coal is the way to go!

  4. I love this video! It would be nice to have a video on methanol/ethanol fuel cells. I think that they are worth talking since it is in a liquid state at room temperature as you know and easy to use.

  5. Hydrogen Fuel Cell passenger vehicles will never pick up steam (unless it's steam reformation of fossil fuel!). While it's not a zero-sum game and hydrogen may be used for large industrial vehicles, they will never gain a foothold in consumer use. The reason for this is that Hydrogen carries a lot of the poor efficiency burdens of fossil fuel, but is not a "found resource" like fossil fuel. Almost all the work done to make fossil fuel a potent energy source was done by the earth millions of years ago. Every iota of hydrogen gas will need to be produced, from another energy source, which is an inherently inefficient process, it doesn't make sense to use electricity to isolate hydrogen fuel, when you can just use electricity, period. On top of that, the technology to further compress hydrogen is not really advancing, batteries will continue to get better and better as a storage medium, but hydrogen is already as good as it can be. BEVs already have the market share right now, let alone in decades into the future when batteries are orders of magnitude cheaper and more energy dense than they are currently.

  6. most annoying are plastic bottles of water on the table of Elon… this is just business no mission, do not get int this trap…

  7. Thanks for the interesting information

    Isn't the main advantage of hydrogen that it has less impact on the environment as it doesn't require the raw material as battery requires. If the amount of energy required for the production for hydrogen is available as renewable is it less impacting the environment or will the amount of required electricity producing equipment over exceed the raw material demand of the battery❓

  8. Something I have been thinking about is that emergency vehicles should be electric or hybrid and not be dependent on being close to a gas station. With so many natural disasters it would make since for emergency facilities and vehicles to have the best technologies to continue helping people after disaster strikes

  9. Great video. If you should review this topic at another time, note that there is LOHC technology available now. LOHC stands for Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier which is a fluid substance that can chemically bond hydrogen and be transported in regular tanks (or even pipelines) at ambient pressure and temperature. It is non flammable and not toxic. This completely removes the efficiency losses through high pressure condensation.
    German and Dutch companies already started building transport ships fueled with LOHC.

  10. I think you have it wrong about hydrogen. No-one has accidentally ignited hydrogen in your presence.. And so many people will have to die to prove you wrong. Do not support such a physically-dangerous idea.

  11. The California vs. West Virginia comparison is not fully relevant: It is based on the current grid average, not the actual practice of charging EVs. EV owners are statistically more susceptible of owning a photovoltaic array, or having a contractual "green" clause with their utility to produce in renewables the same amount they consume, so there are many WV homes where charging an EV emits 0g of carbon dioxide. Most commercial charging companies are also transitioning to 100% renewables, because that's of course what their consumers want, so charging your car in CA or WV chargers would emit 0g of carbon dioxide, not 52 nor 237.

    Only Tesla seems to be lagging behind there: Instead of requesting renewable electricity from the grid, they are starting to put up some photovoltaic arrays at their latest supercharger stations, like the one in Vegas, but these arrays can probably not supply more than a couple of cars in 30 minutes of charging, there's 22 charging spots that will get their electricity from the grid.

  12. Why don't we use our existing natural gas infrastructure to distribute hydrogen
    gas.  Hydrogen can be use to burn for
    cooking food.  We won't have to worry
    about night time or rainy day. We can pipe hydrogen to everyone home.

  13. Guessing, 2050 and beyond if/when electricity can be produced using wave, wind, solar etc, and the cost of a kwt
    is the same price or cheaper then a gallon of tap water…yes H2 is the way to go.

  14. What about the environmental impacts on lithium mining? I love how you and that other guy in the description seem to conveniently forget. Stop spreading lies.

  15. u also forgot to add the diffrence to the electric car vs the hydro car in super cold weathers – where battery cars suck – and loose alot of range

  16. i think it sounds really silly where you prounouce "x" instead of "times"… you do know that's the multiply symbol right?

  17. Petro companies waited way to long to move forward in pushing hydrogen vehicles because they want to sell oil it's cheap you just pull it out of the ground and refine it, that's it. if you have been doing this for over 100 years you think change is on your mind. I think NOT. As for GM you make a dump looking EV and you don't advertise it properly and yes it will fail and that's what they expected. Come Tesla now everybody is waking up including GM who said no one wants electric vehicles Yeah Right!

  18. At 00:55 i stoped watching the video, thinking that the answer to the title of this video is "because electricity is everywhere, you use the existing lines and dont have to fill a hydrogen station" did i miss????????????????

  19. teslas take fucking forever to charge hydro cars are like gas cars much more faster and who cares if there isnt alot of places for hydro

  20. Excellent analysis. Though I am only a everyday driver, I now understand the difference between the two and their pros and cons. Thanks.

  21. I think that everyone thinking about it the wrong way. think of the separation of the two element as part of the vehicle. Free fuel, just pay for the vehicle. You can find the answer if you stop thinking about the money

  22. Nice video but a more fair efficiency comparison would be:
    BEV: Battery charge/discharge ~ 99%
    Charger efficiency ~ 92-95
    controller efficiency ~ 95
    motor efficiency ~ 92-98
    Drivetrain eff ~ 85%
    Total BEV eff. 0.99×0.95×0.95×0.95×0.85 = 0.72 or 72% eff.

    For fuel cell EV we have
    Electrolysis ~ 0.75
    compression/pumping losses ~ 10% (0.9eff.)
    fuel cell ~ 0.45
    controller 0.95
    motor 0.92-0.98
    drivetrain 0.85
    total for fcev 0.75×0.9×0.45×0.95×0.95×0.85 = 0.23 or 23% efficiency

    BEV with 72% is about 3 times as efficient as FCEV with 23%

  23. well, actually public transport and industrial vehciles are exponentially adopting hydrogen, it will follow suit in cars, argentina was already full of lpg gas conversion like 25 years ago, must be about 60% of vehicles converted as of 2020

  24. You mentioned storage loss for batteries, which is correct, and no such loss for hydrogen, which is incorrect. Hydrogen, due to the small size of the molecule, permeates ANY material, even the thickest steel! At 700 bar storage pressure, this permeation loss is very significant, actually larger than that of a battery, depending on the materials used to build the tank.

  25. Lots of Opinion Exclamation and Influxion and Verbiage. Two Bit (Two Cents) is the Limitation. Bias not Scientific Wiki regurgitated…….

  26. You forgot the cost of manufacturing the battery, the losses of the power in the grid, there is small idle discharge, there is loss of efficiency of batteries over time, there is loss over the transformers to set different voltages, the loss of the additional weight of the battery in the car causes. This is highly biased toward batteries and misses an unpartial analysis.

  27. I came here because I read an article that was written in 2020 and it says that Hydrogen cell cars are the future and ev's especially Tesla is crap. And "These two Hydrogen cell stocks will make you a fortune"
    Because for Hydrogen "we would only need to change our gas stations a bit, compared to ev's we would create a complete new infrastructure"
    I was like ok lets not get enrage in an instance, lets research Hydrogen cell cars.

    Long story short, I learned something after reading a dumb click bait article.

  28. For some of us the efficiency is not as important as how far you can go on one tank/charge and how long it takes to fill up/charge.
    It is winter here right now and I don't want to be stuck in a queue behind people who needs to charge their cars for 40 minutes before it is my own turn to stand there for 40 minutes when I'm driving somewhere.

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