Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

MIT Study: Hydrogen Car No Environmental Panacea

Date:
March 11, 2003
Source:
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Summary:
Even with aggressive research, the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle will not be better than the diesel hybrid (a vehicle powered by a conventional engine supplemented by an electric motor) in terms of total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, says a study recently released by MIT's Laboratory for Energy and the Environment (LFEE).

Even with aggressive research, the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle will not be better than the diesel hybrid (a vehicle powered by a conventional engine supplemented by an electric motor) in terms of total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, says a study recently released by MIT's Laboratory for Energy and the Environment (LFEE).

And while hybrid vehicles are already appearing on the roads, adoption of the hydrogen-based vehicle will require major infrastructure changes to make compressed hydrogen available. If we need to curb greenhouse gases within the next 20 years, improving mainstream gasoline and diesel engines and transmissions and expanding the use of hybrids is the way to go.

These results come from a systematic and comprehensive assessment of a variety of engine and fuel technologies as they are likely to be in 2020 with intense research but no real 'breakthroughs.' The assessment was led by Malcolm A. Weiss, LFEE senior research staff member, and John B. Heywood, the Sun Jae Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of MIT's Laboratory for 21st-Century Energy.

Release of the study comes just a month after the Bush administration announced a billion-dollar initiative to develop commercially viable hydrogen fuel cells and a year after establishment of the government-industry program to develop the hydrogen fuel-cell-powered 'FreedomCar.'

The new assessment is an extension of a study done in 2000, which likewise concluded that the much-touted hydrogen fuel cell was not a clear winner. This time, the MIT researchers used optimistic fuel-cell performance assumptions cited by some fuel-cell advocates, and the conclusion remained the same.

The hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle has low emissions and energy use on the road--but converting a hydrocarbon fuel such as natural gas or gasoline into hydrogen to fuel this vehicle uses substantial energy and emits greenhouse gases.

"Ignoring the emissions and energy use involved in making and delivering the fuel and manufacturing the vehicle gives a misleading impression," said Weiss.

However, the researchers do not recommend stopping work on the hydrogen fuel cell. "If auto systems with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions are required in, say, 30 to 50 years, hydrogen is the only major fuel option identified to date," said Heywood. The hydrogen must, of course, be produced without making greenhouse gas emissions, hence from a non-carbon source such as solar energy or from conventional fuels while sequestering the carbon emissions.

The assessment highlights the advantages of the hybrid, a highly efficient approach that combines an engine (or a fuel cell) with a battery and an electric motor. Continuing to work on today's gasoline engine and its fuel will bring major improvements by 2020, cutting energy use and emissions by a third compared to today's vehicles. But aggressive research on a hybrid with a diesel engine could yield a 2020 vehicle that is twice as efficient and half as polluting as that 'evolved' technology, and future gasoline engine hybrids will not be far behind, the study says.

###

Other researchers on the study were Andreas Schafer, principal research engineer in the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development, and Vinod K. Natarajan (S.M. 2002). The new report and the original 'On the Road in 2020' study from 2000 are available at http://lfee.mit.edu/publications under 'Reports.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Study: Hydrogen Car No Environmental Panacea." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030311074526.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. (2003, March 11). MIT Study: Hydrogen Car No Environmental Panacea. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030311074526.htm
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Study: Hydrogen Car No Environmental Panacea." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030311074526.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins