1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Cost estimate of Hydrogen Fuel Cells versus Gasoline

  1. Jan 23, 2010 #1
    Although a complete cost analysis is much more complicated, the particular question only requires the following: an energy cost estimate (in terms of $/Joule).

    This was directed to be done by taking volumetric or mass based costs of each fuel as well as the associated energy conent or energy density.

    I am finding it very difficult to find any reliable information through google.

    Where I'm living gas costs are about $1.02/L right now. My research lead me to an energy density of 32 MJ/L for octace which I used for the gasoline calc.

    For Hydrogen, most costs seems to be between 3-4 $/kg with an energy density of around 120 MJ/kg.

    These numbers result in similar $/Joule results for both fuels, which I'm pretty sure should not be the case. Do those numbers make sense? Is there a reliable source where I can check my data.

    Please ignore all other costs and efficiencies associated with the two fuels and engines. This is just a very simple calc once I have the correct data.

    Your help is much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Hi skiboka,
    I'm not in sales but I work as an engineer for hydrogen economy related systems. There are a few public hydrogen refueling stations, one in Washington DC for example, but I don't know what they're selling hydrogen at. I can tell you that most hydrogen customers are large corporations who buy in bulk. They purchase either liquid hydrogen which must be compressed on site, or gasseous hydrogen that's delivered in large tube trailers and is used by a fleet of vehicles, busses, or material handling equipment (ie: forklifts). The going rate for liquid hydrogen is on the order of $4/kg. That's a very rough number from someone that isn't in the sales area. I could talk to our sales folks, but that should get you close.

    If the company buying the hydrogen is a resale store such as the Shell station in Washington DC, then I suspect there's a markup on it, but I don't know what that is. For gasoline, I believe the markup is fairly small. Note also that this is for the US market and may not apply to the European market. Also, European countries have a considerable tax on the gasoline as I understand it and I doubt there's an equivalent tax on hydrogen just yet.
  4. Jan 25, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook