Hackaday Podcast 034: 15 Years Of Hackaday, ESP8266 Hacked, Hydrogen Seeps Into Cars, Giant Scara Drawbot, Really Remote RC Car Racing

Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys wish Hackaday a happy fifteenth birthday! We also jump into a few vulns found (and fixed… ish) in the WiFi stack of ESP32/ESP8266 chips, try to get to the bottom of improved search for 3D printable CAD models, and drool over some really cool RC cars that add realism to head-to-head online racing. We look at the machining masterpiece that is a really huge SCARA arm drawbot, ask why Hydrogen cars haven’t been seeing the kind of sunlight that fully electric vehicles do, and give a big nod of approval to a guide on building your own custom USB cables.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

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5 thoughts on “Hackaday Podcast 034: 15 Years Of Hackaday, ESP8266 Hacked, Hydrogen Seeps Into Cars, Giant Scara Drawbot, Really Remote RC Car Racing

  1. Thanks! The efficiency cost of 5% is for the lowest cost collection of the CO2.

    For the existing proof-of-concept power-to-gas processes that produce methane, combining the efficiency of having CO2 and H2 and the cost of conversion, the system has 60% efficiency if you have a concentrated source of CO2, and 40% if you have to pull the CO2 from the air. After the fuel cell, the entire system efficiency is around 25% which is comparable to internal combustion engines.

    The thing is that producing synthetic methane is VASTLY cheaper than gasoline. For example, in the EU regular gas costs around €1.50 a liter which is almost 70 cents a kWh when adjusted by 25% efficiency. Adjusting for the same efficiency, the wholesale electricity price can be up to 17 cents a kWh. Real wholesale system prices for electricity (utility price) come around 6 cents, so there’s a huge margin to make profit at a price that people are already willing to pay.

    If you’re a big industrial customer, you can buy something like wind power at wholesale prices – they’ll even give you the surplus at a discount because otherwise they’d have to pay someone to take it, in order to collect the state subsidies.If you turn turn it into methane, you can sell it cheaper than gasoline regardless of the efficiency, and that’s what ultimately matters in terms of consumer adoption. EVs are nice, but expensive and compromise on a lot of things – gas is cheap and even if you don’t have an FCEV you can still install a conversion kit in a regular car and cut your CO2 output radically AND save money.

    It just depends on the regulators giving the green light and refraining from killing this technology with taxes.

  2. Oh Mike,

    As someone with an almost-impossible-to-guess-the-pronunciation-of surname, I’d have thought you’d be more mindful of others with similarly inscrutably pronounced surnames, like Simone Giertz. I believe it sounds something like “Yetch”.

  3. Great recap of a nice choice of articles!

    Oops, Elliot, round trip efficiency of electrolysis-generated H2 for vehicle fuel cells is close to 20%, not 20% loss. Fuel cells are ~50-60% efficient, and electrolysis is ~50% efficient, so round trip is ~25%. [I don’t have data on compression, transportation, and leakage power/loss.] But with $0 cost for CO2, almost all H2 currently comes from natural gas– way cheaper, so H2 cars today are really natural gas cars. If we compare MPGe and assume 60% Mirai fuel cell efficiency, the Tesla-S round trip would be about 85% [Wall power to wheel power].

    Besides efficiency, economics might matter more. Stationary power seems to have better economics than vehicle power. If the 114kW Mirai fuel cell cost $60K, that’s about $.50/W. But utility-scale generators are ~$1 for peaking power, ~$2-3/W for an efficient (50-60%) combined cycle gas plant, $7-10/W for nuclear, so in-theory the cheapest and most efficient natural gas peaking power generating station could be made by hooking up a bunch of Mirais. At $.50/W, a building or hot water heater could be made with a fuel cell to use the 40-50% heat, then dump the electricity back to the grid as backup power.

    1. >”the Tesla-S round trip would be about 85% [Wall power to wheel power”

      Doing apples-to-apples comparison by adding up the upstream costs, you have to mind that lithium batteries have ESOEI costs which is 10% of the total energy stored. Teslas however never use up the full storage potential of the battery because people don’t drive that much and the battery (and car) rots of old age, which means the energy cost of manufacturing is a large portion of the total energy efficiency.

      We’re talking about a loss of roughly 30%. Add up 85% throughput efficiency from the wall through the DC-DC converter to the motor, and you’ve got a comparable 59.5% total efficiency.

      It’s like the fool’s blanket. The fool wants to make it longer, so he cuts a strip off the other end for the materials.

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