The Anonymous Widower

New Hydrogen Refuelling Company To Drive A Greater Adoption Of Fuel-Cell Cars

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Telegraph.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Hydrogen delivery and fuel-cell power took a step forward this week with the announcement of a new hydrogen-gas refuelling company. ITM Motive will run its parent company ITM Power’s existing eight filling stations with plans for more. Time will tell how much of a step it is, but the creation of this new renewable refuelling subsidiary should have enough credentials to vastly improve the prospects for fuel-cell cars, trucks, trains and buses in the UK.

Does this move, explain the rise in the share price?

May 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

railfuture On The Castlefield Problem

This report on the railfuture web site is entitled The Castlefield Problem – A Great Opportunity For Freight.

This is the introduction to the report.

Railfuture believes that railways should be the transport mode of choice if we are to balance the needs of the economy with those of tackling the Climate Emergency and campaigns for a bigger and better railway capable of carrying more freight as well as providing for ever increasing passenger demand.

Manchester’s Castlefield corridor is a bottleneck and has become a byword for unreliability. It is expected to carry 12 passenger services and one freight train in each direction every hour. This report recommends some medium to long term interventions aimed in particular at expanding the freight offering, since movement of goods by road is the most difficult to decarbonise.

It then goes on to describe the problem in detail. This is an important paragraph.

Meanwhile, the increase in intermodal freight traffic between Trafford Park and the southern ports has seen all the available freight capacity (known as signalling paths) taken up, with each freight train using the equivalent of two passenger paths.

The report then makes these points about the freight services to and from Trafford Park Rail Freight Terminal.

  • Freight has no choice but to use the Castlefield route.
  • There is no access to Trafford Park is from the West Coast Main Line (WCML) other than via Castlefield.
  • As freight doesn’t complain on social media when it is late or cancelled, it is a popular target for politicians looking for a solution.

The report says that the ideal solution would be to access Trafford Park from the western end.

The report then asks, the fundamental question, as to whether the Trafford Park terminal is fit for purpose and details these points.

Operation is not very efficient.

It only has a limited number of sidings with gantries.

Can Trafford Park handle the growth of rail freight to and from Manchester?

This map shows the Trafford Park terminal.

There doesn’t appear to be much space to expand.

railfuture’s Solution

railfuture are proposing that a second rail freight terminal be built in the Borough of Trafford at Carrington Park, which is described by this paragraph in the report.

This brownfield site, once the Shell chemical works, lies to the south west of Manchester but still within Trafford Borough. Until its closure it enjoyed rail access via the former line between Stockport and the Warrington Central (CLC) line at Glazebrook. It is currently a Business Park, although the lorry parking facility in the area we are interested in could easily be relocated to another part of this vast and mostly empty site.

This Google Map shows the site.

Note.

  1. The blue arrow indicating the centre of Carrington Business Park.
  2. Irlam station on the route between Liverpool and Manchester line via Warrington is in the North West corner of the map.
  3. The Manchester Ship Canal running across the North-West corner of the map.
  4. The route of the former Glazebrook East Junction–Skelton Junction line, runs diagonally across the bottom of the map.
  5. Another railway used to run up the middle of the site.

railfuture’s plan for Carrington Park is as follows.

  • Build a Rail Freight Terminal North-South along the route of the disused railway indicated in 5.
  • Reinstate the Glazebrook East Junction–Skelton Junction line, so that freight trains can go between Carrington Park and the East.
  • I doubt, it’s possible to connect to the Liverpool and Manchester line via Warrington, as there is Carrington power station in the way.
  • But it would link Carrington Park and Trafford Park.

Once at Skelton Junction, trains can go East to connect with the Manchester branch of the  West Coast Main Line between Stockport and Cheadle Hulme stations.

I have followed the line to the East in my helicopter.

It is double track until it splits from the route to Stockport and Manchester under Junction 4 of the M60.

It continues as single-track under the Styal Line, before turning South.

It then passes under the Manchester branch of the West Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows where we have arrived.

Note.

  1. The Manchester branch of the West Coast Main Line going diagonally North-South across the map.
  2. Stockport and Manchester are to the North.
  3. Cheadle Hulme station is just off the map to the South.
  4. The line, I’ve been following crossing the Manchester branch in an East-West direction.

Conveniently, the large block of land lying to the South-East of where the two rail lines cross, is a landfill site that closed in 1985.

railfuture’s plan is to use this space to create a new Adswood junction between the two lines.

They recommend building a double-track junction.

  • Trains could go between Manchester and the South via Wilmslow or Stoke.
  • Trains via Stoke would avoid the busy lines through Crewe.

The report, then goes on to list a load of other benefits that could be built into the scheme.

  • Adswood junction could be built, so that stone trains between the Peak District and the South could use a simpler route.
  • The route through Carrington Park could be extended to Trafford Park.
  • Passenger services could be run on the new route.
  • There could be possibilities to combine parts of the scheme with High Speed Two.
  • A new route to the North East is thought possible.

The report says this about the costs and benefit cost ratio of the proposed scheme.

Benchmarking against the outturn prices of similar projects undertaken elsewhere and allowing for inflation, we expect the costs to come in under £300m. This does not include potential third party investment or assume any release value of eventual redevelopment at Trafford Park. Adding the connection at Flixton would probably add a further £100m, still giving an overall BCR of over 2:1.

This scheme needs serious consideration.

 

 

 

May 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Toilet Paper Calculator

Have you ever wondered how many toilet rolls you need to buy?

Those clever mathematicians at Omni, have now come up with a Toilet Paper Calculator.

It’s just one of their suite of Coronavirus Calculators.

I use their other calculators regularly.

This suite of calculators have a slightly humorous edge, that I find acceptable in these troubling times.

May 15, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Siemens Gamesa Begins Operation Of Its Innovative Electrothermal Energy Storage System

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Siemens Gamesa.

This is the introductory paragraph.

In a world first, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) has today begun operation of its electric thermal energy storage system (ETES). During the opening ceremony, Energy State Secretary Andreas Feicht, Hamburg’s First Mayor Peter Tschentscher, Siemens Gamesa CEO Markus Tacke and project partners Hamburg Energie GmbH and Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) welcomed the achievement of this milestone. The innovative storage technology makes it possible to store large quantities of energy cost-effectively and thus decouple electricity generation and use.

This second paragraph gives a brief description of the system.

The heat storage facility, which was ceremonially opened today in Hamburg-Altenwerder, contains around 1,000 tonnes of volcanic rock as an energy storage medium. It is fed with electrical energy converted into hot air by means of a resistance heater and a blower that heats the rock to 750°C. When demand peaks, ETES uses a steam turbine for the re-electrification of the stored energy. The ETES pilot plant can thus store up to 130 MWh of thermal energy for a week. In addition, the storage capacity of the system remains constant throughout the charging cycles.

This system is a pilot plant and will test the system thoroughly.

They state that the long term aim is to store energy in the gigawatt range and be able to provide the enough power for the daily electricity consumption of around 50,000 households.

The method of energy storage would appear to be inherently simple.

  • Heat rocks to a high temperature using a gigantic electric heater and blower.
  • Use the heat when required to boil water to create steam.
  • Pass the steam through a conventional steam turbine.

I can envisage a clever computer system, controlling the hot air and water flows into the vessel to get the correct level of steam out, as needed for the amount of electricity required.

I suspect the biggest problem is where do you keep a thousand tonnes of hot rock?

The answer is given in this article on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which is entitled Heated Volcanic Rocks Store Energy.

This paragraph describes the storage.

A key finding from an earlier, smaller project proved greater efficiency of a round shape for the container holding the rock. It has an increasing diameter on both ends, where inflow and outflow openings are located. It has a total content of 800 cubic meters of rock with a mass of 1,000 tonnes, covered with a one-meter-thick layer of insulation.

I estimate that the diameter of a 800 cubic metre rock sphere would be just 11.4 metres, so perhaps around fourteen with the insulation.

The sphere would need to be a pressure vessel, as it would contain high-pressure steam.

The process looks to be simple, efficient and scalable.

The article also makes the following points.

  • Eighty percent of the components are off-the-shelf.
  • There are no hazardous materials involved.
  • High efficiencies are claimed.
  • Siemens Gamesa are aiming for a 1 GWh system.
  • The German government has provided development funds.

It is being built on the site of an old aluminium smelter, so I suspect, the site has good connections to the electricity grid.

In the early 1970s, I was involved in the design and sizing of chemical plants for ICI. In one plant, the process engineers and myself proposed a very large pressure vessel, that would have been larger than the one, Siemens Gamesa are using in Hamburg. But then the domes of pressurised water reactors, like this forty-six metre diameter example at Sizewell B are even larger.

 

I very much believe, that design and construction of the pressure vessel to hold the hot rocks for Siemens Gamesa’s system could have been performed by the team I worked with in 1972

How Big Would The Sphere Be For A One Gigawatt-hour System?

  • The current pilot system has a 130 MWh thermal capacity and uses a thousand tonnes of volcanic rock.
  • The rock occupies 800 cubic metres.

I estimated that the pressure vessel with insulation could have a diameter of fourteen metres.

A system with a 1 GWh thermal capacity would be 7.7 times larger.

  • It would need 7,700 tonnes of volcanic rock.
  • The rock would occupy 6,160 cubic metres.

I esimate that the pressure vessel with thermal insulation would have a diameter of twenty-five metres.

How Much Power Could Be Stored In A Sizewell B-Sized Dome?

Out of curiosity, I estimated how much power could be stored in a pressure vessel, which was the size of the dome of Sizewell B power station.

  • The dome would have a diameter of forty-two metres if the insulation was two metres thick.
  • This would store 39,000 cubic metres of rock.
  • This would be 48,750 tonnes of rock.

Scaling up from the pilot plant gives a 6.3 GWh thermal capacity.

I would suspect that Siemens know an engineer, who has worked out how to build such a structure.

  • A steel pressure vessel wouldn’t be any more challenging than the dome of a pressurised water reactor.
  • It would be built in sections in a factory and assembled on site.
  • Rock would probably be added as the vessel was built.

I can certainly see one of these energy stores being built with a multi-gigawatt thermal capacity.

Would This System Have A Fast Response?

Power companies like power stations and energy storage to have a fast response to sudden jumps in demand.

This section in the Wikipedia entry for Electric Mountain, is entitled Purpose and this is said.

The scheme was built at a time when responsibility for electricity generation in England and Wales was in the hands of the government’s Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB); with the purpose of providing peak capacity, very rapid response, energy storage and frequency control. Dinorwig’s very rapid response capability significantly reduced the need to hold spinning reserve on part loaded thermal plant. When the plant was conceived the CEGB used low efficiency old coal and oil fired capacity to meet peaks in demand. More efficient 500 MW thermal sets were introduced in the 1960s, initially for baseload operation only. Dinorwig could store cheap energy produced at night by low marginal cost plant and then generate during times of peak demand, so displacing low efficiency plant during peak demand periods.

Given that we are increasingly reliant on intermittent sources like wind and solar, it is surely getting more important to have energy storage with a fast response.

Consider.

  • Gas turbine power stations are very quick to start up, which is a reason why, they are liked by power companies.
  • As Wikipedia says pumped storage systems like Electric Mountain usually have a fast response.
  • Lithium-ion batteries have a very fast response.

I think the Siemens Gamesa ETES system could have a medium-fast response, provided there was enough heat in the rocks to raise steam.

Could This System Be Placed In A Town Or City?

Consider.

  • The system doesn’t use any hazardous materials.
  • The footprint of a 1 GWh system would probably be football pitch-sized.
  • The system could probably be designed to blend in with local buildings.

This picture shows the Bunhill 2 Energy Centre in London, which extracts waste heat from the Underground and uses it for district heating.

When I took the picture, the system wasn’t complete, but it shows how these types of developments can be fitted into the cityscape.

 

 

May 15, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , | 1 Comment

The Mysterious 150-hour Battery That Can Guarantee Renewables Output During Extreme Weather

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Recharge.

The article talks starts by talking about Form Energy, who I wrote about in 150 Hours Of Storage? Company Says That’s True To Form.

As to Form Energy’s technology, they say that there is speculation, that sulphur is the main ingredient.

The article, then lists other technologies, that are under development to store energy.

There’s certainly no lack of entrants for the contest to provide long-term energy storage.

The article is a summary of both Form Energy and the others in the field.

May 15, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , | 3 Comments