The Anonymous Widower

Could Universal Hydrogen’s Concept Create A Hydrogen-Powered Single-Aisle Airliner?

Universal Hydrogen are making some of what I would consider the right moves.

Hydrogen Supply

Universal Hydrogen have signed a supply contract with Fortescue Future Industries for the supply of green hydrogen.

The deal is described in this press release on the FFI web site, which is entitled FFI and Universal Hydrogen Join Forces to Decarbonise Aviation.

Collaboration With Airbus

There is an article on BusinessWire, which is entitled Universal Hydrogen Announces New Engineering Development Center Located In Toulouse, France, The Heart of European Aviation.

Toulouse is the home of Airbus.

The Capsule Concept

The capsule concept could be universal.

These are widths of various planes and trains.

  • De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 – 2.52 metres – Internal
  • Airbus ATR 72 – 2.57 metres- Internal
  • Airbus A320neo – 3.7 metres – Internal
  • Boeing 737 – 3.53 metres – Internal
  • Class 800 train – 2.7 metres – External
  • Class 66 locomotive – 2.65 metres – External

I suspect that if the design is correct, then one size of capsule can be made to fit a variety of applications.

Application To Regional Aviation

I discussed this in Flybe Appears To Be On The Way Back.

I believe that De Havilland Canada Dash 8s and Airbus ATR 72s could be converted to hydrogen.

Road Transport

Surely, the capsules would be too big for road transport in the UK and many other countries.

But they would probably be ideal to deliver hydrogen to bus and truck depots and filling stations for hydrogen vehicles. They would just be plugged in and then could start dispensing the fuel.

Decarbonation Of Diesel Locomotives

Consider.

  • The cross-section of a diesel locomotive even in the UK, is larger than that of a regional airliner.
  • Most of the space in the body of a diesel locomotive is taken up by a large diesel engine.
  • Fuel ells or a small gas turbine could be small compared to the diesel engine.
  • Many diesel locomotives have electric transmissions.

I believe that many diesel-electric locomotives could be converted to hydrogen power and some could use Universal Hydrogen’s capsules.

Zero-Carbon Backup Generators

Many pieces of important infrastructure, like data centres, hospitals and large railway stations have backup generators.

Universal Hydrogen’s capsules could provide hydrogen for zero-carbon backup generators.

Universal Hydrogen’s Ideas For Single-Aisle Airliners

In the Product page on the Universal Hydrogen web site, there is a section, which is entitled Single Aisle / Narrowbody, where this is the first two sentences.

The majority of aviation emissions are produced by the single aisle (also known as narrowbody) fleet, dominated by the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families of aircraft. Both Boeing and Airbus are likely to develop a replacement for these venerable models for entry into service in the mid 2030s.

Alongside the text is this graphic, which compares various airliners.

Universal Hydrogen are proposing that Airbus stretch the A321, so that hydrogen capsules can be fitted in the rear of the fuselage, so that the aircraft had the proportions of the Boeing 757.

Read the full text on the Product page of the Universal Hydrogen web site.

I can see that if they could prove the concept with the Regional Airliner, they could develop the two concepts shown in the graphic.

Conclusion

This is a simple, but very exciting project.

 

 

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flybe Appears To Be On The Way Back

I was alerted to the relaunch of the Flybe airline being a serious proposition by this article on the Birmingham Mail, which is entitled Watch As First Of 32 New Flybe Planes Lands At Birmingham Airport.

These are the first two paragraphs.

The first of Flybe’s more eco-friendly planes has landed in Birmingham ready for the launch of the airline’s new city HQ.

Part of a planned 32-aircraft fleet, the De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 turboprop touched down on the runway at Birmingham Airport on Friday.

The new Flybe will be based at Birmingham Airport and will have a fleet consisting of thirty-two De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 aircraft.

The De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400

Note these facts about the aircraft.

  1. According to Wikipedia, 645 aircraft have been ordered, with 587 having been delivered.
  2. Different variants can handle between 40 and 80 passengers.
  3. All aircraft delivered since 1996 are dubbed Q-Series and have active noise and vibration suppression, which is designed to improve the cabin ambience.
  4. A Dash 8-400 is also called a Q400.

But the most interesting development of the Dash 8 aircraft, is that developments are underway, so that the aircraft will be able to be powered by hydrogen.

Universal Hydrogen And A Hydrogen-Powered Q400

This article on Future Flight is entitled Universal Assembles Hydrogen Aircraft Conversion Team In Washington State.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Universal Hydrogen and its hydrogen fuel cell partner Plug Power are joining forces with electric motor specialists MagniX and AeroTec to set up a Hydrogen Aviation Test and Service Center at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington. The partners will use the new facility to convert a Dash 8 regional airliner to hydrogen propulsion in time to start commercial operations in 2025. Flight testing is due to begin in 2022.

The new hydrogen powertrain will consist of an electric propulsion unit (EPU) developed by MagniX and fuel cells provided by Plug Power, which has extensive experience converting trucks to hydrogen. Seattle-based AeroTec will take the lead on converting the Dash 8s to hydrogen propulsion, conducting flight tests, and arranging for certification under FAA supplemental type certificates. The system installation work will be conducted at the Moses Lake facility.

This paragraph gives details of the design.

The hydrogen-powered Dash 8 aircraft, which carry between 41 and 60 passengers, will be able to operate on routes of up to around 625 miles. Universal Hydrogen’s plan calls for the fuel to be delivered directly to aircraft in capsules that are installed in a compartment at the rear of the fuselage.

These are my thoughts on the design.

Power Required

Wikipedia says this about the engines of the Dash 8-400 (Q400).

The Series 400 uses Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engines rated at 4,850 shp (3,620 kW).

This means that the aircraft will need fuel cells capable of delivering over 7 MW.

This data sheet on the Plug Power web site, says that the company has fuel cells  up to 125 KW, which weigh 350 Kg and need a cooling module, that weighs a further 103 Kg. Scaling up shows the power unit could weigh around 25.4 tonnes.

As the maximum take-off weight of a Q400 is around 30.5 tonnes, this wouldn’t leave much weight for the airframe, the two electric motors and propellers, the hydrogen and the passengers and their luggage.

It would appear that Plug Power must be using some form of lighter-weight fuel cell.

Or could they be using an appropriately-sized gas turbine generator from Pratt & Whitney Canada?

It should be noted that a Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engine, weighs under a tonne and generates over 3.5 MW.

Obviously, they wouldn’t be developing the plane, if they hadn’t figured out how to generate enough electricity to get it off the ground.

The Hydrogen Capsules

The Product page on the Universal Hydrogen web site is revealing.

This paragraph from the Product page describes how they would convert Regional Aircraft to Hydrogen.

Our first product is a conversion kit for existing regional aircraft, starting with the ATR72 and the De Havilland Canada Dash-8, to fly on hydrogen. This consists of a fuel cell electric powertrain that replaces the existing turboprop engines. It also accommodates, in the rear of the fuselage, our proprietary, lightweight, modular hydrogen capsules that are transported from green hydrogen production sites to the airport and loaded directly into the aircraft using the existing intermodal freight network and cargo handling equipment. By providing both an aircraft conversion solution for the existing fleet and a fuel services offering directly to regional airlines, we will be in passenger service with zero emissions by 2025 and in cargo service shortly thereafter.

Note.

  1. The cutaway on the Product page of a De Havilland Canada Dash-8, which has three capsules in the rear fuselage.
  2. The cutaway shows forty seats in the aircraft.
  3. If you scroll the pictures, you’ll see the design of the capsule.
  4. The product can be used to convert two regional airliners both of which are in production.
  5. Airports will need no new infrastructure to handle the hydrogen.

Universal Hydrogen has also signed a deal with Fortescue Future Industries to supply green hydrogen to fill the capsules.

 Are A First Flight In 2022 And An in-Service Date Of 2025 Over Ambitious?

The article in Future Flight says this.

AeroTec will take the lead on converting the Dash 8s to hydrogen propulsion, conducting flight tests, and arranging for certification under FAA supplemental type certificates.

FAA Supplemental Type Certificates are outlined on this page on the FAA web site, where this introductory paragraph is given.

A supplemental type certificate (STC) is a type certificate (TC) issued when an applicant has received FAA approval to modify an aeronautical product from its original design. The STC, which incorporates by reference the related TC, approves not only the modification but also how that modification affects the original design.

They are a much-used and well-proven method to update aircraft for new purposes and new power units.

I suspect that going this route will enable Q400 and ATR 72 aircraft will be flying on hydrogen by 2025.

Will Flybe Convert Their Aircraft To Hydrogen?

This is obviously up to the company, but if they don’t, someone else will and Flybe will lose their regional market in the UK.

Conclusion

I think those behind the new Flybe could be looking to create the UK’s first zero-carbon airline.

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Storm Arwen: Image Shows Severe Damage To Train Following Red Weather Warning

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

It shows a dramatic picture of a Class 170 train, that was hit by a tree, that was blown onto the line.

The incident happened on the Borders Railway and luckily no-one was hurt.

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Engineers At Network Rail Are Building A Tiny Railway Crossing For Wild Hazel Dormice To Help Protect The Endangered Species From Extinction

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway News.

This is the brief introductory paragraph.

This dormouse bridge will be the first of its kind. It will be built in summer 2022 on the Furness line in Lancashire.

Let’s hope after all this care and work, the dormice like it.

December 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , | 8 Comments

Energy Dome Secures Funding, Partner For New CO2 Energy Storage Projects

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Renewables Now.

This is the first paragraph.

Energy Dome SpA announced on Tuesday that it has closed a funding round securing USD 11 million (EUR 9.7m) to finalise the construction of a demonstration 2.5-MW/4-MWh carbon dioxide (CO2) battery storage project in Sardinia and to speed up business growth.

Note.

  1. It appears that Energy Dome has weaponised carbon dioxide against climate change.
  2. Providing 2.5 MW for over an hour and a half is an impressive performance.
  3. I think this project has the style we associate with Italy and Italians.

I have found their website at energydome.com and behind their energy storage system is unusual technology.

Their web site says this about their choice of storage medium.

CO2 is the perfect fluid to store energy cost effectively in a closed thermodynamic process as it is one of the few gases that can be condensed and stored as a liquid under pressure at ambient temperature. This allows for high density energy storage without the need to go at extreme cryogenic temperatures.

That is breathtakingly simple!

The main tank for the gaseous carbon dioxide is an inflatable dome and the liquid carbon dioxide is stored in steel tanks.

A turbine -compressor moves the carbon dioxide between gaseous and liquid states storing it appropriately.

It is very impressive! And I suspect extremely affordable!

December 1, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | Leave a comment

TfL May Need To Close An Entire Tube Line Due To Funding Crunch

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian’s Visits.

This is the first paragraph.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has issued a warning that an entire Tube line could close if the Government does not grant TfL the emergency and long-term funding it needs to maintain the capital’s transport services.

Ian, then speculates about which line would close.

I questioned his fare freeze before he was elected in Has Sadiq Khan Got His Sums Right? and very much feel that the politicians handling of Crossrail has caused its late opening.

Khan should realise you reap what you sow!

December 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 11 Comments

First In-flight 100% Sustainable-Fuels Emissions Study Of Passenger Jet Shows Early Promise

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Initial findings from a world-first study of the impact of 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on both engines of a commercial jet have provided promising early results.

The study was performed using an Airbus A350, which is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

This paragraph describes the tests.

In April, the A350 flew three flights over the Mediterranean Sea pursued by a DLR Falcon chaser plane to compare in-flight emissions of both kerosene and Neste’s hydro-processed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) sustainable fuel. The team also carried out compliance tests using 100% SAF and no operational issues were experienced.

I was surprised, when I first read this, that they used a chase plane to measure emissions, as I thought they’d simulate that in a test cell on the ground.

But this is probably, the best way to test the engines, whilst running on sustainable aviation fuel, in real-world conditions.

Conclusion

I believe that sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will be the interim solution to flying until hydrogen-powered aircraft are developed.

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Alstom And Liebherr Sign A Collaboration Agreement, In Order To Optimise Hydrogen Fuel Cells

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

The press release starts with these points.

  • Liebherr is developing air management technology that is particularly well suited to hydrogen fuel cells.

  • Alstom’s hydrogen strategy is part of its ambition to innovate by pioneering smarter and greener mobility solutions for all.

This paragraph then gives the basic outline of the agreement.

Alstom has signed a collaboration agreement with Liebherr – Aerospace & Transportation SAS, a France-based company specialising in the manufacture of compressors for fuel cells. This agreement is aimed at optimising hydrogen systems, including improving the reliability and durability of fuel cells, increasing their power density and reducing the cost of such solutions.

The press release gives a lot more details about Alstom’s hydrogen collaborations with other companies

Alstom seem very serious about hydrogen-powered trains.

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | 1 Comment

Nuggets From The Union Connectivity Review

The Union Connectivity Review has now been published and it can be read online.

This paragraph outlines the objective of the Review.

The UK Government asked Sir Peter Hendy CBE to undertake a detailed review into how transport connectivity across the UK can support economic growth and quality of life in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sir Peter was also asked to make recommendations as to whether and how best to improve transport connectivity between the nations of the UK.

Sir Peter Hendy is the Chairman of Network Rail.

In no particular order, these are some nuggets from the review.

The Case For UKNET – A Strategic Transport Network For The Whole United Kingdom

This paragraph introduces the case for UKNET.

Having identified the importance of good connections across internal borders and the challenges that currently prevent a pan-UK strategic vision or investment strategy, the Review recommends that the UK Government develop UKNET – a strategic transport network for the whole United Kingdom which would connect all the nations of the
UK, with appropriate funding and coordination with the devolved administrations to deliver it.

The creation only follows best practice from the European Union and large countries like the United States.

These three paragraphs sum up how UKNET would work and how it would bring benefits to the whole of the UK.

UKNET would provide a network into which transport investment would be made on a pan-UK basis to support economic growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion, across the nations of the UK, for the benefit of the whole country.

It would allow transport appraisals for schemes on the network to be undertaken on a UK-wide basis with all costs and benefits being fully accounted for. This would limit the risk of cross-border schemes being deprioritised.

The development of such a network would provide additional certainty for businesses and the private sector, allowing them to plan complementary investments in specific regions and to invest in the supply chain across the country.

I think overall that UKNET is sound thinking, but my only feeling is that it should also look at transport links to and from the whole island of Ireland.

The Case for Faster Rail Journey Times Between England And Scotland

These three paragraphs probably apply to most rail journeys in the world, that compete against air and road travel.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments have previously agreed to develop options which could support a rail journey time between London and Scotland of three hours. A journey time improvement of this size, even when compared to expected journey times once HS2 opens, would dramatically increase the number of people travelling by rail.

There is a correlation between journey times and how many people choose to travel by rail over air. If it takes the same amount of time to travel by rail or by air, the evidence shows that people choose to travel by rail. Rail is typically favoured when the journey time is around three hours between city centres.

Work undertaken by Network Rail and HS2 Ltd on behalf of the Review has demonstrated the potential for increased trips by rail if journey times are reduced. For assurance purposes, two forecasting models were used to assess savings of 20, 35 and 50 mins on the journey times forecast for HS2 Phase 2b. The outcomes for both models were broadly similar and the approach built upon the changes in mode share observed between rail and aviation following previous UK and European rail investments.

Three hours between London and Scotland could be a tough ask.

Note these points about the East Coast Main Line.

  1. An InterCity 225 ran between London and Edinburgh on the 26th September 1191 in three hours and 29 minutes.
  2. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  3. There are improvements to come on the East Coast Main Line.
  4. As now, the review says two tph will run between London and Edinburgh.
  5. London Kings Cross and Edinburgh is 393 miles
  6. On the East Coast Main Line a non-stop train between would need to average 131 mph.

Three hours is tough but not impossible.

And these points about the West Coast Main Line.

  1. Trains will run on High Speed Two between London Euston and Crewe.
  2. High Speed Two are claiming fifty-six minutes between London Euston and Crewe.
  3. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  4. Crewe and Glasgow Central is 243.4 miles.
  5. Current fastest time between Crewe and Glasgow Central is three hours and five minutes.
  6. Between Crewe and Glasgow Central, a non-stop train would need to average 118 mph.

A well-driven InterCity 125, with a clear track, could average that speed between Crewe and Glasgow Central.

Three hours is tough but very possible.

This paragraph sums up the mode shift expected between air and road to rail.

These initial estimates indicated that a three-hour journey time was forecast to increase the number of passengers by around four million a year and increase rail mode share from the 2019 level of 29% to around 75%. It was also forecasted that journey times in the region of three hours would generate considerable transport user benefits and revenues over the lifetime of the scheme.

People travelling from the Midlands and North West England to and from Scotland would also get substantial reductions in journey times.

Linking High Speed Two With The WCML

The review says this about linking High Speed Two with the West Coast Main Line.

The UK Government has already acknowledged some of the issues identified by the Review. The ‘Golborne Link’—the current proposed connection between HS2 and the WCML—is expected to deliver quicker journey times and more capacity between England and Scotland and resolve some of the constraints between Crewe and Preston.

However, the ‘Golborne Link’ does not resolve all of the identified issues. The suitability of alternative connections between HS2 and the WCML have been considered by the Review. The emerging evidence suggests that an alternative connection to the WCML, for example at some point south of Preston, could offer more benefits and an opportunity to reduce journey times by two to three minutes more than the ‘Golborne Link’. However, more work is required to better understand the case for and against such options.

These benefits could also include additional operational flexibility when timing freight services and less disruption to the WCML than major upgrades as most construction could take place away from the railway.

An infrastructure philosophy is also detailed.

  • Replacing and enhancing track, signalling and power supply.
  • Possible new sections of line north of Preston.
  • Maximising of line speed.

My feeling is that for good project management reasons and to give faster journey times with the existing trains, that a lot of these improvements should be started as soon as possible.

Borders Railway

The Review says this about the Borders Railway.

Communities in the Scottish Borders region are enthusiastic about the economic and social benefits they see resulting from an extension of the Borders Railway south, across the border, to Carlisle.

The Review also welcomes the £5 million in funding that the UK Government has made available for the development of a possible extension to the Borders Railway which would support improved connections to and from Scotland and with the WCML at Carlisle.

I would build this early, as when the West Coast Main Line is being upgraded between Carlisle and Glasgow, this would be available as a diversion route.

Perhaps too, the Glasgow South Western Line should be improved and electrified as well.

Air Passenger Duty

The Review has a sizeable session on Air Passenger Duty, where it concentrates on the problems of its application to domestic flights.

The Review makes this recommendation.

Where journeys are too long to be reasonably taken by road or rail, the UK Government should reduce the rate of domestic aviation tax.

I believe that before the end of this decade, there will be smaller zero-carbon airliners, that will be ideal for domestic routes, which could totally change the regime of domestic Air Passenger Duty.

Decarbonisation And The Future Of Flight

This is a section in the Review, where this is the first paragraph.

In July 2021, the Department for Transport published the Jet Zero Consultation: a consultation on our strategy for net zero aviation127, alongside the Transport Decarbonisation Plan. This includes the ambition to have zero-emission routes connecting different parts of the UK by 2030 and a commitment to assess the feasibility of serving PSO routes with low carbon aviation. The Review welcomes the commitments made in both publications to accelerate the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) and develop low and zero-emission aircraft.

The Review goes on to make two recommendations.

  • Drive the uptake of sustainable fuels and zero emission technologies on domestic aviation through a combination of incentives, tax benefits and subsidies to make the UK a world  leader in developing these fuels and technologies.
  • Support the development of sustainable aviation fuel plants in parts of the United Kingdom that are particularly reliant on aviation for domestic connectivity.

Note.

  1. PSO means Public Service Obligation.
  2. One of the world leaders in the field of sustainable aviation fuels is Velocys, which is a spin out from Oxford University.
  3. The Review also suggests building a sustainable aviation fuel plant in Northern Ireland.

The Review gives the impression it is keen on the use of sustainable aviation fuel

 

Conclusion

There are some good nuggets in the sections I have read in detail.

This post is not finished and there will be additions to the list.

 

 

 

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Current Thoughts On Electric Trains To Windermere

These are my current thoughts on electric trains to Windermere station.

Passengers And Battery-Electric Trains

I don’t think any reputable journalist interviewed passengers on either of the two battery electric services that have successfully run for longer than a couple of days.

Those that used British Rail’s Aberdeen and Ballater service in the 1950s, are probably thin on the ground, although I did meet an elderly lady, who’d regularly used it to go to school and she said the service was reliable.

She also said that the Queen Mother was an enthusiastic passenger.

I rode the Manningtree and Harwich battery electric train during its short trial.

But more significantly, since then I have met two passengers, who used it every day during the trial to commute.

Both would like to see the train return, as it seemed more reliable. I wonder, if like much of East Anglia’s overhead wires, the route suffers from the wind.

It does appear that providing a reliable service with battery electric trains is not a difficult problem.

Two Trains Per Hour To Windermere

In Passing Loop Hope For Windermere, I discuss a passing loop on the Windermere Branch Line to enable two trains per hour (tph) along the line.

The Treasury wouldn’t like this, as it would need twice the number of trains.

But hopefully, it would double the ticket revenue.

Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains

It has been some time now since in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, that it was announced that CAF announced they were building a battery-electric version of the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

Little has been heard of CAF’s progress since, although I did write Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar, which was based on an article in the June 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Northern Looks To The Future.

Lack Of Progress On Battery And Hydrogen Train Projects

Is this typical of battery and hydrogen projects?

Southern’s project on the Uckfield Branch and to close the electrification gap between Ashford and Hastings has only been conspicuous by its absence. This project is important as it releases the Class 170 trains, so that EMR can fulfil franchise commitments.

The project to use hydrogen trains on Teesside has also progressed at a snail’s pace.

It is almost as if someone in the Department of Transport or more likely the Treasury, feels that the best thing to do is to carry on using diesel, as it’s the cheapest alternative.

I don’t think it is any politician, as their public statements seem to be very much in favour of decarbonisation.

Other Electric Trains In The Lake District

I also think, that if battery-electric trains were to be run to Windermere, that they would also run to Barrow-in-Furness. Am I right in thinking that the Furness Line is rather flat, so would be ideal for battery-electric trains?

But I do wonder, if Sellafield and Direct Rail Services are pushing for electrification, as it would surely help their operations, as they could use Class 88 locomotives to bring in the flasks for processing.

Also in Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar, I did say this.

I feel it would be possible to electrify the Cumbrian Coast Line using battery-electric Class 331 trains, with a range of at least fifty miles and some short sections of new electrification.

Surely, a battery-electric train along the Cumbrian Coast by the Lake District would be the ideal train for the area.

I can certainly see a small fleet of battery-electric working services between Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle, Carnforth, Manchester Airport, Sellafield, Whitehaven, Windermere and Workington.

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments