The Anonymous Widower

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

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

BP Plans To Turn Teesside Into First Green Hydrogen Hub

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

This is the first paragraph.

BP plans to build Britain’s biggest “green hydrogen” facility on Teesside to produce the clean fuel for use in new hydrogen-powered lorries and other transport.

Note.

The plans appear to be ambitious starting with a £100 million investment to build a 60 MW electrolyser by 2025, which would rise to as much as 500 MW by 2030.

The electrolyser will be paired with an upwards of a billion pound one gigawatt facility called H2Teesside, that will produce blue hydrogen.

I think there could be more to this than meets the eye.

Using The Carbon Dioxide Rather than Storing It!

I followed the carbon dioxide pipe from the CF fertiliser plant on Teesside using Google maps after seeing a film about it on the BBC. It goes to the Quorn factory and a massive greenhouse. I do wonder, if BP is talking to other companies, who also have a need for large quantities of good quality carbon dioxide.

One could be an Australian company, called Mineral Carbonation International, who have developed a process to convert carbon dioxide into building products like blocks and plasterboard. MCI won a prize at COP26, so could BP be looking at integrating one of these plants into their complex on Teesside?

The Electrolysers

Will BP be purchasing their electrolysers for green hydrogen from ITM Power in Sheffield?

This press release from ITM Power is entitled 12MW Electrolyser Sale.

The customer is not named, but could this be a starter kit for BP?

Alstom’s Hydrogen Aventras

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I came to this conclusion.

This modern hydrogen train from Alstom is what is needed.

I also felt there could be three similar trains; electric, battery-electric and hydrogen, which would help operators hedge their bets on what type of traction to use.

Teesside must be one of the more likelier places where the Hydrogen Aventras will be carrying passengers.

I wrote about this possibility in Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Teesside.

A deal between BP and Alstom would surely be in the interest of both companies.

  • Alstom would get a local hydrogen supply.
  • BP would get a first sale.
  • BP would get excellent publicity and a local demonstration of the possibilities of hydrogen.

It might even be possible to supply the hydrogen by pipeline.

November 29, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Hydrogen, World | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Singapore-Based Enterprize To Build $10bn Wind Farm Off Irish Coast

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

This is the first paragraph.

A Singapore-based offshore wind developer has signed an agreement to build a huge $10 billion (€8.88 billion) wind farm off the coast of Ireland to power a green hydrogen facility.

This is certainly a large investment.

  • The windfarm will have a capacity of 4 GW.
  • Hydrogen will be produced for the Irish market and some will be converted to ammonia for export.
  • The hydrogen will be produced at the Green Marlin hydrogen facility at Bantry Bay.
  • I’ve not heard of Enterprize before, but the company  is also developing a 3.4 gigawatt offshore wind farm in Vietnam and is looking at Brazil.

Enterprize Energy are obviously very ambitious.

This article on Fuel Cell Works, which is entitled Zenith Energy And EI-H2 Announce Joint Venture For Green Facility At Bantry Bay, gives more details of the Green Marlin project.

Conclusion

There are some big companies investing billions of pounds, dollars and euros in hydrogen.

November 27, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , | 1 Comment

Arcola Showcases Scottish Hydrogen Conversion

The title of this post is the same as an article in the December 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article has this sib-title.

Class 614 Demonstration Runs at Bo’ness Next Year

This is a key paragraph early in the article.

The aim is to build capability within the Scottish supply chain with a view to future conversion of hydrogen fleets within Scotland. The choice of a ‘314’ to provide the donor vehicles was based solely on availability, following the withdrawal of the EMU fleet by ScotRail at the end of 2019.

I don’t think they would have been my choice of donor train, as the Class 314 trains were built over forty years ago.

But, as Merseyrail have shown, British Rail trains of that era scrub up well.

The article is worth a full read and worth the cover price of the magazine, as it has details on the conversion and tips on how you might design a hydrogen train.

  • All the hydrogen tanks , fuel cells and batteries are designed to be fitted in the vehicle underframes and don’t take up space in the passenger compartment.
  • There is a fuel cell raft under both driving motor vehicles.
  • Each raft contains a 70 kW fuel cell from Ballard and hydrogen cylinders.
  • 40 kg. of hydrogen at a pressure of 350 bar can be carried in each raft.
  • Waste heat from the fuel cell is used to heat the train.
  • The DC traction motors have been replaced by modern three-phase AC motors.
  • The hydrogen fillers come from the automotive industry, which is surely an obvious move.
  • The interior looks good in the picture and has uses seats reclaimed from Pendolino refurbishment.

The article also reveals that Arcola are working with Arup on a study to convert a Class 158 DMU to hydrogen power.

Conclusion

I wish all the engineers and suppliers well, but I feel that these two projects are both driven by Scottish politics, rather than sound engineering principles.

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More On Alston’s Hydrogen Aventra and Porterbrook’s HydroFLEX

The December 2021 Edition has a small article, which is entitled Alstom To Build Hydrogen Aventras.

This is an extract.

Fuel cells will be roof-mounted, and the trains will be powered by hydrogen in conjunction with batteries, without any additional power sources such as overhead electric or diesel. They could be in service in 2025.

I am surprised that the trains can’t use electrification, as surely this would be a great advantage.

Especially, as according to another article, which is entitled New HydroFlex Debuts At Cop, which describes Porterbrook’s converted ‘319’ says this.

The original HydroFlex unit, which like the latest version has been converted from a Class 319 EMU, made its main line debut in September 2020. Porterbrook has invested £8 million in HydroFlex with the new version built over the last 10 months.

Porterbrook says its ability to operate under hydrogen, electric and battery power makes it the world’s first ‘tri-mode’ train. One carriage within the train is given over to the ‘HydroChamber’.

The contents of the ‘HydroChamber’ are given as.

  • Storage for 277 Kg. of hydrogen in thirty-six high pressure tanks.
  • A 400 kW  fuel cell system.
  • A 400 kW lithium-ion battery, which can be charged by the fuel cells in 15 minutes.

Does this mean that the battery is a 100 kWh battery that can supply energy at a rate of 400 kW?

This sentence from the article describes the train’s performance.

Porterbrook says the train carries sufficient hydrogen to offer a range of 300 miles and a top speed of up to 100 mph.

A few years ago, I had a chat with a Northern driver about the Class 319 train, which he described as a fast train with good acceleration and superb brakes.

Have Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham just added the ‘HydroChamber’ as an on-board electricity source or have they gone for a full integrated system with new traction motors and regenerative braking to the battery?

The original Class 319 trains worked well without regenerative braking, so I suspect that the simple approach has been used.

But this would make the train ideal for branch lines and extensions without electrification from electrified lines. The following routes come to mind.

  • Blackpool South and Colne via Preston
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • The Borders Railway in Scotland.

The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra might be better on lines without any electrification at all.

Conclusion

My feeling is that both these trains have their good points and limitations and I suspect both will find their niche markets.

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

KEPSA Signs Large-Scale Green Energy Projects MoU In Kenya

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

This is the first paragraph.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with green energy company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) to help facilitate its members participation in new large scale green energy projects in Kenya.

FFI are planning a possible green hydrogen and green ammonia facility in the country, that will use renewable energy.

Andrew Forrest is building up the air miles again.

November 23, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is The Alstom Hydrogen Train Powered By A Fuel Cell?

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I mentioned that Alstom’s Hydrogen Aventra could be powered by either a small gas turbine or a fuel cell or cells, but I didn’t plump for one or the other. I said this.

If you look at the proportions of the Alstom hydrogen train and the pictures of Class 710 trains, I feel that the Alstom train could have the longer twenty-four metre cars.

It may be a tight fit compared to creating the Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen train, but I would feel it is possible to install a fuel cell or cells, the required cooling and the hydrogen tanks, having seen cutaway drawings of hydrogen-powered double-deck buses on the Wrightbus web site.

Interestingly, the Alstom press release doesn’t mention fuel cells, so could the train be powered by a small gas turbine?

I think it is unlikely, but it is technically feasible.

I had forgotten one important factor. Both the Aventra factory and Rolls-Royce are in Derby and I know from talking to a retired British Rail engineer, that there is a lot of contact between the two companies at an informal level.

Rolls-Royce have published this picture of their beer keg-sized generator.

Would it need the cooling system, which appears to be needed with a fuel-cell?

The Rolls-Royce Advantage

There would surely be advantages in using a Rolls-Royce gas turbine to power the train.

  • Having a Rolls-Royce power unit must help sales of your plane or train.
  • There is the Derby connection.
  • Alstom already deal with Rolls-Royce subsidiary; MTU for diesel engines for freight locomotives.

Could we be seeing a hydrogen multiple unit powered by a gas turbine?

November 23, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | 6 Comments

Whitelee Green Hydrogen Facility To Power Public Transport

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

Some points from the article.

It will be the country’s largest electrolyser. Is that Scotland or the UK?

The facility is being built by Scottish Power, ITM Power and BOC.

Friends of the Earth think it’s wrong and the electricity should be used immediately.

In ScottishPower’s Green Hydrogen Project Looks To Build UK’s Largest Electrolyser, the title says that the Whitelee project will be the UK’s largest electrolyser.

November 23, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Train Refuelling Standard To Be Developed

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

This is the first paragraph.

A agreement to optimise hydrogen refuelling equipment for passenger trains and define an international standard has been signed by Alstom and the Hynamics hydrogen subsidiary of French energy group EDF.

This can only be a good thing.

November 21, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment