The Anonymous Widower

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  • The DC traction motors have been replaced by modern three-phase AC motors.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 of Modern Railways 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

Fuel Cell Enabling Technologies, Inc. Announces First Major Customer, Signs Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Purchase of Fuel Cells for Locomotives

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Fuel Cell Enabling Technologies, Inc. (FCET), a start-up energy technology company that has developed a novel, low-cost solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system, has announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NextGenPropulsion, LLC (NGP) indicating NGP’s intent to purchase FCET fuel cells for NGP light-rail trains and freight locomotives. In addition to fuel cell orders, this would mean engineering collaboration between the two firms, each bringing its specific and considerable expertise to these projects.

I have been saying that hydrogen freight locomotives are certain to be ordered in a few years.

Hydrogen-powered freight locomotives, are in my opinion, the logical way of decarbonising rail freight.

January 5, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitsubishi Power Receives Order For First Solid Oxide Fuel Cell In Europe

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Fuel Cells Works.

A fuel cell converts a fuel like hydrogen or natural gas directly into heat and electricity, so what is a solid state fuel cell?

Wikipedia has an entry for solid state fuel cell, that appears to be professionally written.

The entry sums up their advantages and disadvantages in this sentence.

Advantages of this class of fuel cells include high combined heat and power efficiency, long-term stability, fuel flexibility, low emissions, and relatively low cost. The largest disadvantage is the high operating temperature which results in longer start-up times and mechanical and chemical compatibility issues.

They sound to be a tricky engineering challenge.

November 1, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , | Leave a comment

Bosch Likely To Slash Platinum In New Fuel Cells

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Automotive News Europe.

This is the first paragraph.

Bosch expects platinum to play only a minor role in its new fuel cells, with the supplier only needing a tenth of the metal used in current fuel cell vehicles, Reuters estimates.

The amount will be similar to that in the average catalytic converter, which must surely be a good thing.

Bosch are in a joint venture with Swedish fuel cell maker, Powercell

 

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Much Energy Can Extracted From A Kilogram Of Hydrogen?

This article on EnergyH, is entitled About Hydrogen Energy.

This is said.

Hydrogen has an energy density of 39 kWh/kg, which means that 1 kg of hydrogen contains 130 times more energy than 1kg of batteries. So lots of energy can be stored with hydrogen in only a small volume.

But as in most things in life, you can’t have it all as fuel cells are not 100 %  efficient.

Wikipedia has a sub-section which gives the in-practice efficiency of a fuel cell, where this is said.

In a fuel-cell vehicle the tank-to-wheel efficiency is greater than 45% at low loads and shows average values of about 36% when a driving cycle like the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) is used as test procedure. The comparable NEDC value for a Diesel vehicle is 22%. In 2008 Honda released a demonstration fuel cell electric vehicle (the Honda FCX Clarity) with fuel stack claiming a 60% tank-to-wheel efficiency.

For the purpose of this exercise, I’ll assume a conservative forty percent.

This means that a kilogram of hydrogen would generate 16 kWh

Raise that efficiency to fifty percent and 19 kWh would be generated.

Conclusion

Fuel cell efficiency will be key.

May 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , | 2 Comments