The Anonymous Widower

Ricardo Supports Toyota To Develop Its First UK-Based Hydrogen Light Commercial Vehicle

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

This is the first paragraph.

Ricardo, a global strategic, environmental, and engineering consulting company, is supporting Toyota, in partnership with the APC, on a significant, multi-year project to develop its first zero emission hydrogen powered light commercial vehicle in the UK.

Note.

  1. Ricardo is a long-established engineering consultancy, headquartered in Shoreham, that employs 3,000 people and has a turnover of around £350,000. It has a high reputation, especially in the design of diesel engines.
  2. Ricardo has already converted a diesel bus to hydrogen, which I wrote about in Ricardo Repowers Double Decker Diesel Bus With Hydrogen Fuel Cells.
  3. The zero emission hydrogen powered light commercial vehicle, will be based on the Toyota Hilux, of which nearly twenty million have been built.
  4. Toyota already produce the hydrogen-powered Mirai.
  5. The APC is the UK Government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre.

This looks like one of those collaborations in the 1960s between Ford and Lotus, that produced the iconic Lotus Cortina.

The press release says this about Ricardo’s role in project.

The Toyota Hilux hydrogen variant will be the first of its kind, manufactured and assembled at Toyota’s Derby-based facility and is scheduled for prototype production in 2023. Ricardo has been chosen as a partner by Toyota due to its proven experience in applying advanced propulsion technologies and expertise in hydrogen fuel cell integration, including for the UK’s first hydrogen transport hub.

Ricardo’s role in the project is to integrate the complete hydrogen fuel cell, fuel storage system, and controls including design, analysis, and validation. The integration ensures efficient operation of all systems to give an excellent vehicle range and supports attributes for longevity and reliability. Working as part of the consortium, Ricardo will support the delivery of a complete turnkey solution, which will create greater agility for Toyota in the UK supply base and a quicker turnaround in the design of low volume manufacturing.

This certainly looks like a co-operation between equals.

I have a few thoughts on the fuel cells.

The Wikipedia entry for the Toyota Mirai says this about the fuel cells for that car.

The first generation of Toyota FC Stack achieved a maximum output of 114 kW (153 hp). Electricity generation efficiency was enhanced through the use of 3D fine mesh flow channels. These channels—a world first, according to Toyota—were arranged in a fine three-dimensional lattice structure to enhance the dispersion of air (oxygen), thereby enabling uniform generation of electricity on cell surfaces. This, in turn, provided a compact size and a high level of performance, including the stack’s world-leading power output density of 3.1 kW/L (2.2 times higher than that of the previous Toyota FCHV-adv limited-lease model), or 2.0 kW/kg. Each stack comprises 370 (single-line stacking) cells, with a cell thickness of 1.34 mm and weight of 102 g. The compact Mirai FC stack generates about 160 times more power than the residential fuel cells on sale in Japan.[40] The Mirai has a new compact (13-liter), high-efficiency, high-capacity converter developed to boost voltage generated in the Toyota FC Stack to 650 volts.

As a rudimentary search of the Internet says that an entry-level HiLux has a 148 hp diesel engine, it seems that Toyota’s own fuel cells could be in the right ball park.

This second press release from Ricardo is entitled Hyzon And Ricardo To Deliver Hydrogen Fuel Cell Systems For Commercial Vehicles.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Ricardo is a world-class environmental, engineering and strategic consulting company, is partnering with leading hydrogen vehicle supplier Hyzon Motors Inc. on developing and deploying commercial systems to support the decarbonisation of the global transport and energy sectors.

The companies announced today they will be working to combine Hyzon’s high-power-density fuel cell stack with Ricardo’s unrivaled software and controls, thermal management and proven track record advising customers on hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Note, that the press release dates from December 2021.

The last paragraph of the press release is probably the most significant.

The potential of the Hyzon-Ricardo engagement has already borne fruit with the debut of the Ricardo Vehicle Integrated Controls and Simulation (VICS) control system within the Hyzon fuel cell electric truck at the Advanced Clean Transportation conference in September. Moving forward, Ricardo will support Hyzon in a global capacity on the development and deployment of advanced energy management and propulsion systems to accelerate the realisation of net zero initiatives across all modes of transport.

Note.

  1. Have Ricardo used Hyzon fuel cells to create their hydrogen-powered bus?
  2. If Ricardo and Hyzon have been working together for a few years, the timescale would fit.
  3. As a Graduate Control Engineer, I know that with complex engineering systems of all kinds, good control is often hard to achieve. Perhaps, Ricardo have cracked it!

I can certainly see, Ricardo playing a similar role in the creation of Toyota’s Hydrogen HiLux.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that with their hydrogen deals with Toyota and Hyzon, Ricardo are converting themselves from a giant in the field of diesel engine technology to a significant player in the field of hydrogen power.

December 3, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Could Get A Lot Cheaper With Newly Developed Iron Catalyst

The title of this post, is the same ass that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Scientists have been looking for an alternative to precious metals such as platinum for decades, in the hopes of bringing down the cost of hydrogen fuel cells.

An alternative to a platinum catalyst that costs considerably less will help to bring down the cost of hydrogen fuel cells and of using H2 as a carbon emission-free fuel. This would make it cheaper to both produce and use H2.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo, appear to be on the road to using iron as an affordable catalyst.

This paragraph describes he structure of the catalyst.

The researchers looked to iron because of its low cost and abundance. On its own, iron does not perform as well as platinum as a catalyst, particularly because it isn’t as durable in the face of highly corrosive and oxidative environments such as those within hydrogen fuel cells. The researchers bonded four nitrogen atoms to the iron in order to overcome that barrier, followed by embedding the material within a few graphene layers “with accurate atomic control of local geometric and chemical structures,” said Wu.

Gang Wu is leading the research.

In the early 1970s, I worked with one of ICI’s catalyst experts and he said, that improvements in this area will be large in the future.

Increasingly, I see his prediction being proved right, in the varied fields, where catalysts are used.

July 13, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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