The Anonymous Widower

New Zinc-Air Battery Outperforms Lithium-Ion Battery On All Levels

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

There’s a new battery in town and it’s a game-changer. The novel battery, is cheaper, safer and significantly longer laster-lasting, than lithium-ion batteries reports Recharge.

It does seem that Zinc8 is getting noticed.

I wonder, if the web-site gets read in Cambridge, where I was once told that use of the word Interesting, is very much to be discouraged.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Class 88 Locomotive Heads On To The East Coast Main Line

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

Direct Rail Services has confirmed that one of its Class 88 broke new ground last week when it ran the length of the East Coast Main Line.

Last weekend, freight operator, DRS, ran a new diversionary route to enable the Class 88 locomotives to run almost the length of the ECML on electric power, as well as feeder routes that link up Daventry and Mossend.

The route normally follows the West Coast Main Line, but engineering work last weekend required a diversion.

That makes a second Class 88 locomotive story, where the locomotives are serving new routes, after ’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut.

Could it be that with new electrification coming on stream and more being planned, Direct Rail Services are researching what these locomotives can do?

The Route

As the Rail Advent article says, the route is electric all the way from Mossend to Daventry.

Mossend to Edinburgh via the Shotts Line.

  • Edinburgh to Stevenage via the East Coast Main Line.
  • Stevenage to Alexandra Palace via the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Alexandra Palace to Camden Road Central Junction via the East Coast Main Line.
  • Xamden Road Central Junction to Camden Junction via the North London Line.
  • Camden Junction to Daventry via the West Coast Main Line.

But it does go round the houses!

Note.

  1. The journey took fifteen hours and it arrived about two-and-a-half hours late.
  2. Edinburgh to Stevenage was timed to take seven hours, whereas passengers can do that journey in four-and-a half hours with a change.

With some strategic electrification would the train be able to cut across from the East Coast Main Line to reach Daventry?

The Future Of Direct Rail Services

Direct Rail Services have a mixed fleet of locomotives.

Only the last two types are modern locomotives, that are capable of hauling trains at 100 mph.

The Wikipedia entry also says this.

In September 2017, Direct Rail Services issued a tender for ten brand new diesel-electric locomotives.

Consider.

  • As Government policy is a zero-carbon UK by 2050, is that likely to change the tender to electro-diesel locomotives?
  • Direct Rail Services is owned by the Government,
  • The order from Rail Operations Group for Class 93 locomotives seems to have stalled.
  • Rail Operations Group have some ambitious plans for the use of the tri-mode 110 mph Class 93 locomotives, which I wrote about in Rail Operations Group Gets Serious About Thunderbirds Etc.
  • As any locomotives delivered in the next few years, will probably still be running in 2060, surely this conflicts with Government policy.

Perhaps, all three parties are working on a cunning plan to jointly order a common design.

 

 

 

 

 

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Diesel-Battery Hybrid Locomotive Lease Fleet Ordered

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

This is a visualisation of the CBD90 from Clayton Equipment.

It certainly looks purposeful!

This is the introductory paragraph.

Beacon Rail Leasing has awarded Clayton Equipment a contract to supply 15 diesel-battery locomotives, with options for more to be ordered over three years.

These points are made.

  • The locomotive is mainly for industrial shunting applications.
  • These are the largest locomotives built in the UK for twenty years.
  • It has an onboard diesel to charge the batteries.
  • Batteries can also be charged directly from a three-phase supply.

Beacon’s CEO is quoted as saying

It was seeing increased demand for lower emissions, new technology, more capacity and cost-effective assets in a fast-changing environment.

It looks like Beacon Rail Leasing and Clayton Equipment have come up with a product that suits a lot of customers.

  • Some will surely be used in mines, quarries, refineries, chemical works and steel works.
  • Will some be used in large rolling stock depots, where they can provide an environmentally-friendly method of moving trains?
  • Some shunting locomotives in the UK, like the Class 08 locomotive, were built in the 1950s.
  • Some train operating companies have a small fleet, of these veterans.
  • In Battery-Powered Shunter Ready To Begin Testing, I described how one Class 08 locomotive was being converted to diesel-electric hybrid power.
  • As Beacon has interests in Europe, could some of these powerful shunting locomotive could be going for export?
  • Could some end up in the large mines of Africa, Australia and the Americas?

From this article on Railway Gazette, which is entitled Steelworks Locomotive Order, it appears five CBD90 locomotives have already been ordered by Tata Steel for their steelworks at Port Talbot.

This video shows one of the locomotives under test.

I shall be interested to see, where the new shunting locomotives end up.

The Leasing Model

When we started Metier Management Systems in the 1970s and developed Artemis, which was the world’s first small and powerful project management system, we used to lease systems to our customers. These were often large engineering or other companies for whom the leasing model was very convenient.

It certainly did us well!

 

May 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Airbus On Electric Flight

This page on the Airbus web site is all about electric flight.

This paragraph greets you.

Today, zero-emission flight is closer to reality than ever. Electric and hybrid-electric propulsion is rapidly revolutionising mobility technologies across industries, from automotive to marine. And the aviation industry is no exception. Airbus is committed to developing, building and testing electric and hybrid-electric future technology that will enable the aviation industry to significantly reduce the CO2 emissions of commercial aircraft.

A read of the whole section is recommended.

A lot of technology will need to be improved even to get say a 60-seat airliner, with a 500 mile range.

  • Design-changing efficient aerodynamics.
  • Lightweight, strong structures.
  • Efficient zero-carbon propulsion systems.
  • Batteries with a much higher energy capacity per kilogram of battery weight.

It’s a tough ask, but I believe it is possible!

We might even see some very unusual ideas. And some proven ones.

Catapults

Naval fighters are usually literally thrown into the air from aircraft carriers using aircraft catapults, which traditionally were steam-powered. Gliders are often towed into the air using a rope.

So could something similar be used to accelerate the aircraft to flying speed?

Taxiing And Take-Off Using A Tug

All taxiing would use a battery-electric or hybrid-hydrogen-electric tug to minimise use of energy from the plane’s batteries.

Could the tug be combined with charging and a vehicle to handle the catapult launch?

  • A fully-charged tug would meet incoming aircraft and tow them to the terminal.
  • The aircraft would use the tug for power, if it was low.
  • At the terminal, the tug and aircraft would be charged, during passenger unloading and loading.
  • On the taxi to the runway, all power would be provided by the tug.
  • The catapult system, would attach to the tug on take-off.
  • Once take-off speed was achieved, the aircraft would disconnect and climb away under its own power.

All the power for acceleration to take-off speed would be provided on the ground and the aircraft wouldn’t have to carry it.

Energy Calculations For An Airbus 220-100

The smallest Airbus aircraft is the A220-100, which has the following specification.

  • Passengers – 135
  • Maximum Take-Off Weight – 63.1 tonnes
  • Cruise speed – 871 kph
  • Take-off speed – 220 kph (estimated)
  • Ceiling – 41,000 ft.

Note that the design cruise speed of the nine-seat electric Eviation Alice is 482 kph at 10,000 ft.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, the following values are obtained.

  • 220 kph – 32.7 kWh
  • 482 kph – 157 kWh
  • 981 kph – 513 kWh

As the kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed, I would expect that a small electric airliner would have a cruise speed slower than current airliners.

I would expect that Alice’s cruise at 482 kph and 10,000 ft., could have been chosen to get a decent range for the maximum size of battery.

The aircraft will also have to be given potential energy in the climb.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator, the following values are obtained.

  • 5,000 ft. – 262 kWh
  • 10,000 ft. – 524 kWh
  • 41,000 ft. – 2148 kWh

I would expect a small electric airliner  would fly a lot lower.

A 135-seat electric airliner, which is the same weight as an Airbus 220-100 and cruising at 482 kph and 10,000 feet would need the following energy to establish itself in the cruise.

  • Kinetic energy – 157 kWh
  • Potential energy – 524 kWh
  • Take-off energy at 220 kph – 32.7 kWh

Which gives a total of 681 kWh.

It should be noted that both the kinetic and potential energies are proportional to the maximum take-off weight. Assuming that take-off weight would be proportional to the number of passengers, rough estimates for the battery size needed.

  • 25 – 126 kWh
  • 50 – 252 kWh
  • 75 – 378 kWh

As Wikipedia says the smaller nine-seater Eviation Alice has a 900 kWh battery, I feel that at least a fifty passenger electric airliner is possible.

Very Efficient Aerodynamics

One of the biggest losses of energy will be due to less-than-perfect aerodynamics, with vortices, eddies and skin friction wasting precious energy.

Look at the pictures on the Internet of the Eviation Alice and you’ll see a strange aircraft.

  • A very pointed nose.
  • Two propellers at the wing-tips.
  • A third propeller at the tail.
  • I suspect, all the propellers are placed to get the most out of the power.

When Alice is cruising, her energy consumption will be minimal, so that the maximum range for a given battery size can be obtained.

Any electric airliner will draw on all the aerodynamic tricks in the book.

Efficient Flight Profiles

The longest flight, that I ever did in my Cessna 340A was from Southend to Naples.

  • Before take-off at Southend, the fuel bowser followed me to the end of the runway to give me a last-second top-up.
  • I travelled across France on a beautifully-clear day and the accommodating Lyon ATC allowed me to fly at 19,500 feet all the way to French Coast at Nice.
  • The French then decided that, as I was happy at that height, they would hand me over to the Italians without a change of level.
  • So I flew down the Italian coast past Genoa and Rome at 180 knots, with spectacular views all the way.
  • The Italians, then used radar to vector me on to final approach at Naples.

I reckon, I had flown nearly a thousand miles in if I remember correctly about six hours.

But it was a very efficient flight profile to get the range.

  • I took the maximum about of fuel, I could carry.
  • I climbed as fast as possible to an efficient cruising level.
  • I cruised at an efficient speed.
  • I used very little fuel on the descent and landing into Naples.

I certainly was pleased, that I had about another hour’s fuel left, when I arrived in Naples.

Electric aircraft will probably always fly efficient profiles, to get the maximum range. But they will all be calculated by the plane’s computer system.

Most Aircraft Are Heaviest At Take-Off

This is because they burn fuel in the engines, as they fly along.

But a full battery weighs the same as an empty one, so the electric aircraft will have the same flying characteristics in all stages of the flight.

This could have design and operational advantages.

Hybrid Propulsion

Some electric aircraft designs are hybrid, with both battery and turboprop power.

It still cuts carbon emissions and may give better performance.

Fuel created from biomass can also be used.

Conclusion

I expect to fly in an Aubus battery-electric short-haul plane between London and Geneva by 2030.

But I’m certain, I’ll fly before that in an electric aircraft.

 

 

 

 

 

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Piers Corbyn Among Those Held In Coronavirus Lockdown Protests

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was one of several protesters arrested on Saturday, as small demonstrations against the coronavirus lockdown took place across the country.

And this paragraph describes what he was saying and doing.

Corbyn’s brother, Piers, was taken away after using a megaphone to declare that 5G and the coronavirus pandemic were linked and branding the pandemic as a “pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order”. He also disputed the need for a vaccination.

According to his Wikipedia entry, he denies the existence of climate change. He must have interesting discussions with his brother, if this report on the BBC is to be believed.

 

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , | 2 Comments

Colne – Skipton Reopening Moves Closer

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris has confirmed that investigations have been commissioned into the proposed reinstatement of the 19·3 km Colne – Skipton ‘missing link’ connecting east Lancashire and west Yorkshire.

Investigations will look into.

  • Capital costs
  • Passenger demand forecasts
  • Service options.
  • Gauge enhancement measures necessary to increase rail freight capacity on TransPennine routes including between Accrington and Todmorden stations.
  • Proposals for a rail freight terminal on the site of the demolished Huncoat power station near Accrington.

This sounds more than a simple proposal to reopen the route between Skipton and Colne stations.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Rail Route Between Preston And Skipton

The rail route between Preston on the West Coast Main Line and Skipton can be summarised as follows.

  • Preston and Rose Grove via Huncoat – double-track – electrification at Preston
  • Rose Grove and Colne – single-track
  • Colne and Skipton – to be reinstated – electrification at Skipton

Colne and Skipton might not be the easiest route to reinstate, as a dual carriageway has been built across the route to the North of Colne station.

Could Colne And Skipton Be Double-Track All The Way?

Consider.

  • The new section between Skipton and Colne could be built with single or double tracks.
  • The section between Rose Grove and Colne stations was built as a double-track and singled in 1971. British Rail’s accountants strike again!
  • The single-track section includes the Bank Top Viaduct, in the centre of Burnley.
  • Trains currently take twenty-one minutes between Rose Grove and Colne stations.

This picture shows Bank Top Viaduct.

I think the viaduct could be key to whether the route is double-track all the way.

  • If the redoubling can be performed at a reasonable cost, then that will be the way to go, as it might be possible to squeeze up to three trains per hour (tph) between Skipton and Rose Grove via Colne.
  • If on the other hand, doubling is too difficult or expensive, I estimate that no more than two tph would be possible.

For both solutions, there will need to be double track or a long passing loop, between Skipton and Colne.

Could Colne And Skipton Be Electrified?

Consider.

  •  Preston is a fully-electrified station on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Skipton is a fully-electrified station with electric trains to and from Leeds.
  • Full electrification would create an electrified route between Leeds and Blackpool, Liverpool and Preston.
  • It could be a useful diversion route for electric passenger trains across the Pennines, when their are engineering works on the Huddersfield Line or due to the building of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Electrification of the route, would allow electric haulage of freight trains to and from the proposed Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.
  • Electrification of the Calder Valley Line between Preston and Leeds is always being proposed.
  • Electrication of Bank Top Viaduct could be tricky!

It should also be noted that this article on Rail Magazine was published on May 12th, 2020 and is entitled Electrification Key to Decarbonisation – Government. Views in Government about electrification have changed, so this might affect the decision to electrify the route.

The power is already there at both ends and electrification systems with low visual intrusion could be used.

On the other hand, some might consider electrification of the route inappropriate.

Could Colne And Skipton Be Partially Electrified?

Consider.

  • I estimate that the distance between Preston and Skipton will be 41 miles.
  • If Blackpool North station were the final destination, there would be 34 miles (2 x 17) to charge the batteries.
  • If Liverpool Lime Street station were the final destination, there would be 70 miles (2 x 35) to charge the batteries.
  • If Leeds station were the final destination, there would be 52 miles (2 x 26) to charge the batteries.
  • Manufacturers’ estimates of distances, indicate that battery electric trains could cover up to 65 miles on battery power.

As both ends of the route are electrified and trains would run extra miles under the wires, it would seem likely that a battery electric train could run between Preston and Skipton, without needing a charge en route.

Drax Group And Colne And Skipton Reinstatement

Drax power station uses Flue Gas Desulphurisation. Wikipedia says this about the process at Drax.

All six units are served by an independent wet limestone-gypsum flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) plant, which was installed between 1988 and 1996. This diverts gases from the boilers and passes them through a limestone slurry, which removes at least 90% of the sulphur dioxide (SO2). This is equivalent to removing over 250,000 tonnes of SO2 each year. The process requires 10,000 tonnes of limestone a week, sourced from Tunstead Quarry in Derbyshire. A byproduct of the process is gypsum, with 15,000 tonnes produced each week. This goes to be used in the manufacture of plasterboard. The gypsum is sold exclusively to British Gypsum, and it is transported by rail to their plant at Kirkby Thore (on the Settle-Carlisle Line).

The gypsum trains go through Skipton to access the Settle-Carlisle Line.

Drax power station is part-fuelled with biomass, which comes from all over the place including the United States via the Port of Liverpool.

It is no surprise that Drax Group are in favour of the Colne and Skipton reinstatement, as it would give them a new route between Drax and the Port of Liverpool.

This press release from Drax Group gives more details including this paragraph.

It will have a direct impact on improving our supply chain at Drax, allowing freight trains to travel much more quickly to the power station in North Yorkshire – reducing journey times from the Port of Liverpool to less than three hours, a journey which can take up to nine hours at the moment.

Trains will avoid the busy Huddersfield Line and Manchester Victoria station.

Drax’s statement would appear to be a powerful reason to reinstate Colne and Skipton.

These smart new or refurbished wagons, used by Drax to move woodchip should be much faster than the typical 20-30 mph freight speed of TransPennine routes.

This page on the Drax web site, is entitled This train isn’t like any other in the UK, and it gives more details about the wagons.

  • They were custom-designed and built in the last few years.
  • The roofs open automatically for loading.
  • A twenty-five wagon train can be loaded in 37 minutes.
  • A full train can carry between 1,700 and 1,800 tonnes of biomass.
  • Each train can unload in forty minutes.
  • They are the largest wagons on UK railways by a margin of 30 %.
  • Each wagon is nineteen metres long and can carry over seventy tonnes of biomass.
  • Approximately 14 trains per day arrive at Drax, bringing 20,000 tonnes of biomass.

I suspect to minimise journey times, Drax would like to see a fully electrified route between Preston and Skipton and a new double-track route between Colne and Skipton.

The Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal

This Google Map shows the position of the former Huncoat power station.

Note.

  1. Hapton station in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Huncoat station in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. The East Lancashire Line running between the two stations.
  4. The M65 running across the top of the map.
  5. The A56 or Accrington bypass running North-South from the motorway junction at the top of the map.

Huncoat power station appears to have been in the South West corner of the rough-looking area, South of the M65 and the railway and West of the A56.

There is no Wikipedia entry for the demolished power station, but this page on The View From The North has some details and pictures.

It does appear to be a well connected site for a Rail Freight Terminal.

  • There could be a direct connection to the motorway network.
  • There is space for a connection with the East Lancashire Line, that would allow trains to access the interchange from both directions.
  • Trains could go West to the Port of Liverpool and the West Coast Main Line via Preston.
  • Trains could go East to Leeds and Yorkshire and on to the East Coast ports of Felixstowe, Hull, Immingham and Teesport.
  • If the East Lancashire Line were to be electrified, electric haulage could be used.

The Rail Freight Terminal could be bigger than a hundred hectares.

Gauge Enhancement On TransPennine Routes Including Between Accrington And Todmorden

Consider

  • Most freight trains passing through Hebden Bridge station  use the route via Rochdale and Todmorden to get to and from Liverpool and the West.
  • Few if any use the East Lancashire Line via Accrington.
  • Some passenger trains do take the Accrington route.
  • There are five tunnels between Accrington and the Todmorden Curve.
  • The building of the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal, must mean that trains between the Rail Freight Terminal and Leeds and the East would need to use the Calder Valley Line as far as the Todmorden Curve. or the East Lancashire Line to Colne for the new route.

As freight trains rarely seem to use the East Lancashire Line to the East of Accrington could it be that this section of track needs gauge enhancement?

But if this gauge enhancement were to be completed, that could give two routes between Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal and the East, for the largest freight trains.

Thoughts On The Project Management

It would appear that there are a series of sub-projects to be done.

  1. Perform gauge enhancement and route improvement on the East Lancashire Line between Rose Grove and Colne. This would include any doubling of the route, if that were to be done.
  2. Start building the link between Skipton and Colne.
  3. Start building the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.
  4. Finish building the link between Skipton and Colne.
  5. Start passenger and freight services between Skipton and Colne.
  6. Finish building the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.
  7. Perform gauge enhancement on the Calder Valley Line between Accrington and Todmorden.

My objectives would be.

  • Open the Skipton and Colne route as a TransPennine diversion, as early as possible.
  • Upgrade the East Lancashire Line between Rose Grove and Colne with minimum disruption.
  • Open the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal as early as possible.
  • Create multiple freight routes to and from Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.

Electrification would be a future aspiration.

Whither Drax?

Drax Gtroup and their flagship power station have a major environmental problem in that the power station is a large emitter of carbon dioxide.

They also run a lot of diesel locomotive hauled trains carrying biomass, fly ash, gypsum, limestone and other materials to and from Drax power station, which is on the Drax branch of the Pontefract Line.

  • The Pontefract Line was built to serve the coalfields in the area.
  • It runs between Leeds and Hull via Pontefract and Goole.
  • It is not electrified, but it connects to the electrification at Leeds.
  • In the East is has good connections to Cleethorpes, Goole, Grimsby, Hull and Immingham.
  • The Port of Immingham is a major port, that is used by Drax to import biomass, which is hauled to the power station by diesel locomotives.
  • The route between Drax and Immingham has been improved recently, by the addition of the North Doncaster chord.
  • High Speed Two will run alongside the Pontefract Line on its approach to Leeds.
  • Freight trains between Drax and Skipton use an electrified diversion South of Leeds via Armley, that avoids the need for freight trains to pass through Leeds station.

I can see that in a more favourable climate for electrification, that electrification of the Pontefract Line would be recommended.

Given, the environmental record of Drax, which is both good and bad, I would suspect they would like to see electrification of the Pontefract Line, as it would create a lower carbon route for biomass trains between Immingham and the power station.

A New Electrified TransPennine Route For Passengers And Freight

I sense that a grander plan might exist behind all my thoughts.

If the following routes were to be electrified.

  • Preston and Skipton
  • The Pontefract Line between Leeds and Hull.
  • Knottingley and Immingham via Thorne

Hull and Liverpool would be connected for passenger electric trains and Liverpool and Immingham would be connected for freight.

Drax could also be on an electrified branch and they could say, they were hauling all their trains using renewable electricity. Marketing and environment are always important

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will The Real Form Energy Please Stand Up!

 

Form Energy appears to be a start-up, that claims it has the solution to low-cost long-term energy storage.

The home page of their web site is little more than this headline.

We are developing long duration energy storage systems to enable a fully renewable, affordable and reliable electric system.

And a few links to press releases and a link marked See How.

I clicked it and got this page, with this mission statement.

We are going about this by developing a new kind of battery that would eliminate the need for coal and gas entirely, and allow for a 100% renewable, carbon free grid.

They say this about the technology.

Form Energy has identified and is developing a novel approach that is low-cost, safe, and scalable. This battery would allow for a 100% renewable, carbon free grid.

And this about the software.

Form Energy offers a software solution to the industry that models the efficiency and cost-saving benefits of using Form’s long duration storage and identifies value to the entire electricity ecosystem.

Now that I can understand.

When I was writing software, I wrote any number of models in project management, finance and engineering systems and I don’t doubt, that they have developed a sophisticated software system, that can model a large electricity network.

It would allow the following.

  • Predictions to be made for the future, based on historic data and schedules for new plant coming on stream.
  • It would have a graphical interface, so that changes to the power network could be performed quickly and easily.
  • It would predict the size and capacities of Form Energy’s batteries, that would be needed.
  • It could be used to model ways out of a serious breakdown in part of the grid.

I suspect that National Grid in the UK, EDF in France and other national equivalents, have been running such software systems for many years.

A Deal With Great River Energy

Does this press release on their web site, which is entitled Form Energy Announces Pilot with Great River Energy to Enable the Utility’s Transition to an Affordable, Reliable and Renewable Electricity Grid, give any more details about Form Energy’s technology?

This paragraph lays out the basics of the deal with Great River Energy.

Form Energy, a company developing ultra-low-cost, long-duration energy storage for the grid, today announced it signed a contract with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy to jointly deploy a 1MW / 150MWh pilot project to be located in Cambridge, MN. Great River Energy is Minnesota’s second-largest electric utility and the fifth largest generation and transmission cooperative in the U.S.

The next paragraph gives a few details of the battery.

This system will be the first commercial deployment of Form Energy’s proprietary long-duration energy storage system. Form Energy’s aqueous air battery system leverages some of the safest, cheapest, most abundant materials on the planet and offers a clear path to transformationally low-cost, long-duration energy storage. The project with Great River Energy will be a 1-MW, grid-connected storage system capable of delivering its rated power continuously for 150 hours, far longer than the two to four hour usage period common among lithium-ion batteries being deployed at utility-scale today. This duration allows for a fundamentally new reliability function to be provided to the grid from storage, one historically only available from thermal generation resources.

A battery capable of storing 150 MWh and capable of delivering 1 MW for 150 hours is certainly impressive.

More About The Deal

This article on Green Tech Media is entitled Long Duration Breakthrough? Form Energy’s First Project Tries Pushing Storage To 150 Hours.

A few points from the article.

  • Bill Gates, Macquarie Capital and Eni are backers of Form Energy.
  • The aim is to have the plant online in 2023.
  • Great River Energy depends heavily on Coal Creek power station, which is a 1151 MW lignite-fired power station, which is to be shut down in the second half of 2022.
  • Form expect their battery to be competitive with lithium-ion on a per KW basis.
  • A battery takes up about an acre.
  • Batteries have a twenty-year life.

The article also says that Form is not sharing many details of its technology.

Can Great River Energy Replace The Power From Coal Creek With Wind Turbines And A 150 MWh Battery?

Consider these points from the Green Tech Media article and Wikipedia.

  • Coal Creek power station provides half of Great River Energy’s needs.
  • Coal Creek power station is rated at 1151 MW,
  • Coal Creek power station will shut in 2022.
  • Great River Energy intends to add 1,100 MW of wind turbines.
  • North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota seem to be states where it is worth reaping the wind.

So can all this power and the disruption of shutting Coal Creek power station be balanced by one relatively small 180 MWh battery?

I have modelled systems as complex as this in finance, project management and process engineering and if Form Energy have done their modelling to a very detailed level and they say that a 1MW/180 MWh system will be big enough, then I’ll go along with that!

In my long experience of mathematical modelling of complex systems, the answer at the end, is often not what many expect.

So the answer must be extensively tested.

What Technology Are Form Using?

The press release about the deal with Great River Energy mentions an aqueous air battery system!

Water and air are not exotic materials and are readily available in most parts of the world. I would suspect that the only way to store large amounts of energy in air is to liquify it, as Highview Power is doing in their CRYOBattery. But where does the water come in?

Could both companies be following different routes using similar properties of two of the greenest and most abundant substances on the planet?

I also know from a very beneficial personal financial experience, that aqueous-air mixes have unusual properties.

Highview Power liquify air and then use a turbine to recover the energy.

Are Form also using liquified air and then using a different method based on the unusual properties of aqueous-air mixes to recover the energy?

I can’t wait for the secret of their technology to emerge!

A Comparison Of Form Energy And Highview Power

The Wikipedia entry for Highview Power, says this about their capabilities and what they are proposing to deliver.

It has permission for a commercial-scale 50 Megawatt/250 Megawatt-hour plant in England, building upon its earlier 5 Megawatt and 350 Kilowatt pilot plants. It plans to develop a 50MW plant/400MWh (eight hours of storage) in Vermont

Is 5 MW for eight hours more impressive than 1 MW for one hundred and fifty hours?

  • Highview Power’s proposed Vermont battery is not far short of three times the size of Form’s Great River battery.
  • Highview Power’s battery can supply five times the maximum current, than Form’s.
  • Liquid air storage is very scalable, as you just add more tanks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see systems storing around a GWh of electricity.
  • Could Highview’s battery supply 2 MW for two hundred hours? I suspect it could!

If it was a relay race, I would think that Highview Power are ahead after the first leg.

The following legs will be interesting.

  • Both companies have backers with enormous pockets.
  • Form have disclosed they have sophisticated modelling software.
  • Form seem to have a firm order.
  • Highview Power are in a country, that in the next couple of years will bring vast amounts of wind power on-line.
  • Great River will have a power shortage, when Coal Creek lignite-fired power station is closed.

But above all the world needs terra-watt hours of affordable, zero-carbon energy storage.

 

May 9, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Cause Deepest Recession On Record, Bank Warns

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

If that is the bad news, what do I make of the sub-title of the article?

Economy projected to bounce back with 15 per cent growth in 2021

That would certainly be a lot better.

But is it feasible?

Readers of this blog, will know, that I regularly flag up ideas, that could help us all, create a greener planet.

Only yesterday, I wrote two articles about Equipmake; a company based in Norfolk, that aims to improve electric transport.

I can see a lot of these green ideas coming to fruition in the second half of this year, fuelled by copious thinking during the lockdown, furlough and the teaching of children. I believe the average guys and girls in the UK and the wider world will have been thinking hard about their future and that of the only planet we’ve got to live on.

This leads me to a green bounce, driven by renewable energy, energy storage, zero-carbon transport, fast internet, energy-efficient housing and other proven concepts.

I suspect though, it could be implemented in some new ways, which only now are being developed.

For every Equipmake, Highview Power, ITM Power and Riding Sunbeams how many other ideas are in development waiting to emerge?

There is also the question of finance.

  • I think, that there are a lot of people, who because they have a reserved occupation or a good pension, when we come fully out of lockdown, will have sensible money to spend.
  • Spending large amounts is difficult at present.
  • Some may have the money in the bank which was reserved for this year’s holiday of a lifetime.

Prudence, would say they might spend it on low-risk purchases and not on expensive exotic holidays, where they might get trapped in a second spike of COVID-19.

Could we see a lot more sales of zero-carbon cars, solar panels, house batteries and air source heat pumps?

Installing these would need a lot of qualified builders, electricians and fitters.

May 7, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , | 1 Comment

Hydrogen House Is ‘Greenest In Europe’

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A hydrogen-powered house that is off-grid and said to be the first of its kind in Europe is being built by a family in Devon.

These are some features.

  • Solar panels
  • Hydrogen from electrolysis.
  • Hydrogen storage
  • Hydrogen boiler
  • Water from a borehole
  • Own sewage plant
  • Air source heat pump.

The article says that “Any spare hydrogen can power the hydrogen cars they plan to buy”

This sounds like my ideal house!

May 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , | 3 Comments

Funding Award to Supply An 8MW Electrolyser

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from ITM Power.

This is the main body of the Press Release.

ITM Power, the energy storage and clean fuel company, is pleased to announce it has signed an agreement to supply an 8MW electrolyser in the UK.  The agreement, including associated project costs, has a total value of £10m and funding will fall across FY2021 and FY2022.  Further details will be announced in due course.

I bet they’re pleased!

To get a hold on what 8 MW looks like, these Class 90 locomotive each have a power output of just under 4 MW and are capable of hauling an eight-coach express train at 110 mph.

Working at full rate, the electrolyser will be able in a year to convert 70 GWh of electricity into hydrogen.

Why Would You Want An 8MW Electrolyser?

These are a few ideas.

Green Hydrogen For Humberside

This is a project described in this ITM Power Press Release.

This is the first three paragraphs.

ITM Power, the energy storage and clean fuel company, is pleased to announce that it has won, with partner Element Energy, a first stage deployment project in the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund competition “Decarbonisation of Industrial Clusters” to assess the feasibility and scope of deploying green hydrogen with some major industrial partners in Humberside.

“Green Hydrogen for Humberside” will lead to the production of renewable hydrogen at the Gigawatt (GW) scale distributed to a mix of industrial energy users in Immingham, Humberside. Decarbonisation of this cluster is critical in reaching the UK’s legally binding 2050 net zero emission targets. Humberside, the UK’s largest cluster by industrial emissions, (12.4Mt of CO2 per year), contributes £18bn to the national economy each year and has access to a large renewable resource from offshore wind in the North Sea.

The project will work with customers in the region to establish the feasibility of switching to renewable hydrogen and justify a number of 100MW deployments of electrolysers. The project will cost the supply of hydrogen to these end users. This includes the electricity supply to the electrolyser, the hydrogen production facility, hydrogen distribution across the Humber and conversion of existing processes to use renewable hydrogen.

The study talks about a number of 100 MW deployments of electrolysers.

Will the 8MW electrolyser be a demonstrator for this project?

To Convert Surplus Renewable Energy Into Hydrogen Which Is Injected Into The Gas Grid

The Wikipedia entry for ITM Power has a section entitled Energy Storage Power To Gas. This is the first paragraph.

Power-to-Gas is a methodology of introducing such hydrogen to the natural gas network, essentially converting renewable electrical power to a clean gas that can be more conveniently stored using existing assets. There are two main Power-to-Gas mechanisms. The first involves metering pressurised hydrogen into the gas network directly. The second involves combining hydrogen with carbon dioxide via a methanation process to produce synthetic natural gas prior to introduction to the grid.

The electrolyser could be used to convert a lot of electricity into zero-carbon hydrogen for use in the UK gas network.

Improving The Resilience Of The UK Gas Network

This article on the BBC is entitled Major Power Failure Affects Homes And Transport and it describes a major power failure, when two generators failed in August 2019.

Could the 8MW electrolyser be part of the solution to make the UK power network more robust, if parts of the network fail?

To Create Feedstock For An Oil Refinery Or Petro-Chemical Plant

Hydrogen can be used as a feedstock for an oil refinery or petro-chemical plant.

This ITM Power Press Release, describes such a project, where wind power from the North Sea is used to create hydrogen for Phillips 66 Limited’s Humber Refinery.

As Part Of An Experimental Steel-Making Plant

This is pure speculation on my part, but steel-making creates lot of carbon-dioxide.

I do believe that using hydrogen to make steel is possible and ITM Power are based in the steel-city of Sheffield.

On the other hand look at the HYBRIT web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

In 2016, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall joined forces to create HYBRIT – an initiative that endeavors to revolutionize steel-making. HYBRIT aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with hydrogen. The result will be the world’s first fossil-free steel-making technology, with virtually no carbon footprint.

During 2018, work started on the construction of a pilot plant for fossil-free steel production in Luleå, Sweden. The goal is to have a solution for fossil-free steel by 2035. If successful, HYBRIT means that together we can reduce Sweden’s CO2 emissions by 10% and Finland’s by 7%.

This page on their web site is entitled Steel Making Today And Tomorrow. This image compares traditional blast furnace steelmaking with HYBRIT.

Note that at the heart of the process is the production of hydrogen from renewable electricity. This process will need a large electrolyser.

 

Could someone be doing something similar in Sheffield or more likely, Scunthorpe?

  • British Steel may be owned by the Chinese, but it has a record of innovation.
  • We will need a lot of long steel products, like railway rails and girders, in which British Steel specialise.
  • In a few years, Humberside will have enough renewable electricity from North Sea wind to create an electro-magnetic gun to fire space capsules at Mars.

I will be watching out for hydrogen steelmaking.

Is Jim Ratcliffe Up To Something?

Jim Ratcliffe is a very rich man and the chairman and CEO  of INEOS, which has a turnover of $83billion.

Consider.

  • INEOS must know about hydrogen.
  • I read some years ago, how they were using waste hydrogen to generate electricity on Teesside.
  • I have a feeling that they have backed a hydrogen fuel-cell company.
  • They own the hydrogen factory in Runcorn, where I worked in 1970.
  • They have extensive interests in the North West, North East and Scotland.
  • The company probably has an enormous carbon-footprint, that they’d probably like to reduce, by perhaps using hydrogen instead of natural gas as a feedstock for some processes, like production of ammonia.

But above all the cost of an 8MW electrolyser would be small change and probably cost a lot less, than running the cycling team.

The Fallback

It could of course be used to produce a large amount of hydrogen to power buses, cars and trains.

May 3, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized, World | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments