The Anonymous Widower

Shooter Urges Caution On Hydrogen Hubris

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

This is the first paragraph.

Vivarail Chairman Adrian Shooter has urges caution about the widespread enthusiasm for hydrogen technology. In his keynote speech to the Golden Spanner Awards on 27 November, Mr. Shooter said the process to create ‘green hydrogen’ by electrolysis is ‘a wasteful use of electricity’ and was skeptical about using electricity to create hydrogen to then use a fuel cell to power a train, rather than charging batteries to power a train. ‘What you will discover is that a hydrogen train uses 3.5 times as much electricity because of inefficiencies in the electrolysis process and also in the fuel cells’ said Mr. Shooter. He also noted the energy density of hydrogen at 350 bar is only one-tenth of a similar quantity of diesel fuel, severely limiting the range of a hydrogen-powered train between refuelling.

Mr. Shooter then made the following points.

  • The complexity of delivering hydrogen to the railway depots.
  • The shorter range available from the amount of hydrogen that can be stored on a train compared to the range of a diesel train.
  • He points out limitations with the design of the Alstom Breeze train.

This is the last paragraph.

Whilst this may have seemed like a challenge designed purely to promote the battery alternatives that Vivarail is developing, and which he believes to be more efficient, Mr. Shooter explained: ‘I think that hydrogen fuel cell trains could work in this country, but people just need to remember that there are downsides. I’m sure we’ll see some, and in fact we should because competition improves the breed.’

i think Mr. Shooter may have made several good points.

These are my thoughts.

Creating Green Hydrogen

I haven’t done an analysis of the costs of creating green hydrogen from electrolysis, but I have a feeling, that electrolysis won’t be the only way to create large amounts of carbon-free hydrogen, in a few years.

These methods are currently available or under development or construction.

  • The hydrogen tram-buses in Pau have a personal electrolyser, that provides hydrogen at 350 bar.
  • London’s hydrogen buses will be provided with hydrogen from an electrolyser at Herne Bay by truck. Will the trucks be hydrogen-powered?

Some industrial processes like the Castner-Kellner process create hydrogen as a by-product.

In Shell Process To Make Blue Hydrogen Production Affordable, I describe the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, which appears to be a way of making massive amounts of carbon-free hydrogen for processes like steel-making and cement production. Surely some could be piped or transported by truck to the rail depot.

In ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration, I describe how ITM Power and Ørsted plan to create the hydrogen off shore and bring it by pipeline to the shore.

Note.

  1. The last two methods could offer savings in the cost of production of carbon-free hydrogen.
  2. Surely, the delivery trucks if used, must be hydrogen-powered.
  3. The Shell Blue Hydrogen Process uses natural gas as a feedstock and converts it to hydrogen using a newly-developed catalyst. The carbon-dioxide is captured and used or stored.
  4. If the local gas network has been converted to hydrogen, the hydrogen can be delivered to the depot or filling station through that gas network.

I very much feel that affordable hydrogen can be supplied to bus, train, tram or transport depot. For remote or difficult locations. personal electrolysers, powered by renewable electricity, can be used, as at Pau.

Hydrogen Storage On Trains

Liquid hydrogen could be the answer and Airbus are developing methods of storing large quantities on aircraft.

In What Size Of Hydrogen Tank Will Be Needed On A ZEROe Turbofan?, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed for this ZEROe Turbofan.

I calculate that to carry the equivalent amount of fuel to an Airbus A320neo would need a liquid hydrogen tank with a near 100 cubic metre capacity. This sized tank would fit in the rear fuselage.

I feel that in a few years, a hydrogen train will be able to carry enough liquid hydrogen in a fuel tank, but the fuel tank will be large.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I calculated how much liquid hydrogen would be needed to provide the same amount of energy as that carried in a full diesel tank on a Class 68 locomotive.

The locomotive would need 19,147 litres or 19.15 cubic metres of liquid hydrogen, which could be contained in a cylindrical tank with a diameter of 2 metres and a length of 6 metres.

Hydrogen Locomotives Or Multiple Units?

We have only seen first generation hydrogen trains so far.

This picture shows the Alstom Coradia iLint, which is a conversion of a Coradia Lint.

It is a so-so train and works reasonably well, but the design means there is a lot of transmission noise.

This is a visualisation of an Alstom Breeze or Class 600 train.

Note that the front half of the first car of the train, is taken up with a large hydrogen tank. It will be the same at the other end of the train.

As Mr. Shooter said, Alstom are converting a three-car train into a two-car train. Not all conversions live up to the hype of their proposers.

I would hope that the next generation of a hydrogen train designed from scratch, will be a better design.

I haven’t done any calculations, but I wonder if a lighter weight vehicle may be better.

Hydrogen Locomotives

I do wonder, if hydrogen locomotives are a better bet and easier to design!

  • There is a great need all over the world for zero-carbon locomotives to haul freight trains.
  • Powerful small gas-turbine engines, that can run on liquid hydrogen are becoming available.
  • Rolls-Royce have developed a 2.5 MW gas-turbine generator, that is the size of a beer-keg.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I wondered if the Rolls-Royce generator could power a locomotive, the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that there are several routes to a hydrogen-powered railway locomotive and all the components could be fitted into the body of a diesel locomotive the size of a Class 68 locomotive.

Consider.

  • Decarbonising railway locomotives and ships could be a large market.
  • It offers the opportunities of substantial carbon reductions.
  • The small size of the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator must offer advantages.
  • Some current diesel-electric locomotives might be convertible to hydrogen power.

I very much feel that companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins (and Caterpillar!), will move in and attempt to claim this lucrative worldwide market.

In the UK, it might be possible to convert some existing locomotives to zero-carbon, using either liquid hydrogen, biodiesel or aviation biofuel.

Perhaps, hydrogen locomotives could replace Chiltern Railways eight Class 68 locomotives.

  • A refuelling strategy would need to be developed.
  • Emissions and noise, would be reduced in Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations.
  • The rakes of carriages would not need any modifications to use existing stations.

It could be a way to decarbonise Chiltern Railways without full electrification.

It looks to me that a hydrogen-powered locomotive has several advantages over a hydrogen-powered multiple unit.

  • It can carry more fuel.
  • It can be as powerful as required.
  • Locomotives could work in pairs for more power.
  • It is probably easier to accommodate the hydrogen tank.
  • Passenger capacity can be increased, if required by adding more coaches.

It should also be noted that both hydrogen locomotives and multiple units can build heavily on technology being developed for zero-carbon aviation.

The Upward Curve Of Battery Power

Sparking A Revolution is the title an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is mainly an interview with  Andrew Barr of Hitachi Rail.

The article contains a box, called Costs And Power, where this is said.

The costs of batteries are expected to halve in the next years, before dropping further again by 2030.

Hitachi cites research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) which expects costs to fall from £135/kWh at the pack level today to £67/kWh in 2030 and £47/kWh in 3030.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) are predicting that battery energy density will double in the next 15 years, from 700 Wh/l to 1400 Wh/l in 2-35, while power density (fast charging) is likely to increase four times in the same period from 3 kW/kg to 12 kW/kg in 2035.

These are impressive improvements that can only increase the performance and reduce the cost of batteries in all applications.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This infographic gives the specification of Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which they are creating in partnership with Hyperdrive Innovation.

Note that Hitachi are promising a battery life of 8-10 years.

Financing Batteries

This paragraph is from this page on BuyaCar, which is entitled Electric Car Battery Leasing: Should I Lease Or Buy The Batteries?

When you finance or buy a petrol or diesel car it’s pretty simple; the car will be fitted with an engine. However, with some electric cars you have the choice to finance or buy the whole car, or to pay for the car and lease the batteries separately.

I suspect that battery train manufacturers, will offer similar finance models for their products.

This paragraph is from this page on the Hyperdrive Innovation web site.

With a standardised design, our modular product range provides a flexible and scalable battery energy storage solution. Combining a high-performance lithium-ion NMC battery pack with a built in Battery Management System (BMS) our intelligent systems are designed for rapid deployment and volume manufacture, supplying you with class leading energy density and performance.

I can envisage that as a battery train ages, every few years or so, the batteries will get bigger electrically, but still be the same physical size, due to the improvements in battery technology, design and manufacture.

I have been involved in the finance industry both as a part-owner of a small finance company and as a modeller of the dynamics of their lending. It looks to me, that train batteries could be a very suitable asset for financing by a fund. But given the success of energy storage funds like Gore Street and Gresham House, this is not surprising.

I can envisage that battery electric trains will be very operator friendly, as they are likely to get better with age and they will be very finance-friendly.

Charging Battery Trains

I must say something about the charging of battery trains.

Battery trains will need to be charged and various methods are emerging.

Using Existing Electrification

This will probably be one of the most common methods used, as many battery electric services will be run on partly on electrified routes.

Take a typical route for a battery electric train like London Paddington and Oxford.

  • The route is electrified between London Paddington and Didcot Junction.
  • There is no electrification on the 10.4 miles of track between Didcot Junction and Oxford.

If a full battery on the train has sufficient charge to take the train from Didcot Junction to Oxford and back, charging on the main line between London Paddington and Didcot Junction, will be all that will be needed to run the service.

I would expect that in the UK, we’ll be seeing battery trains using both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification.

Short Lengths Of New Strategic Electrification

I think that Great Western Railway would like to run either of Hitachi’s two proposed battery electric trains to Swansea.

As there is 45.7 miles pf track without .electrification, some form of charging in Swansea station, will probably be necessary.

The easiest way would probably be to electrify Swansea station and perhaps for a short distance to the North.

This Google Map shows Swansea station and the railway leading North.

Note.

  1. There is a Hitachi Rail Depot at the Northern edge of the map.
  2. Swansea station is in South-West corner of the map.
  3. Swansea station has four platforms.

Swansea station would probably make an excellent battery train hub, as trains typically spend enough time in the station to fully charge the batteries before continuing.

There are other tracks and stations of the UK, that I would electrify to enable the running of battery electric trains.

  • Leeds and York, which would enable carbon-free London and Edinburgh services via Leeds and help TransPennine services. This is partially underway.
  • Leicester and East Midlands Parkway and Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield – These two sections would enable EMR InterCity services to go battery electric.
  • Sheffield and Leeds via Meadowhall, Barnsley Dearne Valley and the Wakefield Line, which would enable four trains per hour (tph) between Sheffield and Leeds and an extension of EMR InterCity services to Leeds.
  • Hull and Brough, would enable battery electric services to Hull and Beverley.
  • Scarborough and Seamer, would enable electric services services to Scarborough and between Hull and Scarborough.
  • Middlesbrough and Redcar, would enable electric services services to Teesside.
  • Crewe and Chester and around Llandudno Junction station – These two sections would enable Avanti West Coast service to Holyhead to go battery electric.
  • Shrewsbury station – This could become a battery train hub, as I talked about for Swansea.
  • Taunton and Exeter and around Penzance, Plymouth and Westbury stations – These three sections would enable Great Western Railway to cut a substantial amount of carbon emissions.
  • Exeter, Yeovil Junction and Salisbury stations. – Electrifying these three stations would enable South Western Railway to run between London and Exeter using Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, as I wrote in Bi-Modes Offered To Solve Waterloo-Exeter Constraints.

We will also need fast chargers for intermediate stations, so that a train can charge the batteries on a long route.

I know of two fast chargers under development.

I believe it should be possible to battery-electrify a route by doing the following.

  • Add short lengths of electrification and fast charging systems as required.
  • Improve the track, so that trains can use their full performance.
  • Add ERTMS signalling.
  • Add some suitable trains.

Note.

  1. I feel ERTMS  signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be used with automatic charging systems, to make station stops more efficient.
  2. In my view, there is no point in installing better modern trains, unless the track is up to their performance.

January 4, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can The UK Have A Capacity To Create Five GW Of Green Hydrogen?

This article in The Times today is entitled Net Zero By 2050: Bold Aims Are An Example To Other Nations.

It is an analysis of the Government’s plans for a greener future.

This is a paragraph.

Only a few small-scale green hydrogen plants exist globally, and so five gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen generation by 2030 is a bold commitment. For context, BP recently announced that it was building its first full-scale green hydrogen facility, in Germany — with a 50-megawatt capacity.

I don’t think from the tone, that the writer thinks it is possible.

On the other hand I do believe it is possible.

ITM Power

ITM Power are the experts in electrolysis and have the largest electrolyser factory in the world, which is capable of supplying 1 GW of electrolyser capacity per annum.

It would appear they can supply the required five GW of electrolyser capacity in time for 2030.

The Herne Bay Electrolyser

Ryse Hydrogen are building the Herne Bay electrolyser.

  • It will consume 23 MW of solar and wind power.
  • It will produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.
  • The hydrogen it produces will be mainly for hydrogen buses in London.
  • Delivery of the hydrogen will be by truck.

To produce five gigawatts of hydrogen would require nearly 220 electrolysers the size of Herne Bay.

ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration

But ITM Power are working on a project with Ørsted , where wind turbines and hydrogen electrolysers are co-located, at sea to produce the hydrogen offshore.

ITM Power talks about the project in this press release on their web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

ITM Power, the energy storage and clean fuel company, is pleased to share details of a short project sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in late 2019, entitled ‘Hydrogen supply competition’, ITM Power and Ørsted proposed the following: an electrolyser placed at the wind turbine e.g. in the tower or very near it, directly electrically connected to the DC link in the wind turbine, with appropriate power flow control and water supplied to it. This may represent a better design concept for bulk hydrogen production as opposed to, for instance, remotely located electrolysers at a terminal or platform, away from the wind turbine generator, due to reduced costs and energy losses.

The proposed concept is also described.

  • A marine environment capable electrolyser
  • ‘Type IV’ wind turbine generators and their ‘DC link’ have the potential to power the electrolyser directly
  • This enables fewer power conversion steps and thereby reduces both energy losses and electrolyser footprint
  •  Readily abundant cooling capacity via the sea water
  •  Energy in the form of Hydrogen gas supplied to shore by pipe rather than via electricity
  •  Connecting one electrolyser with one turbine wind generator
  •  Other avoided costs of this concept include permitting, a single process unit deployment

Note.

  1. I can’t find a Type IV wind turbine generator, but the largest that Ørsted have installed are about 8 MW.
  2. This size would require 750 turbines to provide the UK’s five gigawatts of hydrogen.
  3. 12 MW turbines are under development.

The Hornsea wind farm is being developed by Ørsted

  • Hornsea 1 has a capacity of 1.2 GW and was completed in 2020.
  • Hornsea 2 will have a capacity of 1.8 GW and will be completed in 2022.
  • Hornsea 3 will have a capacity of 2.4 GW and will be completed in 2025.
  • Hornsea 4 will have a yet-to-be-determined capacity and could be completed in 2027.

This wind farm will probably supply over 6 GW on its own, when the wind is blowing.

Bringing The Hydrogen Ashore

This has been done since the 1960s in UK waters and it will be very traditional projects for the UK’s engineers.

  • Some of the existing pipes could be repurposed.
  • Worked out gas fields could probably be used to store the hydrogen or carbon dioxide captured from gas- or coal-fired power stations.

I’m fairly sure that by the use of valves and clever control systems, the pipes linking everything together could be used by different gases.

Conclusion

Producing 5 GW of green hydrogen per year by 2030 is possible.

 

 

November 19, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | 8 Comments

All Aboard The Bamford Hydrogen Bus Revolution

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Air Quality News.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Air Quality News editor Jamie Hailstone talks to JCB heir and hydrogen advocate, Jo Bamford, about why it is the fuel of the future for buses.

It is a good read, as Jo Bamford details his vision to change public transport with thousands of hydrogen-powered buses.

He talks in a common-sense manner, about the economics and practicalities of zero emission buses, of which this paragraph is typical.

‘I have a bus manufacturing business,’ he adds. ‘We make a diesel bus, a battery double-decker and a hydrogen double-decker. A battery double-decker will do 60% of the distance of a diesel bus and take 4.5 hours to charge. A hydrogen bus will do the same distance as a diesel bus and take seven minutes to fill up. If you are running a bus for 22 hours a day, you can’t afford to charge them up for 4.5 hours a day.

Jo Bamford finishes with.

I think hydrogen is a sexy, cool thing to be looking at.

I agree with him and we should get started on lots of hydrogen buses and their hydrogen supply network.

As I wrote in Daimler Trucks Presents Technology Strategy For Electrification – World Premiere Of Mercedes-Benz Fuel-Cell Concept Truck, Mercedes are going the hydrogen route with big trucks and these trucks will need a hydrogen supply network to be built in the UK.

So surely, we should look at decarbonisation of buses and heavy trucks in an holistic way, by creating that hydrogen supply network in the UK.

Ryse have now obtained planning permission for their first big electrolyser at Herne Bay and it now has its own web site, which includes this video, explaining Ryse Hydrogen’s philosophy.

Let’s hope that this first electrolyser, grows into the network the country needs.

 

October 3, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

JCB Unveils World’s First Hydrogen Digger

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on International Vehicle Technology.

The signs have been there for some time.

  • JCB are one of the backers of ITM Power, who make large scale electrolysers in Rotherham.
  • Jo Bamford has a hydrogen company called Ryse.
  • Jo Bamford took over Wrightbus and is saying he’ll be building thousands of hydrogen buses a year.
  • Ryse have planning permission for a giant hydrogen electrolyser at Herne Bay.

To me, it is totally logical, that JCB build a hydrogen-powered digger.

And it appears they have got there first!

July 2, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ryse Hydrogen-Suttons Tankers Partnership To Supply Hydrogen To Transport for London

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2 View.

From reading the article, it looks like London’s new hydrogen buses will be on the road by the end of the year.

Sadly, in some ways, the hydrogen will have to be driven from Runcorn, as the Herne Bay electrolyser won’t be completed for a couple of years.

I would assume, that the hydrogen is coming from the plant where I worked around 1970, or more likely its successor.

July 1, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

‘Chernobyl’ Fears Dismissed As Herne Bay Hydrogen Plant Bid Approved

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

it would appear that Kent Online got their prediction right. that I wrote about in Hydrogen Power Plant Bid In Herne Bay Set For Green Light From Canterbury City Council.

June 4, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Power Plant Bid In Herne Bay Set For Green Light From Canterbury City Council

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

Controversial plans to build a hydrogen fuel plant on a rundown plot of land look set to be given the green light – despite more than 160 objections from concerned residents.

Canterbury City Council was inundated with letters from locals – with one even worried about a Fukushima-style disaster – after a bid to construct the plant in Westbrook Lane, Herne Bay, was revealed in January.

The article said, that the project would create twenty jobs.

This Google Map shows the proposed site for the electrolyser.

Note.

  1. The Railway running East-West at the top of the map.
  2. The A2990 Thanet Way running East-West at the bottom of the map.

From a visualisation on the Kent Online article, it appears that the electrolyser will be built to the West of the Recycling Centre.

I suspect that given the closeness of the railway, it might even be possible to despatch hydrogen to users by specially-designed trains.

The electrolyser will need large quantities of electricity and I can’t see any wires around the site.

This Google Map shows the wider area around the site.

Note.

  1. The Recycling Centre indicated my a blue arrow, just to the right of top-centre of the map.
  2. The A2990 running East-West across the top of the map.
  3. The 18 MW Molehill Solar Farm between the old and new Thanet Ways, in the middle of the map.
  4. The 51.9 MW Owls Hatch Solar Farm, in the South East corner of the map.
  5. For full production, the electrolyser needs 23 MW!

These two solar farms, mean, that there must be a high-quality electricity connection in the area.

With all the offshore wind in Kent and these solar farms on the doorstep, the Herne Bay electrolyser, will not have much difficulty obtaining genuine renewable electricity.

Conclusion

As someone, who once worked, in a hydrogen factory, I would be happy to live near to the site.

Are Ryse planning to put a filling station for hydrogen vehicles on the A2990?

May 30, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | 3 Comments