The Anonymous Widower

Thurso Company Powers Up UK’s First Green Train

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the John O’Groat Journal.

Lithium-ion batteries for a hydrogen-powered Class 799 train are not the sort of product, you’d expect to be sourced from the Far North of Scotland.

June 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A Brief Glimpse Of The Class 799 Train On BBC Breakfast

The Class 799 train is being launched today and BBC Breakfast were there with cameras.

These are my thoughts.

A Test Train

Helen Simpson from Porterbrook, said it was very much a test train.

Seats appear to be in some of the cars.

It looks like Birmingham University have sensibly put the hydrogen drive system in one or both of the two central cars, which in the original Class 319 train were given the designations PMSO and MSOL

The Hydrogen Tanks And Fuel Cell

The hydrogen tanks didn’t appear to be unduly large, which suggests, the the train is not going for a very long rang. But it is only a test train.

The fuel cell was clearly marked from Ballard and was just a large anonymous box. I would think, that it was probably upwards of 100 kW.

It should be noted that the Class 319 train was originally a 1,000 kW train, with a top speed of 100 mph and good acceleration.

I’ll be interested to see what size these components are, when they are published.

The Battery System

The battery did appear to be large, but then these are probably not batteries designed to fit the train, but what is available.

As with the hydrogen tanks and fuel cell, sizes would appear to have been chosen large enough to make sure that the train is not significantly less powerful, than current Class 319 trains.

June 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Cadent Launches Report Mapping Out Routes To Hydrogen Fuelled Vehicles On UK Roads

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

This is the first paragraph.

A roadmap using hydrogen to decarbonise transport, particularly commercial transport, in the North West of the UK, has been unveiled by the country’s leading gas distribution network Cadent.

The article makes some points about hydrogen-powered transport.

  • Using Cadent’s network to deliver hydrogen, rather than tube trailers, massively reduces the cost and makes fuel cell electric cars (FCEVs) available to the general public for around the same price as a battery electric vehicle or a conventional diesel car.
  • FCEVs can travel further than battery electric vehicles and take the same time to refuel as a conventional petrol car.
  • Grid-supplied hydrogen is the most cost-effective way of supplying hydrogen transport fuel at the required volume – up to six times cheaper than if delivered by trailer and 70 per cent cheaper than electrolysis.

Cadent‘s interest in all this, is not about selling gas, as their interest and income is totalling in transporting gas from producers to end users. So they don’t care whether they transport natural gas or hydrogen.

Hydrogen Storage

The article also discloses plans of INOVYN, a wholly owned subsidiary of INEOS, to develop a grid-scale hydrogen storage facility.

It will be in salt caverns in mid-Cheshire.

It will be able to hold 2,000 tonnes of hydrogen.

It is cheaper to store hydrogen in salt caverns, than on the surface.

The salt caverns have been used to store gas for decades.

This is a quote from the INOYN spokesman.

Storage is a vital component of delivering a viable hydrogen energy system in the UK.

I only had an indirect quick glimpse underground, when I worked at ICI in the area around 1970, but ICI’s salt expert, said they had enough salt in Cheshire to last 9,000 years at the current rate of extraction.

Salt in Cheshire, is a unique geological formation, that is very valuable to the UK and it looks like in the future, thar could enable hydrogen power.

Hydrogen Generation

The hydrogen will still need to be produced. Wikipedia has an entry caslled Hydrogran Production, which is fairly dismissive of electrolysis.

But in my view, hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis using wind power, as other methods like steam reforming of methane produce carbon-dioxide.

I particularly like the idea of building wind farms in clusters around offshore gas platforms, that have extracted all the gas from the fields, they were built to serve.

  • Instead of running electricity cables to the wind farms,  hydrogen is produced by electrolysis on the platform and this is transported to the shore using the same gas infrastructure, that brought the natural gas onshore.
  • This could enable wind-farms to be developed much further offshore.
  • If carbon capture is ever successfully made to work, the existing gas pipe could also be used to transfer the carbon dioxide offshore for storage in worked-out gas fields.
  • The pipe between platform and shore could easily be made reversible, carrying hydrogen one way and carbon dioxide the other.

All of the technology required would also appear to be fully developed.

Conclusion

I am convinced that in the next few years, a hydrogen gas network can be created in parts of the UK.

The North West has advantages in becoming one of the first parts of the UK to have an extensive hydrogen network.

  • It has the means to produce hydrogen gas.
  • It has large wind farms in Liverpool Bay.
  • There are worked-out gas fields, that might in the future be used for carbon storage.
  • If INOVYN can store large quantities of hydrogen, this is a big advantage.

The biggest problem would be converting large numbers of houses and commercial premises from natural gas to hydrogen.

But, we’ve been through that process before, when we changed from town gas to natural gas in the 1960s and 1970s.

Should We Remove Gas From Our Houses?

I only use gas for heating.

  • I feel that naked flames are not a good idea to have anywhere near people, as they can produce oxides of nitrgen, that causes health problems.
  • Gas cookers are also a major cause of household fires.
  • Technology is moving against cooking with gas, as more more to electric induction hobs.
  • If you are fitting a new gas boiler, make sure it can be connected to hydrogen.

When I buy my next property, it will be all electric.

 

June 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

JR East To Test Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trains

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

This is the first paragraph.

East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, has announced a plan to test new electric-powered trains using hydrogen fuel cells from fiscal 2021.

It does seem that hydrogen power is being increasingly considered.

June 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Hauling With Hydrogen: DHL Adding Fuel-Cell Vans To Its Delivery Fleet

The title of this article is the same as that of this article on Forbes.

This is the first paragraph.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but vehicles powered by the clean fuel are somewhat scarce. In the latest sign that that’s changing, DHL is adding hydrogen fuel-cell vans to its fleet to cut carbon emissions with faster refueling time and longer-range than battery-electric vehicles offer.

The whole article is well worth a read.

Conclusion

This initiative by DHL, like the development of hydrogen-powered double-decker buses for London and Liverpool, is another well-thought out project to move the world towards a zero-carbon and low pollution future.

All three projects are multi-vehicle projects, where fuelling can be done on a centralised basis.

Looking at the large cities of the UK, there must be several large fleets, that could be converted to hydrogen.

  • City buses
  • Royal Mail and other parcel and mail delivery vehicles
  • Taxis
  • Refuse trucks

I can see a range of solutions for providing zero-carbon and low-pollution transport, which vary dependent on the application and fleet size.

Specialised bicycle systems – Locally, I’ve seen bread deliveries, a nappy service and a plumber. There was also an item on the BBC about a hospital using a bicycle for local deliveries of samples, drugs and blood.

One-vehicle electric vehicle systems – Many small busineses, trademen and house-owners have a vehicle that they keep off the road in their premises or garage. A pathway needs to be developed, so that they can exchange their current vehicle for a battery-electric one, which also plays its part in storing surplus electricity. The technology is there, but it needs to be packaged, so people can afford to take that route.

Multi-vehicle electric vehicle systems – This is obvious for companies with lots of delivery vans, but this could be extended to blocks of flats and office developments, where all parking spaces have charging points and service charges could be set to encourage electric car use.

Multi-vehicle hydrogen systems – I’That’s where this article started and I think, this could expand, as the technology of both the vehicles and the hydrogen fuelling improve.

,There could be lots of niches, which a tailored-solution could solve.

The Cement Truck Example

I would love to know how many miles the average cement truck does in a day. But obviously the companies know and calculations would show the size of hydrogen tank needed for a couple of days work in a city like Leeds.

  • Range with a full load wouldn’t be more than perhaps fifteen miles.
  • The return trip would be empty and needs less power.
  • The depot would have a hydrogen fuelling system, Fuelling a hydrogen truck should be no more difficult than fuelling a diesel one.
  • Whilst in the depot, if power is needed to turn the drum and mix the cement, this could be provided by a direct electrical connection.
  • The truck could leave the depot with a full battery.
  • Hydrogen trucks might be used for local deliveries with perhaps diesel hybrid trucks for longer deliveries

I suspect that looking at the system as a whole entity could produce a very good system.

If say it cut carbon emissions and pollution by upwards of fifty percent, would it give the company a marketing advantage.

Perhaps, each building should be taxed for the amount of carbon dioxide and pollution its construction created?

 

 

 

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 9 Comments

Better Storage Might Give Hydrogen The Edge As Renewable Car Fuel

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on an Australian blog called Create.

This paragraph summarises the article.

Professor David Antonelli from Lancaster University has recently discovered a material that he says could allow existing tank sizes to fuel four times their current range.

Take the time to read the article in full!

If this is developed successfully, then coupled to improved battery technology, that will surely increase the practical range of hybrid hydrogen-battery cars, trucks, buses and trains.

Whilst politicians vanish up their backsides discussing the irrelevant Brexit, engineers and scientists will get on developing ideas, that will make everybody’s lives better.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

North West Hydrogen Alliance focuses On Low-Carbon Transportation

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

This is an extract.

A study is currently underway to look at the feasibility of using hydrogen produced at chemical company INOVYN’s Runcorn site to power buses on the street of Liverpool.

It was also recently announced the Liverpool City Region will become the first area in the North of England to trial hydrogen buses following a £6.4m government funding bid, with a new refuelling station at BOC’s hydrogen plant in St Helens.

INOVYN is owned by INEOS, so are they getting involved with hydrogen?

I knew that site well in the late 1960s, when I worked there in the chlorine cell rooms, that made hydrogen and chlorine by electroysing brine.

Life goes round in circles.

I heard some in those days, say hydrogen was a bit of a problem! Now it’s a valuable resource.

But I always remember a senior engineer, saying the only waster products that should come out of a chemical plant was pure water.

May 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon

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

This is the first paragraph.

Alstom Transport is hopeful of confirming an order before the end of this year for its Breeze hydrogen multiple-unit trains being developed in partnership with leasing company Eversholt Rail, suggesting that the first trains could enter service ‘as early as 2022’.

It then goes out to fill out some of the thinking behind the Alstom Breeze hydrogen-powered train.

The Breeze Is A Stop-Gap

Alstom are quoted as indicating the Breeze is an interim solution, until the next generation of train is available.

But after a ride to Southend recently in a Class 321 Renatus, I’m sure that the ride and passenger acceptance will be of a high standard.

And that’s what counts. Hydrogen is only the train’s personal power supply.

Alstom Are Not Building A Suburban Trundler

The Alstom Coradia iLint is not an exciting train.

  • It has a cruising speed of 87 mph.
  • It has a range of 370-500 miles.
  • It has a noisy mechanical transmission.
  • It always runs on hydrogen-power.
  • The prototypes have covered 100,000 km.

In my view, it is very much a first generation compromise design.

The article says more about the Alstom Breeze.

  • It has a slightly faster cruising speed of 90 mph
  • The Breeze will have 50% more power than the iLint. Does this mean better acceleration and/or a longer and heavier train?
  • It will have a 1,000 km range.
  • It will have regenerative breaking.
  • It will have a new AC traction package, as does a Class 321 Renatus. So will the two systems be the same?

I am also fairly sure, the train will be able to use electrification of both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail, as Class 321 trains can now!

Train Capacity

This is said about train capacity.

Despite the loss of some seating space, each set of three 20 m vehicles would provide slightly more capacity than a two-car DMU with 23 m cars which it would typically replace.

The Class 172/0 trains, that are two-car 23 metre diesel multiple units, have 124 seats.

In Hydrogen Trains Ready To Steam Ahead, I estimated that a three-car Alstom Breeze would have a seating capacity of around 140 seats, with the ability to perhaps take an additional 160 standees.

So was my seat estimate fairly good? I also think, that as the Breeze has been designed with bags of grunt, I suspect that the basic train could be increased in size by adding extra trailer cars.

After all, the legendary Class 442 train is a five-car train, with a power-car in the middle. South Western Railway, think they are worth pulling out of the scrapyard and refurbishing to run expresses between Waterloo and Portsmouth.

I am fairly certain, that Alstom can create a five-car Class 321 Breeze with the following characteristics.

A capacity of about three hundred seats.

  • A near-100 mph top speed.
  • A 1000 km range on hydrogen.
  • The ability to use 25 KVAC overhead and/or 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • The ability to run two trains as a ten-car train.

It would be ideal for the following routes.

  • Liverpool and North Wales via Chester
  • Norwich and Derby
  • Newcastle and Carlisle
  • Preston and Carlisle via Barrow
  • Cardiff and the South Coast of England
  • Borders Railway
  • Southampton and Ashford
  • Waterloo and Exeter

All of these routes have partial electrification, which would reduce the amount of hydrogen needed to be carried around.

Now that is an interesting multi-variable calculation!

Hydrogen Infrastructure

Alstom seem to be developing infrastructure solutions to supply hydrogen for fleets of ten or more trains, which could be shared with other applications. The obvious one could be where a train depot and a fleet of buses share a facility in say a large city like Exeter, which has an extensive diesel train network.

The article also says this about the source of hydrogen.

Ideally, the trains would use ‘green’ hydrogen manufactured by electrolysis using surplus renewable energy rather than ‘brown’ hydrogen from steam methane reforming.

I agree wholeheartedly with that!

Delivery In 2022?

Consider what has already been achieved in other projects.

  • Alstom have proved they can generate enough electricity to power a practical train.
  • Eversholt have proved that you can turn Class 321 trains into comfortable and efficient 100 mph Class 321 Renatus trains for routes up to a hundred miles.
  • Several classes of Mark 3-based electrical multiple units have been re-engined with AC traction, including the Class 321 Renatus.
  • Engineers all over the UK have modified Mark 3-based coaches and multiple units to create better and more-efficient trains.

Helping delivery of the project, is a legacy of drawings and philosophy from British Rail Engineering.

If Alstom say 2022, I believe that that could be a feasible date.

Conclusion

The ghost of British Rail Engineering is certainly a benign one allowing all sorts of worthwhile development paths.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 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 | , , , , | Leave a comment

London To Have World-First Hydrogen-Powered Double-Decker Buses

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

London will have the world’s first hydrogen-powered doubledecker buses on its streets next year, as the capital steps up attempts to tackle its polluted air.

Transport for London (TfL) has ordered 20 of the buses, which cost around £500,000 each and only emit water as exhaust.

As well as cutting polluting exhaust emissions, the buses will run on green hydrogen produced via North Kent offshore wind farms, according to TfL.

After the announcement of the Alexander Dennis hydrogen buses for Liverpool, that I wrote about in New Facility To Power Liverpool’s Buses With Hydrogen, I wondered how long it would take Wrightbus to respond?

It appears to be less than a month.

This is also said about the buses.

The buses will also feature amenities such as USB charging points, and promise a smoother, quieter ride. They will operate first on three routes in west London and to Wembley, which served over 10 million passenger journeys last year.

I will add these comments.

USB Charging Points

I’ve only ever used USB charging points three times on the move.

All installations were under a few years old and it is definitely the way passenger transport is going.

London Overground’s new Class 710 trains will be fitted with USB charging points and wi-fi.

Smoother, Quieter Ride

I have ridden in the following electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles

  • A battery-electric Vivarail Class 230 train
  • A battery-electric Class 379 train
  • Several battery-electric and hydrogen-powered buses in London.
  • A hydrogen-powered Alstom Coeadia iLint train.
  • An LEVCC TX electric black cab.

With the exception of the iLint train, which has a mechanical transmission, all are smooth and quiet.

So I have no reason to disbelieve this claim in The Guardian article.

Three Routes In West London

This article in Air Quality News gives more details on the routes.

The vehicles will be introduced on routes 245, 7 and N7, with people travelling to Wembley Stadium, or from west London to the West End.

  • Route 7 runs between East Acton and Oxford Circus.
  • Route 245 runs between Alperton Sainsburys and Golders Green station.

Both are operated by Metroline from Perivale East garage, where they appear to be the only routes served from the garage, which has a capacity of forty buses.

This Google Map shows a 3D picture of Perivale East garage.

The garage is squeezed into a triangle of land between the Acton-Northolt Line, the Central Line and the six-lane A40 road.

  • It’s not near any houses.
  • It’s surrounded by trees and industrual units.
  • Is the site large enough to generate hydrogen on site?
  • Could hydrogen be brought in by rail?
  • It could easily hold the twenty hydrogen buses and a few others.

I can certainly see why Transport for London have chosen to use hydrogen buses on routes 7, 245, N7, based at Periavale East garage.

Design

This is a paragraph from the Air Quality News article.

TfL says they are investing £12m in the new buses and the fuelling infrastructure with Northern Ireland firm Wrightbus as the manufacturer, which uses a fuel cell from Ballard to power a Siemens drivetrain.

Wikipedia says this about the transmission of a New Routemaster bus, that was built by Wright.

Hybrid diesel-electric in series; 18 kW] Microvast Lithium Titanate battery,Microvast LpTO, Siemens ELFA2 electric traction motor.

I should point out that it appears that originally, the New Routemaster had a larger 75 kWh battery. Has the technology improved?

Is the transmission and the chassis based on the Wright-designed New Routemaster chassis and transmission, substituting a Ballard fuel cell for the Cummins diesel engine?

The Cummins diesel engine in the New Routemaster is rated at 185 hp or 138 kW.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet of Ballard’s FCveloCity family of fuel cells.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the bus.

It strikes me that this fuel cell is smaller and weighs less than a typical diesel engine fitted to a double-decker bus.

With a larger battery, regenerative braking and a clever transmission would a 100 kW fuel-cell provide enough power for the bus?

Wright have obviously solved the problem and found space for the hydrogen tank, otherwise they wouldn’t have received the order.

Drawing on their experience with the New Routemaster and adding the proven fuel cell technology of Ballard looks at first glance to be a low-risk route to a hydrogen-powered bus.

Conclusion

Wright Group and Transport for London appear to have designed a well-thought out solution to the problem of providing zero-emission buses for London and delivering the first buses next year!

We now have two hydrogen double-decker bus projects under way.

  • London and Wright Group
  • Liverpool and Alexander Dennis

Both appear to be fully-integrated projects, which include the supply of hydrogen to the buses.

When both are proven, there could be very keen competition between the two companies to sell systems all over the UK and the wider world.

It should be noted, that double-decker buses are not that common outside of the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong and Singapore.

But could these two zero-emission projects open up the rest of the world, to these most British of products?

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment