The Anonymous Widower

Daimler, Volvo Trucks Team Up On Hydrogen Fuel Cells For Heavy Trucks

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Daimler and Volvo Trucks plan to collaborate on development and sales of fuel-cells for heavy-duty trucks, as the costs of new technology and uncertainty related to the coronavirus pandemic are pushing large manufacturers to pool resources.

It also appears, that they are open to other companies to join the over billion euro joint-venture.

To my mind, this deal is a massive endorsement of hydrogen, as the fuel of the future for heavy trucks and buses.

April 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

H2-Share Launches First Hydrogen Truck

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

These are the two introductory paragraphs.

H2-Share’s first hydrogen-powered rigid truck has hit the road in the Netherlands.

The European project aims to facilitate the development of a market for low-carbon heavy-duty vehicles that run on hydrogen for logistic application.

It looks a well-thought out project to develop a market for hydrogen trucks.

  • Looking at the picture, it appears that the project has taken an off-the-shelf DAF truck and modified it for hydrogen.
  • The truck is a two-axle 27 tonne truck.

I shall follow this project.

April 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Mobility: Coming Soon to a Bus or Truck Near You?

The title of this post is the same as that as this article on Green Tech Media.

The article is a must-read and makes these points.

  • Hydrogen could have a significant impact on the transportation sector, even though sales of fuel-cell cars have been minuscule to date.
  • More than nine million passenger fuel-cell vehicles could be built.
  • In the short term hydrogen could be used for buses and heavy trucks.
  • There are only 17,000 hydrogen vehicles worldwide.
  • In 2019, there was a 246 percent increase in hydrogen vehicles.
  • Hydrogen-powered garbage trucks are being tested in Germany, The Netherlands and the UK.

Overall there seems to be a lot of growth and enthusiasm for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

 

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Which Supermarket Group Will Go For Hydrogen First?

The big supermarket groups need to reduce their carbon footprints.

One area, where they can reduce the amount of carbon-dioxide they emit is in transport.

It is my view that battery-powered articulated trucks will not be seen in large numbers, without a significant improvement in battery and charging technology.

But hydrogen-powered articulated trucks have been developed by Hyundai, as I wrote about in Tesla Has A Rival In New Hyundai Hydrogen-Powered Semi-Truck Concept.

Supermarket groups are surely ideal companies to use hydrogen-powered trucks.

They use a centralised distribution system from large depots, generally using articulated trucks.

Trucks would probably fill-up at the beginning of a delivery run at the central depot, just as they probably do with diesel now.

The only problem would be on long deliveries, where they might need to refuel before returning to the depot.

Surely, the obvious thing to do, would be to install a hydrogen filling station alongside the petrol and diesel at some of the larger superstores.

  • Companies like ITM Power build special hydrogen filling stations, that only need connections to electricity and tap water.
  • Provided the supermarket group has a good corporate deal on green electricity, the hydrogen cost to the group should be the same .
  • This filling station would also be able to fill up their hydrogen-powered vans used for local deliveries.
  • Managers and those, who had a company car could be given ones powered by hydrogen.

The filling station could also be used to sell hydrogen to the supermarket’s customers.

Linked with a How Green Is Your Supermarket? advertising campaign, this could see hydrogen-powered vehicle sales take off!

Would other supermarket groups follow like greedy lemmings?

February 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Tesla Has A Rival In New Hyundai Hydrogen-Powered Semi-Truck Concept

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

hyundai has revealed two new hydrogen-powered concepts – a fuel cell electric semi-truck and refrigerated trailer. both vehicles are part of the automaker’s fuel cell electric vehicle 2030 vision, which includes the widespread use of hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology in vehicles.

The concept looks to be aimed at large countries like Australia, Canda and the United States, but surely one scaled to the United Kingdom market, would be a very useful truck.

  • It would be a very efficient motorway cruiser, with those aerodynamics..
  • It would be zero-emission with no pollution, so could operate in cities.
  • The cab could be designed to meet all present and future driver visibility regulations.
  • It might not be liable for extra charges in cities like London.
  • Would battery trucks have enough range?

These trucks will be seen on UK roads in the next few years, as I believe that there is no other way to decarbonise heavy road transport.

Eight-Wheeler Trucks

If I walk two hundred metres from my house to the Balls Pond Road or the Kingsland High Road, the most common truck, that I see is an eight-wheeler heavy truck, that is transporting building materials, cement and spoil to and from the myriad building sites around where I live.

The pictures show typical eight-wheeler trucks working during the installation of the subway at Hackney Wick station.

Note the space under the truck between the front and rear axles. Surely, those clever Koreans can fit all the hydrogen gubbins under and in the truck.

  • Many of these trucks are in large fleets, which return to a depot, that is close to the city centre on a regular basis, so refuelling should be easy to arrange.
  • These trucks would probably need less fuel per day, than a large artic.
  • I doubt they would pay any access charges.
  • As they would be pollution-free, zero-carbon and probably a lot quieter, would they be able to work near sensitive sites like hispitals, schools and transport hubs?

They could be a very good economic proposition in a large city of urban conurbation.

Other Trucks

I also believe that hydrogen would be a sensible fuel for several classes of other trucks.

  • Four-wheel box vans.
  • Refuse trucks
  • Skip lorries
  • Larger vans

Hydrogen buses already seem to be running successfully in several cities.

The Missing Hydrogen Vehicle

I have chatted with black cab drivers in London, about the use of hydrogen as a fuel for taxis. Black cabs are getting larger and I believe that hydrogen could be their ideal fuel.

Conclusion

I believe that hydrogen will play a big part in decarbonising transport in the next few years and especially in urban areas.

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

Hydrogen Truck Startup Nikola’s Valuation Jumps To $3 Billion With Investment From CNH Industrial

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

This is the first paragraph.

Nikola Motor, an Arizona startup that wants to shake up the trucking world with zero-emission hydrogen and battery-powered semis, is making progress toward a $1 billion fundraising goal to get its technology on the road as CNH Industrial committed to a quarter of that amount.

Note that CNH is the company, that owns Iveco.

If you read the whole article, you will find the following.

  • Nikola Motor have a simple model based on hydrogen-powered trucks and a network of zero-carbon hydrogen filling stations.
  • They are backed by large well-known companies like Bosch.
  • Hydrogen-powered trucks should be lighter in weight than battery-powered ones like the Tesla Semi.

Given the financial backing seems to be flowing to Nikola Motor and the simple business model, I feel the company’s objectives may be attained.

Would Nikola Motor’s Business Model Work In The UK?

Consider.

  • UK heavy trucks may be smaller than some American big rigs, but are very similar, if not the same to those used all over Europe, with the driver’s seat on the other side.
  • Many large users of heavy trucks, deliver goods from a large distribution centre, seaport or airport.
  • The UK’s power network is generally reliable and is increasingly powered by renewable sources.
  • Parts of the UK are developing a hydrogen network.

Because of our electrical grid and hydrogen availability, Nikola Motor’s filling station concept in a densely-populated smaller UK, might be a modified version of that used in the wide-open spaces of North America.

I can’t see any reason why if Nikola Motor’s hydrogen-powered trucks are successful in North America, they wouldn’t be successful in the UK.

A Zero-Carbon Distribution System For A Large Retailer

Retailers like Asda, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury, Tesco and many others distribute product to their stores by heavy truck, usually from a large distribution centre in the middle of the country.

Tesco even make a lot of fuss about creating less CO2, by moving goods up and down the country by rail.

A Tesco-Branded Train

Because of retailers’ centralised model based on trucks from a distribution depot, using hydrogen-powered trucks, would not require a great change in the method or operation.

  • Diesel traction would be replaced by hydrogen traction.
  • The depot would have a hydrogen filling station, either using locally-created or piped hydrogen.
  • Trucks would leave the depot with enough hydrogen to do a full delivery without refuelling and return to base.

But think of the advertising, if all the company’s heavy trucks displayed proudly that they were hydrogen-powered and emitted no CO2.

As supermarkets are like sheep and follow each others’ good ideas, if it worked for the first company, it wouldn’t be long before several others went down the hydrogen-powered route.

Would Hydrogen P{ower Work With Other Vehicle Fleets?

Many vehicles that I see in London and other large cities are members of large fleets based in those cities.

  • Buses
  • Taxis
  • Delivery vans
  • Cement trucks.
  • Refuse trucks.

If cities are going to effectively ban diesel, there are only two alternatives battery and hydrogen.

Some vehicles will be better suited to battery power, especially if they could be charged overnight at the central depot, but other like double-deck buses and cement trucks may be better suited to hydrogen.

Cement trucks could be a niche market, where Nikola Motor could produce a very attractive package of trucks and a filling station.

Conclusion

If Nikola Motor is successful in the next few years, they could prove that hydrogenpowered vehicles are not a novelty, but a serious zero-carbon alternative, that is affordable.

 

 

 

September 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a 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

Startup Nikola Bets Hydrogen Will Finally Break Through With Big Rigs

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

Read the article, as it is an interesting concept.

  • Nikola Motor will not only build the trucks, but the hydrogen filling station network across North America.
  • They believe big trucks are ideal for hydrogen power.
  • They will also make their hydrogen filling station network available to car makes.
  • The founder of the company; Trevor Milton, claims it’s easier to package hydrogen tanks in big vehicles than small ones.
  • He also claims that hydrogen-powered trucks are much lighter than battery ones.
  • Hydrogen will be produced from renewable sources, where it is needed.
  • They are raising $1.2billion dollars to fund it.

First trucks will be delivered in 2022,, if all goes well with the funding.

I have no idea, whether it will work successfully, but surely a network of hydrogen filling stations, generating their own hydrogen across a Continent could be the kick, that hydrogen power for vehicles needs.

The UK is a small island and comparing it to North America, probably means the concept wouldn’t work in the UK, but if it works in North America, it will work in Europe.

But, if Trevor Milton’s mathematics work for big trucks in North America, they may well work with trains in the UK. A few hydrogen filling stations for trains and locomotives at strategic depots might power a whole new generation of rail vehicles. The rail filling stations could be co-located with filling stations for hydrogen road vehicles.

Trucks In Cities And Large Urban Areas

As I walk around London I see lots of large trucks, that can be put into a few categories.

  • Articulated delivery trucks, often for the big supermarkets.
  • Eight-wheel rigid trucks moving loads of building materials or soil and rubble dug out of construction sites.
  • Refuse trucks.
  • Skip trucks
  • Cement mixer trucks

With the exception of the first, many of these vehicles don’t do a large number of miles in a working day.

Will we see companies like Nikola Motor and others developing hydrogen or battery-powered trucks for these niches?

If they do, I can see some interesting working and fuelling strategies developing.

Would Hydrogen Trucks Be Ideal For Cross-Channel Traffic?

Imagine a journey between Stuttgart and the Toyota plant in Derby.

  • Using the European hydrogen network, the truck arrives at Calais with a low hydrogen level.
  • On arrival in Dover it goes to a convenient hydrogen station and fills up with enough hydrogen to make the five hundred mile return journey to Derby.
  • The return journey to Stuttgart, would use a hydrogen filling station at Calais to speed the truck on it’s way.

Because of the distances involved, I’m sure hydrogen would work for regular high-value truck journeys across the Channel, even if different tractors were used on either side of the Channel, as they often are now!

You could also argue, that this journey would be better done by rail. But if that is the case, why is it so much cross-Channel freight moved by trucks?

Conclusion

Hydrogen will continue to attract innovation and it is not time to write it off yet.

April 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

McPhy Launches “Augmented McFilling”, Its New Smart Hydrogen Station Architecture For Heavy Duty Vehicles

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

It shows the way that lots of individuals and companies are putting effort into the hydrogen economy.

April 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen For Hydrogen-Powered Trains And Other Vehicles

I have received e-mails worrying about how hydrogen-powered trains and other vehicles, like buses and trucks, will get the fuel they need.

Production Of Hydrogen

There are two major methods of producing large quantities of hydrogen.

Steam Reforming Of Natural Gas

Steam reforming is used to convert natural gas into hydrogen by using high temperature and pressure steam in the presence of a nickel catalyst.

This section in Wikipedia is entitled Industrial Reforming, says this.

Steam reforming of natural gas is the most common method of producing commercial bulk hydrogen at about 95% of the world production of 500 billion m3 in 1998. Hydrogen is used in the industrial synthesis of ammonia and other chemicals. At high temperatures (700 – 1100 °C) and in the presence of a metal-based catalyst (nickel), steam reacts with methane to yield carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

It gives this chemical equation for the reaction.

CH4 + H2O ⇌ CO + 3 H2

I have two questions about steam reforming.

  • How much fossil fuel energy is needed to create the high temperatures and pressures to make the process work?
  • What happens to the carbon monoxide (CO)? Is it burnt to provide heat, thus producing more carbon dioxide (CO2)?

I therefor question the use of steam reforming to produce hydrogen for vehicles, especially, as a system might be required  to be installed in a train, bus or freight depot.

The only time, where steam reforming could be used, is where an existing refinery producing large quantities of hydrogen by the process is close TO the point of use.

Electrolysis Of Water Or Brine

It is fifty years, since I worked in the chlorine-cell rooms of ICI’s Castner-Kellner chemical complex at Runcorn.

The process used was the Castner-Kellner Process and this is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry.

The Castner–Kellner process is a method of electrolysis on an aqueous alkali chloride solution (usually sodium chloride solution) to produce the corresponding alkali hydroxide, invented by American Hamilton Castner and Austrian Karl Kellner in the 1890s.

Brine from Cheshire’s extensive salt deposits is electrolysed using a graphite anode and a mercury cathode to produce chlorine, hydrogen, sodium hydroxide and sodium metal.

Large amounts of electricity are needed, but the biggest problem is the poisonous mercury used in the process.

My work incidentally concerned measuring the mercury in the air of the plant.

Since the 1960s, the technology has moved on, and ICI’s successor INEOS, still produces large quantities of chlorine at Runcorn using electrolysis.

More environmentally-friendly processes such as membrane cell electrolysis are now available, which produce chlorine, hydrogen and sodium hydroxide.

In the 1960s, the production of chlorine and hydrogen was a 24/7 process and I would suspect that INEOS have a good deal to use electricity from wind and other sources in the middle of the night.

The Future Of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a clean fuel, that when it burns to produce heat or is used in a fuel cell to produce electricity, only produces steam or water.

There is also a lot of research going into hydrogen fuel-cells, hydrogen storage and batteries, and some of this will lead to innovative use of hydrogen as a fuel.

As an example, there is a growing market for fuel-cell forklifts. The first one was built in 1960, so fifty years from idea to fulfilment seems about right.

How many other applications of hydrogen will be commonplace in ten years?

  • City buses
  • Local delivery vans for companies like Royal Mail and UPS.
  • Taxis
  • Refuse trucks

I also think, some surprising applications will emerge driven by the need to clean up the air in polluted cities.

Ideally, these applications will need a hydrogen filling station at the depot.

Modern electrolysis technologies should lead to the development of  simple cells, for the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen and oxygen.

Powered by renewable energy sources or nuclear, this technology could be used to create zero-carbon hydrogen at the point of use.

Diesel Or Hydrogen?

The diesel engine in a New Routemaster bus is a Cummins diesel with these characteristics.

  • 4.5 litre
  • 138 kW
  • 400 Kg

So how much would a 150 kW fuel-cell weigh?

A Ballard FCveloCity-HD, which is capable of producing 100 kW, weighs around 300 Kg.

I feel that as hydrogen and battery technology improves, that more and more city vehicles will be hydrogen-powered.

Hyundai Launch A Hydrogen-Powered Truck

This page on the Hyundai web site is entitled Hyundai Motor Presents First Look At Truck With Fuel Cell Powertrain.

It will be launched this year and looks impressive. Other articles say they have tied up with a Swiss fuel-cell manufacturer called H2 Power and aim to sell a thousand hydrogen-powered trucks in Switzerland.

 

 

 

January 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments