The Anonymous Widower

Rail Research At Birmingham University

In Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, there is an article entitled Full Steam Ahead, which discusses the the work at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research an Education (BCRRE).

Amongst many subjects three are mentioned where I have a big interest.

Aerodynamics

The article says this.

Aerodynamics is also an important area for research, as any reduction in drag and air resistance due to structures will improve the energy efficiency of rail vehicles.

I very much agree with this approach.

I also feel that due to their low noise profiles as they pass by, that Bombardier have applied aerodynamic knowledge, perhaps from their aircraft engineers, to the design of the new Aventra.

Hydrogen Supplies For Hydrogen-Powered Trains

The article says this.

Funding has also been secured from Innovate UK to create a company that can provide the necessary infrastructure needed to support hydrogen trains, including fuelling stations and hydrogen generation facilities.

This sounds very similar to the systems that ITM Power ae deploying for Shell to fuel hydrogen buses, cars and other vehicles.

I hope that there is not too much duplication going on.

Working With Michigan State University And Stadler To Bring Hydrogen Trains To California

Co-operation is always good and especially in rail projects, where the number of trains involved is fairly small.

A Quote From Dr. Stuart Hillmansen of BCRRE

This quote is in the article.

Is is possible to completely decarbonise, by using electrolysis that is powered using renewable energy to create the fuel.

I completely agree with that!

Conclusion

I would hope that the BCRRE develops into a one step shop for the solution of rail related problems.

It does seem that by putting various areas of expertise together, they could be a go-to institution for those that want to built a hydrogen-powered rail service.

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 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

Ballard-Powered Fuel-Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now In Revenue Service In France

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Green Car Congress.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Ballard Power Systems announcedthat 8 ExquiCity tram-buses built by Van Hool NV and powered by 8 Ballard FCveloCity-HD 100-kilowatt fuel cell modules have been inaugurated at a ceremony in Pau, France and are now in revenue service in Pau’s Bus Rapid Transit System.

The Van Hool ExquiCity tram buses have the following specification.

  • Two sections
  • Length – 18.6 metres (New Routemaster – 11.2 metres)
  • Width – 2.6 metres (New Routemaster – 2.52 metres)
  • Weight – 18.5 tonnes (New Routemaster – 12.8 tonnes)
  • Passengers – 125 (New Routemaster – 80-87 – More on a 21/38/73 in the Peak)
  • Hydrogen Range – 300 km.
  • Power – 100 kW (New Routemaster – 138 kW)

I have compared with a New Routemaster, as both vehicles are designed as hybrids with a power source charging a battery which drives the vehicle, through a Siemens traction motor.

The Glider buses in Belfast are diesel-electric hybrid versions of the ExquiCity.

Conclusion

I do wonder from looking at the comparison with a New Routemaster, that the ExquiCity could be an interesting way to get 56 % more passengers into 66 % more road space. But it may be more efficient to use two New Routemasters to carry 28 % more passengers in 29 % more road space than the ExquiCity.

It is interesting to note that the Mercedes Citaro bendy buses in London, which were so hated by motorists because they blocked junctions were also eighteen metres long like the ExquiCity.

Obviously, if buses ran on a separated bus way, the length is not a problem.

I do feel though, that a purpose-built hydrogen-powered double-deck bus, will be better for most UK towns and cities.

This article on the BBC is entitled Wrightbus Owner Jo Bamford Says Coming To NI Is Revelation.

This is a paragraph.

Mr Bamford, the son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, told BBC News NI he has a keen interest in the use of hydrogen to power buses and that was the main reason he got involved with Wrightbus.

Consider.

  • Wrightbus designed and built the chassis for the diesel-electric hybrid New Routemaster.
  • Wrightbus pioneered the low-floor bus.
  • In March 2015 JCB made a strategic investment of £4.9M in hydrogen company; ITM Power.
  • ITM Power built the hydrogen filling station for the ExquiCity tram-buses in Pau.

It looks to me, that Jo Bamford, with some help from his father, has assembled the components for a serious assault on the hydrogen bus market.

 

February 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could New Routemaster Buses Be Converted To Hydrogen Power?

London has a thousand New Routemaster buses.

They are generally liked by passengers and drivers, although some Labour politicians think they should be replaced, because of their association with Boris.

They were introduced in 2011, so with a refurbishment, I suspect that they could be in service for perhaps another ten years.

The big feature in the design is that they are genuine hybrid buses with a small Cummins engine halfway up the back stairs, a battery under the front stairs and electric drive with regenerative braking.

I do wonder though, that because of the electric transmission, that these buses could be converted to hydrogen-powered buses.

It could be a more affordable route to create a thousand new zero-carbon buses for the streets of London or any other city for that matter.

Given that Wrightbus, who built the New Routemasters, is now owned by a member of the Bamford family of JCB fame and the company is reported to be going down the hydrogen bus route, I would suspect that conversion to hydrogen is on somebody’s mind.

 

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

Investors Hit The Gas On Hydrogen Producers

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

The sub headline is.

Hydrogen producers leap on hopes of fossil fuel death.

The article then shows three share price graphs for ITM Power, PowerCell and Ballard Power Systems.

All prices are rising steeply.

A a small investor in the first company, I am pleased and I certainly got that call right!

Note that, the companies are British, Swedish and Canadian respectively.

February 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Green Hydrogen ‘Cheaper Than Unabated Fossil-Fuel H2 by 2030’: Hydrogen Council

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Clean hydrogen derived from renewable energy will be cost-competitive with highly polluting grey hydrogen within 5-10 years, says new report.

Points about or contained in the article.

  • The report is by respected consultants; McKinsey.
  • Currently grey hydrogen produced by steam reforming produces 9-12 tonnes of carbon dioxide for every tonne of hydrogen produced, at a cost of $1.5 per Kg.
  • Green hydrogen produced by electrolysis using renewable energy, has a cost of $6 per Kg.
  • In certain parts of the world, like Chile, Australia and Saudi Arabia, with strong winds and sunshine, prices for green hydrogen could drop to $1.20 per Kg.
  • The article also talks about blue hydrogen, where the carbon dioxide is capyured and stored.

I suggest you read the article.

If you can’t be bothered just digest this paragraph.

The report adds that the blue and green hydrogen will be the cheapest options for many types of transport by 2030 — outperforming fossil fuels and battery power. These include long-distance buses, heavy- and medium-duty trucks, taxi fleets, regional trains and large passenger vehicles such as SUVs.

I can also envisage hydrogen being shipped around the world from the three countries named and others to countries like Germany,China and Japan, that need to decarbonise, in massive ships. Powered by hydrogen of course.

 

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

Delivering Hydrogen For Vehicles

In Friday’s copy of The Times, there is an article entitled Hydrogen Lifts Off: An Old Fuel Showing New Promise.

The article talks about Shell’s plans to create a network of filling stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

This is a paragraph.

A potential alternative is electrolysis, the method that Shell’s partner ITM Power is using to produce hydrogen at the Gatwick site. There, in a yard behind the refuelling pump, temporary buildings house equipment that purify tap water and convert AC electricity from the grid to DC current. This is used to split the water through electrolysis into hydrogen and harmless waste oxygen, which is vented out.

Note.

  1. Electrolysis is an alternative to the use of steam reforming of methane, which produces a lot of carbon dioxide.
  2. If the electricity is from renewables like solar, wind or tidal, then the hydrogen produced can be considered green.
  3. They is also a quote from Shell, which says that as renewable power gets cheaper and electrolysis more efficient, this will be the standard way to produce hydrogen.

It does seem to me that we could see hydrogen stations all over the place, as each is stand-alone and only needs tap water, an electricity feed and customers.

Who is iTM Power?

iTM Power are a company based in Sheffield.

Read more about them on their Wikipedia entry or their web site.

They claim to have the world’s largest PEM electrolyser factory.

They are also developing a network of hydrogen filling stations.

Currently opened include.

  • Beaconsfield Services Hydrogen Station
  • Gatwick Refuelling Station
  • Rainham Solar Hydrogen Station, Essex
  • Rotherham Wind Hydrogen Station
  • Shell Cobham Services Hydrogen Station
  • Swindon Hydrogen Station
  • Teddington Hydrogen Station

And these are currently planned.

  • Birmingham Bus
  • Birmingham Passenger Vehicle
  • Pau Bus, France

Note.

  1. Some as you can see are to support hydrogen buses.
  2. Some are powered directly by renewable electricity.
  3. Birmingham’s two stations are co-located.
  4. Two; Beaconsfield and Cobham are at motorway service areas.
  5. Pau is probably  to support the hydrogen-powered busway that is being created in the town. There is more on that in this article on rfi, which is entitled Amid Transport Chaos, France Rolls Out World-First Hydrogen Bus Fleet.

It’s looks to me that iTM are working to a sensible plan.

  • They can supply a system for a range of purposes.
  • They can be placed on fairly small sites.
  • They don’t need connection to a hydrogen grid.
  • Is it sensible to put one in for a fleet of buses, trucks or vans first?
  • Systems for buses and other vehicles can be co-located.

I can see in a few years, that everyone will be within sensible reach of a hydrogen filling station.

As the range of a hydrogen-powered car is in the hundreds of miles. it looks to me that the range anxiety of battery vehicles will be overcome.

I don’t drive or have a car, but if I needed one, I’d buy hydrogen over battery, when there was a filling station in my part of London.

 

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

The Times Had A Hydrogen Saturday

The Times had a feature on Saturday about converting our gas grid to hydrogen and especially about using hydrogen boilers in our homes.

I believe that perhaps in ten years, our gas grid will be full of hydrogen and our central heating boilers will be powered by hydrogen.

The carbon emissions saved with be massive

I don’t know about cooking, but my Michelin-starred Scottish friend and chef, says that we’ll all cook on an electric induction hob.

A Large Collateral Benefit?

I think there will be a large collateral benefit.

At present there are only two feasible methods to power a vehicle without producing carbon emissions; battery or hydrogen.

  • Battery vehicles need to be recharged and we need an enormous number of charging stations.
  • Hydrogen vehicles need to be filled up from a hydrogen filling station.

It should be noted that the current Hyundai ix35 FCEV has a range of 369 miles on hydrogen.

But as you have a hydrogen gas supply to your house, could you fit a compressor in your garage to pump up your car’s hydrogen tank, when it needs it?

The technology is well-proven.

The only problem, that I can see, is that how will the Government tax it?

The future’s not orange it’s hydrogen.

 

 

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , | 6 Comments

How I Became A Convert To Hydrogen

The title of this post is the same as that on this article on the Sydney Morning Herald.

I think that this article is significant, as it is written by Dr.Alan Finkel, who is Australia’s Chief Scientist.

It is a well-written article about the production of hydrogen with an Australian slant and is a definite must-read.

December 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

A Radical Government Would Consider Making Bus Travel Free

The title of this post is taken from the sub-title of the first leading article in today’s Times.

This is the last paragraph.

This is an opportunity for the government to be bold and help those deprived northern areas that voted Conservative for the first time. It should raise spending on buses and force the mainly private companies to provide many more services and routes. It should also encourage them to use electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles. But if it really wants to encourage a better quality of life and improved economic prospects for the north and other regions, it should consider making bus journeys free. At present millions of elderly people and children benefit from free bus passes . Why not extend this to all? That would send a message that this really is a people’s government.

The Times has a point. In fact it has several.

 

 

December 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 10 Comments