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

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

World’s Largest Green Hydrogen Plant Begins Operation In Austria

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

This is the subtitle, which says it all.

The 6MW facility in Linz, running Siemens electrolysers, will provide clean H2 for steel production.

Steel-making is a large source of carbon-dioxide emissions and this is said about how hydrogen can be used in the process.

In light of global climate targets, Voestalpine is currently investigating the practicality of a hybrid technology to bridge between the existing coke/coal-based blast furnace route and electric arc furnaces powered with green electricity partly generated using green hydrogen,” says Voestalpine. “If economically feasible, from today’s perspective this option would reduce the group’s CO2 emissions by around a third sometime between 2030 and 2035.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see steel-makers beat that target, especially as renewable energy production and hydrogen electrolyser capacity increases.

The article also details two other large green hydrogen production electrolysers.

A 10MW PEM electrolysis plant, REFHYNE, is under construction at Shell’s Rheinland refinery in Wesseling, Germany, and is due to be completed in the second half of 2020, while a 30MW pilot — part of a 700MW project — is expected to be up and running in northwest Germany by 2025.

There’s more about REFHYNE on their web site.

This is the introduction on the web site.

The REFHYNE project is at the forefront of the effort to supply Clean Refinery Hydrogen for Europe. The project is funded by the European Commission’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and will install and operate the world’s largest hydrogen electrolyser the Shell Rhineland Refinery in Wesseling, Germany.

The plant will be operated by Shell and manufactured by ITM Power. The electrolyser has a peak capacity of 10 MW (megawatts) and will be able to produce approximately 1,300 tonnes of hydrogen per year. This decarbonised hydrogen can be fully integrated into refinery processes including the desulphurisation of conventional fuels

Hydrogen is coming.

It could be coming in a big way to the UK, as we have the capability to generate gigawatts of off-shore wind power and ITM Power have the world’s largest PEM electrolyser factory in  Rotherham.

 

 

February 1, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 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