The Anonymous Widower

The Third Route To Zero-Carbon Transport

The two most common routes to zero-carbon transport are.

  • Battery-electric vehicles
  • Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles

Note that most hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles also have a battery.

But I believe there’s a third route and that is the use of hydrogen in an internal combustion engine.

Earlier today, I wrote Rolls-Royce And AVK Provide Over 3.5 Gigawatts Of Emergency Power Capacity In The UK, which is based on a Rolls-Royce press release, with the same title.

This is an extract.

And this is said about the use of hydrogen.

Rolls-Royce is also currently developing its mtu gas engine portfolio for power generation so that the engines can run on hydrogen fuel in future, enabling a Net Zero energy supply. The company is also launching complete mtu hydrogen fuel cell solutions, that emit nothing but water vapor from 2025. This will enable CO2-free generation of emergency power for data centers and many other critical applications.

I certainly think, that they are going in the right direction.

Rolls-Royce mtu have a lot to lose, if their diesel engines that power trains, heavy equipment, ships and emergency power generators are replaced by other companies zero-carbon solutions.

  • Large investments will need to be made in hydrogen electrolyser and fuel cell production.
  • Some traditional factories making diesel engines will be closed and could this mean redundancies?
  • A lot of retraining of staff at both manufacturer and customer will need to be made.

But a traditional internal combustion engine, that runs on hydrogen or even both hydrogen and diesel makes the transition to hydrogen a lot less painful.

Other companies going this route include Cummins, Deutz and JCB.

Conversion Of Existing Diesel Engines To Hydrogen

Surely, if an equivalence hydrogen engine exists for all of their diesel engines, a company like Cummins or Rolls-Royce mtu can produce a sound engineering route to decarbonise some of their existing applications.

A classic application would be converting London’s Routemaster buses to hydrogen, which I wrote about in Could London’s New Routemaster Buses Be Converted To Hydrogen Power?

This was my conclusion in that post.

I believe from my knowledge of Cummins and the way they work, that they will come up with a hydrogen-based solution, that will replace the Cummins diesel in these buses with a zero-carbon engine.

If Cummins don’t then someone else will.

Whoever solves the problem of converting London’s new Routemasters to hydrogen will have one of the best adverts for their product, there has ever been.

After converting London’s thousand Routemasters, the engineers could move on to anything powered by a Cummins engine.

As this is a world-wide problem, I believe that the manufacturers of cars, buses, trucks and many other vehicles will offer zero-carbon solutions for their products, as it will be necessary for survival.

If you have just bought a new diesel BMW and your government says that in two years time, diesel will no longer be available, you’re up the creek without a paddle. But if BMW can convert it to hydrogen for a small fraction of the cost of a new electric equivalent, you have a more available way out.

August 23, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Will Happen To Northern’s Class 195 Trains?

Northern’s Class 195 trains could be a problem in the future.

  • They are diesel multiple units.
  • There are twenty-five two-car trains and thirty-three three-car trains.
  • All cars have a Rolls-Royce MTU 6H1800R85L diesel engine, that drives the train through a ZF EcoLife 6-speed transmission.
  • They are 100 mph trains, which is adequate for the routes they serve.
  • According to Wikipedia, the trains are designed for a lifespan of thirty-five years, which takes the trains past the date, when it is intended that all trains should be zero-carbon.

It looks to me, that a plan will be needed to decarbonise these trains, as they are probably too new and costly to scrap.

These are possibilities to upgrade them to zero-carbon.

Rebuild as Class 331 Electric Trains

The design of the Class 195 trains is based on the same platform as that of the Class 331 trains.

I would expect that it could be possible to rebuild the Class 195 trains as Class 331 trains.

But it would be an expensive and disruptive process and would require a lot of electrification.

Some battery-electric versions could be created to cut the need for electrification.

Run The Trains On Net-Zero Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil Or Other Fuels

In Powered By HVO, I wrote about research going on into the use of Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil or HVO.

There is also ongoing research into other net-zero fuels that can be used in a diesel engine.

The process used by Velocys to create sustainable aviation fuel can also be used to produce diesel from various sources like disposable nappies, household waste and scrap wood.

Run The Trains On A Dual Fuel Basis With Hydrogen

In Grand Central DMU To Be Used For Dual-Fuel Trial, I talk about how Grand Central in collaboration with a company called G-volution are running experiments with dual-fuelling a Class 180 train. G-volution state that they could dual fuel with hydrogen using their technology.

The Class 180 trains have Cummins engines, but I suspect G-volution’s technology or something similar could be applied to the Rolls-Royce MTU engines in the Class 195 trains.

This could be a very promising route.

Convert The Diesel Engines To Run On Hydrogen

Cummins and JCB have developed internal combustion engines, that can run on hydrogen. I would be very surprised if Rolls-Royce MTU are not developing this technology.

Conclusion

There are options to convert the Class 195 trains into low or zero-carbon trains.

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December 23, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Will JCB Dig The Whole World Out Of A Hole?

JCB and the Bamford family in general have form, where hydrogen is concerned.

  • JCB have developed internal combustion engines, that will run on hydrogen.
  • Jo Bamford owns Wrightbus and they are building hydrogen-fuelled buses in Northern Ireland.
  • JCB were an early investor in hydrogen electrolyser company; ITM Power.
  • JCB have signed a large contract for the delivery of hydrogen with Fortescue Future Industries.

I have just watched this amazing video, where Lord Bamford explains his philosophy on hydrogen.

November 13, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, World | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

JCB Signs Green Hydrogen Deal Worth Billions

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Construction equipment maker JCB has signed a deal to buy billions of pounds of green hydrogen, defined as hydrogen produced using renewable energy.

The deal means JCB will take 10% of the green hydrogen made by the Australian firm Fortescue Future Industries (FFI).

JCB are certainly going into hydrogen in a big way.

  • They have demonstrated hydrogen-powered construction equipment.
  • They have developed technology, so that internal combustion engines can run on hydrogen.
  • Lord Bamford’s son; Jo bought Wrightbus and company supplied London’s hydrogen buses.
  • Ryze, which is mentioned in the article was founded by Jo Bamford.
  • JCB have made a strategic investment in electrolyser company; ITM Power.

I can see JCB making more investments in hydrogen.

In terms of green hydrogen production from renewable energy, I can see three areas providing substantial amounts of green hydrogen.

  • Australia from solar and electrolysers. Australia has space and sun.
  • Africa from solar and electrolysers. Africa has space and sun.
  • Waters around the UK from wind and electrolysers.

As ITM Power have the world’s largest electrolyser factory in Sheffield and have recently raised money to build a second one, they could be the big winner in green hydrogen production.

But I can see JCB making hydrogen-powered equipment all over the world and supplying the hydrogen to run it.l

It should also be born in mind, that JCB know how to dominate a market.

October 31, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cummins Accelerates Work On Hydrogen-Fueled Internal Combustion Engines

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

This is the first paragraph.

Global power leader Cummins Inc. is accelerating its work on internal combustion engines fueled by low-carbon hydrogen.

Cummins aren’t the only company going this route, as JCB have also developed a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine.

In some ways it makes sense, as in a truck, railway locomotive or specialist machine, the conversion of the current diesel version to a hydrogen one could be easier.

From my experience of selling software to Cummins, they see themselves as specialists in providing customised diesel engines for anybody who wants them.

So could they supply customised hydrogen engines which are a direct replacement for a diesel engine?

It could be a very profitable market for Cummins, good for the environment and a quick way to decarbonise a lot of applications.

September 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Zero-Carbon Freight Trains Be Powered By Battery, Electric Or Hydrogen Locomotives?

These are a few initial thoughts.

We Will Not Have A One-Size-Fits-All Solution

If you consider the various freight and other duties, where diesel locomotives are used, you get a long list.

  • Light freight, where perhaps a Class 66 locomotive moves a few wagons full of stone to support track maintenance.
  • Intermodal freight, where a Class 66 locomotive moves a long train of containers across the country.
  • Stone trains, where a Class 59 or Class 70 locomotive moves a very heavy train of aggregate across the country.
  • Empty stock movements, where a diesel locomotive moves an electrical multiple unit.
  • Supporting Network Rail with trains like the New Measurement Train, which is hauled by two diesel Class 43 power cars.
  • Passenger trains at up to and over 100 mph.

I can see a need for several types of zero-carbon locomotive.

  • A light freight locomotive.
  • A medium freight locomotive, that is capable of hauling many intermodal trains across the country and would also be capable of hauling passenger services.
  • A heavy freight locomotive, capable of hauling the heaviest freight trains.
  • A Class 43 power car replacement, which would probably be a conversion of the existing power cars. Everybody loves InterCity 125s and there are over a hundred power cars in regular service on railways in the UK.

There are probably others.

The UK Hydrogen Network Is Growing

Regularly, there are news items about companies in the UK, who will be providing green hydrogen to fuel cars, vans, buses, trucks and trains.

Hydrogen is becoming a fuel with a much higher availability.

The UK Electricity Network Is Growing And Getting More Resilient

We are seeing more wind and solar farms and energy storage being added to the UK electricity network.

The ability to support large numbers of battery-electric buses, cars, trucks and trains in a reliable manner, is getting more resilient and much more comprehensive.

There Will Be More Railway Electrification

This will happen and installation will be more innovative. But predicting where electrification will be installed, will be very difficult.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Now Have Rivals

Hydrogen fuel cells are normally used to convert hydrogen gas to electricity.

But over the last few years, alternative technology has evolved, which may offer better methods of generating electricity from hydrogen.

Fuel cells will not be having it all their own way.

Batteries Are Improving Their Energy Density

This is inevitable. and you are starting to see improvements in the fabrication of the battery packs to get more kWh into the space available.

In Wrightbus Presents Their First Battery-Electric Bus, I said this about the Forsee batteries used in the new buses from Wrightbus.

The Forsee brochure for the ZEN SLIM batteries gives an energy density of 166 Wh per Kg. This means that the weight of the 454 kWh battery is around 3.7 tonnes.

A one-tonne battery would have a capacity of 166 kWh.

  • It is the highest value I’ve so far found.
  • Technology is likely to improve.
  • Other battery manufacturers will be striving to match it.

For these reasons, in the rest of this post, I will use this figure.

Some Example Locomotives

In this section, I shall look at some possible locomotives.

Conversion Of A Class 43 Power Car

There are two Class 43 power cars in each InterCity 125 train.

  • The diesel engine is rated at 1678 kW.
  • The transmission is fully electric.
  • These days, they generally don’t haul more than five or six intermediate Mark 3 coaches.

I would see that the biggest problem in converting to battery power being providing the means to charge the batteries.

I suspect that these power cars would be converted to hydrogen, if they are converted to zero-carbon.

  • I would estimate that there is space for hydrogen tanks and a small gas-turbine generator in the back of the power car.
  • Much of the existing transmission could be retained.
  • A zero-carbon power car would certainly fit their main use in Scotland and the South-West of England.
  • I doubt hydrogen refuelling would be a problem.

They may even attract other operators to use the locomotives.

A Battery-Electric Locomotive Based on A Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

I am using this Class 88 locomotive as a starting point, as the locomotive is powerful, reliable and was built specifically for UK railways. There are also ten already in service in the UK.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I started the article like this.

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled Johnson Targets A Bi-Mode Future.

As someone, who has examined the mathematics of battery-powered trains for several years, I wonder if the Age of the Hybrid Battery/Electric Locomotive is closer than we think.

A Battery/Electric Class 88 Locomotive

 After reading Dual Mode Delight (RM Issue 863), it would appear that a Class 88 locomotive is a powerful and reliable locomotive.

    • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle load of 21.5 tonnes.
    • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
    • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive when working from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
    • The locomotive has regenerative braking, when working using electrification.
    • It would appear the weight of the diesel engine is around seven tonnes
    • The closely-related Class 68 locomotive has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

The locomotive would appear to be carrying between 7 and 12 tonnes of diesel-related gubbins.

Suppose  that the diesel-related gubbins of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced with a ten tonne battery.

Using the Forsee figures, that I quoted earlier, this battery would hold 1660 kWh.

At the power level of the 700 kW of the Caterpillar C27 diesel engine in the Class 88 locomotive, that would give more than two hours power.

It looks to me, that a battery-electric Class 88 locomotive could be a very useful locomotive.

It might even be able to haul freight trains in and out of the Port of Felixstowe, which would be a big advantage in decarbonising the port.

Certainly, methods to charge battery trains on the move, are being developed like the system from Hitachi ABB Power Grids, that put up short sections of 25 KVAC overhead electrification, which would be driven by a containerised power system.

These systems and others like them, may enable some battery-electric freight trains to work routes like.

  • Felixstowe and Ipswich.
  • Ipswich and Peterborough
  • Peterborough and Nuneaton.
  • Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln
  • Birmingham and Oxford

None of these routes are fully-electrified.

But because of the power limit imposed by the batteries, these locomotives will need to be recharged at points on the route.

This Google Map shows the Ipswich and Peterborough route crossing the Fen Line at Ely station.

Note.

  1. Ely Dock junction in the South-West corner, where the line from Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds joins the lines through Ely.
  2. Ely station towards the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Passenger trains run through the station.

But freight trains can take a route on the Eastern side of the station, which is not electrified.

At Ely station, a loop like this can be electrified using the existing electrification power supply, but at other places, systems like that from Hitachi ABB Power Grids can be used to electrify the loop or an appropriate section of the route.

These short sections of electrification will allow the train to progress on either electric or battery power.

A Hydrogen-Electric Locomotive Based on A Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I looked at creating a hydrogen-powered locomotive from a Class 68 locomotive.

I decided it was totally feasible to use readily available technology from companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins to create a powerful hydrogen-powered locomotive.

The Class 68 locomotive is the diesel-only cousin of the electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive and they share a lot of components including the body-shell, the bogies and the traction system.

I suspect Stadler could create a Class 88 locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 4 MW using electric power
  • At least 2.5 MW using hydrogen power.
  • Hydrogen power could come from Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW generator based on a small gas-turbine engine.
  • 100 mph on both electricity and hydrogen.
  • It would have power output on hydrogen roughly equal to a Class 66 locomotive on diesel.
  • It would have a range comparable to a Class 68 locomotive on diesel.

This locomotive would be a zero-carbon Class 66 locomotive replacement for all duties.

A Larger And More Powerful Hydrogen-Electric Locomotive

I feel that for the largest intermodal and stone trains, that a larger hydrogen-electric locomotive will be needed.

With the way Wabtec are going in the United States, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a suitable locomotive cross the pond.

Conclusion

In the title of this post, I asked if freight locomotives of the future would be battery, electric or hydrogen.

I am sure of one thing, which is that all freight locomotives must be able to use electrification and if possible, that means both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail. Electrification will only increase in the future, making it necessary for most if not all locomotives in the future to be able to use it.

I feel there will be both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric locomotives, with the battery-electric locomotives towards the less powerful end.

Hydrogen-electric will certainly dominate at the heavy end.

 

 

July 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Was This The Most Significant Statement On Freight Locomotives Last Week?

This press release from Freightliner, is entitled Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.

The dual-fuel project is important and will cut carbon emissions in the short term.

But it is only a quick fix, made possible by good technology.

It is also not zero-carbon.

This sixth paragraph from the press release is very significant.

This sustainable solution will support a programme to decarbonise freight operating companies’ diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that does not require significant short-term investment and facilitates operational learning in support of a longer-term fleet replacement programme, potentially using 100% hydrogen fuel.

I believe the paragraph indicates, that Freightliner and possibly the other companies involved in the building and operation of heavy freight locomotives have concluded, that the technology is now such, that a zero-carbon rail locomotive powered by 100 % hydrogen is now possible.

  • Rolls-Royce and possibly other gas-turbine companies have the technology to build small gas-turbine powered generators that can produce several megawatts of reliable electrical zero-carbon power, when fuelled by hydrogen.
  • We are seeing companies developing strategies for the safe supply of hydrogen in large industrial quantities.
  • Hydrogen has been successfully deployed on buses, trains and other large vehicles.
  • The technology has been proven that will allow dual-mode hydrogen-electric locomotives, that can use electrification, where it exists.
  • Some big companies like Cummins, JCB and Shell are backing hydrogen.

There are thousands of large diesel-powered locomotives all over the world and locomotive builders that can successfully replace these with hydrogen-powered locomotives will not go financially unrewarded!

July 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kraft Heinz And Freight Innovation

In the UK, we certainly need to get more freight on to the railways.

Recently, KraftHeinz were involved in an experiment. A lot of their product currently comes into the UK in containers, which are then taken by road from the ports by truck.

This report about the experiment was on this page of the Modern Railway’s web site.

KraftHeinz’s distribution centre is in the Orrell district of Wigan, with the Wigan Wallgate to Southport route the closest railway line. The trial involved a container train that was sent from Crewe to the branch on an overnight working, with the notional offloading taking place from the running line close to Gathurst station. Also demonstrated was the feasibility of loco run round in this area. Network Rail signallers helped ensure the success of the trial by facilitating the use of a crossover at Parbold station for the run round (some signal alterations would be likely if this became a regular operation).

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Gathurst station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The KraftHeinz Distribution Centre is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The Wigan Wallgate and Southport Line runs between the two.

It was all very convenient for some intense  night work.

I have some thoughts.

Where’s The Siding?

Years ago a lot of factories and distribution centres like this, would have had a siding.

Many have been sold off and built over, as many companies preferred to use road transport.

Using The Running Line

This was first used in the UK to load timber on to trains in the North of Scotland for transporting to markets in the South.

Surely, the only thing needed is ground strong enough alongside the track to support a container handling machine.

Were JCB Involved?

JCB are innovators and appeared a few days on this blog, in this a post entitled JCB Finds Cheap Way To Run Digger Using Hydrogen.

Although, that post wasn’t about cargo handling, it shows that the company thinks differently and I’m sure they can come up with a pollution-free container-handler to unload containers at night for companies like KraftHeinz.

Conclusion

Surely, if this freight movement were to be used regularly, the signalling changes and perhaps some concrete should be installed.

We need more cargo-handling experiments like this to get more trucks off the road.

May 24, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

JCB Finds Cheap Way To Run Digger Using Hydrogen

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

An operational hydrogen combustion engine developed in Derbyshire could speed up the shift towards zero-emissions transport.

JCB, the construction equipment manufacturer, said that the engine would be capable of powering heavy machinery and vehicles without producing any carbon dioxide.

As they have just modified one of their own production diesel engines to run on hydrogen, this sounds like a major breakthrough of the largest kind!

The caption on the picture says this.

JCB says that the technology could be applied in trucks, vans, trains, buses and even large cars.

What about small cars?

Or perhaps, that market will be left to Aquarius Engines, which I wrote about in New Hydrogen Engine Design Unveiled To Overcome Reliance On Fuel Cells.

You wait months for a major breakthrough in hydrogen propulsion to come along and then two ideas come along in one day.

The article gets better as you read it fully, which I suggest you do.

  • It appears, that development only started last July.
  • The engines are based on their current JCB diesel engines.
  • Emissions include water, no CO2 and practically zero levels of NOx.

The article says this about costs.

It is thought that the hydrogen engines will cost about £10,000 each; costs will be kept down by using the same production lines and many of the same components as diesel engines. By comparison a prototype hydrogen fuel cell system, which is being adapted for a 20-tonne excavator as part of another JCB trial, will cost about £100,000. Batteries needed to power such a machine would probably cost in the region of £160,000, the company said.

When you consider that family member; Joe Bamford owns Wrightbus, I would expect that you’ll see a development of these engines coming to a bus route near you!

Conclusion

I have made money backing developments based on the properties of fluid flow at the small end of gaseous flow.

There are some weird effects there, which are not taught in A-level physics.

Have JCB found how to apply them to create the ultimate zero-carbon power unit?

I’m certainly not ruling it out!

May 22, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , | 5 Comments

Innovation In Action

I once broke an expensive allow wheel and tyre on one of Suffolk’s many potholes many years ago.

But now it appears those clever people from JCB have developed a quick fix!

|Except that it’s no bodged job.

Let’s all drink to innovation!

As that will get us out of the hole, that the covids have dug for us!

May 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment