The Anonymous Widower

Pesa And PKN Orlen To Develop Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trains

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rolling stock manufacturer Pesa and energy company PKN Orlen signed a letter of intent to develop hydrogen fuel cell trains on December 12.

I am pleased that Poland appears to be turning to trains that emit less carbon, but I do worry about how the hydrogen is produced.

It appears the Dutch are moving towards green hydrogen, which is produced by the electrolysis of water using electricity produced by offshore wind farms.

But how are the Poles producing their hydrogen?

I did find this article on biznewsalert.com, which is entitled Poland Wants To Be A Hydrogen Kuwait. P2G Can Help.

This is the introductory sentence.

Hydrogen could drive low-carbon transport and also help reduce CO2 emissions. Although it is a distant perspective for now, the production of the element could support onshore wind farms.

It does appear that the Poles are thinking along lines, that will reduce carbon emissions.

What is P2G?

P2G or Power-to-Gas has an informative Wikipedia entry.

This is the first paragraph, which outlines the process.

Power-to-gas (often abbreviated P2G) is a technology that converts electrical power to a gas fuel. When using surplus power from wind generation, the concept is sometimes called windgas. There are currently three methods in use; all use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen by means of electrolysis.

There certainly a lot of activity in the sector.

My Experience Of Polish Transport

Poland is a large country with an extensive rail system. I have travelled long distances across the country and many of the passenger trains are electric.

I can’t remember seeing a freight train, but I do remember large numbers of diesel trucks moving freight across the country.

Conclusion

Hydrogen could be a very important fuel for transport in Poland.

December 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Walk Along Shaftesbury Avenue

These are some pictures I took as I walked up Shaftesbury Avenue at around lunchtime.

This is a summary of what I saw and my views.

  • I only saw one electric vehicle; a black taxi.
  • It was a horrendous collection of diesel trucks and vans. And an ambulance!
  • As someone, who suffers in polluted air, I say two words – Stop It!
  • All deliveries should be done at night!
  • No vehicle should be allowed through unless it is zero carbon.

Note the lack of private cars and I only saw a couple of buses, both of which were New Routemasters.

Conclusion

Shaftesbury Avenue is the heart of London’s Theatreland. And a downright disgrace!

I am lucky, in that if I want to go, I walk round the corner from my house and get a 38 bus direct to the Avenue.

But look at any map and you’ll see there is no Underground station in the area and you have to walk from Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus or Tottenham Court Road stations.

Crossrail 2 has a plan to build a station in the area, but as it would involve demolishing the Curzon Cinema, all the usual suspects are against that plan. They were also against the demolition of a theatre at the site of the expanded Tottenham Court Road station. Crossrail are doing the obvious and building a new bigger one!

Surely, the same thing would work for Crossrail 2!

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Switching From Lorries To Freight Trains Could Cut Air Pollution By 10%

The title of this post is the same as this article on Rail Technology Magazine. This is the first paragraph.

Making the switch from HGVs to trains for freight travel could lead to 10% less air pollution from NOx across the country, says new research from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The major problem will be to get freight operators to switch from road to rail.

However, I do feel that this may be hastened by external factors and innovative methods and technology.

Shortages Of Train And Truck Drivers

There are regular news items about shortages of train and truck drivers.

I would think, that both careers will attract the same type of person.

Both careers will have their good and bad points.

But after a search of the Internet, it does appear that the train driver will earn more than the truck driver.

So will a shortage of truck drivers, nudge more freight operators to use rail?

Track Improvements For Rail Freight

Over the last decade or so, there have been several improvements in track layouts, that have been driven by the need to increase the amount of freigt carried by rail.

  • The development of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line through Lincolnshire as a freight by-pass for the East Coast Main Line.
  • The building of the Bacon Factory Chord to increase capacity to and from the Port of Felixstowe.
  • Electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will create a second electrified freight route across London.
  • Several passing loops have been lengthened to allow longer freight trains.
  • The Ordsall Chord will help freight through Manchester.

Obviously any general improvements will help freight trains as well as passenger trains.

Air-Pollution Activitists And Politicians

Most long-distance rail-freight is diesel-hauled and increasingly it goes through areas of large cities, where there is electrification. These electrified lines all see diesel-hauled freight trains.

  • The North London Line
  • The West London Line
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line
  • The Ordsall Chord
  • The Great Eastern Main Line
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • The Great Western Main Line

It will not be long before air-quality activists set their sites on removing diesel haulage from lines like these.

Will a local politician in North London say, be more likely to get elected, if they say, they will push for a ban on noisy and polluting diesel-powered locomotives running through their constituency.

The Replacement Of Diesel Locomotives With Electro-Diesel Locomotives

If you take a freight route like say Felixstowe to Trafford Park in Manchester via the Great Eastern Main Line, the North London Line and the West Coast Main Line, all of the route except for the two ends is electrified.

Normally, freight on this route would be hauled by a Class 66 diesel-locomotive, which would probably score 2/10 as a friend of the environment.

A modern electro-diesel locomotive, like a Class 88 locomotive  may be able to this and similar routes using electricity in the middle and its onboard diesel engine at both ends of the route.

The various locomotives, used on UK freight trains compare as follows.

  • Class 66 – 65/75 mph – 2.4 MW on diesel
  • Class 68 – Modern diesel to Stage II A emission standards – 100 mph – 2.8 MW on diesel
  • Class 70 – 75 mph – 2.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 86 – 75 mph – 0.7 MW on electricity
  • Class 88 – 100 mph – 4 MW on electricity – 0.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 90 – Electric locomotive – 100 mph – 0.9 MW on electricity
  • Class 92 – Electric locomotive – 87 mph – 5 MW on electricity

As the table shows the  Class 66 locomotives  are slow and less powerful than both the more modern Class 68 or Class 88 locomotives.

Cynically, I would say that the only reason that Class 66 and Class 70 locomotives are still in service is that they are good for the bottom line.

Despite this, I feel we’ll see an increasing number of electro-diesel locomotives like the Class 88 arriving in the UK.

New Electric Locomotives

Judging by some of the strange combinations, I’ve seen on some freight trains, we are short of electric locomotives.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

Even electric locomotives from the 1960s are being called up for service.

These two Class 86 locomotives were hauling a freight train through Hackney Wick station.

I think we’ll see small numbers of new electric locomotives arriving in the UK.

I suspect too, that freight operators are preparing their bids for the fifteen Class 90 locomotives, that will be released in the next few years by Greater Anglia.

More Electrification

In a couple of years, there will be full electrification from London to Bristol and Cardiff.

Although the Government has put a hold on a lot of electrification,  current schemes like electrification of the Great Western Main Line will increase the use of electric or electro-diesel haulage.

Other smaller schemes might be added to increase the use of electric haulage for freight.

As an example, the lines into the important freight ports of London Gateway and Liverpool Two are not electrified. Electrifying both would probably increase the proportion of electrically-hauled freight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hyundai, Nikola And Toyota Start To Build The Hydrogen Highway

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

It is a must-read article.

 

 

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

A High Visibility Truck

I saw this concrete truck outside Kings Cross station.

I hope the concept works!

It’s a Mercedes-Benz Econic.

There is a review on this page.

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | | 1 Comment

‘Self-driving’ Lorries To Be Tested On UK Roads

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC. This is the first three paragraphs.

Small convoys of partially driverless lorries will be tried out on major British roads by the end of next year, the government has announced.

A contract has been awarded to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to carry out the tests of vehicle “platoons”.

Up to three lorries will travel in formation, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle.

It is a long time since I used to hitch-hike all over the UK in the 1960s and had many a ride in the front of a truck.

One of my memories is sitting there and watching how cars kept jumping into gaps between the truck I was riding in and the one in front.

I have a feeling that platooning is one of those automation ideas, that will work well in theory and practice to a certain degree, but that the behaviour of individuals will give it problems.

Generally, this idea hasn’t been well received, by commentators.

The Greener Alternative

I feel that overall we need to move freight from the roads onto the railways.

In The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier, I proposed converting redundant four-car electric multiple units like the Class 321 trains into 100 mph bi-mode parcel and pallet carriers, which I dubbed High Speed Parcel Train or High Speed Pallet Train.

HSPTs would have the following advantages for parcel and pallet traffic.

  • Stations could be used as terminals, especially at night!
  • As they are 100 mph trains, they would probably be faster over long distances.
  • They would probably emit less carbon emissions.
  • Capacity per crew member would be higher.
  • There are few parts of the UK, the trains couldn’t go.
  • Class 321 trains are built from steel and are as tough as the proverbial brick outhouse.
  • The trains could carry a fork-lift if needed.
  • The trains could be wrapped in advertising.

The trains would be the ultimate green long-distance delivery truck.

  • Recycled trains.
  • Proven technology
  • Electrically-powered where possible.
  • ;Using existing infrastructure where possible.

They wouldn’t be the most expensive trains to create and run.

August 25, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments