Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Wave Swell Energy develops tidal power tech for Tasmania

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The renewable energy firm has designed a new oscillating water column for use on Australia’s coastline.

Wave Swell Energy has developed a new form of tidal power tech to help overcome the maintenance issues previously faced in harnessing wave energy off Australia’s coast.

The firm is seeking to use its technology to turn the offshore area into a renewable energy source.

In a recent interview with Power Technology, Dr. Tom Denniss, Doctor of Mathematics and Oceanography and co-founder of Wave Swell Energy, explained the difference the new tidal power tech can make for the region. The technology involves a newly designed oscillating water column meant to capture the energy from the waves off Australia’s coastline. The new design overcomes challenges faced in past efforts and the hope is to turn the region into a massive renewable energy producer.

Wave Swell Energy is a renewable energy technology development firm founded in 2016. Its new strategy for converting tidal power into electricity overcomes the issues from previous efforts off Australia’s coast. These include problems with maintenance due to the depth and activity of the water, to the potential harm the equipment could have to the local aquatic ecosystem. According to the firm, their new method helps to overcome those issues to make this renewable energy source viable in the region.

The new Wave Swell Energy tidal power tech is slated for implementation later this year.

In fact, the company expects the system to begin operating before the close of 2020. A pilot project has already been installed on King Island, which is located between Tasmania and the Australian mainland, in the Bass Strait.

“The King Island project is the first real ocean demonstration of the technology and is partially funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Getting ARENA on board, raising the private capital ourselves, as well as the design and construction – it’s all taken the best part of the last three years,” said Denniss.

Though the global pandemic has presented some barriers to the progress of the tidal power tech implementation, Denniss is confident that once border restrictions are lifted with Tasmania, they will return to the installation as planned.

Denniss explained that it was already “more than 95% complete” and that “The way it’s designed is with a main structure with a ‘super structure’ on top, and it’s this super structure that actually contains all of the high-tech components – the turbine and generator. That super structure still needs to be placed on top of the main structure that’s in the water, so we need to hook that up.”

The new tidal power tech will be easier to maintain even in the deep water, but Denniss pointed out that it has a “dual function”. While the first is naturally the generation of renewable energy for use as electricity, the structure is also designed to provide a coastline barrier in order to reduce erosion from waves. This will be particularly effective when several structures are installed next to each other, as they will provide a harbour breakwater “or can just simply be there to prevent coastal erosion.”

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GM takes a step back from hydrogen fuel passenger vehicles

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The automaker has lost enthusiasm for selling H2 cars and will focus on battery electric instead.

Though General Motors had been among the auto giants most interested in hydrogen fuel passenger vehicles, it appears the company is stepping back from the tech. Instead, it is placing its greatest focus on battery electric vehicles.

The company has been releasing a growing number of battery updates, rarely mentioning fuel cells.

GM has been releasing updates regarding its battery electric progress but hasn’t been updating on its activities in hydrogen fuel passenger vehicles for some time. A recent press call with Dane Parker, the company’s chief sustainability officer, discussed the GM 2020 sustainability report, indicating that a future launch expected to include fuel cell vehicles will not do so after all.

This was reinforced in a tweet by Michael Wayland, CNBC automotive reporter, when he confirmed that indeed, the 20 electric models to be launched by GM in 2023 will not include a fuel cell car.

This changes gears from the automaker’s October 2017 announcement, when it said it was seeking a “two pronged” approach to its zero emission cars. At that time, it intended to roll out vehicles based on both battery electric and fuel cell powertrains, added Wayland.

GM has moved its efforts more toward battery electric and stepped back from hydrogen fuel passenger vehicles.

Still, GM hasn’t entirely abandoned its efforts in H2. Instead, it has pivoted away from personal vehicles and toward military and commercial vehicles for this sustainable fuel, according to Parker in the call.

GM public relations released a statement about the company’s hydrogen fuel passenger vehicles and H2 plans overall, saying: “GM is committed to fuel cells as a complement to battery-electric propulsion. We are fully engaged with our partner, Honda, to commercialize the world’s best fuel cell technology for use by both companies across a range of applications. These fuel cells will be manufactured in Brownstown, Michigan as previously announced. Our commercialization commitment and timing for fuel cells remains unchanged. In fact, we are currently installing the manufacturing equipment in our Brownstown facility. Like our Ultium battery vehicle programs, the timing of our fuel cell program has not been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a Green Car Reports article.

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Hydrogen infrastructure: the key to successful sustainable aviation

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Future of sustainable aviation is in the hands of refueling infrastructure. For the most part.

Aviation industry aspires for net-zero emissions by 2050. This is a challenging goal. Hydrogen has been gaining incredible traction from governments and industry, especially in Europe.

A recent study published by McKinsey concluded that short range (<165 passengers) and medium range (< 250 passengers) flights today account for two-thirds of current aircraft emissions. These are 70% of today’s global fleet, making them excellent platforms for meeting net-zero emissions goal.

Airbus forecasts more than 35,000 short and medium-range aircraft in will be operating in the next 20 years. While it isn’t yet clear how this forecast changes with disruption caused by COVID, this forecast number will still be around 20,000 – 30,000.  The European aerospace industry have announced plans to demonstrate the next generation technology by late 2020s, with entry in-service by 2033 – 2035. Hydrogen is the top contenders alongside synfuels, biofuels and various electric-hybrid options.

Hydrogen-powered aircraft technology is a significant development challenge. For hydrogen-powered aircraft to be a success, challenges such as hydrogen embrittlement, storage and feed systems, and thermal management must be overcome. This will be part of hydrogen fuel cell and combustion technology development for aircraft.

Hydrogen fuel cell power-trains being developed for small commuter aircraft are the most obvious and sensible start for development – ZeroAvia is a great example of this. However, commuter aircraft aren’t going to help achieve the aviation’s net-zero emissions goal, and fuel cells are probably not the answer to short-range and medium range flights with a 100+ passengers.

If hydrogen is to succeed in aviation as fuel of the future, removing bottlenecks in high volume transportation and storage infrastructure is key. Airlines will be more willing to adopt these new aircraft type if the infrastructure is being developed extensively. If not, hydrogen will end up becoming nothing more than fuel for small commuter/regional size aircraft.

Gasoline cars wouldn’t be popular if gasoline refueling infrastructure wasn’t available. Same is true today for electric vehicle adoption, which requires a significant investment for developing the charging station network. Compared to hydrogen, alternative fuels such as synfuel and biofuel already have a head start, as these fuels are able to use existing storage and transportation infrastructure.

As aircraft operators, airlines (along with governments) will have a key role to play in developing the hydrogen supply chain. Let’s consider an airline planning to utilize hydrogen-powered aircraft for flying a specific route. It is obvious that both destinations on the route must have the necessary hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Other questions that are also just as important for route planning must also be answered, such as – will airports along the route within range for emergency landing or diversions have hydrogen refueling infrastructure? If not, is there an existing emergency supply source available by road transport? For a route to be viable and economical for an airline, these are just two of several dozen scenarios to be analyzed. Complexity in route planning means an increased risk and costs, which will be passed on to passengers.

Until now, there has been no fundamental change in fuels for aircraft other than those derived from fossil fuels. Alternate options such as fully-electric aircraft are not yet commercial and pose their own challenges. Jet fuel blends may have changed over time, but the overall handling qualities and operating requirements have been similar. Hydrogen is a vastly different fuel that Jet-A and its variants.

Technology development is just one small piece contributing towards making hydrogen-powered aircraft a reality. Infrastructure development is the key to successfully de-carbonise aviation and achieve the industry’s net-zero emissions goal. Technology comes a close second.

About Author

Adit Shah is an aerospace engineer with experience developing aircraft, UAVs, and space systems. He has previously worked at Airbus, Space Platform Technologies, and currently works at Prismatic Ltd. Adit also writes about aerospace and space technology at www.theaeroengineer.com.

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First EU geothermal lithium recovery plant gets UK investment

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The British government will use the Getting Building Fund to help with the plant’s construction.

The UK government has announced its intentions for investment into a new geothermal lithium recovery plant by way of its Getting Building Fund. This will help to find the first pilot plant of its kind in Europe.

The plant’s construction has yet to break ground, but it will be located near Redruth, Cornwall.

The public British funds will contribute tothe £4 million collaboration between Cornish Lithium and Geothermal Engineering (GEL). It will support GEL’s deep drilling project, which is meant to show that lithium can be produced with a net-zero carbon footprint by using geothermal waters.

Cornish Lithium has announced that this pilot plant is a trial of Direct Lithium Extraction environmentally responsible technology. It will help to determine the suitability of its use for the extraction of lithium from geothermal waters in Cornwall.

“The optimal DLE technology for Cornish waters is currently being selected, however, the processes being considered utilise technologies such as nanofiltration to selectively remove lithium compounds from the water, rather than relying on evaporation and other less environmentally friendly methods,” said the company in a recent media statement. “Once the lithium has been extracted, the waters will be returned to depth via injection boreholes.”

GEL and Cornish Lithium tests have already shown promise for geothermal lithium recovery in Cornwall.

The tests have shown that the lithium geothermal resources under Cornwall’s granite rock has potential for commercial viability when taking into consideration the latest technology for their extraction.

“We have made significant strides in establishing the UK’s first deep geothermal power plant. The possibility of developing future sites that include co-production of lithium extraction is very exciting and a great opportunity for both companies and Cornwall as a whole,” said Geothermal Engineering managing director Ryan Law.

They believe that the “untapped natural resources” in the region are “significant,” added Law. The company expressed its enthusiasm in working with Cornish Lithium to get the most out of the companies’ joint resources and technologies “to unlock this potential.”

The new UK funding for the geothermal lithium recovery pilot has arrived in addition to the £826,000 already raised through Cornish Lithium shareholders for broadening ongoing drilling work.

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New Bosch solar power investment to reduce its fossil fuel dependency

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The German conglomerate is harnessing renewable energy to meet its 2020 climate neutrality target.

RWE, the German utility, will sell Bosch solar power under a new 16-year energy purchase agreement. The electricity produced to meet this agreement will be from a 50 MW southern German plant using photovoltaic (PV) cell panel systems.

The company has also already secured renewable energy deals with Vattenfall and Statkraft.

The RWE Supply & Trading division of RWE, a German electric company, will be responsible for providing Bosch solar power to the firm’s sites across the country. This electricity will be generated by a solar capacity of 50 MW which is slated to begin operating in 2021.

“With this contract, we are contributing to the implementation of Bosch’s ambitious climate protection program,” said RWE Supply & Trading chief commercial officer for origination and gas supply Andree Stracke.

According to Bosch, its German locations already achieved emissions neutrality near the end of 2019. Its plan is to reach that same target in 2020 but for its global operations. As a component of that effort, it has also signed renewable energy PPAs for solar energy with Swedish power company Vattenfall and Norwegian renewables company Statkraft.

The three Bosch solar power deals bring the company’s supply to 100 GWh per year.

This volume of electricity capacity will, assuming optimal generating conditions occur, generate adequate renewable energy for simultaneously powering the company’s Homburg, Feuerbach, and Bamberg plants for at least one hour.

The company’s new 12- to 16-year PPAs will provide a replacement for a portion of the green energy the company has already purchased from renewable energy plants. The Statkraft agreement is already operational, having started generating power for the company back in May.

Nearly 50 PV cell-based electricity plants at the company’s own sites already provide it with about 60 GWh of clean energy. As a result, at Nashik, Bosch has the largest system of its nature in the Indian automotive sector.

That said, as Bosch solar power efforts continue, its intention is to generate an annual 1.3 GWh from a PV system slated for installation in Thailand at its Hemaraj plant in 2020. It intends to reach the annual 400 GWh mark for on-site PV system power generation in ten years.

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GM to make vast fast charging EV stations expansion

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The automaker will be making a considerable effort to improve the recharging infrastructure.

General Motors is aiming to expand the number of fast charging EV stations by thousands across the United States. The automaker will be establishing them in public spaces and parking lots throughout the country’s cities and suburban areas.

The company has partnered with EVgo in this effort to make rapid recharging easily accessible.

EVgo is the largest public fast charging EV stations network. Together with GM, the goal is to triple the current size of the US network.

According to GM, the companies have partnered to add over 2,700 new fast chargers to various public locations over the next half decade. There will be a fee to use these units.

These new chargers will be important for drivers who live in places in which recharging would be difficult or impossible, but who would like to be able to drive electric vehicles. This includes those living in multiunit homes or who rent their homes and therefore cannot install home chargers. It is also helpful for people who don’t have charging available near their workplaces, explained the automaker in a news release.

GM’s fast charging EV stations expansion is ambitious but will help boost the appeal of electric vehicles.

“We are moving quickly to bring new EVs to market that customers will love,” said Mary Barra, GM CEO. “We know how important the charging ecosystem is for drivers, one that includes access to convenient and reliable public fast charging. Our relationship with EVgo will bolster the public fast charging network available to EV customers ahead of increased market demand.”

The GM and EVgo partnership will use government grants, private investment and utility programs to help fund the charger network infrastructure.

Both companies have declined to announce the size of their own investments into this fast charging EV stations project. That said, “when you look at the number of chargers we’re putting into the system, it’s pretty significant,” said Barra in a recent media call. “We are not disclosing that information, but it’s a continuum of providing a robust infrastructure in EV chargers.”

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Solar to hydrogen efficiency record broken by Australian National University researchers

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The scientists used online sunlight to convert water into H2 using hydrogen cells.

Australian National University (ANU) researchers have broken a new solar to hydrogen efficiency record. This method involved using hydrogen cells and sunlight with water to produce H2.

The ANU study results described a unique strategy using inexpensive semiconductor materials.

Despite the low cost of the semiconductor materials, the ANU solar to hydrogen approach boosted efficiency by 17.6 percent. This efficiency level approaches that of photovoltaic cell panels installed on rooftops. Their efficiency level is typically around 20 percent.

Lead study author Dr. Siva Karuturi underscored the importance of H2 use as a solution to renewable energy source intermittency. “There are significant cost benefits to this solar-to-hydrogen approach as it eliminates the need for added infrastructure that’s necessary when hydrogen is produced using an electrolyser,” said Karuturi.

Other solar to hydrogen efforts previously tried have resulted in low overall energy conversion efficiency.

Karuturi’s research team has managed to improve the efficiency levels in a meaningful way. “To produce hydrogen in the past, solar plants had to produce electricity which is then used to electrolyse water to produce hydrogen. This new method is more direct, making it more efficient.”

Karuturi also stated that the team is pursuing an efficiency level of 20 percent. They expect to achieve that level within the next few months. This is important as it will help to contribute to more affordable green hydrogen production.

The research team achieved their improved production efficiency level by using a “tandem” light absorber structure. This involved using a perovskite cell on a specially made Si electrode.

Study co-author Dr. Heping Shen, a perovskite cell developer, explained that with perovskite’s extraordinary optoelectronic properties makes it a material with substantial low-cost, high efficiency potential in tandem devices using a Si electrode.

“Together with unprecedented progress in efficiency, the perovskite material has also undergone significant improvement for its stability, making it one of the most attractive candidates for the solar industry,” said Shen.

This unique approach for solar to hydrogen uses noble-metal catalysts like platinum. According to Karuturi, they are now working to replace those catalysts with cheaper materials in order to further reduce the cost of this production method moving forward.

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A Company Is Trying to Turn Plastic into Hydrogen for Vehicles

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Over the last few years, many companies around the world have been taking the so-called “green road”…

in order to look for sustainability and a way of making profit without causing a great damage to our environment.

This way, efforts like the zero waste packaging or the no-emission policies have been executed in order to let the world know that in this century, it is crucial to make the proper approach to the environmental issues that have already become the common denominator in our lives.

One of the greatest examples that we have been able to watch recently was the announce of a new plant that will turn contaminated and unrecyclable plastic into hydrogen power. Basically, we’re talking about a real revolution that will set a turning point in the battle to make the world a better place for humanity without ignoring the needs of every consumer.

The plant in question will be created by the environmental developer Waste2Tricity, which is located in London and promise to become the epicenter of the war against waste. After all, we’re talking about a waste-to-power plant that will literally create green power for all types of vehicles, including, truck, cars, and even motorcycles.

In a statement published earlier this year, the company said that the plant will be created on the new clean energy hub in the northwestern region of England, which is famously known as Protos. The company also pointed out it was created by the real estate giant Peel Environmental so it could cluster together with some other firms with similar green innovations so it could help Protos to find a solution to some of the major environmental challenges.

During an interview, the managing director of Waste2Tricity John Hall explained the current difficulty that private firms that want to make positive environmental chances are experiencing, considering that the market remains “a little bit” unfavorable to the cause. However, he pointed out that the future “is green” and that companies like Waste2Tricity will eventually prevail.

“At the minute, companies are producing plastic that can’t be recycled. It’s either going to landfill or it’s being exported, where it’s being dumped in south-east Asia. We can actually get rid of the plastic problem and generate hydrogen power at the point where people want to fill vehicles. Initially, it’s going to be for used by businesses that own products like bus fleets and HGV vehicles. Gradually there will be an infrastructure for hydrogen cars as well, because we can’t run everybody’s car on electric — the national grid can’t cope with the demand,” Hall explained.

As reported by numerous media outlets, the clean energy hub Protos includes a wide range of companies that are deeply involved in low-carbon energy generation, which will come together in order to share resources and strategies to come with the greatest solutions to the threat of climate change.

The companies are located across a 134-acre site, and many believe this will be known in the future as  the “Green Silicon Valley,” considering not only the environmentally-friendly approach of each of these companies, but also the revolutionary innovations that will came out of it in the near future.

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Plug Power launches new Asda fuel cell solutions

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The project brings the first full scale hydrogen power deployment to the United Kingdom.

Plug Power Inc has announced that it is behind the Asda fuel cell project powering the massive UK supermarket chain’s forklift truck fleet using hydrogen.

The partnership between the retailer ad the hydrogen solutions provider will be the largest in the UK.

Plug Power is a top zero emission hydrogen engine and fueling solution provider. The Asda fuel cell solutions it is providing will power the retailer’s entire forklift fleet throughout its vast supply chain network.

The partnership between the two companies includes a purchase order agreement for the hydrogen solutions provider’s full-service GenKey solution. It will begin rolling out at the retailer’s Skelmersdale facility in the UK. GenKey is a turnkey solution which includes the H2 fuel cells, hydrogen fueling equipment, the hydrogen itself and service.

The Asda fuel cell partnership brings important hydrogen deployment growth to Plug Power.

The deal also represents Plug Power’s first at-scale deployment for hydrogen fuel tech in the UK. The goal of the partnership is to reduce the retailer’s dependence on conventional lead acid batteries to power their fleet of forklifts. It is also a component of a broader strategy meant to boost the environmental friendliness of the company’s everyday operations.

“Each new opportunity to expand the adoption of hydrogen fuel cells is an important step to building the hydrogen economy,” said Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh. “We’re especially excited to be partnering with an organization like Asda, which has such a proud heritage and sterling reputation. Their focus on making their organization more environmentally-friendly makes Asda an ideal partner, and we’re optimistic that this deployment is just the start of a long and fruitful relationship.”

The retailer is the third largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom and was founded in 1949. It is a wholly owned Walmart subsidiary. That parent company has also been a Plug Power customer for several years as it expands its own hydrogen power investments and deployments.

The Asda fuel cell project is a portion of the retailer’s commitment to Project Giggaton. As such, it will take part in the effort to remove 1 billion tonnes of emissions worldwide. One hundred and seventy-nine of the retailer’s suppliers already enrolled in the project, saving 29 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions.

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Less severe global warming scenarios unlikely, says major climate research

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An analysis has determined that the best-case predictions can essentially be ruled out.

A major new climate study has found that the most likely global warming scenarios from doubling carbon dioxide is most likely to be in the 4.1 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit range.

The current human-produced carbon emissions pace is increasingly likely to cause irreversible damage.

The study results released last week were published in a study titled: “An assessment of Earth’s climate sensitivity using multiple lines of evidence”. The researchers examined the planet’s sensitivity to a doubling carbon dioxide emission level in the atmosphere. It determined that the best possible global warming scenarios can be ruled out. The likelihood of warming to occur on the lower end of estimates was determined to be extremely unlikely.

The scientists who conducted the study concluded that if human activities continue to push carbon emissions to such a degree, the most likely increase would be substantially higher than the lower range estimates. An increase of 4.1 degrees and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (2.3 to 4.5 degrees Celsius) would be devastating to the environment. The previous standard predictions for climate sensitivity had been presented back in a 1979 report which predicted 2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius).

The global warming scenarios landing even in the middle of the new predictions would be devastating.

NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies physicist Kate Marvel from Columbia University cautioned that even if the warming levels meet the midpoint of the newly predicted range, extreme damage will result. Marvel referred to that situation as the equivalent to a planetary “five-alarm fire”.

The newly released range is notably narrower than those published by prior studies. That said, it indicates that there is at least a 95 percent chance that carbon dioxide doubling would bring on warming higher than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) when compared to pre-industrial planetary temperatures. The typically accepted carbon dioxide doubling predictions are that the world will reach that level within the next fifty years or so.

That increase would be beyond the threshold that scientists say the Earth could manage without experiencing dangerous outcomes. The effects of likely global warming scenarios include intolerable heat waves, disruptive rising sea levels and other extreme permanent ecosystem damage and weather pattern changes.

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