Hydrogen Fuel Cells

New tech could convert COVID waste into green hydrogen using sunlight

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The hazardous medical waste resulting from the pandemic could be turned into renewable energy.

The glut of additional hazardous medical COVID waste could be converted into green hydrogen fuel using a sunlight-based technique created by a Swansea University research team including researchers from Wales and India.

The Welsh government has already awarded this renewable energy project £47,000 in funding.

Before the pandemic, the NHS was already spending £700 million per year for the disposal of medical waste. That said, the pandemic has brought copious amounts of additional COVID waste, including protective equipment such as masks. The team of researchers led by Swansea University is now developing a photoreforming process.

Photoreforming would use sunlight to convert non-recyclable waste into green hydrogen fuel while it simultaneously kills off viruses and other types of pathogen. This uses nanostructured semiconductors to push waste breakdown and the degradation of the pathogens using the power of sunlight.

This would help to divert the COVID waste from the traditional medical garbage incineration disposal

Incineration can generate greenhouse gases and produces a substantial amount of heat as it is, after all, burning. On the other hand, photoreforming occurs at ambient temperature and does not produce greenhouse gases. Instead, the process generates several usable products which include green hydrogen fuel. Beyond that, it also generates organic feedstocks which can be used by the chemical industry.

This research is the latest stage of the team’s work which has previously focused on hydrogen production using waste plastics.

The research team includes the participation of epidemiology experts from the King Institute of Preventive Medicine & Research and from Thiruvalluvar University in India. They are working to examine the antiviral activity of photocatalysts on a spectrum of different types of pathogen which do include SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 behind the current pandemic crisis. Also partnering in this project are the members of the nanomaterials group at the Indian Institute of Technology Mandi.

“Applying our technology to reprocess just 1% of this waste would save millions and mitigate pollution at the same time,” said senior lecturer in Chemistry at Swansea University, Dr. Moritz Kuehnel, project lead.

The researchers are actively seeking industry partners to be able to commercialize this new COVID waste to green hydrogen technology.

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OCTA rolls out plug-in and fuel cell electric buses in zero-emission test

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The Orange County Transportation Authority is launching a pilot program for city transit.

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has announced the start of a pilot program adding plug-in battery-electric vehicles to its test of hydrogen fuel cell electric buses being tested on its streets.

The program just received board approval to add an additional 10 plug-in battery electric buses.

These new buses will be added to the originally approved 10 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses. The pilot program is meant to allow the OCTA to test the way these buses will perform in use on its streets. This involves a contract with New Flyer of America, Inc. The contract is worth $10.4 million and is partly funded by a considerable grant.

This pilot program is a component of the OCTA’s strategy for the complete conversion of its bus fleet to 100 percent zero-emission technology by 2040.

The H2-electric buses have already started their use, having begun operating earlier in 2020. By adding the battery-electric vehicles to the mix in the test, the OCTA will be able to monitor and measure their performance. This will make it possible for them to determine whether one technology makes more sense than the other in the context of this use, or if a combination of the two is the best strategy.

The OCTA is using the battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric buses for massive data collection.

“This is a great opportunity for us to gather important data about the latest zero-emission technologies to ensure we continue providing the highest level of safe, reliable transit to Orange County riders,” explained Steve Jones, OCTA Chairperson and mayor of Garden Grove. “At the same time, we are helping provide an even cleaner environment.”

This is not the first move the OCTA has made in an attempt to use cleaner technology. Over past years, it already gradually transitioned its fleet to cleaner-burning renewable compressed natural gas (CNG) buses with near-zero-emission engines after having previously had an entirely diesel-burning fleet.

The battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric buses are a component of the OCTA’s efforts to meet the state’s requirement to transition to a fully zero-emission transit system within the next two decades.

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Green Machines just unveiled a new hydrogen fuel cell sweeper

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The Dutch company is hoping the renewable energy will cut carbon emissions as a part of global goals.

Green Machines has announced the launch of a new hydrogen fuel cell sweeper, which was unveiled on November 11.

The company is using the new street sweeper design to help cut down on carbon emissions.

The Dutch sweeper manufacturer views hydrogen as a vital renewable energy source. It will play a central role in reducing carbon emissions to help countries and municipalities around the world to reach their ambitious goals. The newest fuel cell sweeper is a part of the company’s 500 series. The GM 500H2 was developed based on the design of its predecessor, the GM 500ze, which was a fully electric model. That said, this version also includes a spectrum of new potential.

This new model uses hydrogen and oxygen to generate the electricity needed to power the vehicle. The unique component of the GM 500H2 is the H2-POD system. According to Green Machines, that system makes it possible to overcome the challenge of having to invest in an infrastructure for hydrogen refuelling. Building that type of infrastructure can be a complex and costly process. By overcoming that challenge, the technology becomes more affordable.

The H2-POD system makes it possible for the fuel cell sweeper to be refuelled more conveniently.

The H2-POD is a flexible cartridge system. By using it, the machine can be refilled by the user whenever and wherever it is most convenient. Users that already have an existing hydrogen infrastructure can choose the 500H2 that has an installed fixed tank for their machinery. This makes it possible for the vehicle to be refuelled in a matter of minutes.

That said, the company also pointed to additional advantages of the GM 500H2 in that it is swappable, meaning that other models can also swap into using hydrogen fuel. For instance, current owners of the electric GM 500ze, that is powered by Li-Ion batteries, won’t need to purchase an entirely new machine to benefit from the latest H2 powered technology.

Instead, those users can request to convert their Li-Ion Light Pack or Li-Ion Plus Pack in their GM 500ze into the hydrogen fuel cell sweeper technology with either of the two available H2 system options.

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California seeks to start a hydrogen economy as soon as possible

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This reusable energy source is seen as an important step in the fight against climate change.

California has been looking to start a hydrogen economy for nearly two decades but has ramped up this effort more recently.

The spotlight was placed on this renewable energy when President George W Bush used an H2 minivan.

The H2 pump for that minivan was closed in Washington quite some time ago. That said, the draw of this fuel has only grown in California, to the point that they’re trying to jump start a hydrogen economy. Indeed, H2 hasn’t seen much progress in passenger vehicles, but many other opportunities are opening up.

Hydrogen fuel cell buses are already making their way along city streets in the state. Moreover, there is a growing number of fueling stations opening up everywhere from San Francisco to San Diego. These have all found their beginnings with added financing from state and federal governments.

Now, as the cost of both producing and transporting H2 have been falling, the state is setting ambitious goals to phase out fossil fuel-powered vehicles in favor of emission-free vehicles such as electric vehicles and those powered by hydrogen fuel.

The effort to rapidly start a hydrogen economy has been expanding through many channels in California.

Several large companies and automakers such as Royal Dutch Shell and Toyota Motor have made commitments to a range of targets for supplying more H2 fuelling stations and fuel cell vehicles.

“In past cycles, there was always something missing,” said the global hydrogen product manager at Shell, Matthew Blieske. “There was a policy missing, or the technology wasn’t quite ready, or people were not so serious about decarbonization. We don’t see those barriers anymore.”

Some energy execs have said they predict that their investment to start a hydrogen economy will take off under President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. The reason is that Biden underscored climate change as a substantial component of his campaign and proposed a plan with $2 trillion in funding to take on this crisis. A recent study by McKinsey & Company estimated that this shift in California could support an additional 700,000 jobs and generate $140 billion in annual revenue by 2030.

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A future with fuel cell transport trucks relies on industry adoption

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The big rigs are being developed and rolled out, but it’s up to the trucking industry to take part.

As the trucking industry proceeds through a period of volatility, it will become the deciding factor with respect to the successful adoption of fuel cell transport trucks, said an Automotive World report.

Strong policies are being implemented in many parts of the world which encourage H2 adoption.

The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance is a significant example of the changes that have occurred this year, as it was launched in July. European lawmakers looked to the lessons learned during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and determined that funds spent on economy support throughout the current COVID-19 crisis must be used more efficiently. As the world is already facing a climate crisis, controlling greenhouse emissions such as CO2 presented an opportunity with substantial potential for rebuilding.

This helps to explain why fuel cell transport trucks have suddenly and quite rapidly made their way into the headlines as many companies in several regions of the world have made them their priority. Officials are focusing on using the battle against the climate crisis to help the European industrial ecosystem to recover within a hydrogen-based economy.

The alliance has drawn substantial interest, but fuel cell transport trucks will depend on the industry.

At the same time that Europe is drawing interest, but it’s important to understand it on a global scale. Other regions of the world that have invested in hydrogen technology include China, which has been pouring money and resources into it as the leading long-haul renewable energy technology for transportation for a while. Japan and Korea have also made considerable investments into this tech. In the United States, the investment hasn’t been national as much as regional within the country.

For instance, California recently passed its Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) regulation, in which there will be zero-emission truck quotas starting in 2024, moreover federal legislation has not been widely available for a state or nationwide carbon-neutral economy transition.

As much as resources, programs and advancements are becoming more widely available, widespread use of hydrogen fuel cell transport trucks rely on the industry’s willingness to use these vehicles.

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Military vehicles to be equipped with General Motors hydrogen fuel cells

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The automaker is preparing to release a range of zero emission vehicles, some of which will be for the military.

A new General Motors hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is in development for use by the military. This is a major step forward for the automaker that has been working on the release of a number of all-electric vehicles.

GM has been planning to develop, make and release “at least” 20 new electric vehicles by 2023.

The General Motors hydrogen history hasn’t been one that has greatly celebrated H2 of late. In fact, the company recently stated that it wouldn’t be releasing H2 powered vehicles in the foreseeable future. That said, this apparently doesn’t mean that the automaker has given up on the technology altogether. The company has entered into a strategic partnership with Honda for the further development of H2 technology and to manufacture fuel cells in Michigan.

Now, GM Defense President David Albritton has made comments indicating that the automaker will be producing fuel cell vehicles for fleets that include military customers. Albritton spoke with journalists at a recent event that placed the spotlight on the first GM Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) deliveries. There, he talked about the Chevy Colorado ZH2 concept first unveiled in 2017.

The General Motors hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would be used for soldier transportation.

“There was no actual program of record within the U.S. army, but we worked with the ground vehicle services center to test that vehicle and allow soldiers to actually get in it,” said Albritton. “That was a great learning environment for us – to actually learn how you can take a fuel cell and put it into an army vehicle with all the rigors of taking it off-road and everything else.”

He went on to state that even though the restrictions presented by the current infrastructure, it would still be possible for such a vehicle to be useful in the future.

“I think as these become more pervasive in society, with better electric and hydrogen fuel cell becoming more advanced, those technologies will creep into future military platforms, and we believe we’re very well-positioned now based on what we’ve learned, from creating those prototype vehicles,” said Albritton.

He discussed the General Motors hydrogen fuel vehicle Surus (Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure) concept. That platform was intended for military and commercial applications, which gave GM the feedback it needed for what the military would need to adopt it into service.

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Proton Motor awarded KST hydrogen fuel cell contract

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The European shipbuilder granted the new order to the company based in Germany.

European shipbuilding company KST has awarded a new hydrogen fuel cell contract to Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH. That German firm is a graphite bipolar plated fuel cells manufacturer. Its products generate a power output as high as 73 kW.

This new award is an important step forward in the use of this H2 technology to a wider extent.

“This is significant news given that Proton Motor was the first international manufacturer to a power passenger ferry in the port of Hamburg between 2009 and 2014 with a 50 kW hydrogen fuel cell system. The order means a great achievement for us as well as a further sign of recognition in the shipbuilding segment,” said Dr. Faiz Nahab, the chief executive officer at Proton Motor.

The firm provides complete fuel cell and fuel cell hybrid systems. Proton Motor takes on the entire process to create its products, from development to production as well as customer-specific solutions implementation. Its primary focus is on stationary applications. Examples of stationary H2 fuel cell applications include energy storage and back-up power solutions. It also includes mobile solutions, such as applications for back-to-base. These types of solutions are also applicable to sectors such as rail and maritime.

The hydrogen fuel cell contract was awarded for a new fuel cell stack machine.

Proton Motor’s product portfolio includes everything from more basic level fuel cell systems to standard complete systems as well as systems that have been customized for the customer or the project.

The new fuel cell stack machine was originally commissioned in September 2019. This is the technology that will be moving forward with series production as a result of the new contract awarded by KST.

Through the KST-Motorenversuch GmbH & Co hydrogen fuel cell contract Proton Motors will by supplying all the company’s H2 systems. It will involve collaborations between engineers from both companies to jointly test procedures and facilities to develop new systems. The first step will involve using a Proton Motor system to convert H2 into renewable energy. The outcome is meant to become a long-term partnership.

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Cities in China hustle to benefit from fuel cell subsidies

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Chinese authorities and automakers are working together to build new industry hubs with strong incentives.

China is using hundreds of millions of dollars in hydrogen fuel cell subsidies for a substantial push forward in the auto industry. This is one part of a spectrum of ambitious plans for broadening the sector through the use of incentives with substantial appeal.

Local authorities are vying to obtain their portion of the incentive funds for their regions.

SAIC Motor, a state-owned automaker with its headquarters in Shanghai, recently unveiled phase one of its medium-term strategy for hydrogen technology. The company’s goal is to roll out a minimum of 10 models by 2025. Within that time, it also intends to build its capacity for the production of 10,000 vehicles per year. SAIC intends to pivot to domestic sourcing and is seeking to reach a level in which it is globally competitive five years afterward.

The recent SAIC unveiling was a component of the Shanghai government’s fuel cell subsidies. That government oversees the company, and the two are working together to help build the hydrogen fuel cell industry in the massive city. In October, the municipal government announced the goal of having 10,000 fuel cell vehicles on the roads by 2023. From there, it seeks to boost the output of the sector to 100 billion yuan ($14.9 billion).

The Chinese government has been providing hydrogen fuel cell subsidies for vehicles for some time.

For instance, if a city purchases an H2 powered bus, it could qualify for incentives for the local and central government as high as $100,000. That said, since July 2020, only around 7,200 fuel cell vehicles have been sold.

To help correct this trend, the government is changing its approach to H2. It is placing its focus on providing support for areas related to hydrogen vehicles, such as hydrogen fueling stations and auto parts, which are viewed as critical to widespread adoption of this renewable energy in transportation.

Through the new hydrogen fuel cell subsidies, certain municipalities will be called “model cities” and will receive up to 1.7 billion yuan in funding for the development of this technology over the next four years.

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H2U Eyre Peninsula Gateway Hydrogen Project begins largest green ammonia plant

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The initial stage of the project is getting started, creating the biggest facility of its kind in the world.

The massive $240 million (Australian dollars) H2U Eyre Peninsula Gateway Hydrogen Project is launching the installation of the largest ever green ammonia plant in the world. It will involve constructing a 75 MW electrolyzer near the Whyalla regional city.

The facility will have the annual hydrogen production capacity for creating 40,000 tons of ammonia.

The green ammonia plant project recently received a substantial shot in the arm from the South Australian Government, when it announced that it would be setting aside $37 million for upgrading the jetty at nearby Port Bonython. This is a component of the government’s broader strategy to become a green energy exporter to world markets.

This announcement follows closely on the heels of another move by the state when it launched the SA Hydrogen Action Plan only a week before. That plan placed the spotlight on Port Bonython as a key hub in the goal to become a leader in green energy exports.

The new H2U plant will be powered by 100 percent solar and wind generated electricity. This will come from wind and solar farms within the region which will provide the electrolyzer with the power it needs to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Once nitrogen is added to the process, the outcome is green ammonia.

The green ammonia plant will also feature two 16 MW open cycle hydrogen gas turbines.

Those turbines will operate on 100 percent hydrogen produced at the site. They will provide power generation to the grid during times when wind and solar output are low.

According to Dr. Attilio Pigneri, H2U CEO, the project will play an important role in the ongoing development of the emerging green hydrogen and green ammonia markets.

He explained that the green ammonia plant project “offers the opportunity to export South Australia’s abundant solar and wind resources to support deep decarbonisation in the global energy, industrial and shipping sectors.” Dr. Pigneri also went on to point out that “In the energy sector, Japan is leading the way with their plan to introduce green ammonia as a substitute fuel, to help meet its decarbonisation targets.”

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Honeywell acquires hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer assets from Ballard subsidiary

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The acquisition is for the business producing stored-H2 proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems.

Honeywell has acquired hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer assets from Ballard Unmanned Systems, a privately and wholly owned subsidiary of Ballard Power Systems Inc.

The PEM fuel cell systems power unmanned aerial systems (UAS), especially for energy inspection.

The acquisition of the hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer brings Honeywell specializes in stored H2 PEM fuel cell systems powering UAS, especially for cargo delivery, energy inspection and other forms of commercial and defense applications. These are all areas in which there is a rising demand for UAS services.

The specific components Honeywell is acquiring include core intellectual property, inventory, and Ballard Unmanned Systems equipment. Honeywell will also take on Ballard’s fuel cell expert team as a component of the overall acquisition.

“Adding Ballard Unmanned Systems to the Honeywell family is another example of our commitment to invest in the growing UAS segment,” explained Honeywell Aerospace president and CEO, Mike Madsen. “We can now begin producing top-quality, scalable power systems for our UAS customers and eventually adapt these systems for other future aerospace, defense and adjacent segment applications.”

The hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer’s systems help UASs to quietly fly longer distances with zero emissions.

The fuel cell power systems from Ballard Unmanned Systems can operate for as much as three times longer than electric batteries. Moreover, they have a reliability level that is five times greater than small engines. Additionally, unlike traditional gasoline fuelled engines that produce carbon emissions, H2 is a greenhouse gas emission free energy source.

Honeywell plans to add the Ballard Unmanned Systems capabilities to be able to introduce a spectrum of H2 fuel cell power systems for a range of different types of UAS vehicles. Honeywell will also collaborate with Ballard Power Systems for a wider range of different aviation purposes.

The terms of the acquisition deal between Honeywell and the hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer have not yet been disclosed. Furthermore, there have not been any changes made to the company’s third quarter 2020 outlook as a result of its intentions to acquire Ballard Unmanned Systems.

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