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Going Hydrogen #1652000
15/07/2021 15:31
15/07/2021 15:31
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Has anyone seen the UK's Riversimple hydrogen fuel cell project?

Effectively you would enter a subscription and won't ever own the car, you also won't ever be expected to replace the car until it's life expired. Riversimple will be responsible for every aspect of the vehicle throughout its entire lifespan, including fuel cost. Their argument is that ALL current vehicles are sold with an expectation that you will replace, thus continuing the cycle and forcing the idea that the manufacturer only makes more money by shifting more product. This also means that governments have to legislate in order to companies to change.

The Riversimple ethos is that the manufacturer will only make money by making your vehicle more efficient and more reliable, apparently aligning the goal of the manufacturer with that of the user and in return benefitting the environment.

Are they bonkers, or are they onto something?


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652002
15/07/2021 15:32
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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652009
15/07/2021 20:22
15/07/2021 20:22
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For their target urban market, they make sense - though they don't mention that there are only fourteen hydrogen filling stations in the UK...


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652012
15/07/2021 20:59
15/07/2021 20:59
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I really want to believe in hydrogen, but I still can't work out how the energy it takes to create the hydrogen (presumably by splitting water molecules?) can be less than the energy you get back. Or am I missing the point and you just use renewable electricity to produce the hydrogen?

I was told today by a neighbour, who is a fellow EV owner (and a racer of classic petrol hot rods), but who firmly believes in hydrogen, that during the London Olympics, the hydrogen-powered taxis in the capital had to be transported back to Honda's Swindon hydrogen plant each night because the hydrogen filling stations were closed as potential terror targets... No idea if it's true, mind!

Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652020
15/07/2021 22:40
15/07/2021 22:40
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Strangely enough smile I was on a basics of hydrogen webinar today. It certainly seems to be the main option for minimising transport emissions and filling the gap until electric can do long distances...eg. Freight.

One issue with hydrogen is that it problematic to store (small molecular size means special equipment to store) and if used in existing power stations (as a substitute for natural gas) it burns far hotter and means major expensive upgrades. So, Jim... that story you heard may have some truth.

The options in general are :

Green hydrogen - using renewable energy to split water. However this requires lots of power and renewables may not be sufficient. It also requires expensive kit.

Blue hydrogen - Steam Methane Reforming. Basically taking the hydrogen (H2) out of methane (CH4) leaving the carbon, which would need to be stored (carbon capture) to prevent carbon emissions.

Grey hydrogen. The same as blue, without the carbon capture.

Using methane as a hydrogen source is far easier and is more plentiful, but is a fossil fuel. Wider plans include mixing hydrogen with natural gas in the gas network to reduce carbon emissions.

The other issue to note is that although hydrogen is a very clean fuel, the high combustion temperatures cause thermal NOx formation. And this is a major existing pollutant from traffic.

Hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles should get around this.

So... hydrogen is not a magic bullet, but is part of the plan to meet climate change targets to reduce emissions.

Plans include siting hydrogen production near energy hubs (existing industrial centres) to enable more production efficiency and proximity to power for either electrolysis or methane reforming.

Hydrogen is already produced by the chemical industry for a range of products. We are already starting to see smaller scale production specifically for green uses.

Ps, I read on the Gov website that renewables account for just under 20% of the energy mix. There has definitely been a huge reduction in coal derived power though and we had short periods in the last couple of years where coal was not used for electricity production. Natural gas seems to have filled thy coal gap, plus the increase in renewables.

Last edited by Gripped; 15/07/2021 22:53.
Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652023
16/07/2021 06:59
16/07/2021 06:59
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You can run fuel cells on hydrocarbons - methane is the obvious choice as it has maximum hydrogen to carbon by both weight and chemistry - but (a) the technology for a transportable unit isn't there yet, (b) it runs at 600C, and (c) it still spits out eventual CO2. I'm no expert but I think it uses a catalyst to break down the methane; no doubt that will use all sorts of expensive rare metals.

The suggestion is that such cells might be used domestically to charge the batteries in electric vehicles.

In the humble opinion of Mr Barnacle - in ten or twenty years we will mostly be driving short range low powered electric vehicles. There will be some who will maintain ICE vehicles either for power or for range, but the fuel will be expensive (as may be taxes) and the fuel infrastructure will disappear. I predict further working from home - so less commuting - and more emphasis on not owning vehicles, unless you're a billion dollar company leasing them out a la Uber.

One might go further and suggest that current aircraft - in spite of attempts to make viable electric aircraft - might also disappear; perhaps we will see a return to lighter-than-air craft (e.g. zeppelins) or hybrid lifting bodies such as HAV304/Airlander 10. The age of elegance may return to flying!

One side point: using environmentally generated power wherever possible is probably a good idea but I don't know if we have all the information yet about its impacts: every watt of power captured from sunlight - whether by photovoltaic converters or wind generators - is removing energy from the environment; this lowers temperatures at the point of energy capture and increases temperatures where the energy is being used. Wind generation in particular trashes local windflows, causes turbulence behind the generators (and incidentally upsets the local birdlife in some cases). Whether this is significant I don't know... but any flyer will tell you that in the last ten or fifteen years, the air has become much more active... stronger winds, bigger thermals, increased turbulence.

One definition of wealth is not money per se but the amount of energy you are able to command; whether that's the energy to cool or heat your house or to fly you across the Atlantic or to do 0-60 in 4.3 seconds, or to fly to orbit. As a world-wide society we are by that definition incredibly rich, and have been since the industrial revolution... but those riches are very unevenly spread. Something will have to change, soon.


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652028
16/07/2021 10:43
16/07/2021 10:43
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I invested a small amount in Riversimple a couple of years ago, hydrogen has to be the fuel of the future I feel - I understand the current concerns about the energy needed to produce it but they are surmountable.

Very interesting to see the latest Harry Metcalf video talking to Lord Bamford about the JCB hydrogen powered internal combustion engine - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19Q7nAYjAJY - which clearly has great potential and is much more cost effective than a fuel cell - I like his comment about Elon Musk! And now Formula 1 are discussing it as being a potential future for the sport - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/57842205 Volvo have said they envisage a suitable infrastructure for hydrogen trucks by the end of this decade.

It seems the time really is coming for hydrogen.


Andy

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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652047
17/07/2021 15:09
17/07/2021 15:09
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There are a number of problems with hydrogen ICEs... just off the top of my mind:
  • It doesn't like to stay where you put it because its molecules are so small. That makes storage tanks heavy
  • Any electrolytic method of producing it (e.g. splitting water or methane) requires more energy than is produced by burning it
  • Splitting methane with steam produces CO2 in large quantities
  • Its oxide is water, but it burns hot enough that it will produce nitrous oxides as well - the big problem with diesel


Although with the exception of the NOx output, you do at least get to spend the energy making it efficiently and potentially away from places where you really don't want the pollution.


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652056
18/07/2021 11:41
18/07/2021 11:41
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Lightwater, Surrey, UK
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The refining and petrochemical industry are looking at "blue" hydrogen in a big way. Hydrogen is used extensively to hydrotreat and hydrocrack components in crude oil to create the "clean" (ultra low sulphur) petrol and diesel fuel that we use. Most hydrogen produced is termed "grey" if made from methane or other light hydrocarbons and if the CO2 produced is not recovered and used sonehow. Blue hydrogen is where the CO2 produced in the steam methane reforming reaction (relatively easy to recover) and the CO2 produced from burning fuel and creating flue gas (relatively hard to recover) is "captured" (recovered, typically by absorption into "lean" amines, which then become "rich" with CO2, which is then driven off by reboiling, and then the CO2 is typically compressed and stored underground or injected into oil wells to "enhance" oil recovery. The whole process is referred to as carbon capture and storage or carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) but to me it feels like cheating, sweeping CO2 under the carpet for later generations to worry about. But then trying to turn the CO2 into other "useful stuff" (fuel or chemical) is even harder, hence the focus on "blue" hydrogen. Hydrogen produced by electrolysis is referred to as "green" but only if the electricity has been produced "renewably" via solar or wind power for example. And there are other hydrogen "colours" too: black if produced from (black) coal and brown from brown coal (with black and brown also sometimes applied to hydrogen produced by gasification of refinery residue or other waste stream), pink if the power source for electrolysis is nuclear (sometimes also called purple or red, perhaps murple even? :), and yellow if solar. There's even turquoise hydrogen, applied to hydrogen produced from methane pyrolysis which creates carbon in solid form like carbon black (think of toner ink, but used mostly in tyre production). Now if only that carbon could be produced in the form of diamond, that would be the ultimate form of sequestration...

My employer is working on two projects for "blue ammonia" where the "blue hydrogen" is converted to ammonia, and the ammonia used as a fuel substitute for natural gas or other light hydrocarbons, serving as a more convenient carbon-free "carrier" for hydrogen (ammonia is NH3, methane is CH4) but other "carriers" are being looked at too. However, storage and use of ammonia as a fuel comes with other problems, not least the toxicity of ammonia.


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652061
19/07/2021 13:44
19/07/2021 13:44
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Fascinating thread!

Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1652062
19/07/2021 14:31
19/07/2021 14:31
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Originally Posted by Jim_Clennell
Fascinating thread!


Absolutely. Thanks Dave for the post. It really shows the complexity of what seems a simple answer at first glance. I'm learning a lot just from this thread. laugh

Last edited by Gripped; 19/07/2021 21:09.
Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652071
20/07/2021 07:21
20/07/2021 07:21
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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652077
20/07/2021 09:47
20/07/2021 09:47
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Lightwater, Surrey, UK
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A grand plan with an even grander capital expenditure (CapEx) cost that is likely to kill the project by the time FID (final investment decision) is made. Australia has very high labour rates which makes the cost of projects higher than elsewhere, such as in the Middle East where similar but smaller capacity green (or yellow!) hydrogen projects have been proposed.

One issue that arises with "blue" hydrogen and ammonia is certification, and working out the true carbon footprint of the final product (how much CO2 is produced and not captured, looking at the whole production cycle). One project we are working on uses surplus hydrogen from a steam cracker, a by-product from cracking ethane, LPG and naphtha (low octane unconverted gasoline) but as well as the high CO2 emissions from the cracker furnace which burns gas (and that CO2 could be recovered), we have to look at how much CO2 is produced in creating those feedstocks which come either from gas fields (not much processing, low CO2) or from oil (more processing and CO2) and even power that might be imported throughout the process needs to have its associated CO2 emissions calculated. AFAIK there's no universally accepted certification standard, procedure or governing body, but several different regional bodies such as TÜV and CertifHy in Europe, but not much elsewhere in the countries announcing all these grand plans. So even "blue" hydrogen will come in different "shades" depending on the total CO2 emissions arising from its production.


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: DaveG] #1652081
20/07/2021 11:24
20/07/2021 11:24
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Wow this thread has become very interesting, lots of information to take in - love it.

Generation of power, or making of a fuel which uses CO2 offset in it's calculation does appear to be coming under more scrutiny. Biomass was once seen as a golden child of green energy and it does now form a significant element the current UK energy makeup. The initial euphoria that had it sitting firmly alongside renewables does seem to have worn off. The energy sector seems to view CO2 offset credentials more cautiously nowadays. The CO2 offset calculation principle does seem to be the big issue surrounding biomass, biogas and Hydrogen production.


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652087
20/07/2021 16:13
20/07/2021 16:13
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I'm waiting for my 'Mr Fusion' power supply.


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: barnacle] #1652106
21/07/2021 14:32
21/07/2021 14:32
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Better come quickly, in a few years all new cars will be speed limited so getting to 88 might be an issue!


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652112
22/07/2021 06:19
22/07/2021 06:19
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Apropos of which: why does a modern car, generally equipped with satnav that knows what the speed limit is where you are, allow cruise control to be set above that limit?


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: barnacle] #1652113
22/07/2021 07:04
22/07/2021 07:04
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Because, theoretically, you might be driving in a location that doesn't have the speed recognition function but does have crazy speed limits.

I don't even believe that myself.

Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652117
23/07/2021 06:15
23/07/2021 06:15
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Yeah, quite... it just strikes me as odd that the manufacturers would leave themselves open to possible legislation: "So, your honour, the defendant's vehicle knew it was in a 30kph area outside a school, and displayed that speed limit on the satnav display, yet the cruise control remained engaged at 100kph..."

I'm not talking about restricting the actual vehicle speed to a posted limit - though I'm sure we'll see that one of these fine days - but it seems such an obvious thing - particularly as cruise control becomes less and less of a 'maintain speed x' and more of a 'follow the car in front' or even 'follow the road, if you can find it'.


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652144
24/07/2021 17:02
24/07/2021 17:02
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Interesting article about hydrogen-powered buses at the Olympics:

https://www.ft.com/content/2b9dd655-6b64-416c-a83f-1fe1002da7d5

Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: barnacle] #1652190
27/07/2021 00:29
27/07/2021 00:29
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Originally Posted by barnacle
Yeah, quite... it just strikes me as odd that the manufacturers would leave themselves open to possible legislation: "So, your honour, the defendant's vehicle knew it was in a 30kph area outside a school, and displayed that speed limit on the satnav display, yet the cruise control remained engaged at 100kph..."

I'm not talking about restricting the actual vehicle speed to a posted limit - though I'm sure we'll see that one of these fine days - but it seems such an obvious thing - particularly as cruise control becomes less and less of a 'maintain speed x' and more of a 'follow the car in front' or even 'follow the road, if you can find it'.


I understand that the speed limit function has already been legislated to be included on future vehicles.

Fancy sat navs that indicate the speed on a map, and cameras that read road signs. This all sounds like fantastic warning assistance, until you get flashed by a speed camera!

France lowered the A road speed limit to 80, but my car was saying 90, both on the satnav and the traffic sign recognition (National speed Limit) display. The maps were all up to date but they were still wrong, and I received a fine. 85kmh in an 80! It is all my fault as I knew they had lowered the limit, I even knew the camera was there. But the car didn't help at all, it usually alerts me if I speed but it was more than happy.

What did work though were the auto headlights, linked to the nav. The lamps automatically dipped when entering a town or village and highlighted the directions of bends in the road ahead of reaching them.


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1652191
27/07/2021 00:33
27/07/2021 00:33
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Originally Posted by Jim_Clennell
Interesting article about hydrogen-powered buses at the Olympics:

https://www.ft.com/content/2b9dd655-6b64-416c-a83f-1fe1002da7d5


I need to subscribe to read frown


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Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: Barmybob] #1652192
27/07/2021 06:46
27/07/2021 06:46
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Originally Posted by Barmybob
Originally Posted by Jim_Clennell
Interesting article about hydrogen-powered buses at the Olympics:

https://www.ft.com/content/2b9dd655-6b64-416c-a83f-1fe1002da7d5


I need to subscribe to read frown


That's weird! I'm certainly not an FT subscriber.
Sorry about that!

Re: Going Hydrogen [Re: barnacle] #1652194
27/07/2021 08:49
27/07/2021 08:49
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Originally Posted by barnacle
Yeah, quite... it just strikes me as odd that the manufacturers would leave themselves open to possible legislation: "So, your honour, the defendant's vehicle knew it was in a 30kph area outside a school, and displayed that speed limit on the satnav display, yet the cruise control remained engaged at 100kph..."

I'm not talking about restricting the actual vehicle speed to a posted limit - though I'm sure we'll see that one of these fine days - but it seems such an obvious thing - particularly as cruise control becomes less and less of a 'maintain speed x' and more of a 'follow the car in front' or even 'follow the road, if you can find it'.


Long before they implemented anything like this, I'd like to see cars' existing adaptive cruise control systems being used to mandate a 2 second gap to the car in front at all times, whether the cruise control was on or not. I see absolutely no reason why this couldn't be implemented now. It would certainly make a massive difference to the number of accidents out there and largley stop traffic caused by bunching and panic braking.


F****** b****** thing...

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