If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

Class 321 EMU's to be powered by Fuel Cells ......

Discussion in 'Diesel & Electric Traction' started by Sheff, May 27, 2018.

  1. Sheff

    Sheff Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    6,596
    Likes Received:
    1,122
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired Engineer & Heritage Volunteer
    Location:
    N Warks
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Probably makes more sense for rail transport than road as less hydrogen fueling points required......

    "Plans to fit hydrogen fuel cells to redundant electric multiple units were announced by Alstom on May 14. Confirming that ‘hydrogen technologies and solutions will play a key role in our global vision for the future’, the manufacturer said it was working with rolling stock leasing company Eversholt Rail on what it calls ‘the first substantive industry response to the government's challenge to remove diesel rolling stock by 2040’.

    Alstom and Eversholt Rail are looking to ‘upcycle’ Class 321 EMUs which will be rendered surplus to requirements following the delivery of a complete new rolling stock fleet for the Greater Anglia franchise over the next two years.".

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/...alstom-and-eversholt-plan-fuel-cell-emus.html
     
    30854 likes this.
  2. garth manor

    garth manor New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    13
    Evidence of the benefit of European involvement in UK franchises, technology well developed in Germany, narrow gauge use being pioneered by Zillertalbahn.
     
  3. Sheff

    Sheff Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    6,596
    Likes Received:
    1,122
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired Engineer & Heritage Volunteer
    Location:
    N Warks
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I must admit to an interest here, as back in the late 90's I designed a fuel cell plate production line for a company in Swindon. The plates were destined to be built up into generator sets in standard sized iso-containers fed by natural gas. The first order was for NY Central Park Police Dept to provide an emergency power supply.
     
  4. Allegheny

    Allegheny Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    106
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I'm just wondering if they will leave a trail of white vapour.
     
  5. Romsey

    Romsey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2007
    Messages:
    1,478
    Likes Received:
    253
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired SPM
    Location:
    Close to Spike Island
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Just playing devils advocate here....
    Is hydrogen as a transported fuel source that efficient or convenient?

    Digging back into a pile of recent magazines, I found Informed Sources written by Roger Ford, Modern Railway May 2018.
    "Hydrogen is not strictly a fuel. In fuel cell applications it is simply a means of storing electricity.
    Since it is being touted as an alternative to railway electrification, the efficiency of the hydrogen cycle needs to be compared with taking electricity from the power station directly to the train. The highest figure for the efficiency of production of hydrogen is 75%.
    Then the gas has to be compressed for storage, which is 90% efficient. Finally the fuel cell converts the hydrogen back into electricity with an efficiency of 50%. This means around 33% of the electricity used to create the hydrogen is available for traction.
    In contrast the losses in the national grid are about 5%, to which should be added the losses in the lineside substations and the traction unit's transformer and rectifier. But you are still looking at 85% efficiency."


    I suspect that hydrogen fuel cells are the latest "new idea" and a way of improving environmental credentials. Many companies and politicians are embracing the idea to get a bit of the glory. ( A technological version of the emperors new clothes perhaps? ) Just read Rail Engineer for a couple of articles per month for example of this effect.

    Unless large groups like BNSF, First or DB Cargo adopt hydrogen fuel, I doubt that it will become a mainstream power source. And they won't adopt hydrogen fuel cells unless the numbers add up and provide a profit! Nobody has examined the whole life costs for the infrastructure of creating, storing and using hydrogen as far as I can see. As a pressurised gas it's going to need more infrastructure than a steel tank, with a pump and a bund to contain any leaks....

    As a comparison modern diesel power units are up to 50% efficiency. ( That's energy in the liquid fuel to tractive effort.)

    Cheers, Neil

    PS I specifically chose BNSF as one of the examples as along with Union Pacific they were trialling hybrid diesel / battery locos 10 to 15 years ago.
     
    60525 likes this.
  6. Allegheny

    Allegheny Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    106
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    There are occassions, when there is surplus electricity generation, to shut down renewable generators such as wind turbines. For short term dips in demand this is more economic that shutting down and restarting fossil fuel plant, and the occurance of this is likely to increase in the future. If this energy can be used for hydrogen production it should be very attractive.
     
  7. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2,663
    Likes Received:
    2,594
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    While I've no doubt hydrogen tech will be "the place to be seen" by those who like "to be seen" (when was that ever any different?) and environmentalism - whatever one understands the word to mean - is no more or less open to being jumped on as a bandwagon than any other '-ism', it doesn't follow that it automatically renders anything not worth persuing. There's truth in the statement about whole life costs, but logic dictates any numbers bandied around, by anyone without their own timeworthy TARDIS, before any kit reaches that stage, remains just that: purely a prediction, which may prove accurate .... or not. So long as any prediction of such costs falls no further from the mark than, say, budgetary forecasts for a medium sized government infrastructure project, there's nowt to get too aeriated about.

    ..... and what the devil is Roger Ford banging on about? Or is he, even now, thumping his editor's desk and demanding the head of a proof reader (or if he's feeling really lucky ... the editor's head) on a plate? For pity's sake, petrol can be used as a solvent, which scarcely negates it being categorised as 'fuel'. Any physical substance, from weapons grade uranium to baked beans, stored to produce energy is fuel .... end of!

    In fairness, outside laboratories, the only real large-ish scale application for hydrogen in the minds of most was dirigible airships, which was so long ago and vastly different that we're effectively in uncharted territory. Among the opportunistic, keep an eye on the press. Chances are, one of 'em will get lucky with a run of guesses and become the media's latest fount of all knowledge.

    Want my prediction? Well tough, 'cos here it is: We're going to need a word for 'the gleeful anticipation of Schadenfreude'.

    ...... and I need another cup of tea.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
  8. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    183
    Occupation:
    Boilermaker
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I seem to recall that the carriage of large amounts of flammable gas on railway trains was rather frowned on, back when the stuff was used for lighting due to occasional resultant fireballs in the event of an accident. I'm not sure that introducing large amounts of pressurised hydrogen is going to do much for railway safety on the modern railway either.
     
  9. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2,663
    Likes Received:
    2,594
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    That's been the limiting factor. I believe pressurised H2 storage has come on a way, though I'll freely admit it's not exactly my specialist subject .... I'm still trying to get my head round what happens to the stuff after it leaves the tank!
     
  10. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    13,857
    Likes Received:
    15,846
    Location:
    21C102
    There are possibilities for storage in various chemical complexes, which would reduce the flammability problem - essentially the H2 would be reversibly bound to some solid or liquid substrate that would release H2 catalytically or by heating. None yet viable commercially, but there is a lot of research in the area.

    What I suspect may become a viable solution is to use methanol as the hydrogen carrier. It would react with water over a suitable catalyst to release carbon dioxide and hydrogen, which would be consumed in the fuel cell. Providing the methanol is produced initially from biomass (which is feasible), the net process is carbon-neutral and essentially provides a way of using sunlight to produce hydrogen which can be stored and transported in an easy to handle liquid form (i.e. as methanol) until needed to generate power. The by-products are water and carbon dioxide, which are thus recycled to be converted again into biomass and thence methanol. (Essentially the input side takes water, carbon dioxide and sunlight to produce methanol and oxygen; the output side takes methanol and oxygen to produce water, carbon dioxide and electricity - net effect is to turn sunlight into stored energy, and release it on demand as electricity).

    Still a lot of problems to solve (not least the issue of rare metal supply in the catalysts) but using methanol in the cycle solves a lot of storage and transport problems.

    Tom
     
    30854 likes this.
  11. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    183
    Occupation:
    Boilermaker
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    At that point, aren't we just back into conventional loco diesel engine fuel, produced by biomass, fueling a particularly complex version of a "diesel electric" loco?
    Its not terribly hard to make a conventional IC engine run on methanol, and the cycle is probably as good for efficiency.
    If we want to make biomass fuel, we might as well make a DERV spec stuff - methanol, while way less nasty than hydrogen is hardly pleasant stuff. Diesel is an ideal fuel as its pretty inert unless you make a serious effort at ignition, and small duration exposure even in large quantities is pretty harmless to humans - its actually difficult to find a less dangerous way of storing high concentrations of energy in a reasonably useful form.
     
    Britfoamer likes this.
  12. 8126

    8126 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Messages:
    534
    Likes Received:
    372
    Gender:
    Male
    Funnily enough several years ago I went to an IMechE presentation regarding the hydrogen future for cars. There were two presenters, one from Lotus and one from a fuel cell company (I forget the name). The fuel cell company presenter was proposing the usual approach to hydrogen - storage at pressure and conversion to electricity using fuel cells. The Lotus presenter was arguing for use of synthetic methanol (renewable hydrogen combined with CO2 captured from the atmosphere) to fuel conventional spark ignition IC engines. You don't have a storage problem, the engine technology is cheap and well understood, there's no need for biomass (which tends to have a poor net CO2 emission, you use so much fuel creating it), there's just the minor problem of methanol being rather toxic if released to the environment.

    I found myself sympathising more with the methanol approach, but it was a few years ago and I've not seen it happening. Fuel cells haven't really taken off either though...
     
  13. Allegheny

    Allegheny Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    106
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I remember reading somewhere that the fuel cell was invented by William Grove in 1838 and has been a good idea ever since...
    I think the aim is to eliminate the Diesel engine, and more to the point, particulates, NOx and other pollutants.
     
  14. Britfoamer

    Britfoamer Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    335
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Chemist (semi-retired)
    Location:
    Within 2 miles of the ELR
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    On the TV news over the last few days was the liquified air power storage system. The pilot plant (within sight of the ELR at Pilsworth, near Heywood) has been running successfully for some time and is about to be expanded into a working larger plant capable of powering a town the size of Bury for almost a complete day. The technology is transferable to transport, see the attached link: http://www.liquidair.org.uk/about-liquid-air#ql-transport
    Makes further interesting reading about potential alternative stored power sources, this one with very green credentials (once the air has been liquified).
     
    30854 likes this.
  15. estwdjhn

    estwdjhn New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    183
    Occupation:
    Boilermaker
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Trouble with the liquid air type concepts is that the round cycle efficiency is really low usually about 25%. You lose a vast amount of heat because of the movement through the phase change from gas to liquid and back, without any means of storing the heat (if that could be done, there would be no point in messing about storing compressed air).
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    13,857
    Likes Received:
    15,846
    Location:
    21C102
    Though that’s of less concern if your electricity had no direct fuel cost. The point of a storage system is to smooth out the peaks and troughs of generation with renewables: for example, generate surplus solar power during the day that can then be released as electricity at night. The key issue with renewables is to look at generation and storage together: you need both, and we need technological advances in both, particularly storage. Air storage is one possibility: it’s not a million miles in concept from things like pump-storage HEP schemes - which are more energy efficient, but have very precise geographical requirements that mean they are of limited use in much of the country.

    https://www.ft.com/content/fa755eec-67e3-11e8-b6eb-4acfcfb08c11

    Tom
     
    Britfoamer likes this.
  17. Eightpot

    Eightpot Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Messages:
    5,528
    Likes Received:
    779
    Location:
    Aylesbury
    A bit of over-optimism here, methinks. Can you give examples, please?
     
  18. Romsey

    Romsey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2007
    Messages:
    1,478
    Likes Received:
    253
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired SPM
    Location:
    Close to Spike Island
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Agreed, I know I saw the figure in Rail Engineer - somewhere. I'll try looking for it, but it may take some time! (Maybe it was an article proving that diesel was the way forward until complete electrification.) My guesstimate would have been about 40% efficiency for constant load, not going up and down the load and engine revs such as experienced on a sprinter unit.

    46% - http://www.mhi.co.jp/technology/review/pdf/e451/e451021.pdf
    And over 50% for low speed marine diesels.

    About 40% on heavy road vehicle engines
    https://www.theicct.org/sites/defau...DV_engine-efficiency-eval_WVU-rpt_oct2014.pdf
    ( Page 34)

    https://www.theicct.org/blogs/staff/ever-improving-efficiency-diesel-engine
    Claims for up to 50%

    Interestingly most of the research / analysis I could find quickly on line was American. Nothing quickly visible on real life operation.

    If hydrogen fuel/fuel cells do take off as an transport energy source, plea on behalf of fleet engineers - can there be one standard set of dimensions for refuelling connections? Pretty please??

    Cheers, Neil
     
  19. D1002

    D1002 Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    2,941
    Likes Received:
    885
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Enfield
    Deleted.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018 at 9:34 AM

Share This Page