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UK University in Joint Research Venture Focused on Hydrogen Engines

12 December 2006

The University of Hertfordshire (UK) is opening the Sustainable Energy Technologies Centre (SETCE), an operation focused on developing significant advances in the move to zero-carbon fuels.

As part of this direction, the University has entered into a Knowledge Transfer Project (KTP) with ITM Power Plc in developing the use of electrolytic hydrogen in vehicle engines, which will be developed at SETCE.

As petrol and diesel are not able to be sustained in the coming future, we have needed to think about other ways of running cars.

We believe that the development programme that we are jointly undertaking could be significant to the automotive industry. We hope it will accelerate the market penetration of clean renewable transportation fuels. Widely distributed electrolyzers could address the cost and availability problems that have prevented the adoption of hydrogen as a competitive fuel. We hope the programme will successfully place the University and ITM Power at the forefront of the hydrogen economy.

—Derek Eade, Director of SETCE

The joint development program includes the following objectives:

  • To develop a safe, low-cost modification package for a town car to run on hydrogen and to provide the ability to refuel the vehicle at home or at work, independently of the current fuel delivery infrastructure.

  • To investigate the conversion of existing petrol fuelled electrical generating sets to run on hydrogen produced from zero carbon sources, such as solar and wind.

  • To investigate how the addition of hydrogen to the diesel combustion process can either reduce fuel consumption or pollutants and to provide the necessary on-board hydrogen generator system for diesel engines.

ITM will own all intellectual property (IP rights) including any new discoveries made during the development carried out under this program.

December 12, 2006 in Engines, Europe, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Its good to see UK jumping on the idea that has been floating around the private industries for over 5 years. Maybe they can come up with a major breakthrough.

Its also a load of nonsense. Hydrogen is a daft way of storing energy.

John Baldwin:

What is (your) best ways to economically store massive amount of electric energy using current technologies?

Assuming that low pollution power generators (wind + sun + waves) cannot be stopped without waste during maximum (over) production and/or minimum consumption periods.

The best energy storage system is very site specific. Compressed air depends on the presence of abandoned mines or oil and gas fields. Pumped hydro needs an abundant water source and a steep elevation gradient. Storing the output as heat underground may be a cheap way to go. Electric heating electrodes can easily reach over 1000 kelvins to charge an artificial geothermal powerplant. Flow batteries need a source of money considering the need for large quantities of special chemicals. Matching the power supply to an industrial process like electroplating which can adapt to the supply and free up other power sources for other uses.

Harvey,

My best way is to use the energy to compress natural gas. Vehicles then run on this, either 100% CNG (as in Germany for cars and vans - market going mad there), or, by mixing with diesel (75% CNG, 25% diesel) gives 25% lower CO2 from trucks. No wasted energy at all, just doing useful work. If you take a petrol and CNG mix you can get lower CO2 than anything else. Never waste any renewable elec, just use it to compress gas for putting in vehicles. Forget hydrogen, save the planet instead.

The best way to store electricity is to use it to charge vehicle batteries, or turn it into your desired product (like, ice for air conditioning) and store that instead.  PHEV's are close to universally useful.

Compressing natural gas is, unfortunately, going to be of shrinking utility as supplies are used up.  Further, the amount of energy required for compression is rather small compared to the energy of the gas itself.  Now if you generated a bit of hydrogen to improve the burn rate of the natural gas (which also improves engine efficiency), you might have something.

Methane will yield 26 % lower CO2 emissions than diesel, 27 % lower than petrol if burnt with the same engine efficiency.

The CO2 for compression - if from excess renewable - contributes zero. Even if its from fossil fuel it is only around 5%

Which also means that your maximum "renewable" fraction of your tank of CNG is 5%.

You could add 20% electrolytic hydrogen by volume (7% by energy) and make "Hythane".  This would not only more than double the fraction of renewable energy you could use, but hydrogen improves the burn rate of methane and increases engine efficiency.  This would let you use less methane at the outset, a win/win/win (as long as you have the fossil methane, which won't be for long).

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