May 31, 2010
Eden Energy Reports Successful Testing of Naturally-Aspirated 6L Hydrogen-Methane Engine for India Bus Fleet; Turbo Version Under Development
Australia-based Eden Energy Limited has successfully tested a production-ready 6-liter engine that will enable India’s largest bus manufacturer, Ashok Leyland, to power buses with Eden’s low-emission Hythane blend of hydrogen-enriched natural gas (usually 20% hydrogen by volume). (Earlier post.)
The 6-cylinder 92 kW (123 hp) 2010 H06B CNG engine—developed by Ashok Leyland in conjunction with Eden’s wholly-owned US subsidiary, Hythane Company—was initially designed to meet the country’s current Bharat IV (Euro IV) mandatory emissions targets. However, the results from the calibrated control system and exhaust catalyst testing for the naturally-aspirated engine would meet Bharat V (Euro V) requirements, according to Justin Fulton, Hythane Company’s Director of Engine and Fuel Systems.
Over the “European Transient Cycle” (ETC), an engine dynamometer test that simulates real-world driving conditions for heavy-duty vehicles, the Hythane engine tests yielded the following improvements relative to the natural gas baseline:
- NOx emissions reduced by 16.6%
- Total hydrocarbon (THC) emissions reduced by 15.1%, including a non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) reduction of 66.6%
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduced by 6.2%
- Fuel efficiency improvement of 6.5% based on fuel combustion energy.
Eden Energy will receive royalties from both Ashok Leyland and the engine control system provider for all Hythane-fuelled-engine sales.
In the near future, Ashok Leyland will also release turbo-charged versions of the H06 engine, and the control system strategies used for these engines will allow them to take advantage of hydrogen’s combustion properties above and beyond the improvements seen in the base CNG/Hythane engine.
Preliminary investigations on the new engines began in April after the base engine production calibration work, and production-intent optimization by Hythane Company and Ashok Leyland will continue this year.
India joined the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE) as a founding member in 2003. By 2006, a National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap was created to plan for a transition to hydrogen energy and infrastructure, including power generation and transport applications. The Roadmap’s Vision 2020, through the Green Initiatives for Transport (GIFT), calls for 1 million vehicles to be operating on hydrogen fuels by 2020. (Earlier post.)
The release of India’s first production Hythane engine will precede the country’s first large-scale refuelling station for hydrogen-enriched natural gas, as previously announced by Eden Energy. This station, due to be constructed by the end of the year, will refuel 50 to 70 buses in Mumbai.
In addition to the Ashok Leyland buses, another major Indian bus manufacturer has approved in principle a development project to recalibrate their engines for optimized Hythane fuel operation in 2010, according to Eden Energy.
Finnish and Russian Companies Partner to Develop and Build Specialty Icebreaker to Combat Oil Spills
The Finnish companies STX Finland Oy, Aker Arctic Technology Oy, Southeast Trading Oy (SET Group), and the Russian companies OAO Sovcomflot and FSUE Rosmorport have signed a cooperation agreement for the purpose of developing and building a new generation of icebreaking and rescue vessel for oil spill combat in the Gulf of Finland under ice conditions.
The new type of vessel represents a breakthrough in the icebreaking technology, according to the partners. Furthermore, this will represent a big step forward in strengthening the Finnish-Russian cooperation in the field of shipbuilding.
The multipurpose vessel, featuring an asymmetrical hull that is based on the icebreaking technology developed by Aker Arctic Technology Oy, will be able to use an innovative sideways movement to collect the oil in demanding ice conditions, as well as to break a broad ice band effectively.
The vessel will also be able independently to solve support, escorting and towing tasks for large tankers in the Baltic Sea. The vessel—about 67 meters long and about 19 metres wide—will be equipped with three rudder propeller devices, and will also be able to tackle a wide range of other towing and rescue tasks.
STX Finland Oy is a shipbuilding company that specializes in building special-purpose icebreaking and ice-class vessels and has a long history of cooperation with the Russian maritime industry. The company’s shipyards have during the last century delivered approximately 2,500 ships to Russia / Soviet Union.
Outline of the LMRP Cap Procedure Intended to Contain the Undersea Flow
With the top kill procedure having failed, BP is moving on to its next attempt: the placement of a containment cap on the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP). (Earlier post.) The LMRP is the top half of the blowout preventer (BOP) stack. This procedure is not intended to stop the well from flowing; it is intended to capture the flow while other procedures to cap the well are underway. The basic procedure, as outlined by BP, is to:
First remove the damaged riser from the top of the BOP. A remote operated hydraulic shear will be used to make two initial cuts and then that section will be removed by crane. A diamond wire saw will then be placed to cut the pipe close to the LMRP and the final damaged piece of riser will be removed.
Riser removal. Source: BP. Click to enlarge.
The LMRP Cap is designed to seal on top of the riser stub. The seal will decrease the potential of inflow of seawater as well as improve the efficiency of oil recovery. Lines carrying methanol also are connected to the device to help stop hydrate formation.
The device will be connected to a riser extending from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship.
Analysis and discussion of the LMRP cap attempt is on The Oil Drum here.
May 30, 2010
MIT Team Extends Use of Virus Template to Assemble Li-ion Anode Materials; Biologically Activated Noble Metal Alloys
|MIT researchers used modified M13 bacteriophages as templates to assemble noble metal allow nanowires for Li-ion anode materials. Credit: ACS, Lee et al. Click to enlarge.|
An MIT team including Drs. Gerbrand Ceder and Angela Belcher has synthesized gold (Au) and silver (Ag) alloy nanowires as anode materials for Li-ion batteries using multiple clones of the M13 bacteriophage virus. A paper on their work was published 27 May in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
This is an extension of the work initially reported in the journal Science in 2009 of genetically manipulating the M13 virus to support the synthesis and assembly of iron phosphate cathode materials for high-power lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) The researchers have also engineered the M13 virus to function as a scaffold to mediate the co-assembly of zinc porphyrins (photosensitizer) and iridium oxide hydrosol clusters (catalyst) for visible light-driven water oxidation. (Earlier post.)
|“The M13 biological toolkit extended its utility for the study on the basic electrochemical property of materials”|
|—Lee et al.|
Essentially, the concept behind the work is to modify the genes of the M13 virus—the inherent structural characteristics of which make it an excellent template for the synthesis of various functional nanowires—to display modified proteins with affinities for specific materials.
In the current work, the team engineered two clones—one for specificity and one for versatility—to synthesize noble metal nanowires with diameters below 50 nm with control over particle sizes, morphologies and compositions.
Under testing, they found that the first discharge capacity of all the alloys were all similar with values 900-965 mAh/g, but because of the high first cycle irreversible capacity, the second discharge capacities dropped to 440-534 mAh/g depending on the alloy composition. By comparison, for most Ag and Au thin film anodes, the discharge capacity has been reported as 500-600 mAh/g at the first cycle and decreased to 100-200 mAh/g in 10 cycles.
Biological systems offer capabilities for environmentally benign materials synthesis. The two M13 viruses, genetically engineered for specificity (p8#9 virus) and versatility (E4/ E3 virus) served as a template for the synthesis of noble metal nanowires with diameters below 50 nm. The inherent structural characteristic of the M13 virus enabled the synthesis of high aspect ratio nanowires. With the synergetic combination of biological building blocks and synthetic chemistry, this facile and high-yield synthesis conferred controls over particle size, morphology, and compositions.
The biologically derived noble metal and alloy nanowires with diameter below 50 nm showed electrochemical activities toward lithium comparable to thin film electrodes. Improvement in capacity retention was achieved by tailoring particle size, alloy formation, and surface stabilization.
Because Au and Ag react poorly with lithium at the micrometer scale, fundamental study on their electrochemical behavior has been limited so far. Although these materials are not as cost-effective as existing anode materials, these nanowires serve as a model system in identifying important parameters that can induce stable electrochemical transformation at the nanoscale.
This study elucidated the importance of surface characteristics and reaction/phase homogeneity in maintaining structural stability and electrochemical performances at the nanoscale. The principles found in this model system can be applied to improve structural stability of other technologically important alloy material systems. With advantages of facile and environmentally benign synthesis, M13 biological platform proved itself as a useful toolkit for the study on the basic electrochemical property of materials.
—Lee et al.
Yun Jung Lee, Youjin Lee, Dahyun Oh, Tiffany Chen, Gerbrand Ceder and Angela M. Belcher (2010) Biologically Activated Noble Metal Alloys at the Nanoscale: For Lithium Ion Battery Anodes. Nano Lett., Article ASAP doi: 10.1021/nl1005993
ES&T Editor Calls for Papers on Gulf Spill; Ending the Addiction
Dr. Jerald Schnoor, the Allen S. Henry Chair, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa and the Editor of the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology is calling on Gulf researchers to consider submitting their scientific articles about the oil spill to ES&T. Schnoor was an associate editor for the journal in 1989 following the Exxon Valdez spill, and similarly invited research articles following that disaster.
In an open access editorial, Schnoor considers the differences of the events, and the underlying cause.
Every oil spill is different, and that’s what makes emergency preparedness so difficult. In the case of the Exxon Valdez spill, emergency response was handicapped by jurisdictional quandaries, and that has proven to be the case again. In Prince William Sound, 2000 mi (3200 km) of shoreline were contaminated, and the plume traveled up to 500 miles (800 km). The high energy tides (15 ft [4.6 m]) caused skimming and burning the oil spill to be difficult, and it drove oil deep into some beaches. Cold water in Alaska caused oil to biodegrade more slowly and caused fisheries to have lower rates of reproduction and slow recovery times.
The BP Gulf of Mexico spill is the first to emanate from 5000 ft beneath the sea. It is the first to make major use of dispersants at the source of the leak, and it is the first to result in a major submerged plume. The vast area potentially impacted by the spill is also unprecedented. Already it is 16,000 sq. mi. (41,400 km2) of sea surface covered by oil slick and 46,000 sq. mi. (119,000 km2) of area closed to fishing (roughly the size of Pennsylvania). Obviously, it’s imperative that the oil discharge be stopped and stopped soon before the spill contaminates the entire Gulf.
...Assessing the damages is tricky and highly site-specific. If the Gulf oil spill continues to stay mostly at sea, it will affect more open-water fisheries and less shoreline habitats and spawning than previous massive spills. The use of dispersants could prove to be a brilliant decision that broke-up the spill and allowed biodegradation of billions of tiny droplets more easily. Or it could be a disaster that served to submerge the plume, spread it into the Loop Current, and transport it to the ecologically rich Florida Keys. When the plume is submerged, it is no longer subject to volatilization and photodegradation, important processes in the weathering of the oil, which could further delay recovery. When millions of gallons of dispersants are used, it is yet another toxicological stressor on ecosystems
No energy source comes without risks and environmental impacts, but our addiction to oil is particularly vexing because of the energy insecurity it fosters. Our addiction is largely one of liquid transportation fuels for driving more and more miles each year. If we could solve our overdependence on cars and trucks, we would solve our addiction to oil.
...Years ago, I said, “The oil spill at Prince William Sound was caused by human error and was largely preventable. We hope to learn from these disasters so we do not have to relive them” (Environ. Sci. Technol. doi: 10.1021/es00013a600 [1991, 25 (1), 14]).
Just repeat the refrain. But add a real plan to end our oil addiction.
Jerald L. Schnoor (2010) The Gulf Oil Spill Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP doi: 10.1021/es101727m
Jatropha Biodiesel-FT Blends Reduce Most Criteria Pollutants Compared to Neat FT; Higher NOx
Blending jatropha biodiesel (JBD) with Fischer-Tropsch synthetic diesel (FT) results in lower CO, THC, smoke and PM emissions compared to neat FT, according to a study by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
However, NOx emissions were higher, and the engine thermal efficiency was slightly lower with higher JBD blends.
The authors tested JBD blended with FT fuel in volumetric ratios of 0:100, 25:75, 50:50, 75:25, and 100:0 (B0, B25, B50, B75, and B100). Among the findings:
Compared to petroleum diesel (DF), FT fuel showed similar fuel consumption (BSFC) and thermal efficiency. Compared to FT fuel, higher JBD blends showed higher BSFC and lower thermal efficiency.
CO, smoke, THC, TPM, and NOx emissions were reduced with FT fuel compared to DF. The reductions were due to the higher cetane number, low sulfur, and extremely low aromatic compounds in FT fuel.
Significantly lower emissions including CO, smoke, THC, and TPM were realized with B25, B50, B75, and B100 compared to FT fuel. The reductions of these emissions were mainly due to the oxygen in the blended fuel molecules. Higher cetane number was also an additional reason for lower emissions.However, NOx emissions were increased at higher loads with the JBD blended fuels. Higher ROHR (rate of heat release) at the premixed combustion and higher percentages of unsaturated fatty acids with double bonds in the carbon chain with B25, B50, B75, and B100 were the reasons for higher NOx emissions, according to the authors.
Mass and number distributions of fine particles for FT fuel were measured and found to be lower than those of DF for all particle sizes. When the engine was run with JBD blends, significantly lower particle mass and number emissions of fine particles were observed for the whole particle size distribution compared to FT fuel. The reduction in fine particles with FT fuel was due to the low sulfur and extremely low aromatic compounds in FT fuel. The reduction in fine particles with JBD blends was mainly due to the presence of oxygen.
Considering engine performance and exhaust emissions, B25 was suggested to be an environmentally friendly alternative fuel for diesel engines.
Md. Nurun Nabi and Johan Einar Hustad (2010) Influence of Biodiesel Addition to Fischer-Tropsch Fuel on Diesel Engine Performance and Exhaust Emissions. Energy Fuels, 24 (5), pp 2868–2874 doi: 10.1021/ef901317u
Report: China’s New-Energy Vehicle Subsidy Plan to Be Tested in 5 Cities Rather Than Nationwide
China Daily. China’s incentive plan for private purchases of new-energy vehicles may be introduced by the end of this month and will be tested in five cities, rather than nationwide, according to a report in the Shanghai Securities News.
The five cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chongqing and Wuhan, the report said.
According to earlier media reports, the incentives for new-energy vehicles would be very similar to last year’s pilot project for public sector buyers—private electric car buyers in certain selected cities could get incentives of up to 60,000 yuan ($8,787.86).
However, if the subsidy plan is applied to only a few cities, it won’t fully boost the new-energy vehicle consumption in China, said Kevin Wale, GM China’s president and chief executive. Chinese consumers need some time to get familiar with driving new-energy vehicles, and the construction of charging stations also will take time, he added.
MTI: Mumbai Derailment Could Have Serious Implications for Rail Security Worldwide
The Mumbai train derailment two days ago could point to a growing trend in India, according to Brian Jenkins, director of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s (MTI) National Transportation Security Center of Excellence. But it also could have serious implications for other countries. Terrorists make note of methods, taking lessons from all attempts, whether successful or not. These lessons could be applied to other systems, MTI suggests.
Sabotage of the rail line sent a Calcutta-to-Mumbai express hurtling off the tracks into the path of an oncoming freight train, killing more than 100 people and injuring scores of others. According to Indian police, a Maoist guerrilla group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier in May, Maoist guerrillas in India’s Chhattisgarh State detonated a mine under a passenger bus, killing 44.
The threat seems to be growing, with at least 30 deliberate derailments in India since January 2000, almost four times the number of derailments in the 1990s, and 15 times the number of incidents in the 1980s. The death toll between 2000 and 2010 is 13 times greater than that in the 1990s, although, owing to two bloody incidents, it is only slightly greater than the 1980s.—Brian Jenkins
MTI will be examining this case and other recent attacks in India to see what lessons might be learned and how these may be applied to other countries.
According to MTI’s database of attacks on surface transportation, this death toll makes the May 28 derailment India’s worst terrorist attack on passenger rail since 2006, and its bloodiest deliberate derailment in decades. On 11 July 2006, terrorists detonated seven bombs on Mumbai’s crowded commuter trains, killing 207 people and injuring hundreds of others. The last comparable derailment occurred in 1989, when sabotage derailed the Bangalore-Delhi Express killing 67.
A recent MTI report on deliberate derailments, Off the Rails: The 1995 Attempted Derailing of the French TGV (High Speed Train) and Quantitative Analysis of 181 Rail Sabotage Attempts by Jenkins, Bruce R. Butterworth, and Jean-François Clair, shows India’s rail system suffering the most terrorists derailments with 42 incidents or 23% of the total number of such incidents. According to MTI’s database, India also leads the world in the number of terrorist bomb attacks against train and bus targets with 387 incidents since 1970, or 17% of the total.
The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and was reauthorized under TEA-21 and again under SAFETEA-LU. The institute is funded by Congress through the US DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through the Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and by other public and private grants and donations, including the US Department of Homeland Security. The US DOT selected MTI as a national “Center of Excellence” following 2002 and 2005 competitions.
MTI conducts research, education, and information and technology transfer focusing on multi-modal surface transportation policy and management issues.
May 29, 2010
Top Kill Fails; BP Moving on to LMRP Cap Attempt
BP and the government team involved in the response have deemed the top kill operation attempting to stop the flow of oil from the MC252 well in the Gulf of Mexico (earlier post) unsuccessful. BP is proceeding with the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap option.
BP started the top kill operations to stop the flow at 1300 CDT on 26 May. The procedure was intended to stem the flow of oil and gas and ultimately kill the well by injecting heavy drilling fluids through the blow-out preventer on the seabed, down into the well.
Despite pumping a total of more than 30,000 barrels of heavy mud, in three attempts at rates of up to 80 barrels a minute, and deploying a wide range of different bridging materials, the operation did not overcome the flow from the well.
|Overview of the LMRP Cap option. Source: BP. Click to enlarge.|
The Government, together with BP, have therefore decided to move to the next step in the subsea operations, the deployment of the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap Containment System.
The operational plan first involves cutting and then removing the damaged riser from the top of the failed Blow-Out Preventer (BOP) to leave a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOP’s LMRP. The cap is designed to be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship and placed over the LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well. The LMRP cap is already on site and it is currently anticipated that it will be connected in about four days.
This operation has not been previously carried out in 5,000 feet of water and the successful deployment of the containment system cannot be assured.
Drilling of the first relief well continues and is currently at 12,090 feet. Drilling of the second relief well is temporarily suspended as the vessel prepares its BOP for possible deployment in a further attempt at the MC252 well and is expected to recommence shortly from 8,576 feet.
EnerFuel Coupling High-Temperature PEM Fuel Cell With On-board Reformer for Range Extender System for Electric Vehicles
|EnerFuel is developing a HT PEM cell/on-board reformer system that enables the use of conventional fuels in the fuel cell range extender. Source: EnerFuel. Click to enlarge.|
EnerFuel, a subsidiary of Li-ion manufacturer EnerDel’s parent Ener 1, is developing a range extender system for electric vehicles that consists of a high-temperature (HT) PEM fuel cell combined with an on-board reformer. The use of the reformer in conjunction with the high-temperature 3-5 kW fuel cell would enable the use of conventional hydrocarbon fuels to recharge the batteries in the EV.
In 2008, EnerFuel developed a prototype to demonstrate the advantages of a fuel cell EV range extender. (Earlier post.) The test vehicle, equipped with a 35 kWh lithium ion battery pack, was outfitted with a 3 kW fuel cell range extender fueled by compressed hydrogen (5,000 psi tank, 20 kWhe equivalent). The range extender increased average vehicle range by more than 50% from the battery only base case, EnerFuel said.
The overall weight of that fuel cell system was 160 lbs (73 kg). The weight of a lithium-ion battery pack with similar energy content would have been double that of the fuel cell system.
|HT-PEM cells have much lower susceptibility to CO poisoning than LT-PEM cells. Source: EnerFuel. Click to enlarge.|
The use of an on-board reformer eliminates the need for a hydrogen refueling infrastructure, EnerFuel notes. While the incorporation of a reformer with a fuel cell has been tried in the past, EnerFuel’s effort differs in the use of the higher-temperature operating range (120 °C to 180 °C, vs. low-temperature 60 °C to 80°C PEM fuel cells). Furthermore, the fuel cell system operates at discrete power conditions with minimal transients, and the system is smaller than previously attempted onboard reformation systems.
The HT-PEM fuel cell has much lower susceptibility to CO poisoning than LT-PEM cells; this enables simplified and low-cost integration with reformers. The deep hybridization with batteries also reduces the requirement for immediate fuel cell start-up, which allows EnerFuel to use HT-PEM fuel cells.
EnerFuel has designed HT-PEM fuel cell systems with minimal balance of plant. For example, reactant humidification has been eliminated, an air cooled design eliminates the need for a coolant loop and radiator, and low pressure operation reduces the need for compressor-expander systems.
Balance of plant elimination is critical to the cost and reliability of the fuel cell. While the cost of the fuel cell stack drops almost linearly as its nominal power output drops, the balance of plant of plant costs do not scale down in the same manner. The EnerFuel HT-PEM fuel cell system thus can have a cost advantage over more complex systems in this application, the company says.
To the user, suggests Dr. Daniel Betts at EnerFuel, perhaps the most important difference between a fuel cell and an ICE range extender such as that used in the Chevrolet Volt is that the fuel cell can charge the vehicle battery while parked. Further, fuel cell system efficiency increase at partial loads, whereas ICE efficiency decreases at partial loads. Depending on the state of charge of the vehicle battery or the rate of charging that is required by the user, the efficiency of charging could be many times higher than that of ICE and on occasions higher than the grid efficiency, EnerFuel says.
The EV user would find a reduced dependence on a charging infrastructure. In essence the fuel cell can act as a high efficiency, zero pollution portable-charger for the vehicle.
More complex battery-fuel cell interactions can also occur, Betts says. For example, the heat generated by the fuel cell while running or during its startup phase can be used to warm up lithium ion batteries in cold environments. The fuel cell can also help support battery and vehicle air conditioning loads.
To keep the cost, size and weight of the fuel cell low, EnerFuel is developing lower power fuel cell systems than those traditionally place in vehicles. While the typical fuel cell vehicle uses a fuel cell system that provides 60 kW to 100 kW, EnerFuel is developing 3 kW and 5 kW systems.
As an example, EnerFuel uses a vehicle with a 200 Wh/mi average driving energy consumption (equivalent to a 25 to 33 mile per gallon gasoline ICE vehicle). To travel 100 miles throughout the day, the vehicle would require a 20 kWh battery pack. If a 5 kW fuel cell system were added and allowed to charge the vehicle batteries without limit throughout an 8 hour day, it would be able to add 40 kWh of energy to the vehicle. The daily range of the vehicle would be 200 miles from the fuel cell and 100 miles from the battery.
Because people seldom engage in such a long daily driving cycles, this opens up the possibility of eliminating a portion of the vehicle batteries, EnerFuel suggests. In this way, the overall cost and weight of the vehicle power plant can be reduced.
(A hat-tip to David!)