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Blue World Technologies signs strategic cooperation agreement with Chinese EV manufacturer AIWAYS; methanol fuel cell vehicles

Blue World Technologies has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China-based new energy vehicle manufacturer AIWAYS, with the purpose of supplying the market with vehicles powered by methanol fuel cells for fast refueling and long range.

During the Chinese International Import Expo 2019 (CIIE 2019) in Shanghai, Blue World Technologies joined partners, German Gumpert AIWAYS, developer of methanol fuel cell performance cars, and AIWAYS, Chinese manufacturer of high-end electric vehicles, in the presentation of the methanol fuel cell technology.

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We strongly believe that methanol is the way to go in the transition for green liquid fuels—but we also need to create a technology for our cars that will help us overcome the environmental challenges we are facing with severe air pollution. Therefore, we have made this strategic cooperation with Blue World Technologies to provide both the methanol fuel cell components to our cars as well as to support the development with their extensive knowledge and experience with the methanol fuel cell technology.

—FU Qiang, President and Co-founder of AIWAYS

Later this year, AIWAYS will launch the battery-electric version of their SUV U5; towards the end of 2021, the U5 will also be launched in a methanol fuel cell hybrid version. Blue World Technologies and AIWAYS are already in the process of developing the system design ensuring easy integration in the existing platform, in addition to long-range and fast refuelling by liquid methanol.

In March, eight Chinese ministries led by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a Methanol Vehicle Policy with an aim to deploy methanol-fueled vehicles across China.

China has the largest production and consumption of methanol worldwide. The potential of producing methanol as a CO2-neutral fuel with recycled CO2 from either a concentrated CO2 source or using direct air capture was of high value to AIWAYS when making the decision to enter the cooperation with Blue World Technologies on the development of methanol fuel cell technology.

With an electrical efficiency of 45%, the Blue World Technologies methanol fuel cell system based on high-temperature PEM technology enables efficient and cost-effective use of methanol as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Blue World Technologies is focused on the High-Temperature PEM-technology combined with methanol-reforming. The combination ensures a simple system design with high conversion efficiency and compliance with automotive design requirements. The end solution is a vehicle with long range, fast refueling, zero harmful emissions, and low fuel cost.

Denmark-based Blue World Technologies closed its first investment round earlier this year.

Comments

Davemart

Here is a previous story on this technology:
https://www.greencarcongress.com/2019/08/20190822-bw.html

Note:

'Typical specifications would include a 15 – 25 kWh battery pack; a 10 – 20 kW methanol fuel cell system; and a 50 – 80 L liquid tank.'

That is a totally different ball game to the ~100KW hydrogen fuel stacks in operation in the Mirai etc.

Engineer-Poet

Yup.  It's ideally suited for PHEV operation, too.  The more liquid fuel you can replace with electricity delivered by wires, the easier it is to replace the remaining fuel.

Davemart

China is the world's largest producer of methanol, and it also lends itself well to coal to liquiid, so the attraction is not surprising:
https://www.refiningandpetrochemicalsme.com/products-services/26743-impressive-start-for-clariants-megamax-800-methanol-synthesis-catalyst-in-yinchuan-china

DME is much more benign in the event of spills etc, but I am not a believer in trying to rule fuels out arbitrarily.

Fixes are often possible.

SJC

Methanol will not be at gas stations in the U.S. we can not even get E85.

Engineer-Poet

YOU can't get E85, you mean.  It's sold less than 20 miles from me (albeit, just that one—but big—station).

Davemart

@SJC?

I am at a loss to work out why you have made that comment?
The article and discussion is on methanol and China.

If everything were judged by the glacial pace of infrastructure roll out in the US, then one would imagine high speed rail impossible, instead of in daily operation over thousands of miles of tracks in several countries.

I am not sure whether China will choose methanol or hydrogen, but whatever they choose it will roll out fast.

Actually, they will probably roll out both, and maybe others like DME.

SJC

We might want to do it here, with many fuel stations owned or under contract by the oil companies, we can not get E85 widely distributed let alone methanol.

Engineer-Poet

Methanol would be very easy to distribute if it was allowed as a gasoline blendstock.  Blending pumps could dispense everything from A20 to M100.  However, it is not allowed in motor gasoline in the USA.

SJC

Many changes could be made if the people controlling it allow.

Thomas Pedersen

"However, it is not allowed in motor gasoline in the USA."

That wouldn't have anything to do with a powerful farming lobby, would it?..

Installing solar cells on farm land and converting the power to hydrogen to combine with CO2 from remaining concentrated sources (cement, waste, biomass combustion) could produce an order of magnitude more hydro-carbon fuel per unit area than farming and arguably be less intrusive to nature.

Engineer-Poet

Yes, I suppose you could cover a square kilometer of farm land with PV panels, and produce perhaps 150 MW(peak) at noon on your best sunny day given the required spacing and tilt, and a 20% capacity factor if you've picked your site really well.

Or you could take that same square kilometer and generate at least 2200 MW(e) 93% of the time, with no emissions save maybe some water vapor.  That would leave roughly 66 square kilometers you would NOT have to cover with PV panels, and a whole lot of batteries you wouldn't have to buy either.

What to choose, what to choose?

Thomas Pedersen

I'd certainly choose nuclear - to protect the environment from both farming and/or solar panels.

Roger Pham

@EP and Thomas,
PV panels could be installed over existing parking lots, departments stores, supermarkets, apartments, and warehouses. For example, let's take the case of Los Angeles, CA, have 4 million people over 503 sq mi area = 1,287 sq km, having peak electricity demand of 6,500 MW, with average demand around 45% = peak x 4,000 hrs annually. Solar capacity factor in that region average around 2,000 hrs annually over rated capacity, thus is roughly 1/2 of average demand, thus will need around 13,000 MW of nameplate solar capacity.
Each square km = 1,000,000 sq m and at 20% efficiency = 200 MW in nameplate capacity. Thus, dividing the 13,000 MW capacity needed over 200 MW per sq km = 65 sq km. Thus, out of a total surface area of 1,287 sq km of LA city, it clearly NOT difficulty to find 65 sq km area of parking lots, apartments, warehouses, factories, supermarkets and department stores to mount solar PV panels.
The thing is, you can't put your nuclear power station anywhere within LA city limit, thus the beauty of solar energy.

Engineer-Poet

Your mass solar farm is in darkness when your demand peak hits, Roger.  What are you going to do about that?

Roger Pham

@EP: >>>>>"Your mass solar farm is in darkness when your demand peak hits, Roger. What are you going to do about that?"
Answer: Produce Hydrogen during solar peak, at 82% efficiency LHV and as much as 95% efficient HHV, by using Sunfire or H2Pro electrolysis techs. Store the H2 within the local residential piping system for natural gas, which can tolerate even 100% H2. Seasonal quantity of H2 can be stored in existing underground natural gas storage system. In the evening, fire up the residential fuel cells for electricity while the waste heat is used for making hot water for bathing, dish washing and laundry. At 95%-efficient electrolysis, calculated based on HHV, the round trip efficiency can be above 90%, which can easily rival the most efficient battery storage system.
In winter nights, the home-based FC can charge your EV while the waste heat can keep your room warm.
Summer A/C cooling energy can be stored as ice, to be used to cool the house later, since ice is the cheapest form of thermal energy storage. So, a water/ice tank is needed nearby the outdoor A/C condenser unit to produce ice using daytime solar energy.

Even with nuclear energy, energy storage is still necessary, because peak demand is usually more than twice the average demand, and a nuclear power station should be run at near peak output to recoup the high investment cost. So, we will still need massive grid-utility energy storage capacity at seasonal scale, too big to be satisfied by battery alone, because spring and fall use far less energy than summer and winter, while the nuclear output is constant. Besides, we will still need to make Hydrogen from nuclear energy for making fertilizer, chemical feedstock, steel furnace, and to power surface transportation either directly or combined with CO2 to make liquid fuels. There is now at least 2 separate techs for storing H2 at 4-5 times the volumetric density of previous, or twice the density of liquid H2, but at only 10-120 bar room temperature, instead of at 700 bar.
So, we should look at the H2 economy as an enabler of both RE and Nuclear Energy and not as an opposition. H2 and battery should complement each other and should not be viewed as being in competition to one another.

Engineer-Poet

Ye gods, Roger.  Talk about snake oil!

Produce Hydrogen during solar peak, at 82% efficiency LHV and as much as 95% efficient HHV, by using Sunfire or H2Pro electrolysis techs.... In the evening, fire up the residential fuel cells for electricity while the waste heat is used for making hot water for bathing, dish washing and laundry. At 95%-efficient electrolysis, calculated based on HHV, the round trip efficiency can be above 90%

Let's see some evidence for these efficiency figures, and the engineering practicality of achieving them.

Note that the EROEI of PV is around 6.8 before any investment and losses in storage.  That's well below the minimum required to run our society.  Nobody is running a PV plant on PV panels.

Store the H2 within the local residential piping system for natural gas, which can tolerate even 100% H2. Seasonal quantity of H2 can be stored in existing underground natural gas storage system.
  1. How do you expect all the gas appliances to cope with wild swings from 1036 BTU/ft³ for NG down to 275 BTU/ft³ for H2?
  2. How do you expect the same to cope with the wild swings in flame speed?
  3. What kind of FC are you talking about here?  PEM FCs can't handle methane.
  4. You need 3.8 times as much volume of H2 to carry the same energy as NG.  Pipelines are often running at maximum capacity already; are you going to magically expand them 4-fold?
  5. There are bacteria which consume H2 to metabolize sulfur and turn it into H2S.  Are your NG reservoirs free of sulfur-bearing rocks?
  6. Of those which are, you're going to be able to store about 1/4 of the energy as H2 compared to CH4.  How's that going to work out?
There are more essential questions, but that should temper your enthusiasm.  I had thought you were wiser than that.

Roger Pham

@EP: The UK is in the process of replacing natural gas with H2 in their piping system. They have many publications which should answer your many questions. The use of H2 to replace NG is no longer an academic issue, but is being implemented as the quickest way to eliminate CO2 and methane emission, the two main GHG that cause the most heat retention. The NG is being turned into H2 right from the source, while the resulting high-pressure and pure CO2 stream is immediately injected down into oil and gas wells, at next to zero additional cost in efficiency nor money, thus largely eliminating CO2 and natural gas emission from the NG distribution system. Talking about killing 2 birds with one stone.

Briefly, the low energy content of the H2 is made up for by the very high speed of sound in H2 at 1270 m/s vs NG at 446 m/s, meaning that the H2 can be flowed at ~3 times the maximum speed that NG can be flowed in a pipeline before reaching non-compressibility issue. Furthermore, H2 has lower viscosity than NG, permitting high-speed flow without incurring much more friction loss.

The lower volumetric storage density of H2 vs NG is made-up for by:
1.. The combination of solar and wind which complement one another, such that summer is abundant in solar but winter is more abundant in wind, thus greatly reduce the seasonal e-storage quantity, in comparison to dependency to fossil fuel as of now.
2.. The use of combined power and heat in distributed generation setting in the winter, that permits charging of EV's at night while using the waste heat for bed-room heating, as well as evening electricity use while waste heat used for hot-water heating. This is more energy-efficient than the waste of 50% of the natural gas' thermal energy by the power plant during power generation and power transmission.

3.. Multizone home heating and home A/C use can reduce energy consumption to 1/2-1/3 of current home energy consumption for cooling and heating.

4.. The use of ice as thermal energy storage for home cooling can significantly reduce the use of H2 or natural gas for home cooling during sun-down period.

Engineer-Poet

Roger, I asked you about EROEI.  You ignored it.

I asked you about the ability of appliances to cope with radical changes in fuel characteristics.  You ignored that too, and the question about what kind of domestic FC can switch seamlessly from NG to H2.

I asked you about energy capacity of reservoirs when methane is replaced with H2.  You went on about theoretical flow capacity in pipelines assuming near-sonic gas speeds.  Well, I went and looked up some stuff about pipeline flow rates.  I couldn't find anything which stated flow speeds directly or allow me to calculate them, but I did find a mention of Reynolds numbers peaking out at about 4 million.  4 million is a VERY long way from sonic speeds.  In other words, the stuff you posted is wrong, and it only pertains to the pipeline part anyway.

Are you trying to baffle me with BS?  Because you know I do not suffer fools gladly.

Roger Pham

@EP,
You assume Natural Gas mixed with H2 at various proportions, but in the UK, the plan is to replace NG totally with 100% H2, so that the gas combustion appliances only need to have the gas jet changed once, to increase the fuel flow rate with respect to air intake. So, only H2-FC is necessary, and not having to deal with NG-FC at all.
Your assumption about NG pipeline already run at maximum capacity does not hold true at all times of the year, depending on the season. Summer and Winter demand for NG is much higher than Spring and Fall, however, with the case of H2, it ain't necessarily so. This is because a society depending on a 50:50 mix of solar vs wind will have a lot of solar energy in the summer, so doesn't need H2 in the same amount as a society depending heavily on NG for electricity, and wind is plentiful in the winter, so if 50% of energy comes from wind, then winter will not need H2 as much as needing NG, especially with distributed power and heat generation.

Flow speed of NG in long-distance pipelines must be kept low in order to keep drag loss to manageable level. H2 will be produced mostly locally, and stored in nearby geologic storage, so will only travel a small fraction of NG pipelines, thus can flow several times faster for a given pressure drop in comparison to a long-distance pipeline, when needing to meet occasional periods of high demand. Hopefully this time less BS than before, and thanks for your valuable feedback.

Roger Pham

@EP, Furthermore, EROI of solar PV is found to be around 16 and getting higher, while EROI for wind is around 20. Very doable. https://www.vikramsolar.com/eroi-of-solar-energy/

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