Posted on March 4th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
Illustration of an old chemical recipe
Researchers at Stanford University and the Aarhus University in Denmark recently uncovered a 30-year-old recipe for using molybdenum sulfide (moly sulfide) in order to split water and collect the hydrogen gas. Molybdenum sulfide is a replacement for expensive the platinum catalyst used in most electrolyzers.
According to GizMag, “Enter moly sulfide. Since World War II, moly sulfide has been used by petroleum engineers in the refinement of oil. It was thought to be inefficient for the electrolysis of hydrogen from water due to the molecular structure at its surface.
“That was until Stanford Engineering’s Jens Nørskov, then at the Technical University of Denmark, noticed this structure differed at the edges of the crystal lattice. Around the edges, hydrogen production was possible as the structure has only two chemical bonds rather than the three seen elsewhere in its structure. This meant moly sulfide was capable of electrolyzing hydrogen, if only at the edges.
“Next came the Eureka moment, when the researchers uncovered a 30-year-old recipe for double bonded moly sulfide. Using this recipe, nanoclusters of double-bonded moly sulfide were synthesized and deposited on an electrically conductive sheet of graphite to form a cheap electrode alternative to platinum.”
Now, I’ve talked about platinum free fuel cells and electrolyzers many times in the past. With my somewhat self-admittedly fuzzy crystal ball, I predict, that in the near future platinum free will be the standard for these devices and herald in a new era of hydrogen technology.
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Posted on February 26th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
Right now, Walmart has 535 Plug Power GenDrive fuel cell units in operation at two distribution sites in Canada and one in the United States. The fuel cells provide power to material handling units such as forklifts in the distribution centers.
And Walmart has found the fuel cell forklifts to be of such good value that it has gone ahead and ordered 1,738 more units to be deployed over the next two years. The units will power material handling units at an additional six Walmart locations in North America.
According to Andy Marsh, CEO at Plug Power, “This agreement is a tripling of Walmart’s commitment to Plug Power’s fuel cells, and is encouraging because it comes from a company with so much experience using our product. This is a milestone for Plug Power and its ongoing business relationship with Walmart. Plug Power’s GenDrive products have a positive impact on the productivity of our customer’s operations. We have proven to be a trusted partner and are confident that GenKey will enhance Walmart’s material handling operations.”
Besides the GenDrive fuel cells, Walmart is also purchasing the hydrogen fueling infrastructure needed for the material handling units along with a six-year service contract for all six sites.
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Posted on February 25th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
Hyundai won’t be officially introducing its next generation fuel cell concept, the Intrado until the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, March 6 – 16. But, they’ve decided to give us another sneak peek anyway. The first time I had talked about Hyundai’s tease was in December 2013.
The Hyundai Intrado features a lightweight design built upon a carbon fiber frame, is simpler to repair and offers a next gen fuel cell and lithium-ion battery combo.
According to Hyundai, “The super-lightweight structure of Intrado demonstrates Hyundai’s desire to produce lighter, stronger cars that are even better to drive and simpler to repair. The central carbon frame structure is constructed using new, patent-pending manufacturing and joining techniques that together have the potential to change the way cars are made. The strength and rigidity of this central structure also allow body panels to be constructed from any material, giving designers greater flexibility and aiding repairability. Lightweight steel impact structures further enhance crash performance and repair times.
“Intrado is powered by a next-generation hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain that utilises a Li-ion 36 kWh battery. Refuelled in just a few minutes, Intrado has a range of up to 600 kilometres and emits only water. In addition to improved performance and increased range, Intrado promises more responsive and agile driving dynamics, thanks to the reduced weight and greater efficiency of its powertrain.”
The name “Intrado” according to Hyundai comes from the underside of an aircraft wing, the part that creates lift. When inspecting the Intrado, Hyundai wants viewers to see a combination of aircraft and high end mountain bike.
Since the Geneva Motor Show is just around the corner, the next Hyundai tease will be the real deal.
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Posted on February 19th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientists and researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) have been working on using both natural plant life and artificial leaves (respectively) in order to create hydrogen gas. NREL scientists are tweaking two iron-sulfur-containing ferredoxins of a certain strain of algae while the ASU researchers are working with artificial photosynthesis.
According to NREL, “Using sunlight and water to produce potential transportation fuels such as hydrogen is considered a promising solution in the quest for developing clean, abundant, domestic alternatives to petroleum.
“By analyzing the interacting partners and reactions catalyzed by each of the six ferredoxins (FDX), they found that FDX1 serves as the primary electron donor to hydrogen production via photosynthesis. FDX2 can do the job, but at less than half the rate, while FDX3 through FDX6 appear to play no role in this particular reaction.”
Now, the ASU researchers have built an artificial leaf that mimics natural plant life in that it takes in sunlight and water and produces hydrogen gas.
According to Science Daily, “The researchers took a closer look at how nature had overcome a related problem in the part of the photosynthetic process where water is oxidized to yield oxygen …
“…They then designed an artificial relay based on the natural one and were rewarded with a major improvement … They also found subtle magnetic features of the electronic structure of the artificial relay that mirrored those found in the natural system. Not only has the artificial system been improved, but the team understands better how the natural system works. This will be important as scientists develop the artificial leaf approach to sustainably harnessing the solar energy needed to provide the food, fuel and fiber that human needs are increasingly demanding.”
Harnessing the power of natural plant life and developing artificial leaves holds great promise for future hydrogen production. By using or imitating plants, scientists are only one or two breakthroughs away from producing cheap hydrogen at a commercial scale.
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Posted on February 18th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
A fuel cell version of the classic Tuk-Tuk auto rickshaw in India has been unveiled at the Auto Expo Motor Show in New Delhi. The vehicle makers are attempting to develop a low cost hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for the marketplace.
According to Birmingham City University, “The joint collaborative project between the University, DYP-DC and Spencer Ashley has been set up to produce a four-wheeled replacement for the abundant auto-rickshaw vehicle, affectionately known as the Tuk Tuk utility vehicle.
“The powertrain for the new and innovative car which produces zero exhaust emissions, consists of a hydrogen fuel cell, an electric motor and a complex control system. Hydrogen for the vehicle is stored in a cluster of low pressure metal hydride cylinders, providing a safe means of fuelling the system. A thermal compressor retrieves the produced hydrogen by splitting water into its component elements – hydrogen and oxygen – via solar energy. Hydrogen storage cylinders can then be used to power equipment including mobile phones, computers and lighting in remote and developing areas or in a humanitarian disaster situation, as well as powering an electric vehicle.”
So, there you have it. The fuel cell Tuk-Tuk may not be a luxury hydrogen SUV as some automakers have been building, but this utilitarian passenger vehicle may help bring in a new era of zero emission cars into the worldwide marketplace.
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Posted on February 12th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
ITM Power has received a contract to build and place 5 hydrogen fueling stations on the Isle of Wight in Great Britain. Four of the stations will be for refueling land-based vehicles and one station will be used for refueling marine vessels.
According to ITM Power, “ITM Power has been granted planning permission for an 80kg/day hydrogen refuelling station at four locations and at one for a 15kg/day marine refuelling station. All planning applications submitted on the Isle of Wight have been successful. ITM has chosen two of these sites to take forward for installation of hydrogen refuellers ready for operation in November 2014, as part of the EcoIsland Hydrogen Vehicle Refueller project on the Isle of Wight, supported by funding from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board …
“…The sites surveyed included two owned by Vestas; one being their R&D centre at Stag Lane and the other Monks Brook, one operated by Scotia Gas Networks in East Cowes, and one at the St Cross Business Park, Newport. The marine refueller is to be sited on the dock-side at Cheetah Marine in Ventnor. ITM Power has decided to proceed with the site owned by Scotia Gas Networks, providing an opportunity to further develop commercial links with SGN.”
A year ago I had talked about how ACTA and EcoIsland Partnership CIC had agreed to make Great Britain’s largest and southernmost island, the Isle of Wight, the first self-sustainable region in the country. Then and now, hydrogen is planned to be a large part of this island’s culture.
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Posted on February 11th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
Scientists at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are using green algae mutant strains (not to be confused with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) to produce hydrogen. The particular strain of algae is called Chlamydomonas reinhardtii which contains properties of both plants and animals.
According to NREL, “The finding suggests ways to increase the production of hydrogen by algae, which could help turn hydrogen into a viable alternative fuel for transportation.
“Using sunlight and water to produce potential transportation fuels such as hydrogen is considered a promising solution in the quest for developing clean, abundant, domestic alternatives to petroleum …
“…Recent papers on the same green alga species indicate that it is possible to genetically eliminate certain competitive electron-utilizing pathways, and that directing more electrons instead towards the cell’s hydrogenase does increase hydrogen production. In an industrial setting, green algal mutant strains optimized for hydrogen gas production would be cultivated in a sealed bioreactor and the hydrogen gas produced would be collected and stored for use in fuel cells.”
So, coming someday soon to a theatre near you, may be your very own backyard bioreactor. Homegrown hydrogen may not be as sci-fi as you think within a few short years.
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Posted on February 6th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
Michael Lynch, a contributor to Forbes, has written a funny “future” overview of hydrogen car development in California. Mr. Lynch’s satirical prognostication pokes fun at the government and governor of California.
According to Mr. Lynch, “In January 2015, with hydrogen vehicles still costing nearly $100,000, the state of California decides to hold auto executives hostage. After a month of minimal progress, the state moves the executives into cages suspended over shark tanks. Even when their families are added, however, no progress is made and a court decision frees them. The prison guards union sues to block the move, but compromises by agreeing that the guards will be kept on salary after the prisoners leave.
“December 2015, the state of California admits that it has been unable to generate scientific breakthroughs for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles using government mandates, so it has relaxed the timeline by a decade. However, to demonstrate its commitment to the concept, the state announces mandates for the development of anti-gravity devices, fusion power, and a cure for cancer.”
This futuristic hydrogen car conspiracy tale gave me a big chuckle. In fact I laughed and rolled around on the ground so much I gave myself a wedgie. Don’t ask me how that happened.
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Posted on February 4th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
Hollywood stars are nothing new in regard to hydrogen cars. For instance, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Edward Norton, Cameron Diaz, Placido Domingo and Magic Johnson have all driven one.
But, now a couple of Hollywood stars are not only driving hydrogen cars but testing them in extreme weather as well. For instance, Diane Kruger from the movie Inglorious Basterds and Joshua Jackson from the TV series Fringe have taken a Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL to California’s Death Valley.
They took a trip to one of the driest places on the planet without carrying water and drank the exhaust water from the Mercedes. Of course the capture method for the waste water was modified somewhat.
According to Daimler, “Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson are now showing in a film just how much potential the fuel cell drive system offers – on a trip in California’s Death Valley, one of the driest places in the world.”
Here’s the Youtube video: http://mb4.me/drive4water
I get email every once in a while from someone who is excited that the fuel cell vehicles may be putting out too much water and that this will contribute to global warming.
Well, according to the CaFCP, “A fuel cell doesn’t produce enough water to fill your glass. When we drink tailpipe water for a camera … it’s not more than a few drops. If fact, fuel cells produce about the same amount of water as gasoline vehicle – about 1/3 cup for a full day of driving.”
So, in other words, don’t try this at home. Leave it to the professionals Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson to go to Death Valley and drink tailpipe water. For everyone else who goes to the desert, bring plenty of water for your trip and come back healthy and well hydrated.
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Posted on January 30th, 2014 by Hydro Kevin
The problem with hydrogen cars is not the cars themselves but the infrastructure needed to support them. And industrial gas supplier Air Products made a move that will help station owners using its hydrogen high pressure tube trailers.
According to Automotive World, “This state-of-the-art SmartFuel® high pressure tube trailer features specialised composite cylinders for hydrogen storage that enable cost effective hydrogen from central production facilities to be delivered directly to the fuelling station at a pressure well above 350 bar; a significant enhancement on the existing 200 bar industrial hydrogen delivery models. This increased pressure removes the need for onsite compression for 350 bar vehicle refuelling and significantly reduces site compression for 700 bar vehicle refuelling. Station operators see this benefit translated into lower capital investment in the station hardware, as well as a marked reduction in station operating costs.
“Minimising the need for compression on site naturally leads to higher levels of reliability, as Air Products has demonstrated first hand at its SmartFuel® bus refuelling station in London, where high onstream levels are consistently in line with industry expectations. The SmartFuel® high pressure tube trailer delivery concept also significantly reduces the space needed to deploy hydrogen refuelling stations, particularly compared with onsite hydrogen production solutions, such as electrolysis.”
So there you have it, another cost-saving measure to help push the hydrogen fueling infrastructure forward.
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