Hyundai H350 Fuel Cell Concept brings hydrogen power to light commercial vehicles PDF Print E-mail


It looks like a van and drives like a van, but it's powered by hydrogen

It looks like a van and drives like a van, but it's powered by hydrogen


 Electric powertrains might hog the headlines, but hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are also shaping up as a viable alternative to internal combustion engines because they combine the zero local emissions (if you don't count water) benefits of electric vehicles with the convenience of being able to top up at a fuel pump. The new Hyundai H350 Fuel Cell Concept takes just four minutes to refuel and can travel up to 422 km (262 mi) on a single tank.

The H350 Fuel Cell Concept made made its debut at IAA in Hannover, where it shares floorspace with new electric vans like the Volkswagen e-Crafter and the futuristic Mercedes Vision Van. Where it deviates from the path taken by these vans is under the floor, where 175 L (46 gal) worth of tanks pressurized to 700-bar hold up to 7.05 kg (15.5 lb) of hydrogen.

That fuel is broken down into protons and electrons in the fuel cell stack, which produces energy to be stored in a small 24-kW lithium-polymer battery pack. An inverter converts the energy in the battery into the alternating current required to power the electric motor, and the only by-product is water vapor.

A peek under the skin of the Hyundai H350 Fuel Cell Concept

The use of hydrogen gives the H350 a huge range advantage compared to a pure battery electric light commercial vehicles. For example, compared to the 208 km (129 mi) you'll get from the 43 kWh battery in the e-Crafter, the Hyundai can cover 422 km (262 mi) on a full tank, and refueling it doesn't take 45 minutes when you're empty.

It's not just range where the hydrogen fuel cell forges ahead, with the 100-kW (134-hp) powertrain able to take the van to 150 km/h (93 mph), rather than the 80 km/h (50 mph) you'll get from an e-Crafter or 120 km/h (75 mph) the Nissan e-NV200 can manage.

Performance aside, there are no real practical drawbacks in terms of cargo room to running hydrogen power compared to gasoline, diesel or electric power. The load area can still hold between 10.5 m(370 cu.ft) and 12.9 m3 (456 cu.ft) in load-hauling guise, and the passenger version still has room for 14 rear seats.

At the moment this is just a concept, but it's not a giant leap to suggest Hyundai has a production model in the works. It already has a Tucson (ix35 outside the US) fuel cell CUV in production, and although hydrogen infrastructre still lags behind charge stations and gas stations, Toyota and Honda have also committed to the technology.

Hydrogen fuel cell train offers pollution-free rail trips PDF Print E-mail

Hydrogen fuel cells aren't gaining a huge amount of traction in cars, where there's a steady move toward electric. But what about regional railways, where long ranges and a lack of powered rails makes electric trains impractical? Alstom thinks that makes plenty of sense -- the French firm has introduced one of the first hydrogen fuel cell trains, the Coradia iLint. The 300-passenger locomotive can travel up to 497 miles at a reasonably brisk 87 miles per hour, all the while spewing nothing more than water. Hydrogen gives it the freedom to run on non-electrified rails, and it's considerably quieter than diesels -- helped in part by batteries that store unused energy.

There are plans to put it into service relatively quickly. The first Coradia iLint should reach a rail line in northern Germany in December 2017, and it won't be surprising if other customers follow suit. The biggest challenge is infrastructure. Train service operators will have to upgrade all their relevant garages and stations with hydrogen filling systems, which could be more than a little expensive when spread across an entire rail network

Methanol Economy: Opportunities in India PDF Print E-mail

NITI Aayog has already set up an Expert Group which will draw up a roadmap for India to tap methanol.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar 15.April.2016, Mumbai

With India’s strong stand on climate change and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to use renewable sources of energy, it seems India is taking methanol much more seriously now. At a NITI Aayog seminar on Methanol Economy earlier this month, Minister of Coal and Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan appealed to PSUs to organise startup funds for research in the field, while Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari pushed for an immediate ‘leapfrog’ into the methanol economy. India has even signed a Statement of Intent with the Methanol Institute of the US to further work on the technology.

Incidentally, NITI Aayog has already set up an Expert Group which will draw up a roadmap for India to tap methanol. The country depends on fossil fuels and petroleum for 80-90% of its energy requirements and around Rs. 4.5 lakh crore is spent every year importing oil. But as Nitin Gadkari said India aiming to bring down its import bill for petroleum to zero. Also, fossil fuels in addition to being non-renewable resources are harmful for the environment.


But why methanol as the alternative fuel? Professor G K Satyprakash, author of Beyond Oil and Gas: Methanol Economy and an expert on methanol, calls it the cleanest fuel known to mankind. “Methanol is the simplest form of alcohol — a single carbon solution — since it has no carbon carbon bond they do not emit particulate matter making the fuel clean,” he has been quoted as saying.

It is easy for India to switch to a methanol economy. Methanol can be easily produced from renewable sources like agricultural waste, forest residue and naptha and biomass waste can be converted through gasification. With small, relatively inexpensive, modifications to the engine, petrol and diesel cars can be made methanol compatible. In fact, if the percentage of methanol is under 15 per cent, even existing engines can run the fuel. It is only M-85 (which is 85% methanol and 15 % gasoline) that needs engine modification. Also, methanol production can be an effective waste management method and effectively use the 1 million tonnes of biomass India produces every month to generate fuel.

Methanol is slowly gaining prominence across the world. Israel recently started using methanol as a fuel, while it has been popular in Brazil for many years. China is the largest producer of methanol and has seen a rapid expansion in consumption and production in the last decade. “Today, the largest usage for methanol in China is direct fuel burning. Chinese have started putting 15% methanol in gasoline. They are also running cars trucks and buses on 100% methanol,” Gregory Dolan, CEO, Methanol Institute USA, said in a television interview.

Pradhan thinks a methanol-based economy can create a lot of employment and entrepreneurship in India. V K Saraswat, Member NITI Aayog and chairperson of the committee on methanol, said India should actively explore methanol and DME as possible long-term substitutes of oil and natural gas as the high amounts of agricultural waste can be beneficially converted to power the country. In a recent paper, the NITI Aayog said: “It would provide a feasible and safe way to store energy, make available a convenient liquid fuel, and assure mankind an unlimited source of hydrocarbons while at the same time mitigating the dangers of global warming.”

There is the added benefit that methanol produced here can be exported to neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan which have comparable economies and with similar energy circumstances. Investing in a methanol economy might be the required push for the energy sector, considering the costs of plunging in new technology and implementing it in a nation as big as India it still is a daunting task.

Nitin Gadkari pushes for leapfrogging into methanol economy Read more at: http://economictimes.ind PDF Print E-mail
NEW DELHI: Can India kick its habit of depending on costly import of petroleum products by getting hooked onto a new form of industrial alcohol called methanol? 

The government's key think tank the National Institute for Transforming India or the NITI Aayog is seriously exploring deploying methanol as a possible way to achieve energy independence for India. A radical idea, it believes, also offers a solution to climate change. 

Is wood alcohol the solution to India's huge .. 

How a former Wal-Mart executive is helping the Air Force cut energy costs PDF Print E-mail

Wal-Mart is one of the nation’s largest private energy consumers, having to power millions of square feet of store space.

So when the Obama administration wanted to cut energy bills for the Air Force — which consumes more energy than any other U.S. agency — it turned to the person who had led similar efforts at Wal-Mart for six years.

As assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy since 2014, Miranda Ballentine has used her private-sector experience to help the Air Force keep its energy costs down.

The Air Force spent $8.5 billion on energy in 2015 —  about 86% of that on jet fuel. But without the changes put in place since 2010, those costs would have been $1.9 billion higher, she said.

The Times spoke with Ballentine about the Air Force’s energy reduction efforts and how they might translate to the private sector. Here’s an edited excerpt.

What makes the Air Force the largest single consumer of energy in the federal government?

We have around 5,000 aircraft … more than the collective aircraft fleets of American Airlines, United, Delta, Southwest, FedEx and UPS combined.

We have about 615 million square feet of building space. If you added up … all of the U.S. Wal-Mart formats, it’s around 615 million square feet.

We have over 80,000 non-tactical vehicles. That’s about five times the number of Yellow Cabs in New York. And it just takes a lot of energy, a lot of BTUs, to power all that stuff. 

What are some of the ways the Air Force is trying to reduce energy usage?

If you can imagine a three-circle Venn diagram, the first piece … is reliable and resilient energy. That means a steady flow of energy, whether it’s jet fuel or electrons, and resiliency is all about the ability to continue function in the face of disruptions.

If you drew a second circle … you would have cost-effective energy. And then if you drew a third circle … you would have cleaner sources of energy. So really what we’re after is the center of those circles, that sweet spot of more reliable, cost-effective cleaner sources of power both for our aircraft and for our facilities.

Are there advantages to the Air Force of using clean energy beyond just being environmentally friendly?

In the resilient circle, our historic approach has been to put a diesel generator on the back of mission critical buildings. That approach is not necessarily more cost effective nor is it necessarily cleaner.

And, of course, it’s diesel, and any fossil fuel comes with a supply chain. So if a determined adversary wanted to disrupt not only the electrical grid but also our diesel supply chain, we would be limited to the diesel we have on hand.

So if you can imagine instead an onsite solar project that has built into it the switches that allow it to sever itself from the grid if there were a grid outage but continue generating power on-base, and advanced storage systems. Now you’ve got a fuel source that has no supply chain. As long as the sun is shining, we’re getting electrons.

At Davis–Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona a couple of years ago, we finished a solar project. During peak sunlight, 1 o’clock in the afternoon, that solar array produces enough power to power the entire Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. We’re paying about 4.5 cents a kilowatt hour for the power ... compared to 8 cents a kilowatt hour from the grid off-base. So we’re saving a half a million dollars a year. 

The Air Force is using LED lighting on runways to replace traditional lighting. Is that an example of how you’re trying to make things more efficient?

We’re actually using LED technology in all kinds of applications, from parking lot lighting and lighting for walkways all the way to indoor lighting.

How did your experience at Wal-Mart help you at the Air Force?

An electron is an electron, a building is a building, an HVAC system is an HVAC system. In that sense they are very, very similar.

A big difference … is the government sector has far more acquisition rules, boundaries and policies that they need to adhere to. The federal acquisition rules absolutely make procurement of technologies more complicated and more difficult.

Are there certain things that translated well in terms of what you might have done at Wal-Mart to what you’ve done at the Air Force?

Wal-Mart is very, very successful in leveraging … its global size and scale to not only save money on technologies and drive down the price of technologies, but also provide manufacturing and consumer certainty to the manufacturers.

I would say that at the Air Force, we’re still at the very beginning stages, at least in energy technologies, in leveraging our size and scale. We still function as essentially independent little towns all across the country, and we have not yet really cracked the code on how to leverage that scale to drive down prices of these technologies for ourselves.

How might some of the energy efficiency and reductions efforts that have been undertaken by the Air Force translate to the private sector? 

It never ceases to amaze me how many organizations are still afraid of renewable energy technologies. Those organizations can look at large private-sector companies like Wal-Mart or Ikea or Coke or PepsiCo who have really gone big, large-scale on these technologies. They also can now look at their U.S. military.

All of us are moving very quickly in these technologies because they are proven, they’re reliable, they’re clean and they contribute to resiliency over time. We need resiliency to make sure our military mission can function even if there's a disruption of the electricity grid. 

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