Reading: Fuel for thought

While digging around the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) web site I discovered Fuel for thought, a publication by the Future Fuels Forum 2007. This June 2008 publication informs us how the Future Fuels Forum thinks transport fuels will pan out in our future with modelling from now to 2050.  It is an interesting document and I suggest you read it if you are at all interested in the future of transport fuels in Australia. Click the cover page below to download the PDF (1.5Mb).

challenges and opportunities (PDF)

CSIRO 2008: Fuel for thought - The future of transport fuels: challenges and opportunities (PDF)

Apart from being relatively easy to read and informative for those of us without a scientific or economic background it provides great insight into the conservative information upon which our governments are making decisions that impact your future and mine. It isn’t all conservative mind you. The modelling for a continuing rise in demand for oil and a sharp decline in supply shows we could pay as much as $8 per litre for petrol in the not too distant future and the authors do stress the urgency with which alternatives for oil must be found.

While the document was written before the global financial crisis really started to bite the bulk of it remains relevant. If you do read it I’d like to know what you think so please leave a comment.

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New Holland NH2 hydrogen fuel cell tractor

New Holland Agriculture has won a gold medal at the SIMA Innovation Awards 2009 for their NH2 hydrogen-powered tractor. The NH2 is a key element in New Holland’s Energy Independent Farm concept, a project that hopes to free farmers from the cost of purchased fossil-fuel and allow them to achieve fuel autonomy.

Based on the popular T6000, the experimental NH2 tractor replaces the internal combustion engine with hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity, which drives electric motors to power the tractor. The NH2 tractor is a 120hp working prototype able to perform all the tasks of a T6000, while operating virtually silently and emitting only water.

New Holland NH2

New Holland NH2

The Energy Independent Farm concept envisages farmers producing their own compressed hydrogen from water, using a process called electrolysis or directly from methane by burning waste or biomass. Production systems would be powered by wind farms or solar panels and the hydrogen would be stored at the farm in underground tanks.

New Holland believe farmers are in a unique position to benefit from hydrogen technology. They have the space to install alternative electricity generation systems, such as solar, wind, biomass or waste plants, and then store that power as hydrogen. Apart from the environmental benefits, such a system would allow farmers to become energy independent and improve their financial stability, as fuel costs form a significant proportion of their operating costs.

Source: New Holland Agriculture (UK)

Eden Energy subsidiary patents superconducting hydrogen storage technology

Hythane Company LLC, the wholly-owned US subsidiary of Eden Energy, has announced it has received a US patent for its cryogenic storage vessels for liquid hydrogen. The new technology will advance the practicality of hydrogen cars by optimizing energy storage, reducing or eliminating the need for bulky lithium ion batteries.

Eden Energy

The main use for this technology, called Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES), will be in the automotive industry where it will reduce or eliminate the need for bulky lithium ion batteries. Whether used for traditional hybrids, electric cars, or hydrogen combustion engines, SMES will capture and use energy from the vehicle braking system to reduce or eliminate the use of large, expensive batteries. By combining fuel storage and the battery into a single unit, the range and efficiency of alternative fuel vehicles will be increased, and fuel can be stored in a much smaller space.

Greg Egan, Chief Technology Officer at the Hythane Company and inventor of the SMES system said:

This technology addresses many of the barriers to popular use of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen. By increasing the range and efficiency of hybrid, electric, and hydrogen powered vehicles, SMES has immediate uses today. It also brings us a big step closer to the practical use of pure hydrogen.

The innovation of SMES is that the vehicle fuel tank becomes a storage device to capture electrical energy from a regenerative braking system or other engine generation system, reducing or eliminating the need for on-board batteries. Integrating the SMES system with a liquid cryogenic fuel tank enables superconductivity, providing frictionless energy storage.

Source: Eden Energy

AeroVironment Puma flies for nine hours powered by a fuel cell hybrid system

The AeroVironment Puma is a small unmanned aircraft with a wingspan of 2.6m and weight of 5.7kg. The Puma is hand-launched and is designed to provide aerial observation at line-of-sight ranges up to 10 kilometers.

AeroVironment Puma

On 06 Mar 08 AeroVironment announced that it has flown a Puma powered by an on-board fuel cell battery hybrid energy storage system for over nine hours. This broke the previous Puma flight record of over seven hours. A two-camera payload system provided a live, streaming video feed from the Puma. The nine-hour flight duration more than triples the duration of Puma’s standard battery-only operation.

The hybrid energy storage system use Protonex Technology Corporation’s Pulse™ unmanned aerial vehicle fuel cell system.

Source: AeroVironment

University of Leeds researchers turn glycerol into hydrogen rich gas

Glycerol is a byproduct of biodiesel production and its disposal presents a growing economic and environmental problem. Now researchers at the University of Leeds have shown how glycerol can be converted into a hydrogen rich gas.

The novel process developed by Dr Valerie Dupont and her co-investigators in the University’s Faculty of Engineering mixes glycerol with steam at a controlled temperature and pressure, separating the waste product into hydrogen, water and carbon dioxide, with no residues. A special absorbent material filters out the carbon dioxide, which leaves a much purer product.

Dr Dupont had this to say:

Hydrogen has been identified as a key future fuel for low carbon energy systems such as power generation in fuel cells and as a transport fuel. Current production methods are expensive and unsustainable, using either increasingly scarce fossil fuel sources such as natural gas, or other less efficient methods such as water electrolysis.

Our process is a clean, renewable alternative to conventional methods. It produces something with high value from a low grade by-product for which there are few economical upgrading mechanisms. In addition, it’s a near ‘carbon-neutral’ process, since the CO2 generated is not derived from the use of fossil fuels.”

Dr Dupont believes the process is easily scalable to industrial production and could potentially be an economically important, sustainable – and environmentally friendly – way of meeting the growing demand for hydrogen.

Dr Dupont’s research has been funded with a £270,000 grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under the Energy programme, and is in collaboration with Professors Yulong Ding and Mojtaba Ghadiri from the Institute of Particle Science and Engineering, and Professor Paul Williams from the Energy and Resources Research Institute at the University. Industrial collaborators are Johnson Matthey and D1-Oils.

Source: Leeds University via Hybrid Living

Eden Energy achieves San Francisco International Airport breakthrough

Perth based Eden Energy, in conjunction with Hythane Company (a subsidiary of Eden Energy) and BAF Technologies, have received a $499,800 grant to acquire 14 shuttle buses for operations out of the San Francisco International Airport. The shuttles will run on Eden Energy’s patented Hythane® fuel (a blend of 20% hydrogen and 80% natural gas).

The Hythane® fuelled shuttle buses are expected to reduce nitrous oxides by 56%, non-methane hydrocarbons by 30% and carbon dioxide by 40% over the existing versions. The Hythane® model is also expected to emit 30% less hydrocarbons and 20% less carbon dioxide than the existing shuttle buses.

Source: Eden Energy

The 2007 Michelin Challenge Bibendum

I’ve never heard of the Michelin Challenge Bibendum until now but the following explanation from the Challenge Bibendum web site explains why this event is of great interest to Envirofuel readers.

Challenge Bibendum, created by Michelin in 1998, is a unique event for the promotion of sustainable road mobility. The event is a concerted effort by pre-eminent players in the automotive world – vehicle manufacturers, technical partners, energy suppliers and research institutes – to provide political and economic decision makers, as well as opinion leaders, with insights and in-depth understanding on the latest advanced vehicle technology to help achieve a more fuel-efficient, cleaner, safer and freer-flowing road mobility.

The test and evaluation is conducted in the form of a rally program. There are three vehicle categories: passenger cars, utility vehicles (delivery trucks and urban buses) and urban vehicles (urban cars and urban motorized vehicles).

Audi A5 3.0 TDI

Fuels used in this year’s Bibendum, in no particular order, were:

  • electricity
  • hydrogen
  • LPG
  • B30 biodiesel
  • gas-to-liquids synthetic diesel
  • petrol
  • E85 ethanol
  • E10 ethanol
  • biomass-to-liquid synthetic diesel
  • SunDiesel® synthetic diesel
  • CNG

This year’s rally was held mainly on the public roads in Shanghai, China with sections on highways, local roads and streets in built-up-areas. The tests are divided into two categories, performance and environmental. Performance tests include acceleration and maneuverability while the environmental tests cover local pollution, noise, fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.

Interestingly Audi and Mercedes Benz/Smart are both trumpeting their success at this year’s Bibendum. Audi with their A5 3.0 TDI with ultra low emission system running on synthetic diesel and Mercedes with the E 300 BLUETEC running on fossil diesel.

Here you can find the Audi and Mercedes press releases but if you want an unbiased view of the outcome, and can decipher a few acronyms, the published results are the best bet.

Source: AutoblogGreen, Daimler, Michelin Challenge Bibendum