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  • edited August 25
    Excerpts from article above:
    Billed as a “zero emission” mode of transport, the trains mix hydrogen on board with oxygen present in the ambient air, thanks to a fuel cell installed in the roof. This produces the electricity needed to pull the train.
    Hydrogen-based polymer exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells have been around since the early days of space program. Apollo 13 had an accident that nearly ended the mission. https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/ap13acc.html

    PEM fuel cells produced an electrical current when hydrogen reacts with oxygen and water is produced as the only by-product (no CO2). However, there is few infrastructure existed for hydrogen gas in contrast to gasoline and propane stations. Also safety storage of hydrogen is challenging than those liquified natural gas - metal embrittlement.

    It’s good that Germany is making it happens on their fleet trains since they have few choices. Canada has some fleet bus lines powered by PEM fuel cells. It is the lack of infrastructure that limits a wider adoption. Also the high cost of fuel cell cars poses another barrier in the private car industry.

    Electrical vehicles are facing similar challenge on the charging stations across the country, especially along the interstate freeways. So the egg and the chicken question still persists.
  • thanks for your additions, @Sven.
  • edited August 25
    From the Al-Jazeera article: the "gotcha"-
    "hydrogen is not necessarily carbon-free: only “green hydrogen”, produced using renewable energy, is considered sustainable by experts.

    Other, more common manufacturing methods exist, but they emit greenhouse gases because they are made from fossil fuels".
    The great preponderance of hydrogen manufactured today is "grey"- that is, a significant amount of carbon is released during the manufacturing process, which involves the conversion of natural gas. "Green" hydrogen requires using electricity made by a non-polluting source- hydropower, wind, solar, or nuclear to power the electrolysis of water.

    The net effect of the whole scheme then is simply to use hydrogen as a method of storage:
    electricity > hydrogen > electricity.

    Unless the electricity used to make the hydrogen is generated by a non-polluting source, the whole thing is of questionable value from an environmental standpoint.

  • agreed. i just learned something.
  • Thank you. Great catch on the grey hydrogen.
  • Grey hydrogen moving the train is better than using diesel.
  • +1. True dat.
  • Can't argue with that. On another optimistic note, this technology puts in place a good building block for further emission reduction as more and more renewable electric power is added to the existing grids, reducing the ratio of "grey" to "green" hydrogen.
  • Thanks, @Crash- very interesting and optimistic, and fits well with the other commentary posted above.
  • Storage and transport have been challenging for hydrogen in the past, but I believe they can be solve. In the long run, hydrogen economy would be most beneficial to the human mankind and the environment.
  • edited September 6
    "Out of thin air: new solar-powered invention creates hydrogen fuel from the atmosphere"

    From The Guardian, here's some interesting news from Australia:
    Researchers say their prototype produces hydrogen with greater
    than 99% purity and works in air as dry as 4% relative humidity


    Researchers have created a solar-powered device that produces hydrogen fuel directly from moisture in the air. The prototype produces hydrogen with greater than 99% purity and can work in air that is as dry as 4% relative humidity. The device could be powered by solar or wind energy, and researchers envisage the device as a useful tool in regions where liquid water is not readily available for producing hydrogen.

    Hydrogen is a zero-carbon fuel that yields only water as a byproduct when combusted. However, pure hydrogen is not abundant in nature and producing it requires energy input. Large-scale production commonly involves fossil fuels that generate carbon emissions.

    The device is comprised of spongy material with a hygroscopic (relating to humidity) fluid that absorbs moisture from the air, similar in function to silica gel sachets. The absorbed water molecules are then split at electrodes into hydrogen and oxygen gasses, a process known as electrolysis.

    The device is estimated to produce up to 93 litres of hydrogen a square metre an hour. Ten square metres of this unit can power a whole house, replacing natural gas for cooking and heating. The prototypes are still only small in size, and the team has plans to create 1 sq metre and 10 sq metres units in the coming year.

    “It’s going to provide us with direction out of some pretty hard-to-mitigate industries such as transport. We have no alternative to diesel at the moment … hydrogen is a really good option.”
    The preceding are excerpts from the original Guardian article, and were heavily edited for brevity.

    Note: The article very briefly mentions that "The absorbed water molecules are then split at electrodes into hydrogen and oxygen gasses, a process known as electrolysis."

    There's certainly nothing new about electrolysis, so the main development in this research is evidently the recovery of water from the atmosphere by the "spongy material with a hygroscopic liquid".

    That could be important though, in areas with little in the way of surface water. That type of area might include desert, where the electrical power needed for electrolysis could be obtained through solar or wind energy, which could then obtain hydrogen from the "spongy material".

    It's beginning to look like there may indeed be answers to at least some energy problems. It won't happen overnight, but there are lots of building-blocks gradually being put into place.

  • edited September 6
    @Crash- Aren't there a number of small islands in the Hawaii chain which are unpopulated- no water resources, and so forth? Wouldn't they be good locations for solar and wind generation, with cables to the populated islands?

    Such an installation would have pretty high upfront construction costs, but that might be justified because of the very high costs that you now pay for imported energy.
  • edited September 6
    Lana'i is PRIVATELY owned by ..... Larry Ellison.
    "As of 2012, the island was 98% owned by Larry Ellison, co-founder and chairman of Oracle Corporation; the remaining 2% is owned by the state of Hawaii or is privately owned homes. Lanai is a roughly apostrophe-shaped island with a width of 18 miles (29 km) in the longest direction."

    Ni'ihau:
    "Niihau is the only place left in the world where the predominant language is Hawaiian. About 250 natives live on the 73-square-mile island, most working on the Robinsons' cattle and sheep ranch. Guns, alcohol and cigarettes are forbidden. There is no doctor, no jail, no paved roads."

    Kahoolawe:
    "Why is no one allowed on Kahoolawe?
    Access to the Reserve (the island and the 2 miles of ocean surrounding Kaho'olawe) is restricted because of the continued danger of unexploded ordnance. Access to the Reserve is permitted only with authorization of KIRC for specific purposes, such as restoration, education, and culture."

    @Old_Joe: your suggestion is certainly conceivable. Maybe a nightmare to try to implement. There was a huge protest about erecting the new and improved telescope up on Mauna Kea, lasting YEARS. How many other "sacred" native Hawaiian locations might be invented, or uncovered?

    I've not visited the other islands, but there's a big wind-farm on the way up to the North Shore of Oahu. And Oahu is about 600 square miles in size. That's about the same size as Zanzibar.
  • #SGML lithium etf 4x 5x by 2030
  • edited September 16
    The article informs that the Siemens plant is to be powered by a local dedicated wind generating installation. That's excellent.

    It goes on to describe additional electrolyser plants operated or planned by Shell. However, and this is important- no mention is made with respect to the power source for those installations: those plants presumably will be powered from the existing electric grid networks. Two points regarding that:

    • Normally, that wouldn't be a major factor, but Europe, for the foreseeable future, will have a huge shortage of electrical energy because of Russia's termination of the natural gas supply necessary for electric power generation. As a consequence, the cost of electric power in most of Europe has gone through the roof. This makes diversion of electric power to make hydrogen economically and politically questionable.

    • Hydrogen plants operating from the power grid are not especially "green", because the great majority of grid power is produced by generating plants powered by coal or natural gas.

    In the same vein, with drought-caused water shortages becoming a significant problem in various parts of the world, it's been suggested that new desalinization plants may be required. Those plants use a similar electrolyser process, and are also very heavy users of electricity. So, similar issues on that front also.

    The US and Canada are fortunate in that we have large land areas that can be utilized for solar and wind generation. Many other countries (Britain, for example) simply do not have those land resources available.
  • Thanks for the breakdown, OJ.
  • Dated 13th September, '22: Green batteries. Just beginning. Norway, I think. The reporter's first language is obviously not English.

    "Norsk Hydro ASA (OB:NHY) and Altor Fund V AB managed by Altor Equity Partners AB entered into an agreement to acquire 60% from Elkem ASA (OB:ELK) on April 6, 2022. Hydro and Altor Equity Partners each will acquire 30% ownership in Vianode, while Elkem will retain the remaining 40% ownership. An investment decision for a potential first-phase plant for Vianode is expected during the first half of 2022.

    The total investments in the first-phase plant and preparations for a potential full-scale plant are estimated at around NOK 2 billion. The transaction is subject to formal approval by all parties and regulatory approvals, including competition authorities. Norsk Hydro ASA (OB:NHY) and Altor Fund V AB completed the acquisition of Altor Equity Partners AB entered into an agreement to acquire 60% from Elkem ASA (OB:ELK) on September 14, 2022. The transaction is now approved by competition authorities, providing Vianode with significant backing to accelerate the industrialisation of advanced battery materials with a green footprint in Europe
    ."
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