Nov 25

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Many months on the road in Europe opened up a range technological connections and directions, to take the TRYBRID project from concept , to engineered solution.p8250386.JPG

Several days in Leipzig, Germany, with the founder of the Marine Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, opened up a range of opportunities and directions. christian-machens-heller-hintergrund.jpgChristian Machen’s who founded the association, was also the builder of the worlds very first hydrogen fuel cell boat. Christian will be TRYBRID’s European H2 Project Manager.

Important at this meeting , was a discussion about the emphasis that could be applied to the options and methods for generating and storing hydrogen. The TRYBRID has both natural gas, and photovoltaic energy as primary source of energy, to make and store hydrogen.

The solar generation of hydrogen makes 99.99% pure hydrogen, which when manufactured, stored and used, losses something like 60% of the original electrical energy generated. To refuel the boat for say an Atlantic crossing,  some 250 days of sunshine are needed. This is too slow. The other difficulty is the electrolyser itself. Whilst Statoil Hydro in Norway has the Inergon electrolyser coming on stream, its re-engineering to deal with the G forces of ocean use, are not well advanced, delaying and adding cost to the project.data.jpg

The production of pure H2, has several storage related issues, for example, to pure H2′s need for difficult compression, where oil cannot easily be used in the compression pump motors, to avoid contaminating the pure H2. Storage difficulty raises the question; can H2 be made on demand, as needed, without being stored at all?

Talks with steam reforming leaders like Hygear in Holland, and WS in Germany, presented the ability of natural gas,  to be  steam reformed in amounts sufficient to supply a reformate based PEM fuel cell, at a rate that the fuel cell demands. This therefore precludes the need for pure H2 storage, allowing more conventional natural gas p8250391.JPGstorage, to be the base energy source.

By steam reforming gas, the TRYBRID becomes a very transparent and honest demonstration, of the full H2 story, as so much myth still surrounds the understanding of H2, that for example, does not take into account the amount of energy needed to make and store H2 in the first place. H2 is as much an energy storage medium, as it is a pure energy. Trybrid, running both gas fired diesel engines, and fuel cell, will make a beautiful example of the step by step efficiency improvement, when you use the same energy, one burnt in combustion, and another, used chemically through fuel cell membrane. There will not be huge efficiency difference between the fuel cells, with the fuel cell at  the beginning of its evolution, whereas diesel combustion  is at the height of its evolution. But there will be positive difference.

So the conclusion from Europe’s meeting of minds, shifts the emphasis of TRYBRID, to a more logical stepping stone demonstration, as we shift from the carbon, to a cleaner H2 future, by using a cleaner, greener, stepping stone fuel, namely, natural gas.p8310430.JPG

This does not detract from the potential of TRYBRID’s photovoltaic power, which alone would power the boat to 5 knots of speed, or more. Small electrolysers, capable  of  ocean movement, could be deployed to add H2 to the mix, but its arguably better to store the electric energy from the PV cells, straight into 2000kg of lithium batteries, for ‘hotel power’, and for short runs around the harbour. At sea, any PV energy made, will simply be directed and used by the electric drive motor. This way, little PV energy is lost. Batteries loose  a  small percentages of energy deposited, whilst storing energy in H2, looses 60% or more of the original ‘deposit’.p8310428.JPG

The use of natural gas and H2 onboard ship has important implication and application for the transport sector. The p8310422.JPGproject development, through the MH&FCA, affords links to engineering accreditation organisations. These organizations are seemingly keen to be involved. With oil being both dirty and increasingly expensive, there is considerable merit, in fact need, to promote the cheaper and more prolific natural gas as a transport fuel. Trybrid is a useful vehicle, on which engineering safety standards can be developed.

From patrol or military perspective, the ability to be able to refuel  from a rig, without the fuel being refined, has major strategic implications.

With LNG getting more traction, TRYBRID may well have the option of refuelling with natural gas in a frozen form, with obvious space saving potential, but talks on the logistics on global LNG refuelling are ahead. LNG’s production via floating refineries, already under construction, adds interesting potential. But core NG storage in high pressure, carbon fibre tanks.

p8250389.JPGDiscussions with Nedstack in Holland, and Ballard the world leaders in PEM fuel cells, open doors to the new  p8310429.JPGreformate based PEM fuel cell, that run on a rich H2 brew, and not 99.99% pure H2. This shift in fuel cell thinking, has potentially profound implication for assisting the progressive shift from carbon fuels to fuel cells in transport. The suitability of this type of PEM, already deployed by the navies of Europe, where the steam reformer to match the fuel cell, has already been ‘navalized’, gives TRYBRID a great head start, with much of the engineering R&D complete, bar tuning the reformers to pure NG.

It seems the time is right, for TRYBRID, with the better suited technologies coming on stream, just as TRYBRID plans the world’s first circumnavigation by fuel cell.

handelskammer5_721.gifThere are other advantages in using the H2 rich brew, as the gas fired diesels onboard TRYBRID, to push the boat to sprint speed, can benefit from the availability of H2. Hydrogen cleans up and burns the much of the toxic particles in conventional internal combustion, demonstrated rather well, by putting a white sock over the exhaust pipe of a diesel engine. The sock goes grey quickly, when the diesel is burnt conventionally. The same sock stays cleaner a lot longer, when a dash of H2 is added to the gas, or gas and diesel mix. With 1.2Million alleged to be dying of diesel particulate emission in China and India each year, the emission quality is a big issue. TRYBRID solves this problem, and adds better efficiency to the process.

So the emphasis on natural gas reformed to hydrogen, makes TRYBRID much more in tune with the needs of the current world energy realities, where oil is expensive, where gas is clean, and made cleaner via the TRYBRID process, and where C02 is a dirty word.

The European connections also introduced the project to DA Electric in Holland, who have world specialist skills in designing the electric motor, to match the propeller, through advanced controller design. More than half the energy p9010433.JPGmade by the propulsion motors, is lost when turning a rotating energy, to thrust through the water.  It’s extremely important, given this huge loss, to use the very best in technology and design to minimise this loss. Holland provides TRYBRID this solution.

TRYBRID, through months of work in investigations in Europe, now has the team , the technology, and the suppliers, to move into detail engineering and construction.p9030455.JPG

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