Hydrogen Hypothesis: Conference Case Studies

Luke Watkins is in the final year of his PhD in the School of Chemical Engineering & Advanced Materials at Newcastle University. He was funded by NIReS to attend the 2013 Hypothesis Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Conference in Edinburgh in July 2013. In this second instalment of four posts, Luke takes us through some of the case studies and facts that caught his attention during the event.

Hydrogen Office

The organisers of the conference, Pure Energy® Centre [1], took this great opportunity to showcase their recent projects, including a case study of the UK’s first hydrogen heating system, which is part of the Hydrogen Office Project [2]. This project, operated by Bright Green Hydrogen, shows how a commercial office in the coastal town of Methil in Scotland can be supported by a novel renewable, hydrogen and fuel cell energy system, and how the local community is engaged with the project. A wind turbine at a local school generates electricity to power all lighting and computers within the separate Hydrogen Office. Surplus electricity from the turbine is used to produce hydrogen from water through electrolysis, which is then stored. When there is insufficient wind to power the Hydrogen Office the stored hydrogen is used in a fuel cell to supply electricity. These electrolysers produced excess hydrogen, so a second project was adopted to distribute the excess hydrogen to Fife Renewables Innovation Centre (FRIC) where it was used in a hydrogen boiler that is 98% efficient and has carbon free emissions.

It is an exciting project that demonstrates collaboration between separate organizations, in the conception of an energy network and utilization of trading excess energy. This project also features in The Cool 100 book, a publication that showcases 100 inspiring, educational, and practical examples of sustainable energy supply [3]. Interestingly, this collaboration with the school has only aided to increase awareness and education of clean technology to local school children. I think this collaboration is something that should be more prevalent in our schools.

HyEngine

Industrial Products & Pneumatics (IPP), an importer and distributer of renewable energy products and processes, came from Belgium to show off their latest projects during their presentation. They develop components for HyEngine, a modified ICE (internal combustion engine, not in car entertainment as I originally thought) that runs on hydrogen.

Video of the HyEngine

IPP have also converted boats to run on hydrogen which are already used on Amsterdam’s canals, a city that is working on a hydrogen filling facility [4]. Figure 1 demonstrates the current status of the ever expanding hydrogen filling stations within Europe.

I expect the green flags to completely cover the map in 50 years time. IPP are looking for more applications. Other conference attendees have the applications but they have no hydrogen filling facility; it was pointed out that a lot of representatives come to these events to hunt down investors privately due to governments being too slow.


fuelling

Hydrogen fuelling stations in central Europe, September 2013 [5]

The conference helped remind us of the enduring energy problem. Paul Lucchese, President of the New European Research Grouping on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen and Fuel Cell (NERGHY) was keen to point out the EU imports €1 billion of oil a day and that our cars guzzle about €400 million of this oil every single day. Europe’s car manufacturing industry is responsible for €300 million a day of ‘value added’ so it becomes clear that the value added from Europe’s car industry is lower than the oil we buy to fuel the cars. However transport is powered, it is obvious that to improve energy security our energy infrastructure needs some work to clear us from our dependence on fossil fuels.

Tips:

  • Get involved
  • Flash your university logo about
  • Position yourself near free liquid refreshment distribution

Acknowledgements

While only securing my funds for the Hypothesis Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Conference a week before the event, a variety of people I’d never met before had done a top end job at sorting me out and arranging me to attend my first conference. So a massive thanks to Elizabeth Johnson and the rest of the Pure Energy Centre® crew for allowing me to arrange my talk and attendance so late, and also for Jennifer Hazelton and NIReS for their invaluable support.

1.  Pure Energy Centre: Experts in Renewables.  2013 [cited August 2013]

2.  The Hydrogen Office Project.  2013 [cited August 2013]

3.  Cool 100 Book project 2012 [cited August 2013]

4.  Mansveld: the Netherlands is preparing for driving on hydrogen fuel cells.  April 2013  [cited August 2013]

5.  Hydrogen Filling Stations Worldwide.  2013 [cited September 2013]

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