Highlights from HYPOTHESIS II
by Paul Scott, Touchstone Technology
The NHA meeting in Texas? Not quite, but Norway,
the second largest oil-exporting nation in the world, was the site of the
second biannual meeting of HYPOTHESIS (HYdrogen POwer THeoretical and Engineering
Solutions) during the week of 18-22 August 1997.
Hydrogen production, safety, systems, transportation,
liquid hydrogen, and hydrides were the key topical headings of the sessions.
Fuel cell technology was highlighted on the final day. The 177 attendees
represented 29 countries, with particularly good representation from Japan,
Russia, India, and the Ukraine. The eight attendees from the U.S. repeatedly
found discussions rarely held in the states, such as detailed plans for
reducing CO2 emissions and the effects of
climate change. Climate change as a present reality was suggested by the
exceptional Scandinavian summer, with cited record water temperatures of
25°C in both the Baltic and North Seas, rainless months of the warmest
Norwegian weather since 1921, and the disastrous rains and floods in Poland
Representatives from 50 firms in 11 countries
were welcomed by the attendees, and discussions of product characteristics
were quite as common as academic topics. The worldwide hydrogen equipment
market was prominent.
Renault/Volvo Fuel Cell Car
Renault, Volvo, Air Liquide, Ansaldo, and De
Nora chose this meeting to describe their FEVER fuel cell-powered automobile
design. Jean-Claude Griesemann, Director of Research for Renault, detailed
the subsystems of the PEM fuel cell-powered car being tested now, which
is expected to achieve a 500-km range using 8 kg of liquid hydrogen fuel.
Griesemann addressed concerns about LH2
boil off, citing 12 days storage at which point a controlled release through
a catalytic burner (developed by the Technical Institute of Stockholm, Sweden),
converting the hydrogen to water, would begin.
The drive train is a series of hybrid configurations,
with 3.2-kWh nickel metal hydride battery storage to provide up to 45-kW
in peak power for acceleration and to absorb braking energy. The fuel cell
is sized for 30 kW, with three stacks of 45 cells each operating with 2.5
atm hydrogen and 3 atm of pressurized air. Fuel cell stack efficiency is
cited at 56% at a nominal 0.7 volts per cell, with an overall efficiency
of 38%. The electric drive is claimed 92% efficient. A DC-DC converter is
used to provide 12 and 24 volt auxiliary power. Ballard was acknowledged
to have the lead in power density, but a viewgraph detailed how the Italian
group (Ansaldo/De Nora) was gaining. Fuel cell costs were briefly described,
with present membrane cost of US$270/kW and an objective of $30-$50/kW.
Griesemann noted that, before the introduction
of automotive catalytic convertors in 1993 in France, cars contributed 60%
of CO, 45% of NOx, and 30% of HC emissions.
This technology could be economically mature between 2005 and 2010.
Fossil Fuel SourcesCO2 Sequestration
The three million barrels a day oil production
of Norway is barely exceeded by the four million population. The conference
was organized so as to allow leaders of the local energy industry to give
some of the key HYPOTHESIS addresses.
A dynamic model of reformer operation was given
by Prof. John Amphlett of the Royal Military College of Canada. He uses
a finite difference analysis to investigate the time response of a small
- Wigge Holm, manager for Phillips Petroleum in Norway, discussed the
advanced analytical and production techniques that have maintained the
Ecofisk North Sea oil field as a major producer for over 26 years.
- Helge Konsjerden, of Statoil Research Center, challenged the audience
with Environmental Myths and Realities. He noted that world
oil consumption is four trillion tons/year, and that 60% of the reserves
are in the Middle East. On a per capita basis, he cited, U.S. and Canadian
citizens use eight tons per year each. The use of eight tons in combination
with oxygen generates 35 tons of CO2. He
then described a major (US$300M) investment program in which 500,000 tons
of CO2/year are injected downhole at pressures
to 200 atmospheres to replace product drawn from the Sliepner (North Sea)
oil field. This sequestration program is motivated by Norwegian restrictions
on the release of CO2, including an emissions
tax (reportedly of US$55/ton of CO2).
- Hydrogen production from fossil fuels by means that avoid CO2
release were discussed by Bjorn Gauderneck, of the Norwegian Institute
for Energy Technology. The methods included downhole sequestration and
the plasma torch process commercialized by Kværner. This process
can use natural gas or heavier hydrocarbons as feedstock, and yields carbon
black and hydrogen as saleable products. The electrical power cost is claimed
to not be a dominant factor (at about 4 kWh/100 SCF). A magnetic field
is used to spin the DC arc, and a portion of the product hydrogen is recirculated
to provide part of the feed gas for the arc.
Dr. Heinz Klug, of Daimler-Benz Aerospace, summarized
the German-Russian cryoplane joint venture, noting that a budget of 62 million
DM (15 million of which is Russian) is being directed towards a Dornier
DO328 conversion using a modified PW306B engine. Demonstration flights in
year 2002 are planned. The goal of this program is to prove safe, reliable,
and economically compatible operation.
Klug noted that the growth rate of the aviation
industry, at 6% per year, less an average 2%/yr efficiency increase, results
in A/C CO2 emissions increasing at 4% per
year. He detailed the difficulty of offsetting this increase, even by the
most aggressive scenario of introducing hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Klug also discussed the lack of knowledge of
the environmental effect of water contrails, noting that, at above 12 km
altitude, emission lifetimes could exceed 100 years, but that the concern
would not be with water vapor but with ice crystals. Carbon and sulphur
nuclei, present in the exhaust of conventional jets, are generally thought
necessary as nucleation sites for ice crystals. One concludes that high-altitude
flights of a hydrogen-fueled vehicle are required as an experiment in pure
remain as an environmental concern, and micromix combustor nozzle designs
were described as a means of reducing the NOx
in the exhaust below 30 ppm.
Dr. Fredrick Edescuty presented the keynote
on safety, discussing several case-study examples of accidents
in way of illuminating his four conditions for safe use of a combustible
He also noted that, Anyone who thinks
they can build a foolproof system has overlooked the ingenuity of fools.
Catherine Gregoire-Padro (U.S. Department of
Energy Hydrogen Program Manager) presented the recent improvements in the
[U.S.] National Renewable Energy Laboratory-developed fiber-optic hydrogen
sensor, including a two-wavelength system that includes a reference beam
in addition to the one which is used to sense the presence of hydrogen.
She emphasized the advantages of having no electrical wires in the hydrogen
After briefly describing the Palm Desert and
X-33 programs, Dave Haberman (DCH Technology) listed the challenges which
must be overcome to do such projects:
- Understand the safety requirements,
- Have appropriate regulations,
- Build a safe system,
- Educate and train those who will use the system.
The National Hydrogen Association safety-related
activities on an international scale were presented by Karen Miller as a
part of her presentation on the Role of the NHA in Strategic Planning
for the Hydrogen Economy: An International Initiative. The NHA has
served to relate the interests of hydrogen industry to the initiatives of
the International Energy Association (IEA), including the essential step
of formulation of standards which promote our commercial interests.
- Risk Analysis (finance and insurance depend on the risk analysis);
- Standards (required for permitting, safety representatives, interfaces);
- Hardware, test, and qualification for application.
Liquid hydrogen storage was reviewed by Dr.
W. Peshka of the German Aerospace Establishment (DLR), including descriptions
of cryo-refrigerators and engine fuel injectors. He also discussed the advantages
of hydrogen-fueled engines, noting that the BMW hydrogen engines have 1/10
the emissions of their gasoline-powered equivalents.
Other papers discussed large-scale liquid hydrogen
transport by air and by sea, and the pumping and cooling of liquid hydrogen.
Hydride papers concentrated on the characteristics
of different alloys, and several papers examined the mechanisms of metal
Fuel Cell Studies
The question of whether hydrogen fuel can be
fed in dead-end mode to a PEM fuel cell, or whether recirculation
was necessary, was treated by Rudolf Metkemeyer, of Centre dEnergetique,
École des Mines des Paris. He observed air passing through the membrane
accumulated on the hydrogen side with a time constant slightly in excess
of one hour, which made recirculation and some purge necessary.
The use of small fuel cells for household and
business cogeneration was analyzed by Jurgen Garche of the German Center
for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, who found that a comparatively large
portion of the energy requirement was for thermal energy and, hence, that
perhaps fuel cells were too efficient for this application.
Further presentations included one on CO tolerance
of PEM fuel cells by Gaetano Squadrito, of Instituto CNR-TAE (Italy). He
presented the experimental results of a study on CO-tolerant anodes for
Unique Hydrogen Applications
The use of hydrogen energy in tourism development
was explored by Zeljko Josipovic, who described the 641 Croatian Isles (located
off the Adriatic coast and within 200 miles of Italy) as a proposed site
for ecotourism. Use of adequate wind and sun resources would be used to
avoid damaging the sensitive ecology by oil use.
The economics of introduction of hydrogen to
city centers were discussed by David Hart who, as a first example, has studied
London. He introduced externality costing, which expresses the
monetary value of environmental and health damage, which is factored back
to the cost of the polluting emissions. He finds the value of targeted hythane
for motive power to be as high as US$200/GJ, in excess of US$5/100 SCF hydrogen!
He suggests fuel replacement in gas turbines in city centers would be one
of the best uses of hydrogen.
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the National Hydrogen Association.
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