Every day, it seems we read more about hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, most of which appear to be written purely to further confuse people who don’t really understand this in the first place. An excerpt from the article linked above: “Fuel-cell vehicles …. can operate on renewable hydrogen gas.” As the author must know, the concept of “renewable (more…)
U.S. scientists have developed what they say is the first integrated nanosystem capable of replicating the process of photosynthesis, a sort of “artificial forest” that could one day lead to the production of hydrogen that could be used to power fuel cells.
Composed of nanowire structures — including silicon (more…)
Verizon has announced it will invest $100 million in a solar and fuel cell energy project that will help power 19 of its facilities in seven states across the country. The company estimates the completed project will generate more than 70 million kilowatt of clean energy, which would be enough to power more than 6,000 single-family homes a year. This amount of (more…)
BNSF Railway, a Fort Worth, Texas company, is one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies. The company has a rail network of 32,000 route miles in 28 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.
Traditional rail transportation is highly efficient and uses significantly less fuel than highway alternatives. BNSF intends to improve upon that efficiency and has been experimenting with a hydrogen fueled fuel cell locomotive for the past several years.
Recently the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted BNSF’s patent covering fuel cell locomotives.
U.S. Patent Number 8,117,969, entitled “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Hybrid Locomotives” describes a locomotive including a set of batteries for driving a plurality of electric traction motors for moving the locomotive and a fuel cell power plant for charging the batteries and driving the electric traction motors.
The hydrogen hybrid locomotive is based on a commercially available diesel-hybrid donor platform. The locomotive design uses a cab section (101), which houses the control systems used by the controller, a center section (102), which contains the batteries and hydrogen storage tanks, a rear section (103) containing the hydrogen fuel cell power plant, and an adjustable ballast section (104) located under the chassis.
Ballast is needed because the locomotive does not carry heavy diesel fuel, which means the weight is significantly under the weight needed to maximize the traction of the wheels on the rails.
In the embodiment disclosed in the patent and shown in Figure 2 above, hydrogen is provided to two fuel cell power plants based on two power stack modules (201a – 201b). The fuel cells are proton exchange membrane cells and (in the preferred embodiment) are Ballard Power Systems, Inc Mk903 PEM fuel cell stacks.
Hydrogen is provided to the power modules from 14 carbon-fiber composite tanks (204). Power from the fuel cell is delivered to a DC converter (203) and to the locomotive systems including the traction motors (209a – 209d). The power output of the fuel cell stacks can be varied depending on demand by adjusting the flow of air through the system.
BNSF has an operational fuel cell locomotive prototype serving in a demonstration project in Los Angeles. Funding for the locomotive came from BNSF and the Department of Defense. The prototype is a switch locomotive, which moves freight cars within rail yards and rail stations during train assembly and disassembly.
The prototype was unveiled in Topeka, Kansas in January 2009. It then traveled to Colorado for additional testing and was sent to California in 2010. It was tested in the Los Angeles rail yards in Commerce and Hobart through 2010 and 2011.
Use of hydrogen fuel cells in locomotives can reduce the amount of particulate pollution around rail lines and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases expelled into the atmosphere. Hydrogen fuel cell locomotives can also reduce railroad dependency on fossil fuels. Additionally, fuel cell locomotives can also act as mobile electricity sources, for example in disaster recovery scenarios.
Article by David Gibbs, appearing courtesy Green Patent Blog.
U.S. scientists have developed a fuel cell capable of converting 13 percent of the energy found in sewage into electricity, a process that its developers say could also more efficiently treat municipal wastewater.
In a report released at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers at the J. (more…)
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Program has issued an RFI (Request for Information) seeking feedback from stakeholders regarding the commercial readiness of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies.
DOE is interested in industry information about (more…)
The year 2015 is the deadline that a number of automakers have set for themselves to introduce commercially viable fuel cell cars. The leaders in this effort are Daimler, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota, with GM continuing to push forward as well. While 2015 may seem a long way off – and indeed battery and plug-in (more…)
FuelCell Energy is a Danbury, Connecticut, manufacturer of ultra-clean fuel cell power plants. Their Direct Fuel Cell (DFC) systems are currently producing electricity at more than 50 locations worldwide and have generated over 850 million KWh of power.
FuelCell was recently named by the Department of (more…)