I subscribe to a great number of free online newsletters that cover cleantech at a fairly broad level, and though I certainly don’t read every word, I do glance through them. If you have a spare minute, I would ask you to check out this article from SmartGridNews, and tell me what you think. (more…)
Green continues to be a dominant shade of innovation in the automotive sector as 2013 looks to be a banner year for vehicle efficiency. According to AutoTrader.com, total shopper interest for alternative fuel and highly fuel-efficient models is up 54 percent so far in 2012. This year’s LA Auto Show ® reflects this trend and will host significant debuts in electric, (more…)
Will new technologies democratize energy much the way the Internet did information?
Industry movement seems to point in that direction with the rise of the smart grid, time-of-day pricing, distributed solar, and the electric vehicle. Together these technologies offer a vision of a less centralized energy system, one where communities and households ‘vote in’ or shape the (more…)
Recently, I spoke on an online dialogue about corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Canada and had an audience member asked me about how business’ CSR investments will be affected by the economic downturn. This great question is one that numerous professionals are concerned with as they move into budget season… (more…)
Okay, so you’ve got some equipment, you’ve got some know-how and you are ready to get out there and become a solar installer. Sounds easy enough, I mean everyone is talking about it, right? Well yes, but before you start going onto people’s roofs and drawing high-voltage DC electricity from the sun, you should know the common mistakes that others (many (more…)
You know that phrase, “One good thing leads to another?” Well, it couldn’t ring more true than in the solar industry. This week, we serve you stories in which good attitudes toward solar have sparked (you guessed it) lots of actual solar installed.
The prestigious research firm Cleantech Group has just published its fourth annual Global Cleantech 100 list, which lists the upcoming private companies to watch in the global cleantech arena. Israel, which ranked as the #2 country in the 2012 Global Cleantech Innovation Index, is in a unique leadership position, with companies that are both innovative (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.
We’re so politically polarized about energy, it’s news when we’re not.
Exceptions exist, of course, but generally one side identifies with fossil fuels, the other with renewable energy. And energy efficiency seems to be the lucky orphan left out of the pick.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient (more…)