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…)
I’ll be 75 years old in 2030, so it’s likely that I’ll still be around to validate what I’m about to say: the idea, expressed in this article, that fuel cell vehicles will grow to $73.8 billion in sales (not $74 billion mind you) by that date – or any other — is preposterous.
The world will not be retrofitting its fuel delivery (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…)
The Heslin Rothenberg firm’s Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) 2012 Year in Review was published earlier this month. Always an interesting read, the CEPGI is a quarterly publication that tracks grants of U.S. patents directed to clean energy technologies.
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.
While all eyes may be rested on the gubernatorial races, there remains incredible solar growth and innovation in states and cities across the US. Local solar is driving the movement, so here are a few recent developments that add new meaning to the phrase “Think Globally, Act Locally.” (more…)
Although fuel cells are still in the top spot with 232 patents, they were down 18 relative to the first quarter of last year. The report shows large year on year gains for solar patents, up 50 at 188, and wind, which totaled 157 patents, up 71 from Q1 2011. (more…)
Apple Inc. has received approval to build two solar power installations at its main data center in North Carolina, allowing the technology giant to run the center entirely with renewable energy by next year.