Birmingham’s Green Commission reported that people from public and private sector industries, transport policy, energy, fleet management, developers and planners attended the launch of the Council’s Blueprint for Low Carbon Fuel Infrastructure.
The Blueprint, developed by Element Energy, identifies the key priorities for the refuelling and recharging infrastructure needed to support growing fleets of low and ultra-low carbon vehicles. It covers electric, hydrogen, (bio)methane and LPG vehicles, and has been developed in close consultation with fleet operators active in the Birmingham area. Thanks to the evidence base aggregated for the Blueprint, several projects are already underway or in preparation – from LPG taxis, to gas station, and hydrogen buses. Transport for London reports that the city now has a fleet of eight hydrogen fuel buses running on route RV1 between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway. Hydrogen fuel buses emitting nothing but water into the air.
A Shirley engineer brought the work of Intelligent Energy to our attention. Their powerful hydrogen fuel cell technology is used ‘across a diverse range of applications’, providing proof in the field of how their fuel cells can be used to reduce carbon emissions while providing clean, silent, always-on power, without the need for subsidy. He pointed out that though an electric car can only go so far before needing to refuel – and charging takes hours – a hydrogen fuel cell behaves like electricity and can refuel in a few minutes at a hydrogen pump.
In the West Midlands, Coventry University is noted for its research and development in this and other automotive fields. Note its ‘spin off’ microcab business, its hydrogen car and a developing network of refuelling stations in Coventry, Birmingham, Swindon and Glamorgan.
Boats running on hydrogen are already used on Amsterdam’s canals, a city that is working on a hydrogen filling facility. The ever-expanding network of hydrogen filling stations in Europe was mapped in 2013 – above.
Prof Rex Harris, engineering (metallurgy, rare earths), Birmingham University, and his team, have pioneered the hydrogen-fuelled barge with their prototype, the Ross Barlow (below). See official site: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/metallurgy-materials/hydrogen/protium-boat.aspx and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Barlow.
Hydrogen vehicles are travelling by road and canal and work is ongoing in the field of rail travel – the development and design of a hydrogen-hybrid locomotive. Concerns about energy security and increasing diesel prices have prompted the railway industry to explore alternative fuel sources. Hydrogen is one of these – a promising alternative to diesel – an energy carrier which can be made from several feedstocks, and when combusted with oxygen, creates only water and heat or, if utilised in a fuel cell, also produces electrical energy.
Hydrail design proposed at the 2012 International Hydrail Conference at the University of Birmingham: http://spellerweb.net/prindex/Hydrail.html
In Development and design of a narrow-gauge hydrogen-hybrid locomotive, a paper published in the Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit January 2016, the authors (University of Birmingham) describe the design methodology for a prototype narrow-gauge hydrogen fuel cell locomotive in order to demonstrate a proof of the concept of using hydrogen technology for railway motive power. As far as the authors know, Hydrogen Pioneer, the Railway Challenge Team’s vehicle, is the UK’s first practical hydrogen-powered locomotive. It successfully completed all the physical performance challenges or requirements set by the IMechE for any contending team through which the proof of the concept of a hydrogen-hybrid locomotive was established.
There are serious concerns about the combustion of diesel – the primary fuel for road, canal and railway motive power – releasing emissions at the point of use. These concerns are leading to increasing regulation and possible prosecution in places such as Birmingham where the limits are regularly breached, leading to mounting ill-health and estimated thousands of premature deaths.
Air Quality News reports that opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn raised the issue of UK air pollution in Parliament during PMQs (March 16).
He said that it was the “sad truth” that 500,000 people will die “because of this country’s failure to comply with international law on air pollution”, citing a recent Royal College of Physicians report that this costs economy £20 billion a year.
Mr Corbyn called on the government to act “to make us comply with international law and, above all, help the health of the people of this country”.
We hope he will support the development of hydrogen fuelled vehicles which emit nothing but water into the air.