August 25, 2022 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2022 • Episode: 142
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In episode 142, BMW and Toyota joined forces again, this time for hydrogen. And Germany goes all in on hydrogen rail lines, all of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.
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BMW and Toyota joined forces again, this time for hydrogen. And Germany goes all in on hydrogen rail lines, all of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.
So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where’s capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters who recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden and welcome to the hydrogen podcast.
In an article from the Detroit bureau.com Paul Eisenstein writes BMW readying hydrogen SUV and Porsche may follow. BMW is getting ready to launch its first hydrogen powered vehicle, a version of the x five SUV, and it expects to bring it to market by 2025. This according to a senior official, the government automakers fuel cell vehicle is being developed as part of a joint venture with Toyota itself one of the industry’s biggest advocates for hydrogen technology. It currently sells the Marai and BMWs new AI x five hydrogen would use similar technology. But BMW isn’t the only German automaker getting serious about hydrogen power. Porsche is exploring the use of the lightweight gas as an alternative to gasoline to fuel an internal combustion engine rather than feed a fuel cell stack. Ironically, that’s an approach BMW explored for a number of years, but has since abandoned. According to BMW sales Chief Pieter Nota, we see that the hydrogen fuel cell technology is particularly relevant for larger SUVs. He also says that it has various projects in the works with Toyota, he says that more fuel cell vehicles could be coming besides the AI x five hydrogen. Now the two automakers have a similar philosophy that while both are aiming for zero emissions, calls for the use of a variety of different powertrain technologies.
These include not only pure battery electric vehicles, but hybrids, plugins and fuel cell vehicles. The lighter technology pushes pure hydrogen gas into a device known as a fuel cell stack, there combines with oxygen from the air in the presence of a catalyst such as platinum, electrons are stripped from the gas and are used to power electric motors rather than batteries. That’s where the technology is sometimes referred to as a refillable battery. And there are some key advantages. One being that a fuel cell vehicle or FCV can store significant amounts of hydrogen on board and the Toyota Marai XL e that provides up to a 402 mile range this according to the EPA, and those tanks can be refueled as quickly as a conventional gas tank. There are also a number of downsides producing pure hydrogen is energy intensive, and the cost is relatively high. Plus the distribution network is even smaller than the rapidly growing public charging network. But the demand for fuel cell vehicles is growing this according to Jack Hollis, the new head of North America sales for Toyota, and in turn us demand for the MRI has been growing. Germany and several other European countries meanwhile, are setting up their own hydrogen refueling network alongside EV charging stations. Again according to Hollis, no one sees fuel cell vehicles as a better solution to battery electric vehicles. They’re in both needed and they both have a place patented renderings of the BMW i x five hydrogen reveal the SUV will mount a number of hydrogen tanks below the vehicles load floor. Much the way modern EVs place batteries within a skateboard like platform.
The application will mount the tanks on floating bearings that would allow them to shift position in the event of a severe side impact crash to reduce the chance of rupturing. But what about Porsche plans, while BMW is rapidly moving forward towards bringing the IX of hydrogen to market, Porsche appears to be in a much earlier stage of development with its own hydrogen technology. Its approach is to feed the gas into a 4.4 liter twin turbo V eight, where it would serve as a replacement for gasoline. The automaker said the approach would match the power of conventional engine package at about 590 horsepower, but it would have virtually none of the emissions. Hydrogen produces nothing but water vapor when using a fuel cell stack burned in an internal combustion engine there is a relatively insignificant amount of oxides of nitrogen produced. And for the moment Porsche said it has no production plans for the hydrogen V eight, but it is exploring other options. Okay, so good news for the fuel cell EV market. And it’s really no surprise that Toyota and BMW are pairing up on this, as they have had great success in the past when partnering up with vehicle designs, such as the latest Toyota Supra. But what’s really interesting about this article is the inclusion that Porsche has plans for utilizing hydrogen also.
And why is that important? Well, if you don’t know a Porsche is owned by Volkswagen and Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has been openly hostile about hydrogen and E fuels as alternatives to electrification on social media. So the fact that Porsche is publicly stating that they’re looking into hydrogen internal combustion engines speaks volumes for what’s going on within Volkswagen. Next in an article from Dw.com. Mark Hollom writes German train line switching fully to hydrogen. A local train out in Germany is becoming the first to run a fleet of hydrogen powered trains. Hydrogen could be a zero emission rail solution on a quieter lines, where electrification is too expensive. A local train line not far from Homburg will start operating exclusively with hydrogen powered trains using a fleet of 14 Produced by French company Alstom, Lower Saxony state premier Stephan Weil attended a ceremony in the town of Bremervörde on Wednesday to inaugurate the all hydrogen line. The first commercial test of the new type of train took place on the line between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude back in 2018, but some hydrogen locomotives have been running on the roughly 100 Kilometer line ever since. But that was alongside the diesel power trains that still did the majority of the mileage.
According to the local rail network and Lower Saxony, the project aims to save around eight tons of co2 emissions annually. The 93 million euro project involved designing the Coradia iLint trains in the southern French town of Tarbes and assembling them in Salzgitter in central Germany. The German DLR Space Agency’s Institute for concept vehicles also contributed to the research. Developers hoped that hydrogen trains could provide a zero emission solution for rail travel on lines, they’re still using diesel, which powers are on 1/5 of train journeys in Germany. The Alstom trains have also been used elsewhere in Europe, including in the Czech Republic and hydrogen based public transport solutions are being showcased more and more. Two short distance hydrogen trains are on show in Glasgow in the UK last year for the COP 21 Climate Summit. Russia and China are among the countries to have started experimenting with hydrogen powered trams or streetcars. Other companies are also looking into the technology. German engineering giant Siemens tested its first prototype hydrogen train this year, hoping to roll it out and 24.
Okay, so why not just electrify the line, most major rail lines in Europe and Germany are being converted to run using electricity. However, unless use local lines, the high cost of electrification cannot always be justified. These costs will become particularly prohibitive, if obstacles like tunnels and bridges require alterations to allow for clearance. Electrifying train tracks requires either a third line, which is uncommon on more rural routes, or overhead cables. Roughly half of Europe’s regional trains still run on diesel. The Coradia iLint trains fuel up with pure hydrogen gather oxygen from ambient air, and a fuel cell converts the two inputs into electrical current. The only waste products at the point of power generation are water vapor and heat, meaning developers touted as zero emissions. In some ways the system is more like an internal combustion engine than a battery powered vehicle or a train connected to the main electricity grid. It continuously uses hydrogen and air to create the electricity and requires refilling with hydrogen when empty, whereas batteries tend to use a chemical energy stored within them. Famously Toyota the first company to have a big commercial hit with partly electric mobility with its hybrid Prius has since switched the majority of its e mobility research to hydrogen powered cars. One of the perceived benefits is the ability to refill the vehicle with hydrogen at a pump, not unlike the current system with petroleum rather than to have to charge up the batteries.
Partner company Linde a world leader in making hydrogen refueling stations for road cars is opening a first hydrogen refueling point for the trains. According to the developers, the trains have a range of up to 1000 kilometers between refills that can be refueled in 15 minutes, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his deputy Robert Habeck, who is also Minister for Economy and climate protection have just returned from a trip to Canada, whose main purpose was inking a new agreement on future green hydrogen imports. Okay, so a big step forward for hydrogen rail lines in Germany. And it’s a good thing that Germany and Canada were able to reach an agreement for Canada to deliver hydrogen to Germany, as it’s looking like Germany will have the highest need for hydrogen globally.
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