Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “January, 2019”

3D-Printed Homes Coming to the Netherlands

[] – Project site
[] – Eindhoven gets the first 3D-concrete printing housing project
[Google Maps] – Project sire Meerhoven near Eindhoven

The same TU-Eindhoven group manufatured this printed bicycle bridge in nearby Gemert.

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State of Electrolysis in Europe – 2014

Electrolyser suppliers (not exhaustive)

Data from an EU report concerning electrolyser and fuel cell technology in Europe. Today, hydrogen is mostly produced from natural gas and only 4% from electrolysis. In the light of the Paris Climate Accords and renewable energy policy of the EU this could very well change drastically, and soon. The data presented here is already 5 years old. Technology has progressed since.

[] – Development of Water Electrolysis in the European Union (2014)
[] – Electrolysis of water

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Clipper Stad Amsterdam & Hydrogen Powertrain

Floris van Nievelt of the TU Delft, the Netherlands, has written his master thesis about modelling a hydrogen-based power train for an existing passenger sailing vessel, Stad Amsterdam. The hydrogen comes from a sodium borohydride powder storage. The study was performed in cooperation with the inventors of this storage method: h2-fuel.

The thesis contains a coherent overview of hydrogen storage with sodium borohydride. The study is also an indication that this form of hydrogen storage is taken serious by academic institutions. The TU Eindhoven and technological certification institute TNO had already verified the findings of h2-fuel.

[] – Maritime application of sodium borohydride as an energy carrier
[] – Hydrogen as the key to a sustainable shipping sector
[] – H2Fuel company site
[deepresource] – NaBH4 – The Vice-Admiral Has a Message for Dutch Parliament

The Emerging Dutch Hydrogen Economy

The Dutch government is convinced: hydrogen is going to be a major storage option for the Dutch economy.

The principle Dutch promoter of the hydrogen economy, entrepreneur and prof. Ad van Wijk, has written a short primer on the advantages of the hydrogen economy for the Netherlands. Van Wijk picks up from where Jeremy Rifkind left off in 2003. After the hydrogen economy fell into oblivion for years, van Wijk can pick up again because conditions have changed dramatically since. Soon, several European countries like Denmark, Germany and Scotland need to make decisions about the way they are going to store their at times abundant renewable electricity.

[] – hydrogen the key to the energy transition

This graph shows why seasonal storage of energy is inevitable if we move to a renewable energy base.

Dutch energy consumption patterns. Due to the presence of the largest harbor in Europe Rotterdam, the transport sector is relatively large.

Excellent prospects for Africa and Arabia to earn an income after the end of the oil age. Superb solar conditions, with irradiation 2-3 times as high as in Europe, could destine these countries to become major hydrogen producers.

Cost projections renewable electricity.

Siemens SILYZER PEM Water Electrolysis Systems

One of the largest advantages to PEM electrolysis is its ability to operate at high current densities. This can result in reduced operational costs, especially for systems coupled with very dynamic energy sources such as wind and solar, where sudden spikes in energy input would otherwise result in uncaptured energy. The polymer electrolyte allows the PEM electrolyzer to operate with a very thin membrane (~100-200 μm) while still allowing high pressures, resulting in low ohmic losses, primarily caused by the conduction of protons across the membrane (0.1 S/cm) and a compressed hydrogen output.

The polymer electrolyte membrane, due to its solid structure, exhibits a low gas crossover rate resulting in very high product gas purity. Maintaining a high gas purity is important for storage safety and for the direct usage in a fuel cell. The safety limits for H2 in O2 are at standard conditions 4 mol-% H2 in O2

[] – PEM Electrolysis
[] – Hydrogen Solutions
[] – Siemens Silyzer 300 (English/Deutsch)
[] – Integrating Renewable Energy and Hydrogen (pres. slides)

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NaBH4 – The Vice-Admiral Has a Message for Dutch Parliament

Zoutzuur = hydrochloric acid (HCl), UPW = ultra pure water, waterstofgas = hydrogen gas, mengkamer = mixing chamber

There are many people who claim to have found the solution for the world’s energy problems as there is no lack of people aiming for their moment of fame. Here we have a Dutch innovator Gerard Lugtigheid, who claims to have found the solution of the pressing energy storage problem. What is special in this is that he gets the support of heavy-weights with a reputation to lose.

Focal point of excitement is the hydrogen absorption capacity of a powder with chemical formula NaBH4 or Sodium Borohydride. The properties of the substance are not entirely new and were the subject of an investigation earlier, notably by the US government, Department Of Energy (DOE). In 2007 a conclusion was drawn with far-reaching consequences:

[] – Go/No-Go Recommendation for Sodium Borohydride for On-Board Vehicular Hydrogen Storage (2007)

The hydrogen storage technology considered for the hydrolysis of sodium borohydride (NaBH4) has clearly not met all the 2007 targets. In addition, the Panel sees no promising path forward for this technology to reach all the 2010 targets. Based on its charter, then, the Panel unanimously recommends a No-Go decision.

An unnoted Dutch hospital technician, while busy with the development of a manual resiscitator/cigaret size H2 nebulizer, collaterally got in touch with the topic of chemical storage of hydrogen and proceeded where the DOE had left off:

[] – Gerard Lugtigheid

What did he achieve? Well: storage of twice the amount of hydrogen in a powder in a given volume at ambient pressure and temperature as compared to pure hydrogen at 700 bar. Add ultra-pure water to the powder, as well as tiny quantities of a catalyst (HCl) and you obtain a steady stream of hydrogen that is easy to control:

[] – Hydrogen generator vessel for hydrolysis of hydrides

This is the reaction that releases the hydrogen:

NaBH4 + 4 H2O ⇒ 4 H2 + NaB(OH)4

This reaction approaches a remarkable 20 % gravimetric efficiency when calculated in relation to the weight of the NaBH4 alone, and in excess of 6 wt.% when calculated in relation to both water and NaBH4.

However the reaction requires a catalyst. Without the catalyst, sodium borohydride dissolves in water without noticeable hydrogen generation. With inadequate catalysts, on the other hand, the reaction results in the hydrated forms of borax, which significantly decreases the overall gravimetric efficiency and increases the cost and energy input in the regeneration process.

So, 20% of the weight of the sodium borohydride powder is hydrogen, or 6% if the water is included in the calculation. 2 kg of water are required to completely neutralize 1 kg of sodium borohydride. 6% of 2+1=3 kg is 180 gram. 1 kg hydrogen contains 33.3 kWh. So, 3 kg of fuel contains 5.94 kWh. Compare that with a conventional car battery of 15 kg and 1.2 kWh energy content. That would an energy density gain of factor 25. An Opel Ampera/Chevvy Bolt manages 8 km/kWh. In other words, 2 liter of water and 1 kg of hydrogen-powder will bring you slightly less than 50 km. Or a standard 60 kg fuel will bring you 1000 km. Bye-bye car battery-powered e-vehicles.

Regarding the speed of hydrogen release: 0.3g of NaBH4 + 10 mg of the catalyst + 0.6g of tap water generates hydrogen flow of excess of 20 ml/min and can be scaled-up proportionally. The speed of release can be controlled by the amount of catalyst added.

The findings are so spectacular that they have drawn the attention and confirmation from Dutch vice-admiral Jan-Willem Kelder, as well as from TNO, a sort of Dutch counterpart of the German Fraunhofer Institute and the TU-Eindhoven. The Dutch government and ministry of economic affairs in particular are also well aware of the development. Meanwhile patents have been granted in America, Japan, Russia, China and a few other countries. In Europe however, patent applications are still pending.

[] – Letter to Dutch parliament

The vice-admiral has put his name on the following presentation of 27 slides, giving additional information about the findings:

[] – H2Fuel: Hydrogen energy carrier

The reaction is slightly different:

NaBH4 + 2H2O = 8H + NaBO2

The residu NaBO2 can be recycled back into NaBH4.

The process is inexpensive and can be used in the automotive, shipping, and aviation industries, as large-scale storage for electrical energy, heat generation, industrial applications, etc.

The inventor Gerard Lugtigheid telling about his invention in a laboratory setting (Dutch language):

Lugtigheid explains that the core difference between the work of the DOE and his work is the addition of Ultra-Pure Water. That’s what greatly enhances the amount of hydrogen that can be extracted from the powder. At [2:20] activator fluid is let lose on the powder and immediately large amounts of hydrogen are released from the powder and pushed away the water in the long glass tube. The amount of hydrogen produced can be accurately controlled by the amount of activator fluid added to the powder.

[deepresource] – H2Fuel – Hydrogen Powder NaBH4

Mierenzuur = formic acid, ammoniak = ammonia (NH3), waterstofgas = hydrogen gas, poeder = powder

Washington, D.C. (March 26, 2007) – Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Mullen presents Vice Adm. Jan Willem Kelder. Commander, Royal Netherlands Navy a commemorative plaque during an office call at the Pentagon on March 26, 2007. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) Chad J. McNeeley.

[] – Independent Report to the Dutch Government

A few figures:

– 98% of the potential hydrogen can be actually released.
– In a 60 liter tank, 6.6 kg hydrogen can be stored
– The cost of 1 kg hydrogen from h2-fuel is 5.5 euro
– Cost NaBH4 is 0.89 euro/kg in China; shipping cost to Rotterdam 1.03 euro/kg.
– Cost UPW if 6.08 euro/m3

[] – Ultrapuur water
[] – US H2Fuel patent
[] – De programmaraad stelt voor: H2Fuel
[] – Advanced Chemical Hydrogen Storage and Generation System
[] – Ultra pure water
[] – Test met waterstof bij Plant One Rotterdam
[] – New experiment makes hydrogen usable in cars

Brandstofcel = fuel cel
Gebruikte brandstof – spent fuel

Large-Scale Hydrogen Project in the Works in Belgium

[source] Haven Zeebrugge

The companies Engie, Colruyt/Eoly, Hydrogenics, Fluxys and Elia, as well as Zeebrugge harbor, Gent university and the hydrogen club Waterstofnet are joining forces in the Greenports study. Goal is to create a blueprint for large-scale hydrogen production in an harbor environment, read: convert offshore wind electricity in hydrogen. Focal point is the harbor of Zeebrugge.

[] – Greenports grootschalige waterstofproductie in havenomgeving
[] – Grootschalige waterstofproductie in een havenomgeving
[] – Power-to-gas Belgium
[] – Greenport site

Belgian offshore wind projects:

Project name MW Turbines
Belwind 171 56
Northwind 216 72
Nobelwind 165 50
Rentel 309 42

[] – Wind power in Belgium


H2Fuel Videos

[] – Company site

Read more…

ITM Power Upbeat of Hydrogen Storage Market

Shell opening its first hydrogen fueling station based on ITM hardware.

[] – ITM Power

Read more…

Tegenlicht – Doorbraak van Duurzaam

USA Energy Mix 2017

Iron Rhine Revitalized?

For obvious reasons, the Belgians have been pushing hardest for a revitalization of the IJzeren Rijn (Iron Rhine) railway between the Antwerp Harbor and German Ruhr-area industrial heartland. The Germans had a prudent approach, but the Dutch were least enthusiastic in cooperating with a project that would create an outright competitor with their own existing railway-lines between Rotterdam and Germany. Now the Germans are changing attitude and offer to take the lead in revitalizing the old railway-line. And there is a reason why even the Netherlands should reconsider its position. And that reason is the zinc-plant in Budel-Schoot and its potential to become a renewable energy fuel source, see previous post.

[deepresource] – Nyrstar – The Next Royal Dutch Shell?

A new proposal for revitalization of the Iron Rhine can be best accomplished using the 3RX-tracé, the ‘Rhein-Ruhr-Rail Connection’ (3RX), from Antwerp, via Mol and Hamont to Roermond and Venlo and finally to Viersen. It would be just as good as revitalizing the historic Iron Rhine, but at half the cost.

[] – IJzeren Rijn : ‘Duitsland bereid overleg over 3RX-tracé te trekken’
[] – Opnieuw beweging in het dossier van de ‘IJzeren Rijn’
[] – 3RX Feasibility study alternative Rhein – Ruhr Rail Connection (dec 2017)
[] – Ook Duitsland nu gewonnen voor 3RX-tracé (IJzeren Rijn)
[] – Iron Rhine
[] – Zinkfabriek (Budel)
[] – The largest zinc smelters worldwide in 2017
Korea Zinc – 1,183
Nyrstar – 1,019 (Budel 350)
(metric kiloton)

[] – IJzeren Rijn: resultaten 3RX-studie (jan 2018)

Nyrstar – The Next Royal Dutch Shell?

The European Union has decided it wants a 100% renewable energy future and as the saying goes: “He Who Says A Must Say B”, with “A” being a renewable energy base and “B” the required energy storage facilities. This implies giant business opportunities for those companies, that can provide for large-scale energy storage options, options that become a necessity if a society begins to heavily rely on intermittent renewable energy sources solar and wind. Batteries and pumped-hydro can only provide hours worth of storage. What is really required are seasonal storage options, with a size in the order of 40% of annual primary energy consumption, to be able to completely compensate intermittency and waive energy demand management.

Several candidates for seasonal storage exist. First of all the largest share of primary energy consumption is used for space heating. A lot of fossil fuel can be saved if solar heat is stored in large bodies of water or other bulk materials. Excess renewable electricity can be converted in hydrogen and if necessary further converted into other forms of chemical energy that are easier to maintain than hydrogen, like ammonia (NH3), natural gas (CH4).

A relatively unknown possibility is using hydrogen to reduce metal-oxide powder (“reduce” as in: “strip of oxygen”) and turn it into pure metal powder that can be burned again, back to metal-oxide, thus creating a carbon-free closed-loop. Few people realize that metals can burn, a process mundanely known as “rusting”, yet they can, as fine-grained powders, the finer the better:

In contrast to hydrogen, metal powders like iron can be stored, moved around, traded easily at room temperature and ambient pressure for as long as you want, provided you keep moist away. Potentially suitable metal-powder-as-fuel candidates are: lithium (Li), boron (B), magnesium (Mg), aluminum (Al), silicon (Si), iron (Fe), and zinc (Zn).

IF metal-powder can assert itself as an efficient energy storage vehicle for the 21st century, dominated by the EU renewable energy policy and Paris Accords, the sky is the limit for those companies already specialized in reducing metal ores into pure metals. They could become the successors of the Seven Sisters that dominated the 20th century and become the energy companies of the 21st century in that they lay their hands on every renewable kWh and convert it into metal powder.

This possibility has been recognized by Zinc-giant Nyrstar, located near the small town of Budel-Schoot in the South of the Netherlands at the Belgian border, conveniently situated at a run-down, but upgradable “Iron Rhine” railway-line, connecting the Antwerp Harbor and the German industrial Ruhr-valley heartland. This is the rationale behind the recently initiated Metalot energy storage campus, located next to the Nyrstar zinc factory in Budel-Schoot.

[] – Budel

[] – Nyrstar
[] – Recyclable metal fuels for clean and compact zero-carbon power
[deepresource] – How Much Storage is Needed?
[Google Maps] – Nyrstar, Budel-Schoot
[deepresource] – Iron Rhine Revitalized?

Metalot Campus

[] – Metalot wants to solve the world’s energy problems

The zinc factory in Budel-Dorplein is ready for a new phase of life. From energy consumer to supplier, from environmental risk to friend of Natuurmonumenten, from Nyrstar to Metalot. Right on the spot where metals are now being processed using the energy that equals the needs of the whole city of Eindhoven, in a few years time the solution must become visible for major issues such as energy storage and sustainable mobility. All this in a 100% energy-neutral and circular way… The first changes will be visible at the beginning of next year, when the first 60 hectares of solar panels will be delivered. As a first part of the – eventually – closed energy circle on Metalot… Part of the Nyrstar site has been renamed Metalot Circularity Center Cranendonck (Metalot3C)… Metalot3C wants to drive and support the innovations needed to achieve 100% sustainability and 100% recyclability. De Goey: “In this way, we are going to scale up the ideas that are now being put forward at the universities – primarily in Eindhoven, but also at other universities – from a lab set-up to a factory setting.”… One of the leading themes in this respect is energy storage. “In the end, we want to completely link energy supply and demand… According to De Goey, part of the solution can be found in the metal fuels. “In that respect, this is, of course, a big playground for us. We are going to try everything we can. Basalt blocks, zinc, magnesium, iron, we have everything at hand here, so that’s ideal. We can already make fire from it, but we don’t have a good engine yet… The idea is that a wide range of partners will connect to Metalot. Technical universities, both in the Netherlands and abroad, and institutes such as DIFFER, TNO and ECN. “But also Wartsila, a ship-building company, has already shown an interest.” In addition, De Goey believes that it is more than logical to have a series of student teams to join Metalot. First of all, Team FAST, which is working on a formic acid powered car, and SOLID, which wants to build an engine on iron powder.” In 2018, we expect to host 10 researchers and 20 students. In five years’ time, this will have to grow to at least 100 researchers and 500 students of all levels”.

[] – Nyrstar
[] – Nyrstar
[] – Zinkfabriek (Budel)
[] – Metalot in Cranendonk

De huidige eigenaar is het Zwitserse concern Nyrstar. In Budel-Dorplein werken er ongeveer 450 mensen bij Nyrstar. Het bedrijf staat op een van de oudste industriële locaties van Brabant… Metalot wordt zo een plek voor versterking van innovatie in de circulaire economie rondom energie en metalen. Het zink dat bij Nyrstar wordt geproduceerd, wordt gebruikt als bescherming tegen roest, voor dakgoten en regenpijpen, in batterijen en in sanitaire onderdelen.

[] – Weert en Cranendonck ‘nijver aan het water’
[] – Duurzaam industriepark Metalot in Budel-Dorplein
[] – TU/e-studenten ontwikkelen schone centrale die werkt op metalen
[] – Wethouder Frans Kuppens tilt Metalot naar nieuw niveau
[] – Metal power: ijzerpoeder als alternatief voor kolen
[] – Iron powder as an alternative to coal
[] – Metalot gooit alle metalen in de energie-strijd

The zinc factory Budel was located at the “Iron Rhine” railway, that connected the Antwerp harbor with the German Ruhr-area industrial heartland since 1869 and was build on Prussian initiative and money.

Present day Iron Rhine near Budel. 1869–1914 were the golden years of the Iron Rhine, after WW1 until 1992, years of decay. Currently plans exist to revitalize the railway.

Zinkfabriek Budel, photo-archive.

Zinc train heading for Antwerp Harbor. Soon these trains could contain the fuel of the future: metal powder.

GE’s 12 MW Haliade-X, To Be Installed In Rotterdam First

Sneak preview of how the world’s largest windturbine in the world will operate in Rotterdam Harbor as of mid-2019 for extensive testing.

Total height: 260 m
Rotor diameter: 220 m
Commercial rollout: 2021

[] – World’s Largest Wind Turbine Prototype, GE’s 12 MW Haliade-X, To Be Installed In Rotterdam
[] – GE Unveils Operation Haliade-X 12 MW

Impressions Car Solar Team Eindhoven

Solar Team Eindhoven will present its latest solar car in July and participate in the World Solar Challenge in Australia in October 2019. Here a student of the TU Eindhoven in discussion with dr Peter Harrop.

[] – ‘We want to show that solar cars are the solution in the energy transition’
[] – World Solar Challenge Australia 2019
[deepresource] – LightYear Solar One Goes in Production

Read more…

China Proposes GEI Global Electricity Grid

[] – China Rolls Out Proposal for Worldwide Grid
[] – Does the path to a low-carbon future run through a global grid?

5 Energiespeicher für die Zukunft der Energiewende

The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation

This data is taken from the Shell Sky Scenario (2018), which has the merit of forecasting to 2100 and therefore projects the nature of the energy transformation over the course of the century. Other energy transition scenarios usually have shorter time horizons. The Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) of the International Energy Agency (IEA), for example, only looks forward to 2040. IRENA’s REmap scenario goes to 2050. Shell’s forecast share of renewables and fossil fuels is similar to that of the IEA SDS scenario for 2040 as well as the DNV GL and Equinor Renewal scenarios for 2050. The IPCC 1.5 degree median scenario and IRENA REmap scenario anticipate a substantially larger share of renewables by 2050 with an earlier peak in fossil fuel demand.

Finally some good news for poor countries of Africa: superb solar irradiation and cheap labor positions this region to become a competitor on the global hydrogen market.

Potential for wind energy. They forgot to color the North Sea, one of the most potent regions on earth for offshore wind, with average wind speed of 10 m/s and shallow water.

[] – A New World – The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation
[] – International Renewable Energy Agency
[] – Renewable Energy To Remodel World Dominance Patterns

EU Helmeth Project – Power-to-Methane (75% Efficiency)

Within the EU Project HELMETH, Efficiency of Methane Gas Production from Renewable Electricity Increased to more than 75 Percent due to Thermal Linking of Chemical Processes. The natural gas network may serve as a buffer for weather-dependent electricity from the wind and sun. This requires economically efficient processes to use electricity for the production of chemical energy carriers. The EU project HELMETH coordinated by KIT has now made an important step. It has demonstrated that high-temperature electrolysis and methanation can be combined in a power-to-gas process with an efficiency of more than 75 percent.

[] – Project site
[] – Summary goals (pdf 3p)

Sunfire group photo

One of the participants in the Helmeth project is the German company Sunfire, specialized in hydrogen production via high-temperature electrolysis of water. In the diagram above they do the conversion from O2 and electricity in and H2 out.

[source] Sunfire’s key technology is the PowerCore — a stack of high-temperature solid oxide cells (SOCs). The PowerCore can be used both as an electrolyser to convert electrical energy into chemical energy, and as a fuel cell to convert various liquid and gaseous fuels based on hydrocarbons (natural gas, LPG) into electricity and heat.

[] – Solid oxide electrolyser cell
[] – High temperature water electrolysis in solid oxide cells
[] – Solid Oxide Fuel and Electrolysis Cells

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