Friday, June 23, 2017

Norway Brings a New Twist to Hydrogen as Green Fuel #Science

Hydrogen for power is one of the Greenie Ideals since water vapor is the byproduct from burning it so there's no consequent air pollution.  That sounds perfect until you try to come up with a way to produce the hydrogen.  In Norway, they're pairing the continuous production of energy from wind farms with the production of hydrogen for fuel since there's not a good way to store wind energy from the Summer for use in the Winter.  Therefore, turn it into hydrogen and use it whenever and wherever you like.

From wind to hydrogen: In the wind farm Raggovidda in Finnmark, the wind allways blows. At the same time, the power grid lacks capacity to exploit the production-license granted in the area. Hydrogen can be the perfect storage medium and energy carrier for this surplus energy.  The hydrogen can be transported to Svalbard in liquid form using hydrogen ships, SINTEF researchers suggest. 

Credit: Erik Wolf, Siemens.

Yes, we regard wind turbines as visual obscenities as well but we're not here to talk about modern art.  Besides, it's highly possible placement of these devices in such remote, inhospitable locations significantly reduces the number of bats / bats likely to be killed by them.

Heavy-duty trucks will soon be driving around in Trondheim, Norway, fuelled by hydrogen created with solar power, and emitting only pure water vapour as exhaust. Not only will hydrogen technology revolutionize road transport, it will also enable ships and trains to run emission-free.

Norway's role as a pioneer in the field of hydrogen technology started more than a century ago at a waterfall. In the steep mountain valley of Rjukan, an engineer and a businessman recognized the potential of the Vemork hydroelectric power station as a way to ensure food production for an ever-growing population. Kristian Birkeland and Sam Eyde wanted to build a factory to manufacture Norwegian fertilizers under the brand name Norsk Hydro. An architecturally futuristic hydrogen factory was built next to the power station. After its completion in 1929, it became a tourist attraction between the steep mountains of Rjukan.  Fuel of the future

There's no need for Rockhouse interpretation of any of this.

SINTEF has recently identified as many as 10 stakeholders that intend to start hydrogen production in Norway. SINTEF is assisting several as they assess possible investments. Interest in hydrogen is really taking off.

However, energy researchers at SINTEF have plans that are even more exciting than hydrogen production from surplus renewable energy. Tommy Mokkelbost is a Senior Research Scientist working at SINTEF's Svalbard office.

"In Svalbard the impact of climate change is much more severe than in other areas on the planet," he says. "The ice around the archipelago is melting rapidly, and the glaciers are retreating at record speeds. This creates problems for polar bears in their hunting areas. Moreover, power and heat to Longyearbyen is supplied by Norway's only coal-fired power station. So what would be more natural than to transform Longyearbyen into the world's first emission-free community?"

- PO

Likely the interested student for this one was already interested and this article provides another seed.  However, there's another one and this without a particular direction for your further research and it's regarding the production of hydrogen.  It's all very well to have clean energy and clean hydrogen but what's the environmental cleanliness of the step in the middle to convert that energy to hydrogen.  The current article touches briefly on that matter.

Since then, most Norwegian hydrogen research has been conducted in various laboratories at Gløshaugen in Trondheim. In 1951 the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), then known as the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH), established its own electrochemical engineering institute. This research community has played a key role in what has become a major Norwegian electrochemical industry. Today, behind closed doors at SINTEF, top secret technology is being developed – funded by a number of Norwegian and international industrial companies, including the suppliers of electrolysis technology for hydrogen production. Recently, NTNU and SINTEF won a contract with a manufacturer of fuel cell electric vehicles that run on hydrogen and emit only water vapour.

- PO

The type of research being conducted regarding whatever electrolytic process is needed to liberate the hydrogen is not taking place solely in Norway as it's a dynamic field of research, judging by articles we see from various sources about doing it, and that includes using energy from solar for the same purpose (i.e. banking energy as storable hydrogen).


Kannafoot said...

Methinks a few steps have been eliminated in their description of the process. Obviously, hydrogen is not "created". Many a nuclear scientist would love to be able to perform that feat of magic! Rather, hydrogen is extracted from another compound, and that's the piece of the puzzle I'd really like to see them detail.

It's popular to depict hydrogen being extracted from water, thus creating a single hydrogen molecule and a free oxygen radical. That, unfortunately, is not cost effective, either in terms of energy consumption or in terms of dollars and cents. Rather, the most common source of hydrogen for this conversion comes from crude oil. Depending on the grade of crude, a single oil molecule produces anywhere from 24 to 42 hydrogen molecules. The byproduct, unfortunately, can be somewhat nasty since that hydrogen must be replaced by something, and that something is typically chlorine. So you end up with a lot of carbon tetrachloride as the byproduct.

The other concern I have in their process has to do with energy efficiency. They are using wind turbines in the first stage of the conversion, but then they need to go to stage two which is the extraction of hydrogen from a compound. The potential energy of the stored hydrogen, therefore, is less than the amount of energy used in the total process. (It has to be, based on the laws of thermodynamics.)

The end product - hydrogen fuel cells - are, indeed, a source of relatively clean energy. How clean the process is to actually create those fuel cells, however, is a matter for debate.

Peas InOurThyme said...

That was my concern as well since we don't know the process they're using for that component. If that spews yet another kind of nasty into the environment then it's just another bust.

More needs to be known but there's enough to offer intrigue since we know the hydrogen really does burn clean and we assume all adequate safeguards are in-place to ensure no-one goes dirigible with it.

The Corporate King / Queen will be happy so long as it's profitable and doesn't make him/her smell like Bob Murray for the coal miners. Some overhead for that will be acceptable but how much and all within the Laws of Thermodynamics.