1: Comparism of the hydrogen research centre with Wind2H2 project.
Hydrogen produced in the research centre can be used to solve the energy problems of the 21st century by providing a carbon free fuel. This research centre which was completed in August 2008 displays the practicality of producing hydrogen from a variety of indigenous renewable energy source and evaluates the profits for using hydrogen as an energy storage medium for these intermittent renewable.
About £2.2 million was donated to the centre by the University of Glamorgan in other to demonstrate the viability and safety of producing hydrogen from renewable sources, although a contract was received initially on the 24th of November for the centre to be funded by the European Regional Development Fund which lasted till June 2008 before it was fully guaranteed with a long term funding by the university of Glamorgan.
Hydrogen will initially be produced renewably by electrolysis and later biologically and will be used in stationary fuel cells and in vehicles. The electricity will come from photovoltaic and from remote wind turbines via a data link to demonstrate energy savings through peak-lopping. And this project will be based on demonstrating the sustainability of the hydrogen technology in practice and the role hydrogen can play in delivering the low carbon economy.
Hydrogen is a commonly used industrial gas which is produced for use in the chemical and other industries and in refineries for fuel processing. The idea for using Hydrogen in place of fossil fuels is not new because it has been used as town gas domestically until 1950s and comprised 50% hydrogen, and as rocket fuel. The use of hydrogen as a vehicle fuel dates back to 1800s but increased during the oil crisis of 1970s and with technological advances in 1980s.Currently there have been an interest in hydrogen because the world faces significant changes from fossil fuels that have been used for either transportation and industrial purposes and the use of these fossil fuels has caused a lot of disastrous global climate changes, despite the recent improvement in the UK, transportation and industries remain to be the major sources of local air quality, noise, security of energy supply, together with breakthroughs in fuel cell technology. Hydrogen can provide power with minimal air pollutant with zero CO2 emission and can be produced through CO2 free or neutral processes.
The production of these hydrogen can be used locally to generate electricity or used as a clean fuel for vehicles and also as a replacement for fossil fuels because there is significant potential for hydrogen to bring social and economical benefits to such am extend that many are even predicting to move from Carbon energy economy to a Hydrogen energy economy. In Wales hydrogen is increasingly seen as a resourceful fuel of the future and the basis for a low carbon economy. The National Assembly for Wales is devoted to sustainable development, is supporting and promoting Wales as a global platform for renewable energies and sees the development of renewable energies as a source of employment. The political/governmental thrust is appointed to promote sustainable development and renewable to improve industrial, rural and commercial opportunities and to support the transition to a hydrogen economy.
1.1: Production of hydrogen via electrolysis.
Hydrogen is an energy carrier and not an energy source; it stores and delivers energy in a usable form but must be produced from a compound that contains it.
Hydrogen can be produced using various, domestic resources which includes fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas and biomass and other renewable energy technologies, such as wind, solar(photovoltaic system), geothermal, and hydroelectric power. Great potential for variety of supply is an important reason why hydrogen is such a promising energy carrier. At the Hydrogen centre in Baglan, Solar energy provides clean electricity to generate hydrogen using an Electrolyser (PEM Electrolyser).
1.2: Renewable electrolysis process
In this way, the Hydrogen production can be a path way for using renewable energy sources which contributes directly to the reduction of green house gases and dependence on imported transportation fuels. The hydrogen is produced via electrolysis by passing electricity through two electrodes in water; the water molecule is split and produces oxygen gas at the anode and hydrogen gas at the cathode through the following reaction:
H2O 1/2O2 + H2
Anode: 2H20 O2 + 4H+ + 4e-
Cathode: 2H+ + 2e- H2
1.3 Operations in the hydrogen centre
The water electrolysis is a mature production of the hydrogen in which the power from the PV supplies electricity which is passed through a conducting aqueous electrolyser, splitting the deionised water into oxygen and hydrogen as shown in the reactions above at a maximum rate of 10Nm3 /hr and will be compressed to 200bar and 400 bar storage. Some of the compressed hydrogen will be used as vehicle fuel. See the illustration of the mode of operation below:
In the UK especially Wales, the production of hydrogen is increasingly seen as a resourceful fuel for the future and the basis for a low carbon economy .The welsh National Assembly is committed to sustain development and also support and promote Wales as a global platform for renewable energies and sees the development of this renewable energy as a source of employment.
2:0 Description of the hydrogen research centre
The Renewable Hydrogen Research and Demonstration Centre produces Hydrogen from a renewable sources and tend to provide potential solution to the future energy problems; providing carbon free fuel. The centre is located at Baglan Energy Park, supported by Neath Port Talbot council and the Welsh Assembly Government. It was initiated with EU funding and now has a long-term funding guaranteed from the University of Glamorgan. The centre will demonstrate the viability of hydrogen production from a range of indigenous renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power and evaluate the benefits of using hydrogen as energy storage medium.
Its main function is to raise awareness about the various means of generating hydrogen from renewable sources and demonstrate that the energy from the hydrogen can be used for everyday situations as well as the work described on hydrogen technology, the research conducted at the hydrogen centre will also concentrate on the economic and social aspect of hydrogen energy. It's a 2-storey building where the first part is used as an office for researching while the ground floor is used as a conference room and there is also a single storey building close to the 2-storey building; it is used for the accommodation of the hydrogen equipments such as the electrolytic hydrogen production, compression and storage. The photo of the site is shown below
2.1: History of the hydrogen research and demonstration centre
Late in the 19th century, coal and pottery were exported from Baglan pill. In 1963, the British Petroleum opened a Petrochemical plant partly to benefit from the closeness of the British Petroleum Oil Refinery at Llandarcy. In 1968, the British Petroleum became one of the largest Petrochemical sites in Europe and employing over two thousand workers but however some changes led to the closure of the plant between 1994 and 2004.
Following the final closure of the British Petrochemical Baglan Bay plant in 2004, the site was re-opened by British Petroleum and a 500 MW gas turbine plant operated by GE power system was built and the remainder of the land was embarked for a 180-acre (0.73 km2) business park (Baglan Energy Park), most businesses that were located at the park benefit from low cost electrical energy from the power station. The hydrogen was situated in Baglan because there was no space around the university area.
2.2: Technology Employed at the Hydrogen Centre
The hydrogen centre host a wide range of hydrogen vehicle research and development activities. This includes research into hydrogen mixture internal combustion engines, together with refuel vehicles such as Tribrid minibus developed by the University Advanced Control and Network Technology Research Unit. The hydrogen centre provides a base for the research, development and demonstration of a range of hydrogen vehicle.
2.2.1: The photovoltaic array (solar panels) and the inverters installed.
The hydrogen centre which is part of the University of Glamorgan has a 20KW capacity photovoltaic array installed on his roof. This modules were installed by the Dullas Ltd a world renowned renewable energy company that offers professional services for implementing renewable energy and the installation of these photovoltaic modules covers about 148 square metres on the roof of the office block and is a 20kw peak system comprising of 105 x Kyocera KC200GHT-2 modules and 4 inverter which helps in converting the DC current to AC current. (Diagram of the inverters) The expected output of the entire system is 16MWh per annum with Co2 saving of over 9.5 tonnes per year.
2.2.2: Hydrogenics alkaline generator (electrolyser)
The electricity from the photovoltaic and emulated wind power output is fed to the hydrogenised alkaline electrolyser installed by Air Liquid. These separates deionised water into the oxygen and hydrogen at a maximum rate of 10Nm3/h. Initially this compressed to 200bar and then 300bar storage. It intended to trial a range of hydrogen production and storage mechanisms at the hydrogen centre.
2.2.3: Hydrogen fuel dispenser
Some of the compressed hydrogen will be used as vehicle fuel. A hydrogen fuel dispenser installed by Air Liquide will enable a range of hydrogen vehicles to refuel with renewable hydrogen from the hydrogen centre
A compressed natural gas fuel dispenser and electric vehicle recharging point will allow further fuelled vehicles to operate from the hydrogen site.
2.2.4: PEM fuel cell
The compressed hydrogen is also used to feed a 12KW hydrogenics PEM fuel cell installed by UPS systems. This fuel cell supply electricity back to the building during periods of restricted electricity supply.
3.0: Advantage of the University of Glamorgan research centre
* The centre will provide basis for a range of hydrogen energy, transport activities and produce high quality scientific research in sustainable environmental technologies.
* The hydrogen centre will allow Wales to be put at the forefront of European efforts to develop hydrogen communities by bringing together the technology, expertise and provide a platform for a new business development and employment in the region.
* It will also help in research and demonstrate the link between the renewable and the role of Hydrogen energy.
* It will also help to address climate change and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
* This centre will open up a number of opportunities for academic and industrial research as well as prospects for public demonstration and co-operate training.
* The centre will enhance advance knowledge and provide trained scientist and engineers to meet needs of industry
* It also enhances the standing of the University of Glamorgan both nationally and internationally.
4.0: Disadvantages of University of Glamorgan research centre
* It is not a very good fuel for internal combusting engine.
· Hydrogen is the most common element but at the same time is currently very expensive and difficult to generate, handle, store and it require bulky and heavy tanks like those for compressed natural gas or complex insulating bottles.
* It takes more energy to make Hydrogen than the energy that is gotten out from it.
· A hydrogen fuel cell car will not be able to travel as far on a tank of fuel as a traditional gasoline powered car. The fuel cell cars are not equipped to store the amount of hydrogen needed for long distances, so you would need to fill up more often.
· Hydrogen is highly explosive.
5.0: Comparative assessment of the technology against other potential uses of renewable electricity
5.1: Energy conversion
The current production of hydrogen from renewable energy requires large amount of land for small amount of energy generation; for example in Baglan, a lot of energy is been lost due to the different energy conversions (from DC-AC and back to DC before it is being passed on to the electrolyser, due to these various conversions, energy is lost).
The cost of producing hydrogen from renewable is very expensive and to store. It takes more energy to produce hydrogen than the energy that could be recovered. The PV system has DC- DC converters and a DC- AC converter, and these solar power inverters can be a significant percentage of the renewable energy system cost.
The technology at the hydrogen centre is practical because presently the electricity used is generated us a photovoltaic solar panel where it will now be converted from DC-AC and back to the DC before it is being fed on to the electrolyser, so it is practical.
5.4: Market readiness
The Hydrogen centre is still in the demonstration stage and presently they are creating awareness on what is going on in the demonstration centre so that it will be accepted into the market in other words it is not ready for marketing.
6.0: table 1:
Comparing the hydrogen research projects based on system components
Hydrogen research centre
1. The project is located at NREL's National Wind Technology Centre near Boulder, Colorado .
The hydrogen is located at Baglan Energy Park, Wales.
2. The Wind2H2 project uses two wind turbine technologies: a Northern Power Systems 100-kW wind turbine and a Bergey 10-kW wind turbine. Both wind turbines are variable speed, meaning the blade's speed varies with wind speed. Such wind turbines produce alternating current (AC) that varies in magnitude and frequency (known as wild AC) as the wind speed changes.
The hydrogen centre uses a 20KW Capacity photovoltaic array installed on the roof of the hydrogen centre which supplies electricity that is fed into the Hydrogenics alkaline electrolyser.
3. The energy from the 10-kW wind turbine is converted from its wild AC form to direct current (DC) and then used by the electrolyzer stack to produce hydrogen from water.
The energy that is fed to the electrolyser is installed by Air Liquide which now separates deionised water into hydrogen and oxygen at a maximum rate of 10Nm3/hr.
4. The centre uses two HOGEN 40RE polymer electrolyte membrane electrolyzers from Proton Energy Systems and one Teledyne HMXT-100 alkaline electrolyzer produce hydrogen and oxygen from water.
The hydrogen centre uses a 12KW hydrogenics polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell installed by UPS system.
The renewable electrolysis demonstration in the Hydrogen Research Centre focuses on generating electricity through a photovoltaic array that is mounted on the roof of the building. Each demonstration has help to define the challenges and opportunities for hydrogen produced from renewable electricity to participate in the future hydrogen economy.
Hydrogen is widely considered to have a strong potential for use in the energy future systems in meeting climate change, air quality, and noise. The technology in the hydrogen and research and demonstration centre is well established and further commercialization for vehicles uses is expected in the next few years.
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