Hydrogen Fuel Safety App Available
Engineers and scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed an app that focuses on hydrogen safety.
The Hydrogen Tools app, created with the support of DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, comes at a time when the use of fuel cells is growing. Fuel cells generate electricity by driving electrochemical reactions using hydrogen and air, producing power with dramatically reduced emissions compared to traditional hydrocarbon-based fuels. The only byproducts are heat and water.
Nick Barilo, the PNNL project manager who led the team, said fuel cells are becoming more common in a variety of applications — as back-up energy sources in buildings, in vehicles, and in warehouses, where they are often used to power forklifts.
“In addition to being a clean energy option, fuel cells can offer some real advantages in certain applications,” said Barilo. “Last year during Hurricane Sandy, for instance, cell phone towers that relied on a fuel cell as a backup energy source continued to work throughout the storm, with just a few exceptions, even in areas where cell towers relying on other power sources were rendered inoperable.
“With hydrogen being deployed in a greater number of applications, it's the perfect time to make a safety tool like this app broadly available. Many people are unfamiliar with the technology, and this app is intended to make the information they need available at their fingertips.”
Hydrogen Tools incorporate a variety of resources and web-based content to help those involved in designing, approving or using hydrogen fuel cell systems and facilities. It includes information about ventilation of hydrogen, safe distances and pressures for storing hydrogen, and best practices for safely handling hydrogen.
The tool was developed with funding from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality and economic vitality.
The app is being unveiled at the 5th International Conference on Hydrogen Safety in Brussels and is available for free download through the Apple App Store.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly