Hydrogen will be one of the critical assets in the energy stream in the coming decades for the sustainable development of society. The abundant availability of hydrogen and its application in electricity production using fuel cells without any harmful emissions makes it distinct. It can be produced from renewable and sustainable resources, thus promising an eco-friendly solution for the energy transition in the coming years.
Currently, hydrogen production using the electrolysis of water is most preferred. However, hydrogen production can vary in the range of sectors. Hydrogen can be used in electricity production, biomass, solar and wind power application.
Despite its advantages, two significant issues hinder its commercialisation and generalisation as an efficient fuel, and energy transition toward zero-emission and fossil-free energy solutions. The first is hydrogen is an energy vector, which means hydrogen needs to be produced before its use and eventually lead to energy consumption in hydrogen synthesis. The second is the low volumetric energy density of hydrogen, which leads to hydrogen storage and transportation issues because of its lowest volumetric energy density (0.01079 MJ/L)
Researchers have suggested several solutions to attempt to increase this value:
compression in gas cylinders;
liquefaction in cryogenic tanks;
storage in metal-hydride alloys;
adsorption onto large specific surface area-materials
chemical storage in covalent and ionic compounds (viz. formic acid, borohydride, ammonia)
Applications of Hydrogen
The hydrogen applications are in the food industry to turn unsaturated fats and oils present in vegetable oils, butter into a saturated state. In the metal forming industry, atomic hydrogen welding is used as an environmentally sustainable welding process. In the manufacturing industry, hydrogen and nitrogen are used to create a boundary and prevent the oxidation of metals.
The recent advancements in hydrogen applications in the steel manufacturing industry are one of the most significant hydrogen applications for low or zero-emission iron ore conversion.
The potential use of hydrogen can play a vital role in reducing greenhouse emissions and the global target of achieving a minimal no emission target by 2050. However, the automotive industry is still the largest consumer and most attractive sector in the current scenario. But with the future forecast of reducing hydrogen fuel cost can do wonders with the goal set during Paris Climate Summit.
Hydrogen use in stationary and automotive applications, such as fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen refuelling stations above all, has shown to be hindered by its volumetric energy density – the lowest among all the standard fuels nowadays used. Compression seems to be the most efficient solution to reach high storage levels, thus making hydrogen more common as a renewable and sustainable fuel.
The availability of several hydrogen compression technologies makes the development of new innovative and environmentally-friendly solutions for the use of energy possible, leading to a transition towards a fossil fuel divestment and making a critical contribution to sustainable development
The use of data as a research tool is widespread in academia and industry. In many ways, we are already reliant on data. To name just a few examples: the majority of traffic lights now use data to control their green lights, the internet uses data to route our packets, and the UK National Health Service uses data to monitor the progress of patients and doctors alike. Data is a powerful tool, but it comes at a cost. Many of our data-driven services require a large infrastructure, which requires a lot of electricity – so why not use clean energy?
There are a number of ways that researchers are improving our understanding of the green technologies available, how these can be used, and ultimately how to reduce the carbon emissions generated through the energy production process. Researchers at University College London recently published a study which analyzed the electricity demand profiles from 10,000 households across Europe. The researchers were able to develop algorithms to estimate the amount of power consumed in each house. The findings are particularly useful as a baseline reference point for comparing different energy options, and also to provide an accurate indicator of the amount of energy that could potentially be saved through the adoption of new energy technologies.
The development of renewable energy is a crucial part of efforts to tackle climate change, and the data available to researchers such as those at UCL, can be used to provide evidence to policy makers and the public alike. For example, a recent report produced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) concluded that there was a significant potential to increase the penetration of solar PV, and hence reduce the amount of CO2 emitted. However, DECC found that the available data was inadequate to quantify this potential. As a result, the authors were unable to accurately predict the size of the market, or to identify the barriers to increasing uptake.
This problem is being addressed through collaboration between industry and academics. A number of organizations, including the British Solar Trade Association, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and the Renewable Energy Association, are working together to produce a common dataset on solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, to help researchers better understand the market potential of the technology.
For other researchers, the data is not always available. While it is possible to use household surveys to capture information on household consumption patterns, this method has several limitations. Firstly, it can be difficult to capture the nuances of the behavior associated with different technologies, such as Delphix.
For example, if you ask a household whether they would consider installing a solar PV system, you will get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, but you won’t get the details of why they choose one over another. If you instead asked people directly why they selected a particular technology, you would get a more accurate reflection of the actual choices being made. Secondly, even if you do gather this kind of detailed data, it does not provide the information needed to identify the full range of options that are available.
The use of data to improve our understanding of energy technologies is not limited to renewables. The ability to track how a technology performs is also vital for the deployment of nuclear reactors. This means that researchers have been using sensors in order to measure the performance of nuclear reactors, and thereby better understand their operation. A recent publication by researchers at the National Nuclear Laboratory and the Institute for Energy Technology provided a detailed analysis of the performance of a reactor at the Dounreay site in Scotland.
By measuring how the temperature and pressure inside the reactor changed as a function of time, it was possible to model the core’s thermal and mechanical behavior. This led to the development of algorithms which can be used to estimate the reactor’s lifetime, and also provided valuable insight into the processes that occur inside the reactor and how they affect its performance.
How scientist use data in green energy
Data is the key to unlocking many of today’s problems and issues. Scientists use this data to help create solutions and ways of tackling these. It’s why they need to gather data, so they can find out how to produce the most sustainable and efficient way of producing electricity.
Many scientists today use advanced equipment to look at data. They are analyzing how the earth’s climate is changing and what it will mean in the future. They have created ways of calculating how much carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere. This allows them to forecast what will happen and make decisions based on this.
There are many factors that affect the world. Some scientists are looking at renewable energies, such as solar and wind power. These have many advantages, such as creating jobs and making countries energy independent. They can be cheaper than oil, and can provide the majority of the worlds’ energy needs in many cases.
There are many types of renewable energy but the best known is wind power. Wind turbines have been around for a long time. They were used in places like Ireland, Denmark and Norway. The technology has moved on a lot since then. Today wind turbines can provide 10% of the worlds’ electricity needs. The industry is worth billions of pounds to many countries.
Solar power is another type of renewable energy. Solar panels collect energy from the sun and use it to create electricity. This type of renewable energy is growing quickly and it’s already contributing to some countries energy supply.
Scientists are looking into the use of hydrogen and the potential to create renewable energy. A form of hydrogen called water fuel cells are used in cars and are one of the biggest areas of interest. The process of putting hydrogen in a car works the same as that of a traditional fuel cell, but it’s cleaner, greener and easier. Hydrogen can be produced from biomass (plants/organic matter) and water.
In summary, we are already dependent on data for a huge number of things, but this dependence will only increase. If we want to reduce the environmental impact of our energy use, then understanding the environmental performance of the technologies we adopt is a critical component of achieving this goal. Using data science in renewable energy, we can quantify the amount of energy being generated by an individual green energy technology.
Biomass gasification power systems have followed two divergent pathways, which are a function of the scale of operations. At sizes much less than 1MW, the preferred technology combination today is a moving bed gasifier and ICE combination, while at scales much larger than 10 MW, the combination is of a fluidized bed gasifier and a gas turbine.
Larger scale units than 25 MW would justify the use of a combined cycle, as is the practice with natural gas-fired gas turbine stations. In the future it is anticipated that extremely efficient gasification based power systems would be based on a combined cycle that incorporates a fuel cell, gas turbine and possibly a Rankine bottoming cycle.
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle
The most attractive means of utilising a biomass gasifier for power generation is to integrate the gasification process into a gas turbine combined cycle power plant. This will normally require a gasifier capable of producing a gas with heat content close to 19 MJ/Nm3. A close integration of the two parts of the plant can lead to significant efficiency gains.
The syngas from the gasifier must first be cleaned to remove impurities such as alkali metals that might damage the gas turbine. The clean gas is fed into the combustor of the gas turbine where it is burned, generating a flow of hot gas which drives the turbine, generating electricity.
Hot exhaust gases from the turbine are then utilised to generate steam in a heat recovery steam generator. The steam drives a steam turbine, producing more power. Low grade waste heat from the steam generator exhaust can be used within the plant, to dry the biomass fuel before it is fed into the gasifier or to preheat the fuel before entry into the gasifier reactor vessel.
Schematic of integrated biomass gasification combined cycle
The gas-fired combined cycle power plant has become one of the most popular configurations for power generation in regions of the world where natural gas is available. The integration of a combined cycle power plant with a coal gasifier is now considered a potentially attractive means of burning coal cleanly in the future.
Biomass Fuel Cell Power Plant
Another potential use for the combustible gas from a biomass gasification plant is as fuel for a fuel cell power plant. Modern high temperature fuel cells are capable of operating with hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide. Thus product gas from a biomass gasifier could become a suitable fuel.
As with the integrated biomass gasification combined cycle plant, a fuel cell plant would offer high efficiency. A future high temperature fuel cell burning biomass might be able to achieve greater than 50% efficiency.
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