Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vision Hydrogen Powered Trucks Take A Leap of Faith

Company sees Hydrnol as the Fuel of the Future for Freight Vehicles
Shipping News Feature

US – The Vision Industries Corporation have signed a revolutionary agreement with Asemblon Incorporated, of Redmond, Washington State to gain an exclusive license to sell Hydrnol for fleet fueling. Vision, makers of the zero emission electric/hydrogen hybrid TyranoT truck, intend to distribute the new fuel to centralised fuel centres for heavy duty, Class 8 commercial vehicles equipped with fuel cells as the primary power source within the continental United States. Fuel cells require very pure hydrogen, the specification calling for 99.999% purity (so-called 5 nine purity). A further requirement is that compounds that could damage the fuel cell must be at extremely low levels (4 parts per billion for sulphur for instance), Hydrogen released from Hydronol meets these criteria.

Vision believes that a national introduction of Hydrnol using existing service stations as detailed below would provide the first network facilitating coast-to-coast and border-to-border travel for fuel cell vehicles. Hydrnol might well be the game changer that allows for a commercially viable, nationwide hydrogen infrastructure roll-out, at one tenth the cost of compressed hydrogen.

Hydrnol is an organic chemical "carrier" for hydrogen transportation and storage. It is a simple, recyclable, rechargeable, organic molecule that carries hydrogen, which is released on demand through an onboard reactor. Hydrnol is liquid over a wide temperature range, and its safety is comparable to that of gasoline and diesel. It can be transported via pipelines and tanker trucks, it is stored at ambient temperature, and it is unpressurized. Vision believe that Hydrnol can provide hydrogen to both fuel cell cars and trucks at commercially viable prices, giving Hydrnol unparalleled worldwide potential. Once the Hydrnol is 'spent' the organic residue can be retained in a two part tank for reuse. The residue can be recovered and used over and over again to produce further Hydrnol.  

Mr. Martin Schuermann, President and CEO of Vision explained:

"Vision has built a very functional business model for local and regional delivery zero emission heavy duty big rig trucks with a duty cycle of up to 200 miles over an eight hour shift. To build a business model for line haul, coast-to-coast, zero emission big rig trucking there are three major obstacles to overcome. We believe Hydrnol is the solution to two of those obstacles.”

The first obstacle is getting a meaningful amount of hydrogen on board the truck. Current commercially viable technologies limit that amount to approximately 40 KG of compressed hydrogen, which effectively limits the range to a maximum of 400 miles in drayage applications. Hydrnol solves this problem by allowing Vision's trucks to carry 110 KG of hydrogen in an easy to handle liquid format, thereby providing up to 1,100 miles in drayage application or a 650 mile range at highway speeds. The hydrogen is released from the Hydrnol by way of an on board reactor. The spent fuel is directed to an onboard spent fuel reservoir, where it can be pumped out, taken to a centralized plant, and reloaded with Hydrogen at a more effective cost.

The second obstacle for building a line haul, coast-to-coast network for zero emission big rig trucking is the current lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure. According to Larry Burns of General Motors; "A network of 12,000 hydrogen stations in the United States would put 70% of the U.S.population within two miles of a fueling station. If the stations cost $2 million each (estimates for the cost of a station range from $1 million to $4 million) the network would cost about $24 billion.

While that may be the case for an infrastructure rollout for fuel cell passenger vehicles, Vision looks at the big rig market from a different perspective. In 2006, the U.S. consumed 180.2 billion gallons of transportation fuels, of which 23.8 billion gallons (or 13.2%) were diesel consumed by combination highway trucks. There are approximately 1,200 diesel truck stops in the U.S., with Pilot Travel Centre and Flying J established as the two largest truck stop chains, each utilizing approximately 300 stations to cover the U.S. from coast-to-coast and border-to-border.

Since Hydrnol is an easy-to-handle liquid, an infrastructure roll-out utilizing existing fuelling equipment is very straightforward. Installing Hydrnol storage and dispensing infrastructure at an existing truck stop is estimated at $200,000 to $300,000 per station. Therefore, a 300 station, nationwide Hydrnol infrastructure rollout, accessing 13.2% of the US transportation fuel market place can be completed for less than $100 million.

The third and last major obstacle for nationwide roll-out is the cost of fuel cells. Only a few years ago the cost for a fuel cell capable of sustaining a big rig at highway speeds for cross country driving exceeded $1,000,000. While limited commercialization has already brought that cost down to around $300,000, the projected upswing in volume and corresponding efficiencies in production are expected to bring that price down to around $20,000 at the time when Vision expects to begin its nationwide Hydrnol infrastructure commercial rollout.

Michael D. Ramage, Asemblon CEO & President added, "We view this agreement with Vision as the first step to improve highway truck transportation in the United States forever."

An Asemblon produced video telling more about Hydrnol is viewable HERE.