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    Pl​anet Before Profit

Where is the smart transport investment going?

The ultimate proof of the freight industries direction of travel is in Nikola's meteoric start-up success having just secured more than $14bn in pre-order reservations for its vehicles, while its investors also continue to queue up to join its transport technology revolution.

Nikola trucks have a range of 600 miles (1000km) depending upon driving conditions, and a 15-minute refill time, totally zero carbon from wheel to wheel and the fuel cells themselves are 100% recyclable. This unique combination of attributes has resulted in orders with some of the largest conglomerates in the world, including Ryder, US Express and Anheuser-Busch as a prime example.

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Hydrogen - The lightest fuel for the heaviest loads

Just 5kg of Hydrogen can power a Hydrogen Fuel cell (HFC) car for 500Km, equivalent petrol or diesel cars may need 50kg of fuel and an electric car needs a 500Kg battery to travel the same distance, this is due to Hydrogens superior energy density.

Diesel has an energy density of 45.5 megajoules per kilogram (MJ/kg) and hydrogen has an energy density of  120 MJ/kg, almost triple. In electrical terms, the energy density of hydrogen is equal to 33.6 kWh of usable energy per kg, versus diesel which only holds about 12–14 kWh per kg.

So 1 kg of Hydrogen in a fuel cell powered electric motor contains approximately the same energy as a 4.5 ltres (1 gallon) of diesel. A Nikola HFC truck gets the equivalent of  12 to 15 miles per gallon (mpg), double the USA average for a diesel truck which is around 7 mpg.

In the UK diesel is around £6.00 per gallon (£1.35 per litre) and the latest 2020 analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests the per-kilo production price for hydrogen could be as low as £1.15 ($1.40) per kilogram by 2030.

By 2023 Norway aims to have​ 1,000 Nikola Hydrogen-powered trucks on its roads and over 100 Hydrogen refuelling stations.

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For an in-depth analysis of Hydrogen Fuel Cells Vs lithium/cobalt batteries 

Bloomberg energy predicts 80% cost reduction in hydrogen by 2030 

Siemens explains why they are rapidly developing the Hydrogen economy infrastructure.  

" We could see hydrogen fuel cell systems that cost four times less than lithium-ion batteries, as well as providing a much longer range."

David Antonelli - Chair of Physical Chemistry at Lancaster University

Hyundai Nexo Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle

Driving Sustainability 

Electric vehicles are the future and the best option for providing that electricity is Hydrogen Fuel Cells (HFC) which offer genuine 500 Km range, refuelling times of under 5 minutes for cars and 10 minutes for HGV's and busses. HFC have almost double the working life of lithium batteries and none of the end of life disposal issues as HFC are 100% recyclable, use no toxic chemicals and are safe to handle at all stages of the process.  There is strong consumer support for Hydrogen as it does not compromise our lifestyles and is easily added to existing fuel stations forecourts.

There is mounting concern regarding the human and environmental costs of mining lithium, cobalt and rare earth metals for batteries. 

In addition, the high energy and carbon footprint of the battery manufacturing process and transportation to automotive factories are now drawing attention and must be included in true sustainability calculations. Plus the end of life disposal of lithium batteries could well prove to be an environmental time bomb as the toxic chemicals can leak into the water table or surrounding environment if the batteries are landfilled or dumped at sea. Learn more.

If recycling is attempted, this generates a lot of pollution, consumes a lot of water and is very expensive as the process consumes approx 6 times more energy than it takes to mine new lithium.

Detailed analysis of wheel to wheel emissions Tesla Vs a standard diesel car in USA reveals that the Tesla emits more CO2 than diesel in most USA states, depending on the energy mix to power national grid.

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 "Green Hydrogen gives excellent ROI with £1.00 returned to the economy for every 18 pence invested" Councillor Phillip Bell - Aberdeen Council.

Size matters

Power to weight ratio is vital and this video explains why fuel cells are smaller, lighter and more powerful than the equivalent battery 

Why do Grizzly bears not chase mice?

Because a 500Kg bear burns more energy chasing a 30g mouse than it gains from eating it. Balancing this energy out / energy in law of nature governs all species behaviour and the physics applies equally to all of mankind's machinery and engines. We all understand the obscene waste and pollution involved when the super-rich fly across the Atlantic for a weekend shopping trip. But do we think about the energy wasted when we drive a few miles to the shops for a couple of bags of shopping?

A typical fossil fuel family car consumes approx 9,000,000 calories (1 litre of diesel contains 9,241,059 calories) on a short trip and the total calorific value of two bags of groceries might be around 10,000 calories ie a loaf of bread, 2 pints of milk and a dozen eggs = approx 3,500 calories. In this example, we are burning approx 1,000 times more energy than we are gaining from the food, and that's before accounting for the air or road miles of the food production and transport, the supermarket's energy consumption and packaging and waste disposal.

The above is a great example of where Hydrogen can solve multiple sector problems, from private cars and public transport to agricultural machinery, food production and transport, commercial energy, packaging production and recycling.

Get in touch and see how we can help you and your planet 

The second-generation Toyota Mira Hydrogen fuel cell car is in its final stages of design and will be available to order later in 2020

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Hydrogen on the high seas 

In their joint report on decarbonising shipping, Lloyds of London (worlds biggest shipping insurer) and the University Maritime Advisory Sevices (UMAS) concluded that producing Green Hydrogen from electrolysis and compressing or liquifying it was the most economical zero-carbon shipping fuel available. Hydrogen was less than half the price of any methanol or biodiesel options and less than one third of the price of lithium battery power.

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World leading civil and electrical engineering group, ABB shipping propulsion director states -"Hydrogen fuel cells are relatively easy to connect with current marine drive systems, they are highly scalable and as modern marine drives are already electric, we only need to exchange the power plant"

“The Canadian Navy has had fuel cells in their submarines since 1993" This fact alone demystifies hydrogen as high risk – the last place you want a dangerous fuel is on board is in a steel tube hundreds of meters under the sea.

Hydrogen powered luxury yacht launching 2020 

Decarbonising shipping is essential if Europe and the UK are to hit our carbon reduction targets. European shipping emitted over 139m tonnes of CO2 in 2018 – equal to CO2 from 68 million cars and the volume of goods shipped is forecast to rise by 50% over the next decade.

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There is a willingness to change and the shipping industry has recognised Hydrogen is the number one zero-carbon fuel with multiple vessels now running on Hydrogen proving to owners and operators the technology works.

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Any port in a storm?

With growing environmental pressure to decarbonise the fuels, with ever-tighter air pollution and ocean pollution regulations, plus higher carbon taxes looming on the horizon, it can be tempting to adopt short term fixes or the first low carbon fuel or Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology that receives media attention.

ZCC believe it is better to think long term and account for the global picture which now incorporates Hydrogen into every walk of life, not just the shipping sector. We have the global vision required to ensure your choices are well informed and have pathways to integrate with the wider Hydrogen economy.

We can advise on vessel propulsion systems, port side refuelling infrastructure and land-based energy generation and storage solutions which allow for future expansion and integration with transport partners using Hydrogen fuel cell HGV and rail technology to create zero carbon supply chains from source to consumer.  

Get in touch and see how we can help you and your planet