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Dolphin N2 attends the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK Westminster briefing on hydrogen automotive propulsion.

By March 23, 2022 No Comments

On Tuesday 22nd March 2022, Simon Brewster – CEO & Nick Owen – Technical Director of Dolphin N2, alongside 50 senior industry leaders, policymakers & academics; joined the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC UK) at Westminster for a briefing event chaired by Matt Western MP, Chair of the APPG for Electric Vehicles.

The event was an opportunity to recognise the role hydrogen can play in vehicle solutions such as heavy duty, agriculture & marine sectors which are by their nature challenging to decarbonise.

The APC UK having mapped the value chain for on-board fuel cell systems & hydrogen tanks, have also identified the clear ambition for the UK in relation to hydrogen vehicle technology. (1)

The Westminster event was an opportunity for the APC UK to launch their report ‘An ambition for the UK hydrogen vehicle supply chain’ in which Ian Constance, CEO APC UK outlines his vision for the role hydrogen can play in the decarbonisation of automotive & in particular those sectors who face performance & longevity efficiency challenges.

“Hydrogen combustion is a promising net-zero technology that can provide a good route for heavy duty applications & share the same hydrogen refuelling network required for fuel cell vehicles.

This technology is already in development & showing net-zero CO2 and NOx emissions is achievable. “Ian Constance, CEO APC UK (2)

The ‘An ambition for the UK hydrogen vehicle supply chain’ report highlights the APC UK analysis citing that the UK has the potential to become one of the world’s fuel cell system production capitals. (2)

With UK companies currently able to contribute to about 15% of the value-add in a fuel cell system; with the right investment the APC UK believes that ambition could be 65% of the entire fuel cell value chain radiating from UK businesses. (2)

The report directs focus to the inherent issues facing the heavy duty sector & cites how Hydrogen combustion, or similar net-zero propulsion, can provide a good route for 7.5t-44t heavy duty goods vehicles, agriculture & off-highway machines, which can share the same hydrogen refuelling network required for fuel cell vehicles. (2)

At the recent Future Propulsion Conference this was also reiterated by several of the attendees & speakers.

Innovate UK Deputy Director Paul Gadd recognised that although EV’s are a sensible & viable route for passenger & light goods vehicles; there is less confidence in emission free technologies for the heavy duty sector, where a blended approach of options would need to be adopted.

He referred to how many heavy duty & off-highway manufacturers are investing in Hydrogen opportunities for their portfolio’s of HGV’s, Agriculture & Marine options. (3)

The challenges facing the construction industry were emphasised at FPC2022 by Ryan Ballard – Engineering Director, Powertrain – JCB . “ JCB are realistic when it comes to the needs of a 20 tonne excavator moving 4 tonnes of earth per minute & that is that electrification is simply not a viable option & therefore hydrogen has become a compelling solution. “

JCB are therefore utilising Hydrogen in an ICE model in which they have been able to use advanced boosting & hybridisation to mitigate NOx. With diesel engines still able to perform energy density efficiency, the hydrogen ICE solution is a way of mimicking the performance, whilst also moving towards a zero emissions solution. (3)

Duncan Engham of Cummins Inc focussed his seminar section at FPC2022 on the need for a reduction in emissions for the heavy duty/off-highway sector, as a fully zero emission status for 40+ tonnes of truck, agriculture or marine would continue to face challenges to reach fully zero emissions immediately, without losing sight of energy efficiency & the wide variety of vehicles challenging the zero emissions targets set globally. “We need to get our fingers out of our ears over NOx, when we CAN get zero NOx out of tailpipes” Duncan said, further extolling the energy efficiency of a clean ICE & it’s continued relevance in the heavy duty/off-highway sector. (3)

Nick Owen – Technical Director, Dolphin N2 addressed attendees at FPC2022 with the question: “The Recuperated Split Cycle Engine: A Practical Hydrogen Solution for Heavy Duty?”

Dolphin N2 have had a multi-cylinder prototype of their recuperated split cycle engine running since December 2020 & the data already looks promising with high thermal efficiency –55-60% BTE, low emissions – NOx at SULEV or below with standard SCR & fuel compatibility with Diesel, Methane & Hydrogen.

“The benefits of a Hydrogen ICE are that a Hydrogen ICE works, is fast to adopt, uses the same supply chain as current manufacturers, has familiar servicing needs, NOx is entirely manageable via lean burn & in principle it suits a Recuperated Split Cycle. ‘Fast oxidation’ combustion is fuel agnostic – violent mixing with red-hot sonic & supercritical air will burn many things & if Hydrogen can maintain BOTH high efficiency & low NOx, the advantages are clear.”  (3)

In light of a collective agreement that hydrogen combustion can offer a clear alternative to diesel for heavy duty, agriculture, off-highway & marine; the APC UK have created a showcase of UK innovators whom they have supported & compiled a short video exploring the opportunities they have been awarded through APC UK investment & support.

One of the features in the video is a section featuring the ThermoPower TM recuperated split cycle engine technology from Dolphin N2. Nick Owen – Technical Director, Dolphin N2 & Simon Brewster – CEO, Dolphin N2 are both featured & explain the opportunities hydrogen have afforded them as:

“It’s allowed us to demonstrate that what we could do on diesel, we can also do on hydrogen. We were able to validate that & that enabled us to kickstart our hydrogen activity” Nick Owen, Technical director, Dolphin N2

“It now feels like we have a forever solution to be honest, for heavy freight but also for multiple other sectors including agriculture, construction & marine” Simon Brewster, CEO, Dolphin N2

The APC UK Westminster briefing was a really positive step in the advancement of hydrogen mobility & attendees are collectively part of the ongoing investment & understanding of the place hydrogen technologies have in the drive to zero emissions.

Written & cited by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2