How a UK company has solved the problem of hydrogen leakage on hydrogen trains and supporting infrastructure
UK-based nano-technology company Triton Hydrogen has developed a ground-breaking barrier coating which will help the UK rail industry take a major step forward in its decarbonisation of rolling stock.
Unlike diesel trains, hydrogen-powered trains do not emit harmful gases, instead using a hydrogen fuel cell to produce electricity, water and heat. Since they can run on electricity without the need for overhead lines, they are also seen as the ideal solution for older or less frequently used routes where electrification would not be financially viable.
The major challenge with hydrogen-as-a-fuel to date has been its storage and distribution. Due to its small molecular size, hydrogen escapes by permeating through gaps in the molecular structure of steel tanks and pipes. This process will also cause embrittlement of the steel, eventually leading to product failure. These challenges often mean that hydrogen needs to be produced close to its point of use to reduce losses in storage and transit.
The Tritonex coating uses nanotechnology to effectively seal storage tanks, pipework and valves – both on board the trains and in the supporting supply infrastructure – reducing costs and improving safety performance. The barrier coating can be applied by OEMs or retrofitted to existing products and surfaces, meaning hydrogen pipes and storage vessels can run with increased pressure without any losses, and the hydrogen can be transported over long distances, in the same way that natural gas currently is.
The UK is already a world-leader in developing hydrogen technology. Experience of North Sea gas and the rise of the UK offshore wind industry has given the country the perfect combination of expertise and cheap, clean electricity required to produce green hydrogen in abundance – and the UK rail industry has been quick to see the potential for large-scale decarbonisation of the network.
Organisations such as University of Birmingham’s Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), Porterbrook are setting the pace for hydrogen development in the rail sector both in the UK and globally with initiatives such as their HydroFLEX project. A UK first, its aim is to demonstrate how hydrogen could be deployed across the rail network to offer a cleaner alternative to current diesel trains. The project involves the conversion of an existing Class 319 train, fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell, giving it the ability to run autonomously on hydrogen power on non-electrified routes.
“We need to change our mindset to realise we now can treat hydrogen as any other fuel, utilising buffer storage and long transport lines” said Triton Hydrogen CEO Henning Syversen.
“Transport currently accounts for around a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and hydrogen represents a major opportunity to reduce this. Tritonex overcomes the biggest hurdle of gas transport and storage, allowing for the development of cheap, safe and efficient fuels cells and ancillary refuelling infrastructure. Tritonex is the only solution in the world that fully complies to the ISO 17081:2014 hydrogen permeation standard.”
The ground-breaking coating technology can be retrofitted into current hydrogen trains as well as incorporated into future designs – helping decarbonise the rail network and make rail journeys greener and more efficient.
Triton Hydrogen is the creator of the Tritonex barrier coating system – a global phenomenon in preventing hydrogen leakage.
Tritonex is said to be the only barrier coating product anywhere in the world that provides a scientifically tested containment solution – giving 100 per cent surety.
For more information about the business, and how the team can help you take your product to market, please visit: https://triton-hydrogen.com