Technology Trending – hydrogen refuelling, AR for energy consumers, carbon capture and quantum advances

Technology Trending – hydrogen refuelling, AR for energy consumers, carbon capture and quantum advances
Image: Shell

Hydrogen refuelling stations closed in GB, Florida Power & Light launches an AR app, new liquid carbon capture technology gets a boost and new quantum technologies on the cusp of commercialisation are in the week’s technology radar.

Hydrogen refuelling – a tech before its time in GB?

Pioneers with technologies generally face the chicken and egg of users versus availability. It happened in the early days of electric vehicles with battery replacement as an option to overcome the limited range but the model failed at the time for various reasons, only to have since come back into increasing favour.

Hydrogen for powering vehicles, particularly in the UK, seems to be going the same way, with news emerging that Shell has closed all its refuelling stations there, the one in Cobham at the end of February and the others subsequently.

The operator, Motive, cites that the sites were not performing satisfactorily and the footprint available was too small to accommodate upgrade for larger vehicles and future technology, while Shell was quoted as saying the “prototype tech had reached its end of life”.

However, its not all bad news as Motive intends to focus on larger hydrogen stations and vehicle refuelling and promises upgrades of these as well as the opening of new sites. In the meantime the number of refuelling stations is very limited, with only 11 across the country.

Florida Power & Light goes AR

Florida Power & Light has introduced an augmented reality based app ‘House of Savings’, that is designed to help customers understand the energy consumption of different appliances and receive energy saving tips.

The app forms part of the company’s ‘Energy Manager’ with a range of tools including a dashboard to view energy usage over time, an analyser giving a breakdown of where the energy is being used and a simulator to show the savings that can be made with changes in usage.

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The app was introduced for the US’s National Energy Awareness Month of October and while limited in scope it offers considerable potential for example for including other appliances and modifications for the different seasons as well as for expansion into other rooms apart from the kitchen.

It also could form the basis for a full ‘meta’ experience with appliance recognition and control.

Liquid carbon capture

The jury is out on the role of carbon capture in the move away from fossil fuels with its cost effectiveness a not insignificant factor.

Carbon capture developer Mantel has developed a novel solution styled as ‘liquid capture’ based on molten salt, similar to that of long duration energy storage technology.

The solution is designed to operate at the high temperatures found inside boilers, kilns, and furnaces, with the molten salts selectively absorbing CO2 and regenerating a pure stream of CO2 that can be either stored or utilised.

By uniquely combining liquid phase materials with high operating temperatures this approach can reduce energy losses by more than 60% and cut costs in half, says the company, which has just received a $2 million investment boost led by MIT venture spinout, The Engine.

“Carbon capture is required to meet the world’s climate goals and lower cost solutions are absolutely essential for countries and companies to meet net zero emissions targets,” said Michael Kearney, partner at The Engine.

The technology is also stated as utilisable for carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere through pairing with biogenic sources of emissions, such as bioenergy, waste-to-energy and pulp and paper.

Quantum technologies emerge in GB

Innovations at the atomic and sub-atomic scale are driving the next wave of innovation with widespread application for energy and many other sectors.

The UK government through UK Research & Innovation has been supporting the development of new quantum innovations and the first of these have reached the stage of being readied for commercial application.

Of these, two are of particular interest for the energy sector, a compact caesium atomic clock and a gas imaging device.

The UK is currently reliant on the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) for timing and other signals for application for a variety of services, including energy delivery, but these can be easily disrupted either accidentally or maliciously, and the clock was developed to overcome this major vulnerability.

The imaging device combines a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and single photon avalanche detector to simultaneously visualise and quantify greenhouse gas and other emissions from distances of up to 200 metres and is expected to become a tool to aid the sector and others to cut emissions.