It is good to see further examples of decarbonisation technologies in use on the UK rail network. Although only a trial at this stage, this latest venture is an emission free solution for creating electricity for charging equipment at Euston Station on the HS2 project.
Mace Dragados Joint Venture, the construction team building HS2’s new Euston station, is using "the H-Power Tower" - a fuel cell based generator supplied by AFC Energy, to charge a fully electric JCB telehandler, lighting towers and a water pump on site.
Fuel cells can be used to produce electricity by converting separate hydrogen and oxygen supplies (the latter usually being in the form of air) across an electrochemical cell. This is not a flame combustion, and thus there are no nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions, the emissions typically being just water and heat. They are also generally much quieter than conventional generators.
I assume that the fuel cells in use on this project will be Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells. However, depending upon the application, fuel cells can be of a variety of different forms, such as Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC), Alkaline Fuel Cells (AFC) and Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cells (PAFC), each with their own respective advantages.
We expect to see many more technology sectors adopting fuel cell technologies into their operations in the coming years as the efficiency of these machines has now reached a point at which they can compete against more conventional technologies.