#31 | Interview - Dr. Ben Todd, CEO of Arcola Energy

#31 | Interview - Dr. Ben Todd, CEO of Arcola Energy

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Welcome. To the avid technology podcast. With me, Ryan mourn so. We've got a few things, going on with today's podcast, first. Of all as you've probably noticed if, you are watching this on YouTube instead of just being an audio podcast we've. Got video so, you can see me. I know I've kind of got a face for radio but we're. Gonna do this as a, video, so. If, you're not on YouTube and you want to see the video head across to YouTube because, it will be over, there so. Then the, the podcast, today is actually an interview with a really great guy dr., Ben Todd he. Runs, a business called Arcola, energy, and they're, specialists, in systems, integration and, development. Of fuel cell power trains so. We got down and talked, to Ben about all things fuel cell and where they come in the market and the kind of things that are all coal or up too and we. Hope you're going to find it really interesting to, maybe get a bit of an insight about what's happening right now in, the world of fuel cells so. Without further ado we'll get on with the interview with, Ben ok. So thanks. For agreeing, to do, this today Ben really, really, pleased to have you here do, you want to just. Tell. Us who. You are and and. A bit about our coal energy, yep. Sound, Ben and the founder, CEO of Arcola energy so. I call it was created about 10 years ago really. To kind of fill the gap between, fuel. Cell and actually other low carbon technologies and. The kind of need for, those technologies, in the market so. I've been in fuel cell about 20 years so. I was doing, my PhD, and. Then kind of bit consulting, after that and what I was seeing all the time was these really nice technologies. Really. Serious need obviously climate change and quality. But. The technologies, was just never making it to market so classic, thing with engineers I'm gonna build this brilliant thing enough people all use it yeah, they don't ok, yeah that's, how I call energy really in a way was created, almost out of frustration it was just going ok well there's this good tech there's this serious need yeah. How about if I set up a company that's it's, not very glamorous it's, not based on patterns, it's not about inventing, amazing things, it's. Not designed, to make a load of investors, really really rich it's just about, going what's needed what do we need to do whatever, it takes about fuel cells and hydrogen into. A kind of sensible, real world make the better make the world better type applications, that's, what we'll do right, okay so, our Cola does just, fuel cell applications, did. You mention did a PhD was that that, was to do with fuel cells that was yeah that was, in fuel cell so that was quite accidental, okay, cards, on the table the, plan was not essentially to go into fuel cell so I guess I was brought up in. Liverpool. With. This kind of I guess I would call them crudely my nice hippie family yeah but, I kind of brought I you.

Need To make the world better yeah, that's the kind of that's what make this man if you like yes one, so. This until, I was an engineer I've always kind of fix things and broken things, so. You put those two things together well you've got distance around sustainability. And, so I was working on, power. Stations, so natural. Gas combined cycle power stations how do you make conventional, power stations better yeah. And, through that got really into thermodynamics, and. The kind of thermodynamics, is work and if humanity, reaches, the, other God, or the universe whatever, you want to call that. Best. That you can do yeah yeah and look at the world around you, as. An engineer you understand, you always interest in limits how good can this be yeah, how rubbish is that in, thermodynamics is that kind of sets this kind of I guess scientific. Framework for, kind of how good you are and how hard you should be trying and fuel. Cells fall out of that so. Thermodynamically. In theory, fuel. Cells can give you understand efficiency okay, yeah yeah based on the usual measures we used to arrive Ohba efficiency. And. So obviously here's a kind of young engineer, you're like wow this, is amazing it's cool yeah now, of course that's, in theory but ever near of coal-burning. Possible. Power station at 40, percent or so so, if you're looking at that kind of thing so then you know under thermodynamics, of the Carnot efficiency which, is just about you know the difference between the, highest temperature of combustion and the lowest temperature yeah if you know don't mean heat into a river or something. And, fuel, cells are not limited by Carnot yeah that sounds like wow this is amazing fuel cells must be great so, I got kind of seduced, by that idea. Of what they could be now. Of course, in. Reality there's. All kinds of limitations yeah, kinetic. So you gotta stack together so, you don't get one without efficiency anyone. That tells you do yeah. But. What, you what you do have is, the potential for very high efficiency, for, very low emissions. And. This kind of flexibility, around fuel, typically. We talk about hydrogen fuel cells yeah the, type of fuel cells actually I was working on high-temperature fuel cells which would run on natural gas, so, the thing I was most interested in is can. You take the kind of waste gas from say a sewage treatment plant. For. Yourself, and. Then you get electricity. And actually also get heat. Which. Feels give you really good high, quality waste, heat, and. Then if you make it big enough you can then take that waste heat and you put it into a gas turbine mm-hmm, and then you get some more electricity at the gas turbine so gas stove as like an airplane engine yeah so, my PhD was sponsored, by rolls-royce in, that area and, then actually you take the waste heat the gas stove and you put into a steam turbine. Old. Kind of what what's, engine so, you get kind of three bites at the cherry yeah, electricity. Other fuel cell electricity, are the gas, term electricity, out there steam turbine and, you made it all basically, from Puu right, okay, what's. Not to love about that exactly yeah so they're kind of young engineers dream. So, that's I was, working in and. A challenge with all of that is yeah, it's brilliant but actually the material science that you. Need to make those fuel cells happen, and. They kind of jacked kind of general engineering production, engineering needed I've, just met it was really slow right, okay, and. Just. Fuels, doesn't you. Said you've been it was it was it 20 years you said the best part of it so 20 years a long time. Feels. Like sometimes as well. And. Neither. Of us were as young as we used to be did that, feel, so has been around for a long time and.

They've. Been one of those things where it's always kind of been a sort. Of 10. Years away from being commercial, for. Hundred years as the joke yeah yeah so, and. In the past there was definitely like, I could see all right fuel there's. A there's a problem here just to solve in terms of we, don't have battery. Storage and things that can, do what it needs to do but, batteries seem to be improving and improving all the time and, I'm. Gonna have to have half her two major things feel, so related in the last sort of six months but it feels like in. In, a lot of cases a fuel cell sort of fixing a problem that doesn't exist anymore or do you still see there being a big opportunity, for fuel cells so. I think there's a couple of loading, good, stuff in there so this let's. Say the the, first point probably from for my personal perspective, so, I was doing my PhD I had a website, feel, so knowledge mmm, which was again, that kind of naive academic, thing just sharing the, things I found the things I'd learnt about fuel cells yeah, and after a while I got a frustrated, with this at that time is all about hydrogen the high years always around hydrogen, and, actually set up another website called electrochemical. Economy. So. There's this hydrogen economy and I'm sorry the electrochemical. Economy, is they really care about so, whether it's a fuel cell or a battery basic, assistive technologies, yeah what, I care about is basically not burning things yes, in general burning, things is not the best idea right yeah McKay's. The disaster, great let's entropy no. So. So. Let's say I think, the. Key to me is basic, electrochemistry no emissions I'm not kind of fuel cell maniac. In. Terms, of that that question of hours at batteries or is it for yourselves I think the answer is very much, still both right, I'm if you can do it with a battery do. It with a battery right because right now it's easier, it's cheaper it's quicker you know batteries have got. To volume at the beginning of volume and come down the cost curves you, know ahead of fuel cells if, you look at the kind of cost and volume projections on fuel so they're basically following, batteries, okay, so they are going in the right direction cost time and down volumes are going up yeah so, I tend. To think of it in a very beginning, of my career was when solar was still what. Solar what's the point of that winner, and we've seen all of them now move into kind of reality yeah. And. I, think yeah, you say the same with Buster I mean yeah you never heard you say yeah, wasn't that long ago that people thought you were nuts for doing electric, yes. And now it's. All about that yeah yeah, and I think so fuel sales are effectively getting to that point and. It is that for hydrogen or is it for, other, it's. Generally as hydrogen okay which, is lower, temperature, so it's lower temperature, and. The. Entry yeah really interesting things so when you, go back five, ten years we. Were looking for applications that didn't use much hydrogen right, because hydrogen is expensive and inconvenient. So. You'd say so. People start looking at mobile phones laptops, come. Back up yeah, yeah what, hundreds. Of watts to kilowatts. And. What's. Happened. In that time is actually batteries, have just got better and better and better you know if you want what's in, most cases the batteries the perfect think you want to charge your mobile phone batteries, are brilliant yeah. There. Are some low-power applications if you want to run for a really long time where batteries become impractical yeah.

But. Generally, if you go to a larger scale you need to run for a long time but, that's that's where the fuel cell starts to make sense and actually when you get to really big scale so utility, scale yeah, and I think that we wouldn't think about particularly ten years ago it was the kind of pipe dream I topia yeah. I, told you yeah that's, cool I'm gonna use that height ophea yeah it's. A one you get. Talking. About since yeah the oil crisis, yeah. There's. This great dream but actually what we're starting to see is actually that is beginning to be the bit that makes sense, yeah, so, anyone. That's saying. That. Well, the fuel cells a rubbish batteries to everything you're probably looking, at applications. Where fuel cells really don't make sense right, however power people have spent a lot of time trying to peddle fuel cells in the wrong application right. So. It's. Petrol. Diesel CNG. LNG, there's. A market for all of them and Mark of all of them they're not interchangeable you, put the wrong one in the market, why. Are you doing that makes no sense yeah so I think there is a kind of legacy of the kind of hype around hydrogen, it really attracts people that love hype no, idea the most abundant element in the universe it's, everywhere, you can make cars run on water all. That kind of stuff that drives me nuts because you don't make cars run on water obviously yeah the. The hydrogen, may come from water through electrolysis. So. That it kind of attracts that hype and then you get people pushing products that make no sense yeah, I think it's totally, understandable, you've got that sense it doesn't make sense and, you mate so you mention their electrolysis and just what's one of the things that people are often quite. Critical, on fuel, sales and I know you've got some interesting views on this is is the, and. You, mentioned only about a hundred percent efficiency, potential. So. No entropy but you've got. With. With with a fuel cell system, you've, got a sort of energy input cost to generate, your, let's. Say fuel and so. The storage. Medium, hydrogen. Typically then, you've got the the fuel, cell operation. And. And people, look at and say well actually it's really expensive to, create the.

The Fuel in. This case yep and, that makes the, fuel, cells not, viable in terms of the, so. Forgetting the technology challenges. And all that sort of stuff but just the simple fact that you've, got all these extra conversion. Losses so. What's, your take on that it's, quite a big part of the puzzle isn't it gain that right yeah so I think I think it's critical, and I think they are the only way to look at that is in a kind of sensible kind, of grown-up way and, so the first answer is if you can use electricity, directly in it in electrical, form yeah. Avoid. Conversion, steps or any way you can yeah and, so we use hydrogen where there's effectively, a justification, what's, the benefit mm-hmm, so if if I say to you right well I want to store energy for three months to deal with the seasonal, swings no, energy supply and demand right. Let's go and use a battery where, you quickly realizes you need a awful, lot of batteries and it quickly becomes impractical yeah, look at the fuel cells and hydrogen storage it may well be totally, practical so, that point you say okay well look I've lost, thirty. Forty percent of the energy that I put in mmm-hmm but I get the energy back when I want it and the economics, work you, know so it's, always that that trade-off and, if we look at electricity, cost if, you take electricity, directly out of the mains it's. Cheap you know as a reference cost if you take electricity out of an AAA battery, the. Cost difference between mains. Electricity an AAA battery, is, orders, of magnitude yeah. But the AAA battery, gives you practicality, yeah, anyway. It's almost the same, on an efficiency basis with hydrogen, if you can do it directly do it yeah, but there's gonna be loads of applications where you simply can't, and. It do. You think so, one of one, of those scenarios I often. Talk about and I know, you've got a really interesting project that's kind of connected to this so is like.

If You've got a fleet of electric trucks you want to charge one truck that's fine you want to charge 200. Trucks all, of a sudden you've got a massive infrastructure, problem and. You've. Actually got to make a huge investment in terms of upgrading the electrical infrastructure. There's an embodied cost, in that so, yeah the the, electrical. Efficiency might be great but you've. Had. To spend a huge amount of capex to upgrade your infrastructure which. Is going embodied carbon cost in it as well so fuel. Cells kind of come into play that's what the application and I know one of the I, saw. You talking, about just yesterday. Is, your rail project, and part, of the the argument. There is not. Investing, in the, capex. Of electrifying, lines and having fuel, cell powered. Rolling stock instead so. Is. Is. Do. You think the economics of that are. Understood, yeah. So that's within. Within, a kind of rail sector this obviously some lines they've been electrified and there's a lot that happens so they're running diesel locomotives, and. Increasingly, from a local. Air quality so, if you were to go into Birmingham New Street Station, it's pretty smelly down there yeah because the diesel locomotives, and then if you thrown you're more broadly there's. A push towards electrification, I'm. As you, said the cost of putting in electric, infrastructure, overhead, so third rail is. Really high and. There are plenty, of applications, where. It's very likely that if you get a let try the train rather than essentially, the track yeah, you end up with it it's quick much quicker which actually is really important and, probably also cheaper so, there's, a push obviously towards battery trains which. For very short stop start runs probably works fine right, my brother range it's a kind of perfect example really of where batteries are brilliant for the really short stuff yeah, just don't give you the duration, the long run right so. We've got a project with company called beaver. Rail who. Pink, trained. For branch lines that. Kind of shorter, lines so, it's not in a long haul and, I've London Edinburgh. It's, turned a branch lines in in regions and. These are very much in a sense you could almost think of it's the kind of bus buses, of trains okay, so yeah I think of buses and coaches coaches. Do long hauls upload away as buses to city journeys yeah and, then so in that in, that branch line operation. Stop, start so you can do you can recover quite a lot from regen so electrification gives you really nice benefit yeah, so you know power, batteries to recover the recover, their, energy. And to give you a nice acceleration you, know for Ranger since you then hybridize, with a fuel cell right, okay kind of classic, application to us batteries.

Doing What batteries do really well which is power yeah, all sorts of hydrogen doing well hydrogen fuel cells do really well which is energy bring. Them together let's in. A way that's the kind of core of our approach. To things. So. On an electric train it's. A fundamentally, it's an it's an electrified, train so you've got like electric, motors driving it you you still. Have a battery pack but a smaller one I guess. Exactly, and, then, you have a fuel cell any kind of primary energy. Generator. Yeah, so yes so you can think of it's the primary energy generator, or very often people talk about as a range extender right, which weekend you come at it from yeah, if, you like from a pure, fuel cell and you could say oh I've got this for yourself but I need some help with the power spikes yeah I'm so I could put in supercups which would be great it working, out loads of power sucking up yeah but, actually you may get to the point where super caps can't quite do it and then you move to a power battery okay, I now see the other way looking at it is I've got this really brilliant feel so I've got this really brilliant battery, train but I can't quite get the range wouldn't, it be great about a range extender alright, so, it's been you getting to your classic hybrid, you, know could be you know the Toyota Prius type approach which, is, battery. And, motor. Petrol, engine and. We affect we give you the alternative which is the fuel cell engine and in a, train is there any special requirements for the fuel cell system. Imagine. It's quite a big fuel cell in a train yeah. So for the for the branchline trains, they're. Not there's that funny thing we always have this perception that trains are kind of huge you think of any other Flying Scotsman of old the. Branch line tree is really not that big so. That kind, of crossover from kind, of bus into train there. Is a step but it's not massive right, so the fuel cells that go into a train. For. A smaller train favors depends on the route but you might be looking at kind of a hundred kilowatts alright, okay which is really not not massive hmm because, it's that stop start okay, and the branch lines are not particularly high speed, trains. Of course the whole point of trains they have nice low rolling, resistance yeah. And, a, double-decker, bus is like pushing a sail through the wind yeah, trainers, I've seen quite slippery yes, on. The steel wheels of steel and all that yeah and it is it using. The. Gloomies I tiger it's conventional hydrogen, system pressurized. From. Brass gas, so within hydrogen. Storage there's a whole load of different approaches, to hydrogen so if. We say okay Ronnie is this fuel cell we want to get this range extension, next question how do I store the hydrogen yeah. So. Compressed hydrogen is the first answer so you're using. Tanks. Same as you might do with CNG, yeah many, of the same manufacturers, in fact branching into hydrogen I need, to compress on and on heavy vehicles typically it's 350. Bar okay. Roughly, double what you get in an industrial, cylinder yeah steel. Cylinders, knocking around everywhere, hospitals workshops factories you know 170. Bar say so. These 350, bar tanks they are higher but they're not. Massively, high and they're well well within kind of comfortable, ranges. Yeah, so they're typically chosen tax quite straightforward. For. Passenger, car then you might jump up to 700, bar yeah which really is quite high pressure yeah, so, it's out of the Sun, that's to get extra energy, storage yeah energy storage annoyingly. Hajj is not an ideal gas so when, you double the pressure you don't actually double the storage but you get probably two-thirds more right, so there's, been, lots of thinking over the years you can imagine what, the optimum pressures, so, you know you know how much energy do you lose in compressing the gas versus. How much can you squeeze in so. There's always an option we think, of 350. Is the starting point it's lower cost yeah easier, if. You really if you suddenly realize oh if, I could just get that little bit more then, we might consider go in terms of 700, so, actually a compressed, hydrogen, from. There you can then move into metal hydrides which is probably. I guess the chemical equivalents of compressions, there would be a low-pressure cylinder, with. A hydride, in there that absorb, hydrogen. Onto the surface for a metal metal, matrix so. The benefit that is it's low it's low pressure. It's. Quite heavy which doesn't matter so much in a train yeah and, there's a lot of a kind of advanced, hard drives coming forwards where you you might get to the similar kind of weight percentage, so, we typically, think marks there's, two approaches to how good's a hydro storage, mechanism, it's, the kind of gravimetric.

You Know waitwait, efficiency, and your body metric yeah so, hydrides are getting quite quite up there in terms of weight. And. Then you can then start to make kind, of the bigger steps then of saying well actually hydrogens, an element we combine with others and, a chemical storage or. Even in fact generation, so, you can generate hydrogen on the fly you, know chemical. Hydrides and so on. But. I think you'll find at least in the short term almost everything is going to be compressed, hydrogen right, and on, the rail system presumably. You've got to put in some, sort, of hydrogen. Generation. Refueling. And plants and are. You to be doing electrolyzers, there or is it supplied, in tanks, and, hydrogen. Yeah see you've, got. So. If you if your. Objective with your trainers of course to refill refuel, your train as quickly as possible, mmm-hmm any any vehicle, so, typically. With it with a car. A bus truck train. Very. Likely you're going to be doing it but with a refueling nozzle, you know as you'll be used to with a liquid fuel or indeed, gaseous fuel CNG, so. That's your your refueling, so, there's effectively. There's. A compressor you may have some high pressure storage so allow you to kind of fill faster, yeah or, you can just compress directly into the vehicle so they're kind of cost, optimization. To be done there yeah sitting behind out then if you like is the source of hydrogen, and. Then you have a kind of plethora of options, so. I think if you do the sums at the moment there's enough hydrogen being generated to drive every car in the world about, five thousand kilometers per, year all. Right okay this is quite an extraordinary hydrogen, money right, now yeah you, used in industrial. Processes, right all refineries, steel. Works. Ceramics, so you use it making, marjorine. Yes. Electronic. So, you see we use it in furnaces to get that extra bump of temperature yeah, what, place where you need that extra so, there's a mass amount hadron almost all of that then is made from steam methane reforming, okay. So that's basically combining, in the appropriate catalysts and temperature steam and natural. Gas yeah, so. If you've, got a good source of natural gas and steam, forming plants of course you can make hydrogen what, do you do about, cuz presumably that reaction there releases, carbon. Dioxide exactly. And you can. Carry caps, that's you know yeah but to two choices so you're. Starting with natural gases so fundamentally, you're bringing in a fossil fuel yeah yeah, you could also use biogas yeah. There's some kind of scene gas yeah so. Yeah you're producing, co2, the. Co2 is pure, so. You have the option. To pull off that co T and sequester. But. Obviously at the moment in general it's vented so. You're still producing co2 so if you start with natural gas as a fuel you will release co2, right, so, your your benefit, then, you may have an efficiency benefit. But. You also have a local air pollution benefit. Right, some sense in that case you may simply be moving pollution around yeah yeah so, then the kind, of Holy Grail backs that how to hide hope your idea is if, you could do electrolysis. Of water using, renewable electricity right, then you're fully renewable, and. You have an added, benefit we talked about hydrogen, for storage is, that you can deal with the intermittency, of renewables, by, bringing in large elect grid scale utility, scale electrolyzers. To help you balance supply which. Was actually that was gonna literally my next question was gonna be about. We. See a lot of people talking about hydrogen, mix, with renewables, and I'm. Just wondering how that how. That kind of how. It fits in the mix and what's when, you see people talking about using hydrogen to balance out renewables what what do they actually mean by that so yeah so within renewables. People talk a lot of that back in the strain renewables you've got a wind, turbine that's generating and effectively if they can't sell the power because a group can't take it yeah missus oh we can make that into hydrogen so, in the short, term you. Have to be careful about people saying oh look we have all this constrained, and you, know a couple of minutes let's build an electrolyzer right. Your utilization of your electrolyzer, then it's not gonna be very good so the business case doesn't work out right, so if you just take the kind of immediate, glitter ah this is a brilliant idea then quite quickly or fall down right, and there's a danger as, always with very.

Often There is no hydrogen industry is, people make a big fuss about this one potential, people realize it doesn't make sense and then baby in the bath water as, you move to greater, penetration, of renewables, you're, not talking about one particular cable, one particular wind turbine and you're talking about generally, having. Greater demand. And supply chain side balancing, yeah so. Basically, in. In, the past you might have done it I don't know pumped-storage scheme, yes, now, you're, gonna do a hydrogen. Storage scheme instead some. Storage because I'm stuff bridges are basically. Impossible to get planning, permission for and stuff yes this is the certain places we can do pump storage and there's not that many others and. With the electrolysis, you would do it you can either do demand also it is, always going to be demand but you can turn up or you can turn down yeah. So they can be a bit attainable land you know yeah yeah, I think what you if you like for know what you're trying to do then is displace, all of the kind, of diesel John sets running in fields around the country balance in the grid yeah, so. It's it's an, area that I think will become increasingly interesting. There was a report just out today I think from International, Energy Agency, looking. At this yeah. Classic I kind of longer view how. Do you do really deep decarbonization. And increasingly, hydrogen features in that right, and, so that the interesting, challenge for us all now is in occur there's these things we can do today buses. Trains. There's. This thing we need to do in the future we've got massive renewables, penetration, and we need to balance those renewables, or you know those looking at nuclear I said, well nuclear, power stations don't like being turned up and down either they, could use hydrogen to balance renewables, but. In the middle you've got this always it's kind of valley of death where. You, can do projects, and, do those projects, in themselves directly, make financial sense, it's. Interesting seeing. You guys get traction attraction. On, the rail side and. And. And the economics there just seemed to be it's. Almost like a no-brainer where you've got you. Have it do you have a choice we could spend three. Billion, electrifying. This branchline, network or we. Can spend you. Know two, billion doing, the hydrogen, because. The I mean the numbers are quite stark that I've seen, it's like a huge, saving, - they're not Electrify the line and Electrify the trains and go, for hydrogen instead ya, know I mean is that there. Are these business models emerging, that yeah there is actually a business case, yeah it's tears of us have been in fuel cells for a long time like wow an actual real business case yeah they're really nice you're trying to push the new tech forward you're always competing with an incumbent is out 100 years across town yeah so, yeah they're very much emerging and that's, key. Really as get those projects done hmm, so, doing, a whole load of trains it's not going to suddenly change the entire national grid yeah, but it's giving us traction in the market we're getting volumes out and we get out of the hundreds of units into the thousands, and their tens of thousands yeah and it's very simple you know economies. Of scale and cost reduction yeah. And yeah I mean the rail market notorious. Actually, rail on the bus market notorious for not moving very quickly you, starting to see that change or is it still he's, said. And, I know rail industry expert, so Richard my colleague has worked. In innovation, in rail for a long time and. Yeah. There's a certain frustration within rail the. Assets last for a long time yeah you think, about you know railway people thinking 100 year time horizons. Yeah. So there is that challenge, of how, you do innovation, but. There's this really strong, push I think now people. Very. Much that I guess I think we see in other vehicles where people assent Oh am I going to be stuck with diesel assets that I can't do anything with yeah. In 20 years time who wants a diesel locomotive yeah. And if you're a rolling stock company and you've got trains, they've got 20. 30 40, 50 year economic life you're. Going to be thinking really quite carefully, about it yeah what do you mean. The interesting for us Viva realm in particular so that there's three electric, hydrogen train projects in the UK so Viva rail that we're working with they're.

Actually Take their model. At the moment is. Refurbishing. So they're taking existing rolling, stock yeah and repurposing, it as. I. Guess. I'm trying rail it's maybe slightly. Different because of the length of the asset and they do those refurb, point. Same about the we, always get people wanting, to talk about do. Like some reef programs, on bands, or the, economics, on small, stuff just doesn't work up to it I think it strains I'm. Relatively, new into it but from what I can see it really does work trains, get refurbed, yeah and they last a really long time yeah. And. He's goes mainline this, week on a train that was probably 40 years old yeah, you. Know and ideally you wouldn't know because it been refurb so nicely. So. Yes. In. Terms of getting innovation, into rail so Viveros really interested a set up my agent shooter he. Used to run a, train, line so run run francha and children railways franchise so, he's got that knowledge from, okay how do you run lines, yeah, okay, now I'm gonna start actually created, rolling stock yeah, and and as. We always find I guess with any tech but my, experience, fuel cells and hydrogen you. Really need to join up your whole piece yeah, so you bring a new technology, to market you are actually changing the market yeah, yeah and that was why River, Rail approaches really interesting and, those, trains that are being repurposed there they probably were diesel originally. So there's. The. First trains that the virality and are actually X I think was Metropolitan line two. Trains all right okay wave quite fast net so these are tube trains that got and their life for tube for, whatever reason aluminium. Yeah, lightweight yeah, very. Low corrosion issue. Going. For a song. If. You refit, them nicely, nobody. Knows, yeah so, you end up with quiet. Light, ways you get good acceleration yeah. It's, the same so it kind of looks like mask I know as you say it's a no-brainer recycling. It's, the ultimate upcycling. Yeah never mind is he it fair, and bal paint on your dodgy. 1970s. Wardrobe. And, said slightly more technology. Particular. Got. The wrong paint on top of an old wardrobe doesn't work. Crazing. You didn't want, so. Say I think yeah these are the these. Are the markets that are starting to move and. The. Key is as. They start to move we get experience we get cost reduction you, have a colleague an asset, finance event. Yesterday the. Point at which kind of asset finance, people can say okay that's actually no a bankable project yeah, suddenly if these things start to roll yeah, because the early projects you've got the. Technology challenge, you've got the kind of bringing the market with you bringing the partners together getting the confidence and you've got a financing, challenge yeah so as all of these things tied to start to drop out yeah. Those. Projects, come, through so then, from a business point of view you, guys it must, be going gangbusters, at a minute so what's, happening at a business level with Arcola yeah we're, busy so, yeah we recruiting, like crazy like.

Avid Yeah at, the other end of the country or the other side of the country now as well so it was so we're yeah we started. It out in London and we've. Now come, I've, come home to Liverpool as well sorry, we just opened a manufacturing, facility in Liverpool. And. The approach, I got exposed from our initial premise what do you need to do is to make these things actually useful we've. Understood that there's, in. Most of the markets we're looking at so we're not doing passenger cars right, you want a hydrogen passenger car go talk to Toyota yeah, high volume that's our expertise there's, not that much I can add in that area but. We're typically okay about why are essentially, niche vehicles, so, buses, even. Trucks, your, aims are relative. Niche, and. Then. You even then within that then you're looking at particular applications, so it's not just drugs it's actually refuse collection trucks yeah, and so you get these really quite niche applications, and there that there simply isn't the engineering, budget. Appetite. So. There's this real need for people to come in with exactly I guess a half it approach how did you come with this solution yeah, so, looking at so we will produce type. Approved hydrogen. Systems and fuel cell systems, and. It kind of all the stuff, you need to go in between yeah, so, that we can deliver Tier one in 200 EMS. So, you can't okay look we're manufacturing. Refuse. Collection vehicles and, we'd like a fuel cell refuse collection vehicle, you go yeah, within within a year you can have one taken. Away the risk. And. That appetite, is strong, good, and so. One market that you haven't mentioned but is often. Comes up with in connection with fuel such as marine yeah, any to see any interesting. Things going on there yeah there's this there's a lot was, a lot of interesting, and that ya. Mean, there's actually a good example of there's, the, early projects, are around, I can if you like the kind of bust version of marine right. These factory, commuter kind of row row ferries yeah, so it's quite a few projects that was kind of rush on at the moment I mean there's three projects, across three continents they're all rushing to be first yeah. The, one in Scotland's, gonna win on obviously yeah, and. So. That's that bit and then it the other level it's there really long like heavy. Container. Ships yes so this massive, kind of cross. Across as megawatt yeah. And. I, can't. Go back to that IEA report today. They're. Saying actually these are the places we should be looking so these ships are typically running from heavily, industrialized, areas, where there is already a whole load of hydrogen production yeah. And they're typically linking. Continents. From. Heavy industrial, areas to have the industrial area yeah, I know that yeah there's been a lot of a lot of noise recently, around people just realizing, how filthy aspects. The shipping industry Oh terrible, yeah it's just not regulated, at all they, basically run on Road tar, spew. Out all kinds of nevermind. The co2 it's, all the other that's. A certain after, Horace and then the the. Strangest. Thing is the. Big, solution in the marine industry was, exhausted, scrubbers yeah and that's, just like right. So you've gone from putting, this stuff into the sky and, it. Raining, back down again which was bad so, now you're just scrubbing it straight out and putting it straight into the sea, because. That's better why. This. Kind. Of yeah, filthy. But. We sue we, all depend on it right like actually. Without shipping. Industry. Global commerce like, that is how stuff is moved around so. Yeah we're all responsible for her for. The need for it. Yeah. It's huge I mean, I you know he said is the rail industry stuff. To innovate in I can, imagine the global shipping industry is even, tougher right, so massive, sums of money you, know long asset life, but. There's yeah there's quite a lot of energy in that so we're, not looking at that scale we've got lots of conversations open on the smaller scale. And. Then the other one in touch on then is kind of off highway vehicles, right.

Okay So kind of interesting, in increasing, interest so, if you look at cities like London where they've done a lot of work on, on-road. Vehicles or buses and trucks and cars yeah, if you clean those up of course what you then start to see is the other stuff construction. Sites yep so you've got construction sites it's whether it's lighting. Towers gensets. Excavators. Mm-hmm and all these kind of associated, so the, non-road mobile machinery directive, yeah yeah, coming, through and, so there's kind of interests increasing interest there rather. As I guess with everything else it's where's the business case, yeah. With off-highway, quite. Often the machines are you, could back battery-electric, them then we've got some projects like, that but in, in a lot of the instances. You can't because you'd need you, know 500 kilowatt hour battery for a single, shift on a 45, to an excavator so. Yeah. That's that's your use case right there for a fuel cells the other interesting thing on off highway which, is a massive challenge, is you're often building something so. You. Get to site and you. Know you're gonna build something, there's. Nothing there by the nature of what you're doing including, a power supply if, you're doing ground works the power is not in you yeah so, how do you do that. How. Would you have the power supply to feed, the electric machines on the site so there's there's kind of there's some interesting issues. There around off-highway machinery, with a, big stuff but then also with the availability of power on a new project on a new build so so. It's working then so that it's, getting obviously there's the availability, of the machines and the capex of the machines and then that hydrogen supply logistics. So they've by their, nature construction, sites move a lot yeah so, what we're typically looking at is back to base fleets right, now so. They've really if, you look at particularly Germany they've, gone kinda hell for leather, building. Refueling. Stations across country the bitless refueling network yeah and you've got refuelers supporting, very few vehicles because. All kinds of problems whether. It's political, why did we spend this money on this filling station it doesn't get used yeah or practical, I've got a filling station that hardly run so the op X is really high no. Revenue and. Or in fact they're failing because they're not getting used enough yeah.

So, That. Was one approach generally, we look at back to base because it's better economics, a train is the O's but back to base yeah a, branch. Line train in particular I was always. Coming home though of course once you get to the details you realize that's not always true yeah I think. Until you really get into the value of an industry well don't, talk. About captive fleets one of the, applications. I've seen which is, I've. Not seen in Europe but in the u.s. I've, got an Avira for the heist, al guys they doing. Fuel, cells for trucks, which I mean that was a real surprise for me that that's a, viable. Business case, about yes, the ultimate captive flake all right man that was so, that's one that's really worked, and I I think, it's Papi's it's in fact it's starting to the original business case for that was places running three shifts yeah. So you've got electric forklift and you've either got charging, or typically you've got a battery exchange station, yeah, and, so the kind of space and actually the safety associated, bizarrely batteries. Lead-acid batteries, hydrogen release yeah. So. The there's, a whole lot of cost associated with, running electric, forklifts and. Then there was the kind of loss of power through, shift yeah. And, so the the business case emerged quite strongly and it's for doing pageants, and, fuel cell phone lifts and. Then moving into Europe we typically don't run three shift in Europe, yeah, although, it's changing, everybody. Wanting their things delivered now they make it warehouses yeah that doesn't that start to pick up but, yeah that's a well-established like, lots of Units market Wow excellent, oh so. Just. Looking at the time we've. Massively. Gone over but it's been fascinating, conversation. Ben thank you so. All, the best for the future with Arcola I'm, sure we're gonna be talking. Again very soon I believe we will yeah. So. Yeah great thank you thanks for joining us today pleasure, thank you okay. So that's all we've got time for today I really hope you enjoyed that, discussion, with Ben, literally we could have gone on all day and, that's how these things go unfortunately.

We Ran out of time completely, blew the time budget for this podcast so, we've gone massively get over what we plan to do but you know that's that's, how it is. Ben's a fascinating chap and I'm sure we'll be will be talking to him again very soon so, we're, going to be doing more podcasts like this using the video so make, sure you head across to our YouTube channel we'll check out the video content, over there we've got some also, some really interesting videos, coming, soon, which won't really make good podcasts we're not going to put them as podcasts but they will be videos coming, on on. Our YouTube channel so. Really hoped you enjoyed today's show don't forget to leave us a comment below give, us a rating subscribe. If, you haven't subscribed already tell, as many people about this podcast as you can trying, to bring as much technical, information, about electric, hybrid. And obviously fuel cell vehicles, to. The marketplace so people get to understand them more and, how they work and what's going on there ok that's, all for me today I really, look forward to talking to you again soon.

2019-07-17 20:19

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