Plenary Lecture of Professor Alex Taylor
The contribution of hydrogen and ammonia to the “hard to decarbonise” transport and power applications
Professor Alex Taylor
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London.
The “hard to decarbonise” applications include transportation and power for which there are proposals for the use of ammonia and hydrogen as replacements for fossil fuels. However, neither the fuel nor the engines are widely commercially available at the time of publication: nor is it likely that this situation will change before the end of this decade. This notwithstanding, the background to this plenary lecture is with the applications to long-haul transport by land (farther than 500 miles or multi-shift routes), sea and air, and which need shaft power as might be provided by a thermal engine. This talk is concerned with how quickly, how widely, and at what cost these fuels might be used in these applications in the years up to 2050, and beyond. This talk will start by tracing, briefly, how there has developed an understanding of the deleterious effects of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, an important ‘greenhouse gas’ (GHG), on the climate. To reduce these effects, we next trace out how there came to be a level of global agreement that the emissions of these gases should be curtailed, and over what timescale. The GHG are emitted by the consumption of fossil fuels to power a wide range of industrial activities: consequently, there is a myriad of roadmaps and proposals as to how balance economic development with protection of the environment. This involves, at the very least, eliminating the emission of GHG: preferably, by ceasing to burn fossil fuels. For the ‘hard to decarbonise’ applications considered in this book, which is predominantly transportation, this implies some fuel other than a hydrocarbon: hydrogen has been proposed as a candidate fuel in some sectors. The suggestion implies the need to evaluate the engineering science and technological aspects of burning hydrogen, which form the concern of the rest of the lecture. It investigates which applications might use hydrogen, how hydrogen can be manufactured, distributed, and stored at the vast scale required; and at what cost. We do so by reference to, first, global considerations and then, second, considers the recent plans drawn up by two ‘continent sized’ economies. Our epilogue is a cautionary one, reminding the audience of the precipitous rate of development of policy on hydrogen, particularly recently, and implying that developments are likely in future. The talk will be illustrated by results made at Imperial College London and elsewhere.
About Professor Alex Taylor
Alex Taylor is Professor of Fluid Mechanics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London. He studied as an undergraduate and as a doctoral student at Imperial College and has spent time at the University of Karlsruhe and NASA Cleveland (Glenn, formerly Lewis). He held a five-year fellowship from the Royal Society of London before becoming a member of staff at Imperial College. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the Institute of Physics. He was an editor of the Springer journal ‘Experiments in Fluids’.
His interests are in fluid mechanics, two phase flows and combustion with applications to internal combustion engines and gas turbines. He is primarily an experimentalist, developing and applying laser techniques to flows of basic and industrial interest.