Manufacturers are under significant legislative pressure from governments around the World to reduce CO₂ emissions by 20% and to increase fuel efficiency by 20%, or face large fines from 2013 for every internal combustion engine they build that does not meet the legislation targets.
EHG technology has the potential to meet those targets.
As the penalties for non-compliance by the manufacturers are severe and can be measured in billions of pounds, so the successful development of EHG technology in this multi-billion pound-a-year market has the potential to generate profits at VNA worth hundreds of £millions each year. In turn, this has the potential to produce gains for subscribers in VNA worth a significant multiple of their original investment.
An Electro Hydrogen Generator is a device that can be fitted to produce Hydrogen on-board a vehicle or static engine, where the Hydrogen is fed to the internal combustion engine and co-fired with conventional fuel. The Hydrogen introduced increases the burn efficiency and then replaces conventional fuel with a corresponding percentage (of Hydrogen), thus it has the potential to meet the legislative emissions reduction and fuel efficiency increases required by the motor manufacturers.
VN Automotive Ltd is well placed to leverage industry expertise at world – renowned companies together with specialist scientific teams having obtained expressions of interest from Tier 1 Automotive manufacturers, OEM suppliers, Turbo Manufacturers and Static engine manufacturers alike.
Key Information Summary
Following the 2 previously successful fundraises, and the successful conclusion of Stage 1A of the project, the Company raised a further £604,000 by issuing 200 Ordinary Shares at £3020.00 per share to continue development of the Electro Hydrogen Generator, a project supported by United Kingdom Trade and Investment (“UKTI”) and approved by HMRC as an Enterprise Investment Scheme.
An IP Development Licence in relation to the ‘Decomposition of Water’ patent family, deriving from International patent application number PCT/RU03/000413 and registered in 27 countries was negotiated with the beneficial owner, VN IP Limited, to complete a development programme that commenced in September 2012.
The programme has been funded to-date by the Directors, a Round 1 ‘New Founder Shareholder’ (NFSH) EIS raise that closed on the 3rd of September 2011 at £120 per share, and a Round 2 EIS raise concluded on the 3rd of September 2012 at £486 per share.
The above mentioned rounds allowed the Directors to commence work in September 2012 on Stages 1A & 1B of the project. This was carried out in conjunction with Allenfield Engineering (“Allenfield”), Newcastle University (“NU”) and Intertek Tickford Limited (“Tickford”).
The development was scheduled in stages, each building upon the success of the previous one.
A percentage of capital and supplier equity value was allocated to further develop the EHG4-M, build a dynamometer test rig in conjunction with Intertek Tickford, and via continuous testing, prove the concept of ‘waste energy’ generated hydrogen production for use within the ICE marketplace. The planned deliverables (successfully achieved) were:
1 x Set of Industry recognised test results showing the units capability to produce hydrogen, the non‐characterised output quantity metrics, operating speeds, electrolyte mix and pure cost of production (efficiency percentage) as described in kWh terms (compared with other electrolysis technologies) of the EHG4-M version
1 x Science research paper produced by Professor Scott of Newcastle University, referencing, optimal materials, solutions, surface coatings, magnetic strengths and consistencies for future versions
1 x Revised EHGM prototype design using the results obtained from the above research.
Continuous testing and unit redesign was carried out during June, July, August and September 2013.
The Stage 1 confirmation report author is Keith Scott – Professor of Electrochemical Engineering at the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials within Newcastle University.
Following inspection of the initial results in August, he stated:
“The best performance was achieved with the sulphuric acid electrolyte based EHG tests. A peak hydrogen production rate at an equivalent current of 71 Amps and an energy consumption of 36 kWh/kg was obtained which is superior to that for water electrolysis. The average energy consumption for the short term tests is comparable with those for standard water electrolysis”
(This means the EHG is more efficient, and therefore potentially a more competitive technology than the existing alkali based electrolysers, i.e. it costs less to produce the same amount of hydrogen as existing technologies).
“Qualitatively increased rotation rate appears to improve the hydrogen production rate as does an increase in temperature. At a rotation rate of 1000rpm the current enhancement above background current was some 8A, compared with an enhancement of some 29A at a rotation rate increase from 1000 to 2250 rpm. This indicates an exponential type of increase in production rate with increase in rpm, rather than a non-linear increase”.
(This suggests that the EHG’s output and efficiency can be improved significantly when scaling it).
“Based on the thermoneutral potential of 1.41 V the minimum energy consumption is 37.5 kWh/kg. Thus an efficiency approaching 100% is indicated” and the results achieved prove beyond doubt the technology’s capability to out perform other conventional electrolysis hydrogen producing technologies. The energy equation or ‘cost of hydrogen production’ in kWh terms was also demonstrated to be well within the range of current turbo drive output capabilities”.
(The full Scott report is available under Schedule 6 of the Round 3 VNA IM)
Project Update 5/1/16
In recommencing the VNA project, every aspect of the strategy was reinvestigated, re-evaluated and where required adjusted to benefit the following: timeline, cost reduction, manageability and control, security, potential supplier risk. Where appropriate previous supplier or partnership arrangements have been amended or changed completely when beneficial in 1 or more of the aforementioned areas. Furthermore, one multinational diesel engine manufacturer sent their senior management team to meet and discuss what levels of involvement might be appropriate for both parties, though it was decided for the maximum benefit of VNA, this should be postponed until POC commissioning and testing has been successfully achieved. The following main areas of project execution have been started successfully, and where described completed:
Multiple workshops with the designer, academic, engineering director, operations and commercial team, including the patent lawyers to create and agree the final design for the 1st generation of scalable EHG
Ongoing liaison with patent lawyers to “steer” certain aspects of development and design throughout this phase
Extensive evaluation of precision engineering partners, including RFP to confirm choice of Allenfield as EHG fabrication partner
Manage the design and manufacturing drawings process including regular visits with Allenfield to ensure the efficient fabrication, maintenance and operation of the new scalable EHG
Extensive evaluation of chemical coating suppliers, including RFP to chose best quality and price efficient European EHG electrode-coating supplier
Extensive evaluation of, and RFP to confirm supplier for fabrication of chemically resistant test tanks and accessories
Development of a more comprehensive relationship with Bowman to supply the secondary turbo, and integration support, to power the EHG, with their potential ongoing interest with VNA as a complementary technology partner in their existing markets
As a result of ongoing negotiations with GV, it became clear that the capability and delivery of services originally quoted by them could be more effectively and securely managed, controlled and budgeted by using 2 supplier relationships. There followed an evaluation, RFP and referencing process to ensure suitability, so that 2 separate suppliers have been chosen to deliver the engineering integration/support services required, and the bespoke engine management solution respectively.
Whilst going through this process VNA were also evaluating the suitability of a “Flexible” University to investigate and advise on the the impact of mixing hydrogen and oxygen with diesel fuel in a purpose-built diesel engine, to accelerate the next phase of the development of the EHG, it’s integration onto the generator and the efficient running of the POC to prove its effectiveness in delivering reduced emissions. Brunel University has been contracted for this part of the project.
Ultimately the project has benefitted immensely from the above and delivered significant costs savings, more supplier security and control, and a much more manageable project timeline. The deliverables projected to be completed by the end of next year, (18 months was originally allowed for in the IM) will give VNA additional time for additional and broader testing if required, more time for manufacturer demonstrations and marketing/liaison, and a proof of concept for potential technology buyers to kick-the-tyres at a time when they are under ever greater pressure to deliver further reductions in emissions and more efficiencies in their respective markets.
Hydrogen in the Market – Aston Martin and Alset
In April 2013, Aston Martin passed all the German technical examinations required that enabled it to compete with its twin-turbocharged hydrogen-hybrid V12 Rapide-S in the Nürburgring 24 hour race held in May of that year. This provided the first hydrogen car ever to race on the track and the first sports salon car to be fitted with a complete duel-fuel delivery and storage system involving hydrogen.
Their Hybrid Hydrogen System is a transformative technology for producing ‘clean’ mobility based on hydrogen. The System enables today’s sophisticated internal combustion engines to operate using hydrogen, gasoline or a customized blend of hydrogen and gasoline/diesel fuel.
The patented technology uses a combination of liquid fuel with high volumetric energy density and a carbon-free gaseous fuel to produce clean, dynamic power production with no major effects on refuelling time and driving range.
The system is designed as a cross-platform solution that requires only minor changes to the base engine and production lines. Its low cost makes it the most profitable hydrogen mobility solution available today for a wide range of engines and configurations and completely supports the VNA business model and market outlook.
For end users, it has a clear advantage in total cost of ownership compared with the projected price point for Fuel Cell Vehicles in the coming decades. It is however totally dependent upon ‘specialist refuelling points / hydrogen distribution networks’ which are in very limited supply, a position is unlikely to change within the foreseeable future and the ability of gas manufacturers to bring the cost of a kg of hydrogen down to a comparable Gas Gallon Equivalent (GGE) market competitive price. David King, Aston Martin’s Special Projects and Motorsport Director, stated in a recent interview that:
“Any road car application for the technology is five years away at the earliest, said King, adding that there were no plans at all to do so at the moment. “The idea of the car is as a credible alternative to a battery hybrid vehicle,” he said. “You can travel at start-up, in the city, and in traffic on hydrogen, and get all the benefits of petrol performance out of the city”
“Converting internal combustion engines to run on hydrogen is a good bridging technology to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, which the industry is fully behind. It can help expand the network, bring down the cost and improve the technology
“We’re at least five to seven years away from seeing it in a road car, but running it successfully in a race car can only increase interest and awareness. Whilst most industry experts agree that hydrogen is the fuel for the future, cost of its manufacture, (both in CO₂ emission and energy terms) together with the distribution challenges, remain serious obstacles to market entry for a hydrogen powered vehicle”.