IRJ 2020 Innovations Showcase: Siemens and Ballard develop hydrogen trains


SIEMENS Mobility is currently developing a modular hydrogen fuel cell drive for its Mireo Plus H regional train platform, which will subsequently be integrated into other platforms.

The hydrogen-powered Mireo Plus H trains will be used on existing diesel routes and in regions where hydrogen is cheaply available.

The €12m project, in partnership with Canadian fuel cell producer Ballard Power Systems and the Rhine-Westphalian Technical University in Aachen (RWTH), plans to produce a usable fuel cell drive by 2021, with a planned range of 600km-900km in two or three-car trains.

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Siemens Gamesa unveils world first electrothermal energy storage system


Spanish renewable energy giant and offshore wind energy leader Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy last week inaugurated operations of its electrothermal energy storage system which can store up to 130 megawatt-hours of electricity for a week in volcanic rock.

Siemens Gamesa, a company known more famously for its offshore wind turbines, is nevertheless a large-scale renewable energy technology manufacturer, with its hands in various renewable technology pots. One of these pots is energy storage, and last week the company announced the beginning of operations of its electric thermal energy storage system (ETES), claimed by the company as a world first. The opening ceremony for the pilot plant in Hamburg-Altenwerder was held last week to celebrate the beginning of operations.

The newly-opened electric thermal energy storage system is billed by Siemens Gamesa as “The Future Energy Solution” and as costing “significantly” less than classic energy storage solutions. Specifically, according to the company, even at the gigawatt-hour (GWh) pilot scale, ETES “would be highly competitive compared to other available storage technologies.”

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Cobots are transforming the factory floor — but they’re not replacing humans


Combining human creativity and automation is unlocking new efficiencies.

The increased presence of robots on factory floors has been a boon to manufacturers, who have embraced automation as a way to increase efficiency and cut costs. But there’s been less optimism among human workers, who worry that the rise of robots will render human workers inessential.

In recent years, however, a new school of thought has gained ground: Rather than replace their human counterparts, the manufacturing robots of the future will work alongside them. This future can be seen in the arrival of “cobots,” robots designed to complement human workers. While humans excel at abstract thinking and problem solving, robots shine at bringing speed and accuracy to repetitive, sometimes dangerous tasks. Imagine a factory where robots do the heavy-lifting as humans focus on more meaningful work, where production lines can run unsupervised for weeks with minimal manufacturing defects. In the connected industrial workforce of the future, robots complement workers, improve productivity, and increase operational efficiency.

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