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UK's first hydrogen refuelling station unveiled at Honda plant

The UK’s first public hydrogen-vehicle refuelling station opened today at Honda’s manufacturing plant in Swindon.

The facility is designed to look and work like a conventional petrol station and provide similar refuelling times, delivering hydrogen from pre-filled cylinders so that vehicles can fill up one after the other.

Built and run by industrial gases company BOC (part of The Linde Group) with backing from Honda and Forward Swindon, the station is intended to offer a strategic link halfway along the M4 between London and Swansea.

The partners also hope to address the belief held by many in the industry that consumers won’t buy hydrogen vehicles without an established refuelling network but fuel companies won’t build new facilities while there are no hydrogen cars are on the road.

Commenting on the new refuelling station, BOC UK managing director Mike Huggon said: ‘It demonstrates that we can build the infrastructure needed to establish a hydrogen-powered transport system.

‘But even with private and public support — as we have here in Swindon — we need government commitment to make this work across the country as a whole.

‘We can provide the tools but the government has to create the policy framework in which we can build the low-carbon infrastructure of tomorrow.’

Most major car manufacturers are developing hydrogen-vehicle technology, which is favoured for its lack of tailpipe emissions and longer range than that of existing battery-electric vehicles.

However, most industrial hydrogen is currently produced through the steam reformation of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

‘We are looking to more renewable technologies in the long term because that’s what customers want,’ BOC spokesman Simon Napper told The Engineer.

‘The issue at the moment is getting renewable production facilities up to commercial scale. There are only a few plants around the world that deliver at commercial quantities.

‘Linde has opened a commercial-scale plant in Leuna, Germany, based on electrolysis and one in Canada that works on hydro-electric power.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • There is nothing "Green" about hydrogen. Its carbon footprint is worse than petrol or diesel. Electricity is used to make the hydrogen. Most of this is fossil fuel, burnt in a heat engine, with a maximum efficiency of 40%. The hydrogen is then burnt in the car, in another heat engine, giving a maximum theoretical efficiency of 16% (40% of 40%). Now add a few practicalities, such as the efficiency of the hydrogen plant, and the cost of liquefying it and you will be lucky to get 10% overall efficiency. So it should not get any government backing.

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  • You would have thought that they would have parked the car the right way round. That hose looks like it is stressed

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  • Hydrogen can be obtained from many sources not just electrolysis of water as Iain Downie suggests. He should look into the work that is being done on the use of bacteria on waste material to produce hydrogen , No electricity is only possibly to compress gas. When we see the Fuel cell cars for the Olympic Games using hydrogen in 2012 then people will realise that this is a significant move forward. The publicity on the pure Ev is not telling the public two significant problems that of replacement costs of batteries after about 8000 charges at a cost of upwards of £6000 a set and more significant with too many EV vehicles to charge the national grid could not cope especially during cold weather conditions.

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  • If Nottingham University find success in their project then fuelling up at home could be the reality.
    See Issue 19th September page 7 "Clean Living".
    What do you mean you don't subscribe to the magazine - Mmm! A great read not requiring any power only concentration!!

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  • Thanks for the compliment, Bruce. Readers unfamiliar with the Nottingham reference should follow this URL:

  • I would like to know how much a Hydrogen fuel cell costs for such a vehicle, and how long it lasts.
    I suspect oil industry / politics prefers us in hydrogen cars to keep control of our wallets.
    Im looking forward to cars like the Tesla model S.

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  • Aren't we forgetting that water vapour is a greenhouse gas?
    Hydrogen powered cars are NOT zero emission vehicles.
    Whatever we do, the use of energy has an effect on our environment and it seems to me that insufficient research is done on the indirect consequences of the use of alternative sources of power. Even wind farms must have an effect on the environment downstream of the installation. If energy is removed from a system, we change the system's effect on the surrounding area.

    John Donaldson

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  • I believe A B Dutton, that hydrogen is not necessarily used for combustion purposes at all. Hydrogen fuel cells behave very much like batteries where electrons will move around a circuit towards an anode of some sort... Just a thought

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  • Supplying hydrogen in fuel center and storing it in car under pressure in not good idea in my sense to be frank.
    Yes fuel centers can sell water with chemical for good conductivity... electrolysis.
    Hope to give a new free gift to world coming new year ... new technology.

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