Friday, 22 August 2014
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Non-polluting hydrogen buses coming soon to London

The UK’s first hydrogen bus fleet will begin operating in London this month, refuelling at the country’s largest permanent hydrogen station.

The first of a planned fleet of eight buses will run from 18 December using fuel-cell technology that produces energy from hydrogen and oxygen and emits only water vapour.

The scheme will see eight buses phased into operation by the middle of next year, adding to the 100 hybrid buses already run by Transport for London (TfL). This follows a trial that ran between December 2003 and January 2007.

TfL hope the move will help improve air quality in the city as well as providing long-term benefits in terms of reduced carbon-dioxide emissions.

The buses were designed for TfL by ISE, Wrightbus and Ballard. They will run from a specially built maintenance facility that will include the UK’s largest permanent hydrogen-refuelling station to be maintained by Air Products.

Although the buses themselves will emit no carbon dioxide, the hydrogen will be produced by natural-gas reformation and transported by tanker from Rotterdam, Netherlands, which will give the fuel a carbon footprint.

Air Products was unable to provide information on how much carbon dioxide the hydrogen would be responsible for but said arrangements had been made to make the process as green as possible.

‘The hydrogen will be transported as liquid but then vaporised on site to fuel the buses, which will reduce the number of trips that have to be made from Rotterdam,’ Air Products spokesman John Blewett told The Engineer.

‘This is a first step as they trial the technology and they hope to reduce CO2 as this becomes possible, looking to renewable production in the future.’

The buses are jointly funded by TfL, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the European Union via the Clean Hydrogen in Cities (CHIC) project.

The London Hydrogen Partnership (LHP) – a committee that includes TfL, DECC, Air Products and other firms – plans to create a hydrogen network of six refuelling sites to run hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2012.

It also aims to encourage a minimum of 150 hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road in London by 2012 including 15 hydrogen-powered taxis – a project that recently won the Energy category of The Engineer’s Technology & Innovation Awards 2010.


Readers' comments (11)

  • Hydrogen as a fuel must be good.
    What is the latest opinion on the effect of atmospheric CO2 on world average temperature ?
    What is "average world temperature "?

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  • What an absolutely ludicrous waste of money!
    The Hydrogen is produced by reforming natural gas, side product ... Carbon Dioxide!
    Is this the best we can do - sleight-of-hand won't solve anything.
    I guess somebody's getting rich out of it.

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  • This is a huge improvement over the usual smelly diesel buses.

    Green it is not. Fossil fuel (natural gas) is being used and re-formed using more fossil fuel, and transported using yet more fossil fuel.

    As for biofuels - in N Europe the absolute best that can be done with crops produces only 10% of the energy per sq m as a wind turbine -so what is the point?

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  • What is the distance achieved on a full tank of Hydrogen for one of the new buses? Will they have to refuel more often or less than a diesel fuelled bus? This is an important point if there is only one initial refuelling site. It will be interesting to monitor the success rate on this project.

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  • The title of this article is the biggest misnomer I've seen in a long while.

    It should be "Very polluting H2 Busses come to London" subheading "But local pollution is improved somewhat".

    0.27 kg CO2/ kWhr to produce hydrogen at the source plant. Then liquefy it, then ship it etc etc.

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  • They may not reduce polution any great amount, but at least they are trying

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  • Fuel cells I guess with electric drive?
    I suspect electric drive with batteries would have been easier, less polluting depending on energy source, and possibly cheaper? Loads of space along a chassis for loads of batteries for a long range. Altair Nano type cells with 15k cycles + probably good for this.
    Oh, but that would mean no oil company involvement and massive profitmaking at our expense.

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  • Hello, as a supporter of these vehicles can I point out a few points that make these good from what I have heard about them.

    -Electric and recover energy so are far more efficient than conventional buses.

    -Hydrogen fueled and emit only water vapor
    -Quiet
    -No heavy metals to recycle ie Li-Ion battery packs as they use capacitors.

    -H2 the source can be changed at any point especially if we could provide enough from a renewable source.

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  • I think hydrogen will eventually overtake batteries, especially as difficulties with fuel storage and cells are ironed out.

    Eitherway an electric fleet will provide the perfect arragement for soaking up all that unwanted nuclear electrical power overnight.

    In the longer term nuclear will become an ever greater percentage of our generated power.

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  • ITM Power have developed hydrogen production by electrolysis and an ic engine to run on hydrogen - this should answer some of the above objections. Regards cost, I would like to know; they are starting trial operations next year so maybe we will find out .

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