A zero-emission, hydrogen-powered car has arrived on Birmingham University campus as part of the Science City Hydrogen energy project to discover how hydrogen powered cars might replace diesel and petrol vehicles.
The hydrogen car will be part of a fleet of five cars which will replace some of the university's own fleet of vehicles so that engineering researchers can learn more about their efficiency and cost effectiveness.
New technologies such as this often face uncertainties at the commercialisation stage and they can also have a higher initial cost. Until they become more competitive on cost, it is difficult to put these new technologies into production on a larger scale. Prof Kevin Kendall, lead investigator from the Department of Chemical Engineering, is hoping to combat this problem.
'By comparing the hydrogen powered vehicles directly with the university's petrol and diesel fleet, we can find out how vehicles will need to be adapted to make hydrogen an attractive and cost effective option as a future fuel,' he said.
'Once we have gathered enough information about the viability of hydrogen powered cars, we will be working alongside Birmingham City Council to establish whether a hydrogen powered fleet would be practical for their waste, transport and other vehicles and how this transition could be managed,' he added.
As a direct result of the research, it is hoped that the public sector will start to buy into these new technologies, providing support to companies moving from the technology demonstration phase into the early stages of commercialisation.
The research is part of the Hydrogen Energy Project which has received funding of £6.3m from Regional Development Agency Advantage West Midlands to develop the use of hydrogen energy as a green fuel and is part of the overall Birmingham Science City initiative.