A small Anglo-Belgian firm is claiming a breakthrough with a commercially available emission-free fuel cell powered vehicle.
The Zevco (zero emissions vehicle company) Millennium Taxi is a hybrid electric vehicle based on an ordinary black cab. It uses a combination of an alkaline fuel cell and lead-acid batteries to power an electric traction motor.
Running on hydrogen gas, it has a range of 145km, and is said to offer performance comparable to a conventional diesel-powered taxi.
Fuel cell technology, potentially the cleanest power source for road vehicles, combines hydrogen with oxygen in the presence of a catalyst, generating electricity with only water and a trace of carbon dioxide as by-products.
Zevco chief executive Nick Abson claimed the Millennium Taxi will be in production by early 1999, costing only £2,500 more than a diesel powered cab. ‘We will produce five more in September for licensing purposes, and plan to manufacture 100 or so next year,’ he said.
The taxi uses hydrogen in cylinders with a liquid sodium hydroxide electrolyte and generates 5kW at its operating temperature of 70 C. The lead-acid batteries contribute the rest of its 70kW peak power. Zevco is also working on a fuel cell powered bus.