Thursday 27th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Hydrogen-powered vans on the cards


ITM Power, the electrolyser and fuel cell development company, has unveiled a hydrogen-powered car and refuelling station, designed to help cut fuel costs for drivers and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

With the use of higher pressure hydrogen the technology can also be transferred to vans, offering commercial vehicle operators’ potential savings in cost, as well as helping to reduce their environmental impact.

ITM has completed a series of trials using a conventional petrol-engined Ford Focus, which has been converted to run on hydrogen. It operates as a bi-fuel vehicle, with the ability to switch back to petrol if the hydrogen supply is used up.

The demonstration vehicle can travel 25 miles on a single recharge of hydrogen from the refuelling station, or if the hydrogen is compressed it can be extended to 100 miles. However, for longer journeys the company suggests that the car is reverted back to petrol.

Roush Technologies, which is working in conjunction with ITM, expects to have a hydrogen-powered van up and running by September this year.

The hydrogen-fuelled van is recommended for smaller journeys and deliveries where the vehicle returns back to base at the end of each run in order to fill up.

Hydrogen fuel is created using water and off-peak or renewable electricity, created by wind, wave, solar or nuclear energy. The hydrogen created can then be stored to fuel cars and vans or to provide power for domestic and commercial buildings.

At present there is no plan to trial the system in larger vehicles.

ITM Power has brought down the cost of the refuelling station by using a low cost polymer, instead of the more traditional platinum, which can be manufactured at one per cent of the cost of traditional membrane materials.

Once in mass production, which is expected to happen over the next couple of years, the units are expected to cost a few thousand pounds.

Jim Heathcote, chief executive of ITM Power, said: “The energy gap can be bridged by a hydrogen system. It can take unwanted renewable energy, add water to it and store it as hydrogen.”

ITM Power is beginning to enter into talks with manufacturers and developers to “bring the potential of hydrogen to commercial reality”.