Hydrogen powered buses to start plying in London

11 Dec 2010


Announcing the maiden trial run of the first hydrogen powered bus in London, yesterday, city transport authorities plan to add seven more hydrogen buses on the RV1 route, which which passes through Covent Garden, the Tower of London and the South Bank by mid-2011.
The initiative comes after a trial of three hydrogen buses between 2003 and 2007, which has been described as a "stepping stone" to rolling out the technology across the UK. Simultaneously, the UK's largest hydrogen refuelling station will open in Leyton, East London. 

The new bus, which has been designed especially for London, will start plying the route from tomorrow. The bus which can operate more than 18 hours without refuelling will emit water vapour from its tailpipe. 

According to David Edwards, a spokesperson for Transport for London, the next generation buses including hydrogen fuel cell hybrid buses were designed and developed based on the findings of trials. He added that the buses and the new technology they use would be closely assessed for performance and if they proved reliable and suitable for the needs of London, could be considered for extending the fleet.
The buses come with batteries that store electricity generated by the hydrogen fuel cell, a device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce power and water as a by-product. The technology also produces energy generated during the braking process. The buses can therefore travel much farther than the ones that underwent trials in London as part of the EU-sponsored Cute – Cleaner Urban Transport for Europe – project in 2003.
Poor air quality is the cause of more than 4,300 deaths in London every year, costing around £2 billion a year. According to Hart, the new buses will go some way in addressing the problem. He added that the buses only give out water vapour, which eliminates the noxious nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and particulate matter that diesel buses release into the air. 

The buses may cut carbon emissions, if the hydrogen they run on is generated from using clean energy sources rather than electricity produced from burning hydrocarbons.

However, cost would remain a key consideration to expanding the service across the UK, but Edwards is optimistic of an improvement in the situation soon. 

London is one of the few cities in the world to adopt the new hydrogen technology for its buses. Madrid became the first city in the world to run a regular hydrogen bus service with Hamburg, Perth and Reykjavik following the lead.

Berlin's Clean Energy Partnership project, which got underway in  2006, aims to put 14 hydrogen buses and 40 hydrogen cars on the road by 2016. The Hydrogen Highway, the California based hydrogen project which is the largest project of its kind in the world, has so far built 30 refuelling stations. 

In a similar initiative in December 2009, Amsterdam launched Nemo H2, a tour boat powered by hydrogen.

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