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Hydrogen records to be broken

As part of Hydrogen Week between March 11th and 18th, a group of companies are looking to set two new records for fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) with a continuous five night and five day drive around the M25.

Working together, the partners of the government-backed London Hydrogen Network Expansion project (LHNE) will attempt to set new records for the longest journey on one tank of hydrogen (existing record 435 miles) and the longest continuous FCEV journey (6,024 miles).

The record attempts, which will start on Monday, March 14, are part of the project’s efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of hydrogen-fuelled cars and their environmental credentials. Hydrogen FCEVs produce no harmful tailpipe emissions with water being the only by-product. With range and refuelling times similar to those of petrol or diesel cars, they can be seen as direct replacements for conventional vehicles.

A series of drivers, including members of the media, will take the wheel of a Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle that will complete approximately 50 clockwise laps of the M25 between Monday and Friday next week.

LHNE, co-funded by Innovate UK, was set up in 2012 to create the UK’s first hydrogen-powered transport system across London and the South East. It has delivered a new publicly accessible, state-of-the-art fast-fill SmartFuel hydrogen refuelling station and upgraded a second to the requisite 700 bar pressure status.

Hyundai Motor’s ix35 Fuel Cell car has been commercially available since 2014 and, last year, Toyota introduced its Mirai FCEV to the market. Honda, Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen and Audi are among several manufacturers known to be developing FCEVs to be launched in the coming years.

The LHNE partners are now keen for the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology to accelerate in the UK but one of the main challenges is the limited coverage of refuelling stations to support the vehicles. There are currently six stations in the UK, including the two public Air Products SmartFuel® stations in London, and funding is in place for at least 12 to be operational in England and Scotland within the next 12 months.

Diana Raine, European Business Manager Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products, which has led the LHNE project, says: “The LHNE project is part of a range of hydrogen transport initiatives; many companies, organisations and bodies have been working for several years to establish the foundations of a hydrogen transport system in the UK.

“Although much progress has been made, limited refuelling station coverage is one of the main issues restricting further uptake of FCEVs in the UK. A further public-private sector push will be required to move the sector to the next level.”

The partners of the LHNE project will also host a reception in London next Thursday evening, at which its research from the last three years will be discussed and insight into the next steps for the deployment of a hydrogen refuelling network will be shared.

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