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Hydrogen powered van
Filling the first of the six hydrogen fuel-cell powered vans at Heathrow

WHEN it comes to green transport, it doesn’t get any more environmentally friendly than hydrogen power – the only emissions when you drive are water.

Hydrogen could have a vital part to play in the UK’s future energy mix

Now a fleet hydrogen-hybrid delivery vans is going into service with business services company Commercial Group, as part of the London Hydrogen Network Expansion (LHNE) consortium project.

Commercial Group will operate six hydrogen vans in the capital over the next six months. The vehicles will be integrated into Commercial Group’s logistics  to test the viability of the fuel across a complex delivery network.

Operational factors, including performance, will be monitored and analysed to ascertain what the implications of a wide-scale adoption of hydrogen vans would be for UK van operators.

The hydrogen-hybrid vans are based on the older Ford Transit ‘Jumbo’. Commercial has worked with UK automotive engineering company Revolve Technologies for more than two years as they developed the vehicle, which is arguably the first of its kind.

From a driver and operator perspective, the experience of using the vans is similar to running a diesel Ford Transit. But from an engineering and environmental perspective, the use of hydrogen, which dramatically reduces the carbon footprint of deliveries, makes them a vey different prospect.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle
As with all alternative fuels, access to the re-fuelling network is a major hurdle. The London Hydrogen Network Expansion project aims to create a network across London over a 3 year period

The new fleet marks the culmination of more than two years’ work with experts in hydrogen technologies.

It was deployed as part of the Technology Strategy Board-funded London Hydrogen Network Expansion (LHNE) project, led by Air Products, which is creating the UK’s first hydrogen-powered transport system across London and the South East.

The LHNE consortium aims to deliver a publicly accessible, fast-fill 700 bar renewable hydrogen fuelling station network over a period of three years.

The project will upgrade the fuelling station at Heathrow airport to 700 bar, and provide new fuelling station with this specification in central London.

Creation of this high-pressure network is vital as the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles due to go on sale in 2014/2015 will require a 700 bar fuelling system.

Commercial Group’s environmental strategist Simon Graham told Business Vans: “Hydrogen could have a vital part to play in the UK’s future energy mix.

“As well as the potential to be absolutely zero carbon, hydrogen can also provide significant air quality benefits. Not only will customers have lower carbon deliveries but using hydrogen also has the possibility of improving the air we breathe.”

Commercial is one of the UK’s largest independently owned business services groups and the first CarbonNeutral and Zero Waste company in its sector.


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