ULEMCo to lead £8m hydrogen fuel cell specialist vehicle project

Hydrogen fuelled vehicle pioneer ULEMCo has today, with its partners, been awarded a total of £7.9 million to develop solutions for hydrogen powered vehicles.

Project funding will boost the development of zero emission emergency vehicles.

With £3.9 million of government funding matched by industry, the ‘HYER Power’ project with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) will develop a hydrogen fuel cell range extender module that will integrate into electric vehicles used for specialist applications such as ambulances, fire engines and street sweepers.

End-to-end supply chain

The funding has been awarded through the Advanced Propulsion Centre Collaborative Research and Development programme, in support of ambitions to build an end-to-end supply chain for zero-emission vehicles in the UK.

OCC will provide the customer input, trialling and dissemination, and the work will lead to a manufacturing-ready, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell based range extension system for electric drivetrains. Other partners in the project with ULEMCo include: Technical Services (UK) Ltd for cooling capability, Altair Ltd for vehicle energy system modelling, and Emergency One for the fire engine solutions.

Building on proven technology

The zero-emission range extender used for HYER Power will apply existing, proven fuel cell technology from the Toyota Mirai, and will demonstrate how zero emission vehicles can be used in a wide range of specialised and challenging settings. Key outcomes will include a production-ready zero-emission ambulance as a result from the work already completed by ULEMCo under the ZERRO project, alongside a fully working prototype fire pumping appliance and an HGV road sweeper.

“We are delighted to see this recognition and commitment to developing hydrogen mobility as part of the solution to net zero,” said Amanda Lyne, managing director of ULEMCo. “Hydrogen is essential for viable zero-emission solutions in applications such as emergency response vehicles due to the rapid refuelling that enables the vehicle to be ‘fit-to-go’, and to provide the full flexibility and range required for the job.

“The packaging constraints and the overall energy demand needed for these vehicle drivetrains as well as the onboard equipment, mean that hydrogen solutions are the most cost-productive route to transition to zero-emission fleets. Our strong relationship with OCC will enable us to make rapid progress moving to production-ready hydrogen fuel cell designs.”

Electrification ‘challenging’

Councillor Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “Hydrogen could play an important role in our efforts to decarbonise, especially where battery-powered electrification is challenging in heavy duty vehicles like fire engines.

“I’m delighted that we are partnering with ULEMCo on this important step in exploring and advancing zero carbon solutions.”

Rob MacDougall, chief fire officer for Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are absolutely committed to act towards our net zero target and build on the work we have already done to move part of our fleet away from internal combustion engines.

“Heavy fire engines pose a particular challenge, and we feel that hydrogen powered fuel cells can play a promising role in delivering on the county’s climate action ambitions.”

Setting the pace

“This cutting-edge work is going to mean clean, green vehicles designed and built in the UK can increasingly take on the toughest jobs, from haulage to public transport,” said Nusrat Ghani, Minister for Industry and Investment Security.

“Our automotive industry keeps setting the pace globally when it comes to seizing the potential of new technologies. Today’s multi-million-pound boost will help them stay ahead of the international competition, while continuing to support high quality jobs and economic growth.”

“Investment into these collaborative projects continues the work that the UK does very well,” said Ian Constance, chief executive at the APC. “Research and development, building the automotive supply chain, pushes the boundaries of clean technology for the road, whilst securing jobs across the country.”