There’s no getting away from alternative fuels these days and hydrogen is one source that is really beginning to motor. CVW reports on how one pioneer is bringing hydrogen fuel to the real world of LCVs.
Zero emissions automotive developer, First Hydrogen, has recently issued its first data report on its hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) trials held in collaboration with fleet management provider, Rivus. Rivus, who manages approximately 120,000 vehicles, including approximately 85,000 LCVs, is the first fleet management company to test drive the first-of-its-kind hydrogen vehicle on UK roads. The report presents data collected during the trial and offers Rivus’ conclusions on the potential for fuel cell vans similar to First Hydrogen’s for use by fleet operators in the UK.
First Hydrogen’s fuel cell electric vehicle was on trial with Rivus for just over four weeks. In that time, engineers at Rivus covered over 700 miles of testing, totalling over 47 hours of driving. Tests were completed on diverse routes, providing data on how the vehicle operates under different conditions. This involved urban city centre driving, navigating extra urban routes i.e. journeys that include driving in town centres and on higher speed roads, and combined routes, which included a mix of driving on low-speed city centre roads, higher speed roads and motorways.
Rivus also tested the van both empty and loaded to 90% of its maximum weight capacity, again reflecting the way vans will be used in the real world. This is not necessarily how manufacturers test vehicles to calculate their range, or in this case, miles per kilogram of hydrogen, and is presented as a more realistic indication of performance.
Trial analysis shows the van achieved 500km (311 miles) on the 10.3kg tank of hydrogen. This makes hydrogen power a viable option for fleet operators that cover a high mileage and may not have the opportunity to re-charge a battery. The hydrogen fuel cell was used more on certain types of journeys and less in others.
Price comparisons have also been made using hydrogen, to better understand the total cost of ownership (TCO), versus diesel and battery electric vehicles. The comparisons reflect the current cost of hydrogen; however, the Hydrogen UK Transport Working Group predicts fuel costs are expected to decrease to £7.47 per kg by 2025 and as low as £4.09/kg by the end of the decade, which in the case of First Hydrogen’s vehicle equates to a cost of 13.7p per mile.
Gemma Horne, warranty controller at Rivus, took part in the trials and best described the overall experience as “brilliant”. She went on to say: “The main benefit of the First Hydrogen vehicle is the refuelling times are quicker than battery electric vehicles charge times. And of course, unlike internal combustion engines, hydrogen vehicles produce zero emissions.”
First Hydrogen’s Automotive CEO, Steve Gill added: “We are delighted that Rivus has managed to prove that this technology can be a viable option for many fleets. The trial also showed that the vehicle ran with excellent efficiency, comfortably achieving more than a 500km range on a single tank of fuel, exceeding the early performance expectations we set for real world driving. We have always been confident that our vehicle will offer benefits to fleets, and this first trial is evidence of just that.”