Vehicles powered by green hydrogen will be a regular feature of the transport scene around Swindon over the coming years, with the expansion of BOC’s Hydrogen Refuelling Station at the Honda's South Marston plant on the outskirts of the town.
On-site solar-powered electrolysis has been installed and will enable the refuelling station to produce hydrogen more sustainably, with the resulting gas then used to fuel a number of different vehicle types using BOC’s state-of-the-art filling technology.
The vehicles will include vans converted by automotive specialist Revolve Technologies, operated by Swindon Commercial Services (SCS) and by Commercial Group, as well as fork lift trucks supplied by Briggs Equipment and operated by Honda.
The project also includes an innovative low-platinum fuel cell designed and built by ACAL Energy.
The public-access hydrogen refuelling station – the first to be opened in the UK – is the result of a collaboration led by industrial gases and clean energy business BOC, a member of The Linde Group, alongside partners including Honda of the UK Manufacturing and economic development company, Forward Swindon. The existing facility will be developed so that vehicles can be fuelled with green hydrogen made from renewable solar energy.
The new two-and-a-half year project will start later this year. Part-funded by the Government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB), it will assess the potential for integrating the different technologies involved in hydrogen-powered transport, from solar power sources, through hydrogen storage, to the way in which the vehicles can be used and refuelled in day-to-day working. The project evaluation will look at a number of important factors, from overall CO2 savings, through operating efficiency, to duty cycles and commercial cost benefits.
Nick Rolf, BOC’s innovation manager for Hydrogen Systems said: “This will be the UK’s first and longest demonstration of solar hydrogen production linked to transport and materials handling applications – the two early commercial markets for hydrogen. The partners will be able to use this project as a ‘shop window’ to attract potential customers in the region and beyond. We are delighted to be leading this groundbreaking initiative.”
Mike Godfrey, chief engineer at Honda said: “If the low carbon economy is really to deliver a sustainable economy by 2020 and beyond, then it has to operate at a local level. This project will show how green technology can be deployed here in Swindon and make a real and immediate difference to the area.”
Simon Graham, environmental strategist at Commercial said: “The initial pilot of hydrogen vans for our deliveries in Wiltshire in January was incredibly successful, so we are very pleased to be working with BOC and Honda to roll out hydrogen powered vans here. Swindon has a reputation for innovation and it is apt that it will host this project, watched by companies across the world, to see how green hydrogen can become a reality for business.”
Bill Fisher of Swindon Commercial Services said: “SCS is an environmentally conscious brand, and we are delighted to be working on this project in such illustrious company. We will be trialling the use of hydrogen fuel to run our vehicle fleet as it operates around Swindon. We’d like to demonstrate the practicalities of adopting hydrogen in an everyday commercial situation.”