In a significant acceleration towards the UK’s green energy ambitions, the double decker hydrogen bus hits the streets of Aberdeen in a world-first this week – featuring a bespoke system from Luxfer Gas Cylinders.
The zero emission double decker was manufactured by Wrightbus, who enlisted the expertise of Luxfer to design, manufacture and supply the hydrogen fuel system that powers the bus.
The system for the 15-strong fleet features Luxfer’s G-Stor™ H2 hydrogen cylinders. Around 150,000 of these types of cylinders are already in service worldwide, equipping over 10,000 CNG buses and an increasing number of hydrogen buses plus approximately 4,500 refuse vehicles.
Mark Lawday, a Director at Luxfer Gas Cylinders explains: “The hydrogen economy is now taking off, but it’s an area we’ve worked in for three decades. Luxfer has pioneered hydrogen storage systems and valve technology, and we were brought into this project by Wrightbus in 2017 to help design how the hydrogen system could work to deliver the best range, in a cost effective solution.
“Aberdeen has been at the forefront of hydrogen, proving it is viable, and we worked with them on introducing an original fleet of 10 hydrogen buses to the city too. It’s fantastic that these new double deckers will begin their journeys with passengers soon.”
The Aberdeen launch is part of the €32million EU-funded JIVE (Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe) project, which is deploying 139 zero emission buses and refuelling stations across five countries. In the UK, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Birmingham and London will welcome the green fleets, with Aberdeen home to the very first double deckers to operate.
Wrightbus chairman, Jo Bamford, said it was a proud moment to see the buses in full operation for the first time.
He said: “Everyone at Wrightbus is incredibly proud to see the world’s-first hydrogen double decker bus fleet in full service and carrying passengers around the streets of Aberdeen. It marks a pivotal moment in the city’s commitment to reaching net zero.
“We will see further Wrightbus hydrogen buses in locations across the UK, with fleets due to launch in Birmingham and London later this year. It’s vital that other towns and cities sit up and take note of their example.
“Hydrogen has an important part to play in the decarbonisation of transport and the reduction in CO2 levels that we need to reach to ensure a net zero future, and we’re delighted to be working with Luxfer Gas Cylinders towards achieving this.”
The unveiling follows UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledging a green industrial revolution, creating jobs and infrastructure to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The potential for harnessing wind power and investing in hydrogen technology are central to the Prime Minister’s plans.
Luxfer has itself invested in its alternative fuel capability, in 2019 expanding its Nottingham base in response to demand from customers across the transport sector, including bus manufacturers.
- Hydrogen is stored in Luxfer’s multi-cylinder system, located at the rear of the bus. It is regulated to low pressure and feeds an adjacent onboard fuel cell
- The hydrogen passes along the surface of the fuel cell membrane, splitting into protons and electrons that create an electric current. This combines with oxygen from atmospheric air to form water (the only by-product)
- This electric energy charges a battery pack, which is placed beneath the bus floor
- The bus is driven by a compact electric motor that draws on the battery as needed.
Mark Lawday adds: “At Luxfer, we believe in creating a greener world for future generations, and we’re passionate that hydrogen is the key to safe and sustainable transport.
“We’re working with a number of commercial vehicle manufacturers around the world to supply industry leading hydrogen cylinders and, in many cases, to design hydrogen fuel systems to meet the highest technological and safety requirements.”
Luxfer’s legacy in hydrogen includes a series of milestones. These include:
- The world’s first commercially produced hydrogen trucks. A multi-million-pound project integrating hydrogen technology into more than 50 trucks has been delivered this year, marking the first such green fleet in history. The vehicles, which will transport supermarket deliveries across Switzerland, are equipped with bespoke alternative fuel systems from Luxfer. Each feature a 190-kilowatt fuel cell comprised of seven high-pressure tanks holding around 35kg of hydrogen. This provides a long-distance range of more than 400km before refuelling, which far surpasses the capabilities of battery electric truck technology.
- The UK’s first hydrogen-powered train. Unveiled in June 2019, the HydroFLEX project comprises a former Thameslink electric train retrofitted to run using a hydrogen fuel system. Luxfer’s alternative fuel experts worked in close collaboration with Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research, which won the Department for Transport funding to support the concept. The four-cylinder hydrogen solution was developed and assembled at Luxfer’s UK alternative fuel facility and in September 2020 the train hit the mainline for the first time.
- The world’s first self-sufficient hydrogen-powered boat. Launched in 2017, Energy Observer is a floating laboratory travelling from continent to continent, exploring practical solutions and new innovations in ecological transition. The world’s first vessel to be powered by and create hydrogen, Luxfer installed and supplied hydrogen gas cylinders for the project.
- The first commercially available hydrogen powered refuse trucks. In development for the last two years, Luxfer has worked with refuse truck manufacturers in Europe to design, fit and support 20 vehicles. With greater range and power than electric systems, a key requirement of heavy loads vehicles like refuse trucks, Luxfer is helping city authorities in these countries to reach their ambitious carbon reduction targets.
Luxfer Gas Cylinders, the world’s largest manufacturer of lightweight high pressure cylinders, is a member of the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) and the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (UKHFCA).