Hydrogen taxi fleet to be used during London Olympics

The Mayor of London’s office has been handed the keys to five hydrogen fuel cell powered taxis – which are said to release no harmful pollutants into the air – to be trialled throughout the Olympic Games.

The fleet of vehicles have been provided by Hydrogen Transport for European Cities (HyTEC), a project set up to develop hydrogen fuel capacity across the contintent, and will be used to transport VIPs to and from Games venues.

Diana Raine, project manager with the HyTec project and deputy London mayor Kit Malthouse

The five Fuel Cell Electric London Taxis, developed by technology firm Intelligent Energy, are powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery which provides a 250-mile driving range releasing only water vapour from the exhaust. Each vehicle will be able to run for an estimated eight-hours per day, and can be refuelled at one of two charging stations across the city, including the Stratford charging point for London’s hydrogen bus fleet and one to be opened shortly at Heathrow Airport.

Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse was handed the keys to the vehicles at City Hall today (July 20) and said he was a firm believer in the viability of hydrogen fuel cells as a replacement for carbon-based fuels.

He said: “The mayor has set us a target to cut carbon use, but we face a couple of problems in doing that. Firstly, we have a technology that is firmly embedded in people’s psyche in internal combustion engines and we have a very ingenious oil industry who seem to find better ways to extract oil every day, it is a challenge for new technology to find a place.

Two of the hydrogen-powered taxis to be trialled in London

“My view is that the real alternative to the internal combustion engine is not electricity, which is a temporary technology, but hydrogen which I firmly believe is the real solution.”

Mr Malthouse said that the use of the hydrogen cabs at the Olympic Games would demonstrate to the public that the technology is a suitable alternative to carbon fuelled vehicles, and that he hoped it would pave the way for the future development of the technology in the capital.

He said: “We have to be able to show the public the technology and show that it is more than science fiction and that it works. We need to iron out the kinks and build towards a viable future for London. Our wider strategy will make sure we have a refuelling network by 2015, I want to see six refuelling stations across London.”

Air quality improvement

Dennis Hayter, vice president of business development and external programmes at Intelligent Energy, said: “This fleet of taxis will not just become another set of vehicles but are examples of UK innovation, technology that is derived and developed in the UK to meet a UK requirement and to help London meet carbon reduction and air quality improvement targets.

“These are the vehicles that can help to improve air quality for London. The fleet will show in real time that fuel cell vehicles are here and now and are safe.”

Taxi drivers who have driven the vehicles claimed that the hydrogen fuel cell did not diminish performance when compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, and that noise was reduced significantly.

Phil Davis, who has over 30 years experience of driving conventional London taxis said: “This is a great opportunity to drive a hydrogen fuel cell powered taxi around London. It drives very well, and is quiet to drive with no polluting emissions from the exhaust – all that comes out is pure water. With the fuelling stations being put in place hopefully more people will have the opportunity to ride in a hydrogen fuel cell powered taxi.”

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There are 16 Members of the HyTEC consortium from five different countries in Europe:
Air Products Plc, UK 
Centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies (CENEX), UK 
City of Copenhagen, Denmark 
Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, Denmark  
Element Energy Ltd, UK 
Fraunhofer, Germany 
Greater London Authority, UK 
Heathrow Airport Limited, UK 
Hydrogen Link, Denmark 
HyRaMP, Belgium 
hySolutions Gmbh, Germany
Intelligent Energy Ltd, UK
LBST, Germany 
London Bus Services Ltd (TfL), UK 
LTI Limited, UK 
MATGAS 2000 AIE, Spain