Sheffield council launches trial to use hydrogen vehicles in road maintenance fleet

A trial to use hydrogen-powered vans to carry out road works in Sheffield has been announced by the city’s council.

The scheme will see Amey, which is delivering Sheffield City Council’s Streets Ahead programme to upgrade pavements, roads, lighting and bridges in the area, use two hydrogen-powered vans to carry out works over the next two years.

Amey is gearing up to run another 15 electric vehicles to replace the current diesel vehicles as part of its commitment to reducing carbon emissions. As part of this initiative the council is taking another major eco-friendly step by trialling two vans that use a hydrogen fuel cell to extend the range of power the battery gives to approximately 200 miles.

The Sheffield scheme – the first in Amey’s UK network – is being launched after a Government agency awarded a grant.

Results will be monitored by both Amey and the Department for Transport to assess the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles in general.

“We will run a trial with two hydrogen vehicles over the next two years,” said Streets Ahead Environment Manager, Tom Cullingford.

“At the moment, there are only 20 to 30 hydrogen vehicles in the country and technology is at a very early stage.” He added.

“But the obvious benefit is that there are zero carbon emissions which will help improve the air quality in and around Sheffield.”

The go-ahead coincides with interest from the Department of Transport in hydrogen-powered trains being introduced on part of the national rail network to replace diesel engines.

The vehicles are Renault Kangoo ZE electric vans, fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell by SymbioFcell a French company, and supplied to Amey via Symbio’s UK partner, Arcola Energy.

Dr Ben Todd, Managing Director of Arcola Energy said “We are delighted to be supplying Streets Ahead with Symbio Fcell hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. We applaud the leadership shown in pioneering these vehicles which combine the low fuel cost and quiet, zero emission operation of a battery electric vehicle, with the all-weather range and fast fill of a hydrogen vehicle.”

Hydrogen for the vehicles will be provided by ITM Power from their hydrogen station based at Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield – one of only a handful of hydrogen refueling stations outside of London. The hydrogen uses is produced on site using renewable energy from a wind turbine.


To find out more about the Streets Ahead contract visit:

Source of News: Fuel Cell Works

The Royal Society Policy Briefing: Options for producing low-carbon hydrogen at scale

“Using Hydrogen as an energy carrier has the potential to play a significant role in tackling climate change and poor air quality.”

The Royal Society, through a consultation with the academic community and industry and an analysis of the published evidence, has produced a new policy briefing which looks at the existing and emerging technologies used in the production of hydrogen and explores the barriers and opportunities. This policy briefing considers how hydrogen could be produced at a useful scale to power vehicles, heat homes and supply industrial processes.

Four groups of hydrogen production technologies are examined: i) Thermochemical Routes to Hydrogen, ii) Electrolytic Routes to Hydrogen, iii) Biological Routes to Hydrogen and iv) Solar to Fuels Routes to Hydrogen.

The briefing concludes that steam methane reforming and electrolysis are the most likely technologies to be deployed to produce low-carbon hydrogen at volume in the near to mid-term, providing that the challenges of high levels of carbon capture (for steam methane reforming) and cost reduction and renewable energy sources (for electrolysis) can be overcome.

A summary of the briefing and the paper is available on The Royal Society Page here!

Hyundai reveals world-first driverless fuel cell vehicle

Hyundai has taken its high-tech fuel-cell vehicle called the NEXO and turned it into the world’s first self-driven fuel-cell electric vehicle. The NEXO is a Level 4 autonomous vehicle and a trio of the SUVs have completed a drive that spanned 190 km from Seoul to Pyeongchang completely self-driven.

  • NEXO fuel cell electric vehicle completes South-Korea’s longest level 4 autonomous driving demonstration
  • Hyundai to commercialise level 4 autonomous vehicles in smart cities by 2021
  • Hyundai plans to commercialise fully autonomous driving technology by 2030

This is the first time in the world that level 4 autonomous driving has been achieved with fuel cell electric vehicles.

Hyundai says that before this feat, the autonomous vehicle had been demonstrated only at a limited speed on some sections of domestic roads. During the autonomous drive, the vehicles traveled at 100 km/h to 110 km/h, the fastest speed allowed by law on public roads in the country.

For more information see source: 

The launch of three White Papers comissioned by the H2FC Supergen

The H2FC Supergen launched three White Papers at the London City Hall on 17th March 2017. Watch the entire event here.

In front of an audience of Government, Industry and Academic representatives, authors from leading UK universities presented their findings on The Role of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in i) Delivering Energy Security for the UK, ii) The Future Energy Systems and iii) Creating Economic Impact for the UK.

Continue reading “The launch of three White Papers comissioned by the H2FC Supergen”

Five Years

Unbelievable as it may seem, it has been five years since the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells SUPERGEN was set up to help address the challenges facing the hydrogen and fuel cell sector in the UK. To celebrate this milestone, Imperial College will host an anniversary event on Friday 28th April to showcase half a decade of achievement in the H2FC research field. The H2FC Hub Management Board and other speakers will be presenting key research progress made in the area of hydrogen and fuel cells, illustrating the real world impacts of their work. The topics will range from developments in hydrogen production, storage and safety to SOFC and PEMFC advances, as well as the socioecomic and policy impact enabled by the Hub.

This event will also mark the launch of the ‘Five Years Impact Report’, which will be made available in hard-copy to attendees, as well as being put up online.

Tickets to the anniversary event are free, but spaces are limited so make sure you register your attendance in good time. To find out more details and to register your interest, go to

London police to use fuel cells to FIGHT CRIME

In a lighter piece of news today, fuel cell manufacturer Intelligent Energy announced a technology trial with London’s Metropolitan Police Force to supply them with hydrogen-powered Suzuki Burgman motorbikes. The scooters are equipped with 4kW air cooled fuel cells, making them lightweight but capable of meeting the police force’s safety and performance standards.

The clean bikes would be an important symbol for a city which is struggling to clean up its air pollution from traffic. More seriously, it shows an increasing institutional acceptance of hydrogen, helping to push the technology towards greater take-up.

Opportunity – Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking Call for Proposals


The FCH Joint Undertaking have issued a Call for proposals providing up to €116 million funding, across 24 topics. This includes 7 transport topics, 12 energy topics, and 5 topics for cross-cutting. More information on the call and the 24 topics can be found on the page of Call 2017.

Update: An information day was held in Brussels on the 2nd February. Presentations from that event are available for download at

Solid metal hydrogen announcement makes global headlines

Have a pair of Harvard scientists created the most powerful form of energy storage known to humanity?

Hydrogen hit the headlines this weekend, as Harvard researchers Ranga Dias and Isaac Silvera published a paper in Science claiming to have transmuted hydrogen into a solid metal (Observation of the Wigner-Huntington transition to metallic hydrogen). The pair first announced their discovery in October last year, but the full details have not been made available until now and the breakthrough is causing quite a stir.

Researchers have been attempting to produce solid metal hydrogen since it was first theorised in 1935 (E. Wigner, H. B. Huntington, On the possibility of a metallic modification of hydrogen. J. Chem. Phys. 3, 764–770 (1935)). Silva and Dias claim to have at last achieved success by slowly ratcheting up the pressure in a diamond vice to 495 GPa, 50% higher than the pressure in the centre of the Earth. Under these conditions their team observed the material changing from transparent to black to a shiny red; evidence enough for a metallic solid, according to their paper.

There is nothing new in submitting hydrogen to extreme pressure, but Silva and Dias believe they succeeded where others failed by cutting back on high-intensity laser spectroscopy, which can destroy the diamond or the hydrogen it is trained on. Instead they initially used a low intensity laser to avoid damaging the sample:

For fear of diamond failure due to laser illumination and possible heating of the black sample, we only measured the Raman active phonon at the very highest pressure of the experiment (495 GPa) after the sample transformed to metallic hydrogen and reflectance measurements had been made.

The potential for metallic hydrogen could be huge, as it is predicted to be a room-temperature superconductor which could revolutionise materials science. Its potential for storing energy could also be phenomenal. In a previous paper, Silvera suggested that hydrogen compressed to a metal could pack so much energy that it could be ‘The Most Powerful Rocket Fuel Yet to Exist’.

Much of this potential depends on whether or not metallic hydrogen is metastable and would retain its solid form once extreme pressure was released. As it stands, the paper offers no answer to this question. Having reached the critical pressure required to create their sample, the team have not yet modified their set-up for fear of destroying the sample. This has left a lot of questions unanswered – is it really a solid? Is it stable?

Big claims require big evidence, and the team has come in for criticism from several quarters for a lack of follow-through on their experiment. Science’s online announcement of the news gave rise to the kind of heated comments threads usually found on political news reports. Nonetheless, Silver and Dias stand by their results, saying that they wanted to announce the news before a second-round of tests potentially destroy their sample. ‘If people disagree, they should go to measure it and try to show that it’s different than what was claimed’, Silvera suggested.

Teams across the world will undoubtedly be throwing themselves into that very task, so we can expect more news on this subject as the year unfolds. If nothing else, the Harvard group have our attention.

EMSA study analyses fuel cell applications in shipping

The European Maritime Safety Agency released a technical study this week, reviewing 23 maritime Fuel Cell projects and assessing which technologies hold the most promise for improving shipping in the future. The report, which was conducted and prepared by DNV-GL, concluded that the three most promising hydrogen technologies were first Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs), followed by High Temperature PEMFCs and then Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs).

Low-temperature PEMFCs won the gold for being a mature, safe and relatively cheap technology. High temperature PEMFCs were judged as more efficient but less safe, while SOFCs scored relatively poorly on cycling tolerance and cost.

However the report acknowledged that different technologies could complement each other, and that

“Smaller and medium applications may favour low and medium temperature technology, such as PEM and high temperature PEM. Larger applications which can more easily accommodate waste heat solutions, such as industrial and large maritime, are better for the high temperature solutions such as molten carbonate or solid oxide fuel cells.”

The full study, which also included a regulatory analysis and safety assessment for different fuel cell technologies on board ship, can be downloaded here.

Opportunity: Hydrogen Trade Mission to Aragon (Spain)

The Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) has established a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the corresponding trade association in the Spanish region of Aragon: the Aragon Hydrogen Foundation (FHA). A reciprocal trade mission with Aragon is now being planned, for the purpose of forging better links and nurturing trade and technology partnership opportunities. The date for this mission is February 2017, travelling out on Wednesday 15th February for a series of meetings and activities on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th February 2017 in and near Zaragoza, the principal city of Aragon. The mission is also likely to include a visit to the FHA facilities in Huesca, located about 30 miles from Zaragoza.

Arrangements are currently being put in place for this trade mission. It will be comprised of representatives from the Scottish Government and their agencies, together with a number of SHFCA members who have active interest in building trade and partnership links. However, there may still be a couple of places available, along with some financial support available towards meeting travel and accommodation costs.

If you or your organisation would like to take part in this mission to Aragon in February 2017 and have not already expressed interest, please email Nigel Holmes at, with ‘SHFCA Member Interest in Aragon Mission’ included in the message header.

The Aragon Hydrogen Foundation (FHA) has a very similar number and composition of members as SHFCA, for information about FHA members and their regional strategy for hydrogen and fuel cells please take a look at the FHA website, which also includes other details and links to the Aragon 2016-2020 Masterplan: