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Conventional petrol car converted to run on pure hydrogen

A British company has a made a major breakthrough in converting a
conventional petrol car to run on pure hydrogen in a development which
promises to slash CO2 emissions and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

The
bi-fuel Ford Focus, with minimal modifications, has successfully
completed initial trials in a programme conducted on behalf of ITM
Power Plc by the University of Hertfordshire. During the testing
programme the vehicle was able to travel over 25 miles on a single
charge of hydrogen – more than the average commuting journey – before
being switched back to run on petrol. During the hydrogen-powered
journey the car generated no CO2 emissions.

Of
equal significance is how the hydrogen was generated and the car
fuelled. ITM Power, Europe’s largest electrolyser and fuel cell
company, has developed a low-cost electrolyser which can convert
renewable energy (wind, wave or solar power) or off-peak electricity
into hydrogen. It then used its own prototype ‘home refuelling system’
to fuel the car. Both the refuelling system, which will be able to
generate and store hydrogen at home or at work, and the bi-fuel car are
to be publicly demonstrated later this year. Meanwhile, ITM Power is
finalising the design of a manufacturing facility in Sheffield which
will deliver one of the largest electrolyser production capabilities in
the world. Manufacturing is expected to commence as early as the first
half of next year.

ITM Power’s CEO,
Jim Heathcote, said: “Both these developments represent a seismic
advance in our efforts to cut ourselves free from the dependence on oil
and other fossil fuels. The Bi-fuel car and refuelling system clearly
demonstrate a simple, convenient and low-cost transportation solution
that can significantly reduce greenhouse gases and help mitigate
climate change. We believe combining electrolysers with an internal
combustion-engined vehicle brings affordable hydrogen transportation
forward by many years.”

Although some
hydrogen-powered cars are currently undergoing trials, they have no
access to a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure and rely on liquified
hydrogen which must be stored at ultra-low temperatures. By contrast
ITM Power’s conventional Ford Focus test car runs on pure hydrogen gas
which can be produced anywhere that has access to water and electricity.

ITM
Power, which has its headquarters in Saffron Walden and research and
development centre in Sheffield, is leading the drive to use hydrogen
as a clean ‘green’ fuel to replace hydrocarbon fuels. The firm is
developing a number of devices that will allow homes, offices and
factories, as well as vehicles, to use hydrogen, as a non-polluting
fuel.