Hydrogen demonstrations pave way for trials at scale

Update on four demonstrations of hydrogen fuel technologies as part of the ZERFT programme.

Published on 17 June 2022

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Four feasibility projects assessing the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source for moving freight have all now come to a close. Between them, the projects tested hydrogen in HGVs, busses, fork-lift trucks, fleet cars, and small ships. Each demonstration was extremely challenging for the teams due to the immaturity of drive train technology designed for hydrogen, and the fragility of the hydrogen supply chain in the UK. A global shortage of hydrogen fuel tanks also hampered the projects.

However, basic trials did take place, allowing the sector to gain a much better understanding of the safety issues, and TRL has been able to produce a robust framework for an end-to-end safety case which will ensure larger trials can go ahead confidently. A major goal of each project was to collect benchmark data, and TRL’s monitoring & evaluation tool proved its value by automating 75% of the data acquisition and analysis tasks. With vast quantities of telematics data available on modern vehicles, having a secure and efficient method of capturing data and generating instant insights means the research teams are well prepared for the next phase of technology demonstrations and scaled-up trials.

Stakeholder engagement with HGV fleet operators has confirmed there is definite pent-up demand for a hydrogen solution, but unless the total cost of ownership can be reduced to parity with that for diesel, goodwill alone will not prompt the industry to switch to hydrogen to meet their decarbonisation goals.

The four hydrogen trials were:

TRL | The Road to Hydrogen

TRL | Teesside Hydrogen Vehicle Ecosystem

TRL | UK Aggregated Hydrogen Freight Project

TRL | Hydrogen small ships trials





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