In the UK, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, this week told MPs that the government will experiment with hydrogen fuel cells for an entire town’s bus network. Earlier this month, the Department for Transport gave £400,000 to the Hydroflex project, run by the University of Birmingham and rail-leasing company Porterbrook, to bring the first hydrogen train to UK main lines in the next few weeks. Fuel cells function by running hydrogen over a catalyst, often platinum, stripping away electrons that run through an electrical circuit. The positively charged hydrogen ions combine with oxygen in the air to form water as its only emission, while the electricity generated can run the same motors as used in any electric vehicle, giving a fuel source with zero harmful exhaust emissions. Crucially, the hydrogen must be produced from clean sources to be carbon neutral, or “green”. So-called blue hydrogen, created using methane gas rather than electrolysis of water, has attracted significant interest from fossil fuel producers, but it does not come with the same environmental benefits. The logic of using hydrogen for buses prompted Jo Bamford, the heir to the JCB digger empire, to buy Wrightbus out of administration in October. The Northern Irish busmaker is working with Bamford’s hydrogen production company, Ryse, on a plan to popularise hydrogen buses. Ryse has a contract with TfL to supply hydrogen for 20 new double-deckers, ordered from Wrightbus last year. Bamford, whose father is Lord Bamford, the billionaire Tory donor, lobbied for the government to support a hydrogen bus experiment.
Guardian 28th June 2020 read more »