Ricardo to engineer zero-emission buses for UK’s first hydrogen transport hub

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £2.99.

Technical consultancy company Ricardo, which has in-house engineering capabilities to design and deliver prototypes, has won a joint bid with Stagecoach to build a fuel cell retrofit test vehicle.

As part of its mission to support the decarbonisation of the global transport and energy sectors environmental, engineering and strategic consulting company Ricardo has announced that it has received Government funding to create a retrofit hydrogen fuel cell bus demonstrator for the UK’s first hydrogen transport hub in the north-east of England.

To demonstrate progress with its national hydrogen strategy, the UK Government launched the Tees Valley Hydrogen Hub, and initiated the Hydrogen Transport Hub Demonstration competition to showcase real-world hydrogen transport technology solutions. Ricardo submitted a bid with Stagecoach to demonstrate a retrofit hydrogen fuel cell bus. The Department for Transport has named the Ricardo and Stagecoach bid as one of the competition winners and has awarded funding to build a one-off vehicle which will be available for demonstration in the Tees Valley Hydrogen Hub from February 2022.

There are currently around 38,000 buses in service in the UK, of which Ricardo said 98% are diesel powered and 50% are less than eight years old. Teri Hawksworth, Managing Director for Ricardo Automotive and Industrial (EMEA) Division said: “National and local government authorities across the UK are bringing forward their zero emissions targets to 2030. This creates challenges for bus operators who, while still grappling with the financial challenges of the global pandemic, are committed to transitioning to zero-emission vehicles. Winning the Hydrogen Transport Hub Demonstration competition will enable us to promote hydrogen fuel cell capabilities for buses in the UK and mainland Europe, and demonstrate the environmental, societal and economic benefits of the circular economy: affordably achieving zero emissions, while extending vehicle lives through retrofitting rather than scrapping vehicles.”

Steve Walker, Stagecoach North East Managing Director, said: “Introducing new low emission technologies to reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions is key to achieving our environmental goals. We are delighted to be working with Ricardo to bring this exciting advancement to the UK’s first hydrogen hub, which represents a huge step forward for the Tees Valley. Stagecoach has invested more than £1 billion in greener buses in the past decade and is fully committed to reducing its environmental impact. Our collaboration to help with technical knowledge and extensive driver testing for the inception of this new technology is a further demonstration of our desire to help climate change.”

Ricardo will develop a scalable, modular solution, enabling it to be installed, with minimal adaptation, to multiple single and double-decker platforms. The modular concept may also be saleable as a ‘new fuel cell’ module to coachbuilders across the European Union enabling them to develop new fuel cell buses by taking a rolling chassis and applying their own body alongside the fuel cell module solution.

Ricardo will retrofit a Stagecoach bus with a hydrogen fuel cell. RICARDO