2.8.2012 Hydrogen Black Cabs at Olympic Games
Five hydrogen fuel cell black cabs developed by Intelligent Energy and partners are transporting VIPs and dignitaries around London during the 2012 Olympic Games.
This begins a two-year trial project supported by HyTEC (Hydrogen Transport for European Cities). A hydrogen fuelling station has been installed at Heathrow Airport and an additional site has been planned in central London to fuel the cabs.
The pioneering fleet of fuel cell taxis have been developed by the UK power technology company Intelligent Energy, who provided the fuel cell systems for the vehicle power-train, and The London Taxi Company, who build and supply the iconic London black cab.
Fuel cell electric vehicles, fuelled by hydrogen provide the same range, performance and fuelling time as conventional internal combustion engine vehicles with the added benefit of zero emissions at the point of use.
The taxis are fuel cell electric hybrids, using a fuel cell system (including the hydrogen storage tank) and battery pack working together to provide electricity to drive an electric motor. This is like the Toyota Prius, which uses a standard combustion engine to charge the battery system and drive the motor, except that the fuel cell has replaced the engine.
The fuel cell system fits in to the taxi without intruding into the passenger or luggage space (the fuel cell is actually where the gear box would be in a standard taxi). This achievement was a challenge for engineers as space is limited in the black cab body shell.
The fuel cell taxi gets from 0 – 60 mph in 13 seconds. This might sounds slow, but the taxi weighs just over two tonnes (2180kg) and 13 seconds is actually about 10 seconds quicker than the 0-60 of a standard London taxi with a combustion engine. The taxi can reach a top speed of over 80 mph and can cover over 250 miles with a single tank of hydrogen.
Feedback from the drivers of the hydrogen taxis during the Games has been positive, and they have reported significant interest in the technology from their passengers.
Taxi driver Phil Davis, with over 30 years experience of driving conventional London taxis commented: "This is a great opportunity to drive a hydrogen fuel cell powered taxi around London. It drives very well, and is quiet to drive with no polluting emissions from the exhaust – all that comes out is pure water! With the fuelling stations being put in place hopefully more people will have the opportunity to ride in a hydrogen fuel cell powered taxi."
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London commented: "These prototype zero-emission taxis are a shining example of British ingenuity, combining revolutionary fuel cell technology with an iconic design classic. This marks an important milestone in my goal to create a cleaner cab fleet… Affordable and low polluting cabs are within our grasp and I urge manufacturers to accelerate efforts to produce them."
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