The Anonymous Widower

London To Have World-First Hydrogen-Powered Double-Decker Buses

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Guardian.

This is the first three paragraphs.

London will have the world’s first hydrogen-powered doubledecker buses on its streets next year, as the capital steps up attempts to tackle its polluted air.

Transport for London (TfL) has ordered 20 of the buses, which cost around £500,000 each and only emit water as exhaust.

As well as cutting polluting exhaust emissions, the buses will run on green hydrogen produced via North Kent offshore wind farms, according to TfL.

After the announcement of the Alexander Dennis hydrogen buses for Liverpool, that I wrote about in New Facility To Power Liverpool’s Buses With Hydrogen, I wondered how long it would take Wrightbus to respond?

It appears to be less than a month.

This is also said about the buses.

The buses will also feature amenities such as USB charging points, and promise a smoother, quieter ride. They will operate first on three routes in west London and to Wembley, which served over 10 million passenger journeys last year.

I will add these comments.

USB Charging Points

I’ve only ever used USB charging points three times on the move.

All installations were under a few years old and it is definitely the way passenger transport is going.

London Overground’s new Class 710 trains will be fitted with USB charging points and wi-fi.

Smoother, Quieter Ride

I have ridden in the following electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles

  • A battery-electric Vivarail Class 230 train
  • A battery-electric Class 379 train
  • Several battery-electric and hydrogen-powered buses in London.
  • A hydrogen-powered Alstom Coeadia iLint train.
  • An LEVCC TX electric black cab.

With the exception of the iLint train, which has a mechanical transmission, all are smooth and quiet.

So I have no reason to disbelieve this claim in The Guardian article.

Three Routes In West London

This article in Air Quality News gives more details on the routes.

The vehicles will be introduced on routes 245, 7 and N7, with people travelling to Wembley Stadium, or from west London to the West End.

  • Route 7 runs between East Acton and Oxford Circus.
  • Route 245 runs between Alperton Sainsburys and Golders Green station.

Both are operated by Metroline from Perivale East garage, where they appear to be the only routes served from the garage, which has a capacity of forty buses.

This Google Map shows a 3D picture of Perivale East garage.

The garage is squeezed into a triangle of land between the Acton-Northolt Line, the Central Line and the six-lane A40 road.

  • It’s not near any houses.
  • It’s surrounded by trees and industrual units.
  • Is the site large enough to generate hydrogen on site?
  • Could hydrogen be brought in by rail?
  • It could easily hold the twenty hydrogen buses and a few others.

I can certainly see why Transport for London have chosen to use hydrogen buses on routes 7, 245, N7, based at Periavale East garage.

Design

This is a paragraph from the Air Quality News article.

TfL says they are investing £12m in the new buses and the fuelling infrastructure with Northern Ireland firm Wrightbus as the manufacturer, which uses a fuel cell from Ballard to power a Siemens drivetrain.

Wikipedia says this about the transmission of a New Routemaster bus, that was built by Wright.

Hybrid diesel-electric in series; 18 kW] Microvast Lithium Titanate battery,Microvast LpTO, Siemens ELFA2 electric traction motor.

I should point out that it appears that originally, the New Routemaster had a larger 75 kWh battery. Has the technology improved?

Is the transmission and the chassis based on the Wright-designed New Routemaster chassis and transmission, substituting a Ballard fuel cell for the Cummins diesel engine?

The Cummins diesel engine in the New Routemaster is rated at 185 hp or 138 kW.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet of Ballard’s FCveloCity family of fuel cells.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the bus.

It strikes me that this fuel cell is smaller and weighs less than a typical diesel engine fitted to a double-decker bus.

With a larger battery, regenerative braking and a clever transmission would a 100 kW fuel-cell provide enough power for the bus?

Wright have obviously solved the problem and found space for the hydrogen tank, otherwise they wouldn’t have received the order.

Drawing on their experience with the New Routemaster and adding the proven fuel cell technology of Ballard looks at first glance to be a low-risk route to a hydrogen-powered bus.

Conclusion

Wright Group and Transport for London appear to have designed a well-thought out solution to the problem of providing zero-emission buses for London and delivering the first buses next year!

We now have two hydrogen double-decker bus projects under way.

  • London and Wright Group
  • Liverpool and Alexander Dennis

Both appear to be fully-integrated projects, which include the supply of hydrogen to the buses.

When both are proven, there could be very keen competition between the two companies to sell systems all over the UK and the wider world.

It should be noted, that double-decker buses are not that common outside of the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong and Singapore.

But could these two zero-emission projects open up the rest of the world, to these most British of products?

May 11, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

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