Qimtek

Swapping diesel for hydrogen

27 Oct 2020

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

Permali has won UK Government funding to develop a lightweight composite solution that will allow existing diesel-powered buses to be retrofitted with zero-emission hydrogen powertrains.

The objective is to rapidly develop an affordable green technology alternative that can accelerate the ability for the UK to meet its net zero emissions target.

The funding has been awarded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) through the Niche Vehicle Network (NVN). The Permali R & D team, located at the company’s main site in Gloucester, will be working on this development project in collaboration with leading hydrogen and fuel cell specialist company Arcola Energy and the UK National Composites Centre (NCC). The partnership project is initially aimed at buses, but the new technology concept should be transferable to a wider range of vehicles, such as heavy-duty goods vehicles, trains and even aircraft.

Permali will work in close collaboration with the NCC to design and manufacture the proof of concept system. Arcola Energy will integrate and test the system with the hydrogen cylinders to achieve regulatory compliance and fit the new system to a double decker bus. The NCC approached Permali knowing their extensive experience in handling complex projects and proven track record in the F1 automotive, aerospace, defence, rail and energy sectors as a highly responsive provider of advanced materials solutions.  

The project focus for Permali will be on the development and production of a low-cost, lightweight composite system which will structurally support the hydrogen fuel cylinders. The target for the Permali development team is to halve the weight of the current metallic hydrogen fuel tank structure and to increase energy storage by 25%, while still providing the required structural performance to meet the vehicle road safety standards.  

Permali’s Sales & Marketing Director, Fraser Rankin, commented: “This is a fantastic win for Permali demonstrating the ability to create an innovative solution within a short time frame and to the complexity of the project requirements. Our dedicated and loyal team have been instrumental in the funding win and I’m excited to see Permali’s influence on a breakthrough project which contributes towards the UK’s carbon neutral goal.”

Hydrogen fuel provides a highly efficient zero-emission alternative to diesel. It is especially suited for buses which operate on long-distance, high-capacity routes. By retrofitting existing diesel engine buses with hydrogen powertrains, bus operators will be able to cost effectively run zero emission fleets, with a combination of retrofitted hydrogen powered buses for longer routes alongside electric battery powered buses for shorter routes.    

www.permali.co.uk

Photo: The Metrodecker H2 incorporates a hydrogen fuel cell powerpack developed by Arcola Energy. It can carry more than 90 passengers with a range of between 200 and 250 miles depending on specification and route.

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