Ricardo repowers a double-decker diesel bus with hydrogen fuel cells for Teesside


In collaboration with Stagecoach North East, Ricardo, a global strategic, environmental, and engineering consultancy firm, has retrofitted a diesel double-decker bus with a hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system.

Ricardo is currently seeking customers to invest in the development of a fleet of passenger vehicles suitable for the future of sustainable shared transportation.

The project, which was partially sponsored by the Department of Transport through its Hydrogen Transport Hub Demonstration competition, saw Ricardo and Stagecoach North East retrofitting an existing double-decker bus with hydrogen fuel cell technology. It developed a zero-emissions demonstrator that is currently conducting a ten-week test and demonstration program in the areas of the Tees Valley and Brighton and Hove.

The team will use trial feedback and data to investigate future market prospects and applications with bus operators and other partners in the UK and beyond.

Ricardo aims to offer the hydrogen fuel cell re-powered vehicles for approximately half the price of a new bus, significantly reducing the initial investment required and avoiding approximately 45,000kg of carbon dioxide emissions by extending the life of existing buses as opposed to building new ones. The objective is to achieve a finance match of 50 percent plus customer commitment for an initial production of 150 buses that can enter service by the end of 2024.

Andrew Ennever, Service Leader for hydrogen fuel cells, at Ricardo, said: “The UK bus industry directly supports around 250,000 jobs, as well as thousands of others in bus manufacturing and support services. There are around 38,000 buses in service in the UK, so we’re excited by the opportunities this type of project provides, to work with operators in support of their future environmental strategies. The project has drawn upon the breadth and depth of Ricardo’s capabilities, from complex control systems to thermal systems, mechanical design to vehicle integration. We are now capturing learning from the demonstration trials to enable further refinements to be included within a future production solution and alternative hydrogen fuel cell vehicle applications.”

Steve Walker, Stagecoach North East Managing Director, added: “Having worked closely with Ricardo on the hydrogen project for several months, we’re excited to be able to demonstrate the innovative retrofit hydrogen fuel cell bus on Teesside. This is a further representation of Stagecoach’s commitment to introducing greener bus technologies to help lower vehicle emissions, which remains key to achieving our environmental objectives. Over the past 10 years, Stagecoach has invested more than £1bn in greener buses, and we have taken another step forward with this technological trial in the North East.”

The bus employs a hydrogen fuel cell system that creates zero emissions when green hydrogen is utilized. Despite the fact that battery electric buses are the optimal zero-emission solution for many bus applications, their shorter range, longer charge times, and reliance on grid infrastructure necessitate a mixed fleet of battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses in order to achieve decarbonization objectives.

Nedim Husomanovic

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