Deploying hydrogen as a transport fuel in the North West

Via its Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), the UK Government launched its “Road to Zero” strategy in July last year. This set out the government’s aspiration to clean up road transport and for the UK to lead the world in developing, manufacturing and using zero emission road vehicles.

By this time some UK councils had already taken significant steps to decarbonise their local public transport infrastructure. Aberdeen Council was a case in point, having worked with BOC to establish a hydrogen refuelling station at the Kittybrewster bus maintenance depot, just to the north of the city. The benefits for Aberdeen and its residents were abundantly clear; air quality improvement, much quieter buses and zero carbon dioxide emissions.

The station opened in 2015. Hydrogen is produced at the station via electrolysis of water utilising electricity generated from renewable sources. It is then stored as a compressed gas until being dispensed into vehicles, much like refuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle. Refuelling takes less than 10 minutes for a bus (and less than 5 minutes for a car), again comparable to conventional diesel or petrol. Bus and van hydrogen refuelling is up to 350 bar and for cars it’s 700 bar.

From the outset BOC worked with Aberdeen Council to implement key safety measures. Not only did the facility and the buses need to be safe, but understandably the local residents and bus users needed to be convinced of this too. Thorough risk assessments were undertaken and shared with the public along with details of the safety measures being taken, such as continuous leak monitoring.

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