The University of Nottingham prides itself on choosing environmentally sustainable options wherever possible – and that’s why its Faculty of Engineering has invested in a new hydrogen van.

Hydrogen vehicles are a more environmentally-friendly alternative to vehicles which run on fossil fuels like petrol and diesel because there are no carbon dioxide emissions. The van will be able to utilise the hydrogen filling station at the University’s Innovation Park.

The van has received a paint job too, and now proudly boasts its sustainable credentials. The decision to invest in a hydrogen vehicle ties in with the University’s commitment to sustainable practices.

Alternative fuelled vehicles
Gavin Walker, Professor of Sustainable Energy, said: “The University has been using alternative fuelled vehicles in its Estate fleet and more renewable energy technologies are being installed, especially for new buildings like the EnergyTechnologiesBuilding.

“The hydrogen van project compliments both activities. This project will also be an opportunity to showcase low carbon technologies to local SMEs.”

In addition to being greener, the van will be used as part of a study into the true cost of hydrogen fuel.

Professor Walker said: “The hydrogen van helps us investigate optimisation of hydrogen refuelling technologies and undertake studies into the cost of hydrogen.”

Nottingham’s hydrogen filling station
The University’s hydrogen filling station is the first in Nottingham and is housed next to the EnergyTechnologiesBuilding. The building has PV solar panels on it, which are connected to electrolysers in order to generate green hydrogen from water.

Professor Walker said: “The cost of the hydrogen generated will depend on the percentage of PV used – but initial estimates suggest a 30 per cent saving in fuel costs.”

The van is a converted internal combustion engine and can be fuelled by either hydrogen or petrol.

Fast hydrogen refuelling
An advantage of using hydrogen rather than batteries is the fast refuelling time which is similar to filling up at the petrol pump – without the environmental impact. The refueller can fill the van’s hydrogen take in around three to five minutes.

Professor Walker said: “This is a cheaper technology than fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), and could be a bridging technology until the cost of FCEV is more comparable to the internal combustion engine equivalent. This could happen as soon as 2020.”

The University is collaborating with ITM Power on a Technology Strategy Board funded project – Ecoisland – and the hydrogen van is a key part of this collaboration. The data for the Nottingham refueller and the new hydrogen van will be used to optimise the technology for a scaled-up version of the ITM Power HFuel system for the Isle of Wight to a run a small fleet of hydrogen vehicles next year.